It's been a week already, but we've had such a great response to the posts associated with the campaign, I wanted to give everyone a chance to click through the stories, read the comments and contribute their own thoughts on our shared mania. I hope you've had as much fun reading these as I've had writing them.
Monday: How I Became A Michigan Football Fan
Tuesday: Maize n Brew's All-Time Favorite Michigan Football Team
Wednesday: Maize n Brew's Michigan Tailgating Traditions
Thursday: Maize n Brew's All-Time Favorite Michigan Football Players
Friday: Most Memorable Moments
Monday: Expectations for the 2010 Season
Tuesday: Christmakwanzanukah in July, the Release of 2011
This is the fifth post in a week-long series sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011
It's funny how rough mornings always follow good nights. In 1997 I was a senior (actually, an LSA redshirt junior) at Michigan with I presumed graduation in sight and too much time and money on my hands. "Too much" of either remains a relative term. Back then $26 was enough for lunch, dinner and a night of heavy drinking at Mitch's Place, and time meant there was just enough between last call and class that I could get a full four or five hours of sleep before I started the whole cycle all over again.
But Friday evening, October 24, 1997, was one of those nights where time was truly in abundance. I had no plans for the following Saturday morning/afternoon other than to sleep off a well deserved hangover, order a Bell's pizza and watch whatever portion of the Michigan Michigan State game I was conscious for. So, that night my friend Todd and I went out to the Ann Arbor bars, dragging our poor, screaming livers along with us.
Todd was and is an old friend. We'd known one another since the first day we both set foot in Bursley hall. He a Jersey Shore kid. Me a mixed up kid from Chicago by way of a six year sentence in Dallas. We had little in common on the bat, but that didn't seem to matter. For whatever reasons people become friends and stay friends, we did. The only time our friendship was tested was when we would chase after the same woman or I'd pick Dale Hunter and the Washington Capitals on NHL 94 just so I could make Pierre Turgeon bleed on his 14 inch tube television.
Several pitchers into the night we decided we would drive up to the Michigan Michigan State game the next morning and scalp tickets. Michigan was undefeated and dammit, we weren't going to miss the opportunity to rub someone's face in it. It was the kind of plan that hatches only after the point in an evening where the alcohol in your system has hijacked your neural pathways and diverted every warning signal your brain would normally produce to Cleveland. At the time, as well as I remember it, 2:30 am, it sounded like a great idea. Of course this was also the kind of bargain that can be hatched and memorialized only when at least one party to the agreement doesn't truly believe the other will follow through on it. Some time around 4am wwe parted ways, assuring one another that yes, we would make the game. I walked into my apartment and immediately fell asleep on my couch, full intent on carrying out my original plan, mentally wagering that Todd would easily sleep well past 2 in the afternoon and forget about the whole thing.
At around 8:30 in the morning, Saturday, October 25, 1997, Todd was hammering on my front door like a sledgehammer on concrete. Stumbling grogily to my door I let him in and informed him I was in no condition to drive. Unfazed, Todd informed me he would drive and that I could sleep on the passenger side. I knew he'd never let me sleep, but I reluctantly got ready and we piled into my Blazer with a case of miller lite happily stashed in the back seat around 8:45.
The drive passed with little discussion or consequence as I faded in and out of sleep, but when we approached East Lansing, new life started to breathe its way back into both of us. Driving through East Lansing was like driving through Kandahar, except a little greener. Trash everywhere, people without shoes or pants, smoke billowing from smokey-joes ignited with grain alcohol, people screaming obscenities in a manner we couldn't quite understand. It was a mess.
We'd both headed to the game with what we thought would be enough money to scalp a ticket. In hindsight, it was pretty laughable the amount we thought would buy entrance to the game, but we thought we'd try anyway. After parking the car, we set off toward the stadium two fingers in air looking for tickets. We saw the college gameday crew and Herbstriet predicting a convincing Spartan victory. We saw people vomiting at 10 am. We saw grown men in fist fights. But we never saw a ticket under $200.
When the kickoff occurred, we were ticketless and hungry so we headed to the MSU Union to try and fight a Wendys or someother greasy fast food chain of disrepute. Sitting down in their Union, we met up with two other Michigan fans. They'd both gone to Michigan and been on the Wolverines track team. With about ten minutes of real time left before the half, the four of us walked back over to stadium to see if anyone was still trying to unload a ticket. Predictably, no one was. Looking around we saw no one with tickets, but we did see something else.
An open gate.
Seeing no one guarding the gate, the four of us walked right through. At the time I was fairly certain we'd get the boot within a minute of waltzing through, but it never happened, and we made our way to the Michigan alumni section. Seeing no empty seats we made our way to the top of the Stadium and stood with our backs to the retaining wall watching the third quarter unfold. Then, with under three minutes left in the third quarter, Michigan forced the Spartans into a third and long, and this happened.
I still remember it, as if it was in slow motion. If you're looking for a favorite Michigan Moment, after everything that lead up to it, to see Woodson's interception live, right in front of me, was easily my favorite Michigan moment.
What was yours?