Myths and Legends

I wrote a text message to SCM after the miraculous (even more miraculous now, in hindsight) comeback against Wisconsin earlier this year.  In it, I lied, saying that seeing this team celebrate on the walls of the Big House had made them mine.  I was no longer cheering for laundry, but cheering for the young men wearing the laundry.  Then they proceeded to lose the next billion games (it wasn't that many?) and I reverted back to being a fan grasping in the dark for something, anything, to hold onto.  I think a lot of fans have felt that this season; a disconnect from the teams of the past; a searching of something that felt familiar.

Then, in the third quarter of a meaningless game played for a meaningless jug, it happened.  A Minnesota defender, a full 3 seconds after the whistle blew and continued to blow, dove at Martevious Odom's knees in an attempt to recover a "fumble" that had, as stated before, been blown dead.  I was livid.  I jumped out of my chair, yelling something eloquent like "not fair!" It wasn't that I wanted the flag.  Michigan didn't need the flag or the 15 yards.  There was no tactical reason that I was upset; I was merely upset that a player on an opposing team had done something dirty, and one of my players could have been hurt.

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A filmmaker is a teller of stories.  Sometimes, these stories are fictional and, when they are told really well, they make us learn something about reality.  They don't have to be overblown and "artsy" to do so.  "The Sandlot" continues to resonate with me, and I don't think that makes me a shallow person.  It's simply that some people get messages out of stories that others will never ever get, or that the author never intended.  That's the beauty of art, in all its forms.  Once it is created, once it leaves the artist's mind and becomes a thing, it is up to us to experience on our own.  The artist's original intent is lost as the grubbing masses of ordinary people interpret and misinterpret the creation. 

And that's life.

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This weekend, Michigan plays Ohio State.  They do so for the 105th time ever.  The two teams, when met on the playing field, will add a chapter to the story of those clashes.  This is not a fictional series, this is not a film.  It's a story told over generations who each have their own myths and legends.  John Boorman, notable director of Deliverance, has said that he would define myths as stories that have survived.  The myth of Michigan vs. Ohio State has survived 10 decades, been told and retold millions of times, and has its own set of legends and heroes.  It is a story, a myth, that continues to be told, with a new chapter being added each November on a frozen field that was once grass in Ann Arbor and Columbus

There has been, and will continue to be speculation as to what this chapter contains, but the truth is that nobody knows what will happen because, you know, that's impossible.  It is up to the authors of this chapter, the players and the coaches on the field to make up a piece of art and release it to the public knowing that what they did, the legends they've created, are no longer their own.  Rather, they are a part of the larger story, the myth, of Michigan vs. Ohio State.  

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This Saturday, a young man who was never designed to play quarterback at this level will line up behind an undersized center and, god willing, receive the ball in a timely fashion and do his best to ensure its safe delivery to the endzone.

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This Saturday, a large man who has an even larger smile will attempt to pick up Beanie Wells, thrust him into the air, and slam him to the turf.  This will be attempted in the last game he ever plays under the winged helmet.

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This Saturday, a young man having doubts about this entire program will lace up his shoes, put on his helmet, and, if he plays, will undoubtedly play for a relative who was buried earlier this week, in Texas.

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This Saturday, a coach who has been beset on all sides by accusations of inadequacy from those wouldn't, couldn't possible know what it takes to be in his shoes will fight for a redemption that he knows isn't necessary.

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Barring an unforeseen injury, or a piece of breaking news, this is the last that you will hear from me until after the game tomorrow.  What else is there to say?  I have my team.  I have my players.  They are the ones I will take into battle; I will not want for more.  These are the players who will write the next chapter of the myth that is Michigan vs. Ohio State.  These are the players who will become the legends. 

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There is no statistical breakdown that leads to a Wolverine win except for one:  You are Ohio State, and We're going to beat your ass.

 

 

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