I recently got to talking with someone about college football, and specifically, what part of the game made me so badly want to write about it. Why when I'm already working full-time hours and trying to live a normal life where I have friends and a reasonable social life, do I still set aside hours a week to break down depth charts, write fawning odes to college kids that essentially wear colors I like when they play sports on TV, and set about emailing other like minded people to schedule them to write the same kinds of things.
My first thought went back to where it always does. I've been a college football fan longer than I wasn't. I remember watching games with my father, with roommates in college, and alone in my basement room in East Lansing because I was afraid to watch with anyone else — those Richrod years, yo. That binds us together as fans. You may not have watched the 1997 championship game with me, but you watched it with someone, and you remember it and how you felt and maybe the smell of the air when you walked outside afterward, or the hangover you nursed as you sat on the couch New Years Day. Or if you didn't you got caught up in this thing some other time later on. You have stories, memories, connections that are too thick to cut with a comically large, but conveniently slow cutting laser out of a Bond movie parody. That's part of it.
I'm sitting at work now, wiling away the time until I can go home and watch football. I did the same thing last night. I'll probably do it next week too. If there's college football on, you can bet I'll be there.
Three years ago I was jobless, broke, and spending hours upon hours writing on a blogspot blog that I created mostly because of what I thought was a cool name for a blog. A few people read it (by the grace of God and Brian Cook, the latter of whom linked to my early work enough to get people interested) and from there I started to get more and more opportunities to write other places. Now I run Maize n Brew, write a Freep column, and get to work with a genuinely awesome group of contributors here.
A lot has changed in that time. Rich Rodriguez is gone and so is Denard. The worst defense I had ever seen has been replaced by something with unnerving consistency in spite of a wholly apparent lack of elite athleticism the past two years. Michigan is as much Michigan as it has been since I was in college, if not in results on the field, at least in general attitude and demeanor.
When Michigan takes the field tomorrow, Devin Gardner — who happens to be one of the first recruits whose recruiting process I followed closely — is going to lead an offense that looks markedly different than the one I wrote about in the summer of 2010. Jordan Kovacs won't be back there as the last line of defense like he was for so long. The faces keep changing behind the blue steel of the facemask, but the maize wings of the helmet link everything together from year to year.
The history is a part of it, but the thing that keeps me coming back isn't the history that I've already lived through and experienced, but that which has yet to come. We stand in a moment of great promise for Michigan football, when it seems not even the sky is the limit and that we could one day soon be dancing above the clouds, watching Jabrill Peppers bounce off stars like a flash of light.
Tomorrow afternoon at 3:30pm starts another chapter in this great and long history of Michigan Football. And there is no place I'd rather be during those sixty minutes than watching every second like I have for so many years, just like there is no place I'd rather be after the game than tap tap tapping at a keyboard, recording a sliver of tomorrow's history, capturing memories in the moment, and sharing my passion for the game with all of you.
We have some great coverage planned for this year, and I couldn't have done any of this without the best damn staff of contributors in the blogging business, who put in hours of time so that you have something to read on your lunch break or while you're on your smartphone in the bathroom. I don't thank them nearly enough, or at all in public. That's a damn shame, because they all deserve it.
Here's to the promise of a new year, a wonderful community of Michigan fans that choose to spend their time with us, and to history in the making.
I can't wait. See you all tomorrow.