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Varsity Blue

Visit the new Varsity Blue at http://www.umvarsityblue.com!


Johnny's posts seems to have a struck a nerve with part of the Michigan Internet. Personally, I don't really get it.

People who have read RBUAS know that he writes more from his heart, his feelings than most other Michigan bloggers; they also know he writes circles around almost anyone out there. From reading his stuff and talking to him, I can easily see that while he loves Michigan, it's not a nameless, faceless unit that gets judged on wins and losses, but rather a collection of interesting characters to whom he is able to relate. He probably has 2GB of Mike Hart pictures alone on his computer.

The characters that seem to intrigue him the most are those potentially great players that tend to have problems getting to that plane of greatness. Even Chad Henne and Mike Hart have a glaring hole on their resumes. Lloyd Carr perhaps was a great coach and had lost a step. Steve Breaston's returns were pieces of art, yet in 2006, he couldn't perform as the number one receiver. Ronald Bellamy.

I don't understand the shouts of bandwagoneering. When Tim and I talked with him, he told us that the game that cemented his obsession with Michigan was the 2005 Rose Bowl against Texas. I can see it. Watching that game you could tell the team gave it their all. The game was the birth of arguably the best player in college football, and Michigan hung in and almost won with a freshman quarterback and halfback. Any fan could empathize with their disappointment and their hunger to do more next year.

Then 2005 happened. Then 2006 happened. Then 2007 happened.

Maybe I'm sympathetic with Johnny because we were both in college at that same time. My freshman year was that ridiculous 2004 season. How could Michigan have won the Big10 with a couple freshman leading the offense? (Answer: Mike Hart is ridiculous and... Braylon Edwards).

Then expectations were raised to very high levels for 2005. After the Notre Dame game I was disappointed, but not despondent. After Minnesota, I was despondent. Ohio State was once again tough to swallow. After the bowl game, I was ready to drive down to Sun Belt HQ (I think the mailing address is to someone's outhouse) and do something violent.

In 2006 expectations were low; people predicted between 3 and 4 losses. I still consider my road trip to Notre Dame that year the single greatest day of my life. I still remember crying after the Ohio State game.

Once it was guaranteed that Hart, Henne and Long were back, it was basically set up as Championship or bust. After Appalachian St., I just sort of quietly walked home went up to my housemate's room, someone who doesn't care about football, and talked about life while watching Wedding Crashers. I didn't check the blogs or watch ESPN until about Thursday.

Then after the 2007 season, everyone that I had associated with Michigan football during my time here was gone.

Lloyd Carr had been football coach since I really cared about Michigan. I saw him win it all in 1997. I saw him continue to believe in Navarre until he eventually beat OSU and went to the NFL. I heard about the dictionary, quoting Kipling, visiting his buddy Russel Crowe. The wins and losses are important, but I grew up with Lloyd Carr and I doubt there can be another coach with his personality, his secret desire to be an English teacher and still be as successful as he was. I don't care if you bring up games he should have won, or calls he should have made or how he is loyal even to a fault; you are not going to move Lloyd Carr from being my favorite coach.

That's not to say I don't like Rich Rodriguez and I don't think he will be successful. He is an elite coach and will win here just like he won everywhere else. His summer has made more sympathetic to him, and I like his openness and honesty instead Carr's often intellectual curmudegeonliness, but I root for him to win games and get Michigan football securely into the top tier. I rooted for Carr on a much more personal level.

So, like Johnny I probably am less invested this season than I have been in seasons past. After the Wisconsin win my friends and I were joking about a Motor City Bowl berth. After Toledo, I just sort of shrugged and started thinking about next year. Wins are nice; losses are expected; it's all a wash anyway. I cheer in the stands; I argue with booers; I defend the coaches, but it's not the same as cheering for guys like Jamar Adams who checked in to see how Tim's and my dynasty in NCAA was going.
There is nothing but snow, and rain, and a numbing, overwhelming, and undeniably hopeless decay of something I once loved, and still do, but much less intensely.
While I agree with the radical shift and believe in the new staff's ability, I can still find some truth in this. The football program is undergoing a huge change, which is probably for the best, but there is still some part of me that misses Carr smirking knowingly at a press conference when he and everyone knows he won't answer the question that is asked or stiff arming a sideline reporter. There's something about Mike Hart running the exact play that the defense know he's running and still picking up 7 yards. There's something about the parabolic beauty of a Chad Henne bomb. That's gone; the future is bright, but that doesn't mean we can't lament the passing of a great generation, despite all their faults.

We may end up loving this team, these players. Just not yet.



  1. Blogger Colin Says:

    There really was a great tragic arc to the Hart-Henne era and while I've always been obsessed with Michigan football (thank you, maize and blue birth canal), being a fan has changed inexorably in their wake. And it wasn't just them. Can you be a Michigan football fan without Brian and the entire crew of writers he's pulled up with him? I can't. Mgoblog started just before that Rose Bowl game and with it a new mode of Michigan fandom.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    I think Johnny is fine in what he wrote. If you disagree with those morons at WLA they pitch a hissy fit and bitch about it. They clog up the boards at MGoBlog and flame anybody with a different opinion. Screw them. If anyone has watched every game this year and hasn't found fault in the "new regime" then they aren't watching the same games as we have been. We lost to Toledo at home. No matter what anybody says or wants to believe, that is unacceptable. They don't owe it to me to beat Toledo at home, they owe it to themselves and all of those that came before them. This team gave up, this team gives up and you can fucking see it. It is right there in front of your eyes and it is sickening. Consider me skeptical about this hire.

  3. Blogger Paul Says:

    Just for the record, Anon: I disagree with pretty much everything you said.

  4. Blogger Griffin Fraley Says:

    Paul, can you change your settings to make Anon posting appears as "anonymous coward"??

    This season has been a true test of patience. Rich Rodriguez did not forget how to coach. I will not fucking believe anyone who thinks that. Perhaps, just maybe...we don't realize how important Chad Henne, Jake Long, and Mike Hart were (sorry Manningham, i'm not listing you with those three M Football icons) Maybe we overrated some of the remaining players. A blog i read recently pointed out that only 10 of 30 potential seniors for this year remain as well. That has to be considered. New system as well. Players aren't fit for it. Culture change, ect. It was a perfect storm of events. Things will be okay. And if anyone talks down to other Michigan fans for enjoying this less than any other season...it makes me wonder. YOU HAVE TO BE INSANE TO ACTUALLY BE ENJOYING THIS. I almost dread Saturday's now. The football side of my life has been miserable all fall. Doesn't stop me from watching the games, yelling at the tv. It doesn't mean i'm enjoying watching this still. it's miserable. I will learn to love this team in time. And i am excited about the possibilities for the future. That doesn't mean I cannot remember the wonderful times Henne, Hart, Long, Edwards, and Woodson, et al. gave us.


  5. Anonymous Obes Says:

    that was very well written and i appreciate it

  6. Anonymous santoro Says:

    I think Anon ripped that last about the team giving up line off Al Pacino.. I will have to go home tonight and consult my "Every Given Sunday" DVD but Im pretty sure..

    Anyway, Do I think this team has "given up"? No. I have been to every home game this season AND South Bend. Never have I seen "giving up". Poor schemes/play calling/etc sometimes and even WORSE execution (fumbles, poor passing, missed tackles = head asplode) alot of the time? Oh. Oh God yes..

    Do I think UM would be 3-8 (9?) this year if Lloyd was still our coach? Hells naw. Even with the same cast of characters - no Mallett, no Boren, no Manningham, etc, etc? Absofuckinglutely not. Anyone who argues that has got to be bat shit insane or just plum dumb. But guess what? Doesnt make a goddamn bit of difference.

    The only thing we can do now as fans is continue to support our team the best we can and hope that there are brighter days ahead. Hopefully this Rich Rod dude is really the walk on water genius he was crammed down our throats to be. I still think there is the chance he brings us to the promised land in a couple years. If not, well, we get to continue our pissing matches with eachother in message boards and hating on our favorite Michigan bloggers.

    P.S.: Remember when message board pissing matches were confined to Freep boards and the like with numbnuts Buckeye and Sparty fans? Ahhh, the simpler times...

  7. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Has it ever occured to any of you that maybe these guys don't want to play for Rich? Maybe they tried to buy in and it didn't work out? Then during a game when they could lay a heavy lick they just dove for the ankles rather then sacrificing a bit more? I am a Michigan fan or else I wouldn't be here and I am entitled to my opinion. My opinion is that some members of this team have quit on their coach. It happens in all walks of life including football at all levels. If you don't think it has happened here then you are "bat shit insane" or whatever you wan to say. Rich rod may very well turn it around, but that doesn't mean I have to go through this season thinking a losss to Toledo at home is ok no matter what all of you "new school fans" think. Look I am 25 years old. I am willing to give Rich the benefit of the doubt in every way. That doesn not mean that I cant criticise him or even the hire if I so choose. I dont understand why I have to love eveything Rich does in order to maintain my "Michigan fanhood" in any of your eyes. It is rediculous.

    Mich Grad Student

  8. Blogger UofMSnowboarder Says:

    Dear Adam,

    While I won't say "ur teh moronz, u are not teh mechegan manz." I will say that you probably haven't watched any Michigan football, nor know anything about the players we have.

    We have more than several inexperienced/bad players on our team. Most of our 'starters' shouldn't have seen significant playing time for at least a year, maybe two. We got hit, and we're trying to deal with 8 things at once. If players have quit, then they don't deserve to wear a Michigan uniform, but that's certainly not what I've seen, at least not in 95% of the players I've seen. If they quit, we wouldn't have seen the dominance we saw in the Minn game.

    God, second guessing of coaches (especially extremely experienced coaches) is so ridiculous. If a fourth grader gave, say, an engineer, shit for using 6061 aluminum over 7075, I would genetically sterilize and surgically mute that child for being that fucking pretentious without the faintest hint of justification.

    I see no difference between what that child would have done and what you are currently advocating.

  9. Blogger penst8grad Says:

    I can't understand not being excited about Saturdays even if things haven't turned out as planned or hoped. Every week I eagerly claim a 4 hour chunk of time free from work and responsibility and hope "this is the week". While I haven't seen that game yet, I have seen improvement along the way that is still masked by inconsistency.

    Saturdays are a roller coaster fulled with hope and enthusiasm before kickoff that too often has turned to disappointment and disbelief by the 4th quarter. For the first time this year my wife doesn't want to watch Wolverine games because I'm moody like a bitch afterwards.

    It's gonna be a long winter.