It's been a long time/I shouldn't've left you/Without some lines about my whines and what my head do...
Wow, so that fucking sucked. Last Friday (not yesterday...and yes, my head is hung in shame), I went to Michigan while my internet wasn't working. It's been a temporary problem in the past that is often cured by the good graces of the technology god. (First of all, all praise is due to the Lord. Without him, I wouldn't be on these internets making posts. He was with me today when I ran back that opening paragraph and made something out of nothing. Sometimes, you get a few good blocks and the metaphors just appear...) This time, I must have done something wrong, though, because he, Time Warner, and Linksys totally sonned me. One new router, thousands of hours, and millions of tech-support phone calls later, I am back in the building.
As frustrating as it was to exist without my favorite internets, it was somewhat therapeutic, too. As we all know, last weekend was a disaster of proportions I still cannot fully fathom. Here is what some of my colleagues wrote about it while I was convalescing in Luddite fashion:
- Brian said:
Well, yeah, it does.
- Johnny said:
...I walked around yesterday, stumbling through the late afternoon hours trying to fathom what had just happened. Three years and three thousand miles didn?t matter. Michigan had lost, and it had happened again.
...Whenever I get asked by my friends out here what is so wrong with your program, you just went to back to back Rose Bowls, everyone has down years, that is my main problem. Any one of the Michigan bloggers who are big fans but obviously do other things with their life outside of football can tell how what plays we are going to run and when and see that they get stuffed by the opposing defense. Now tell me an opposing defensive coordinator who gets paid to do this for a living and spends hours upon hours studying film won't be able to pick up on it as well? Something must be done, some changes must be made and soon, otherwise we could be heading down the wrong path.
What's with the Chicken Little routine? Some Michigan fans won't accept that the situation is dire, and there are deceiving reasons which inspire the generally self-righteous dismissals of founded criticism that routinely emanate from this group of foolish optimists. Michigan won consecutive Big Ten titles in 2003 and 2004 and has played in the last two Rose Bowls. Most programs would kill for that kind of success. That's the line, right? Notions that UM needs to be improving are always dismissed or refuted (because, you know, it's unreasonable to want to achieve more) with that line, right?
Well, here are some things that we need to be honest about before we all seek pride in the soaring heights of not-quite-good-enough: 1) That 2003 team (OSU and ND at home; Doak Walker running back; record-setting senior QB; Edwards, Avant, and some freshman named Breaston; good defense) should have been a national championship contender and yet it still lost three times; 2) The 2004 Rose Bowl was something UM backed into after it QUIT (think about that) in Columbus, leaving on the table both an outright title and a crushing victory over a rival in the midst of a bad season. Oh, and it lost three games, too.
Look, I don't want to tear down my own team; I love Michigan football and I cheer loudly when anything good happens (like, even when we win the coin toss). But I also don't want to pretend that everything is OK, and that a 7-4 regular season during which UM basically played the same game eight times is an isolated event. The bottom could have fallen out last season because Michigan has been afflicted by persistent issues for a while. It just finally couldn't overcome them this year, and the UM tendencies are not just that, anymore. Instead, UM is a program with systemic flaws, institutional shortcomings, that cannot be corrected by some more practice time spent running the toss or some press conferences during which Lloyd admits that improvement is necessary. Large-scale change is required...
Starting this week, Schembechler Hall will be running a multi-part series focusing on these issues and assessing their severity.