Michigan. 42 Big Ten championships. Bo Schembechler. #1, #21, and Tom Brady. Charles Woodson. Our legacy is carved in season after season, in the hard work, the stellar performances, in #134, in clouds of dust, in Michigan Men. It is a legacy molded by older, better, bigger brothers, if not literally, then proverbially. It began being carved before Nazi Germany, before the Internet, before the radio. (Yes, before the radio.) It's a program steeped in history, a history many fans don't really know. In fact, it's a history we have a complicated relationship with, one we collectively love and hate - '42,' we'll say. '134.' But some fans don't care about a Michigan Man, they just want to win. They don't want a cloud of dust, they'd prefer the spread. They don't care about the performances of yesteryear. They don't want the hard work.
The post-Lloyd Carr years have called us to question how our history relates to us. How much do we embrace it? There's something to be said about winning more than any other program, but not being satisfied. Is that it? Are we just impatient for that next chapter, the next great name to travail the pages of our legacy? Like the freshmen athletes coming onto campus, do we need to be taught the meaning of Michigan? Do we know that Fielding H. Yost, who coached Michigan football from 1901-1923 and from '25-'26, invented the position of linebacker? Do we care? What about Fritz Crisler (1938-1947), who used separate players for offense and defense before anyone else did it? Maybe we do, maybe we don't.
But what about the next chapter? At Michigan, you don't just perform well, you add to a legacy and build yourself a place in the annals of Michigan lore. This is part of being at Michigan. Will we embrace our legacy when we win again? In the modern age of football, with the spread attack and Rivals.com, it helps to know who you are. We can be proud of ourselves as a fan base and fall in love with great offensive line play. I think we may be getting there - once, for a moment, we doubted who we were, and we let people we didn't know into our home. But if football is indeed a microcosm of life, then you pick yourself up after a turnover and keep playing. And we shouldn't give up on the game, because it's there for the taking. Life bends to those with passion, and with focus. Legends are coming to Ann Arbor, and we just don't know it yet. But it is, after all, Ann Arbor.