Much was made over the summer of Lloyd Carr's friendship with Russell Crowe. How the Ausie and Carr struck up a friendship, watched some movies and talked some football. Carr used Crowe's movie Cinderella Man as a motiviational device for his team last year.
Strange how a movie about a down and out fighter who becomes a heavyweight champion was used for motivation last year, when Michigan was an undefeated heavyweight champion rather than a tired, bloodied fighter.
It seems much more appropriate this year than last.
Yesterday my wife and I watched a talented, but by no means world beating, Oregon team dismantle a Michigan team everyone in the media, blogosphere, and general public picked as a legitimate national championship contender. This is not an underdog team. This was supposed to be Mike Tyson in his prime. Sadly, it was Tyson in his prime. Michigan was done in by bugaboos everyone knew it had, but chose to ignore. Just like Tyson, we all assumed Michigan would enter the ring and win, simply because it was Michigan. I won't compare Oregon to Buster Douglas, because they're not. They're better than that. More Holyfield toward the end of his career, talented but flawed. The type team tyson was supposed to beat simply by being overpowering. Brute strength over brains and talent.
Just like Tyson, Michigan never really learned how to fight. Guys like Holyfield always won because they were talented enough to weather the blows and pick apart Tyson's flaws. Michigan never got it. they kept throwing blind haymakers, leaving themselves exposed underneath and over the top. Oregon waited Michigan out, knowing the holes they'd seen would expose themselves, and when they did Michigan ended up dazed, looking at the carpet or the speakers over the ring, not knowing what hit it.
The bell ending the fight rang midway through the second quarter yesterday and Michigan hung in the ref's arms wondering why everyone was cheering or booing. So they kept on flailing away till the arena emptied. But the deed was done. Oregon had left with the belt and was talking about bigger things. Michigan was left holding its head, fading off into bolivion for the season.
Now Michigan looks up at an empty stadium and an empty win column. Like Tyson, they haven't learned anything from their losses. They simply continue to do the same thing, using their deminished skills in the only way they know how. Oblivious to the fact they've been figured out. Instead of finding something that inspires them to learn, to adapt, to overcome, they remain the Anti-Cinderella Man.
I wonder if Crowe watched the game yesterday. If he thought the Cinderella Man conversation rang hollow. I wonder if he thought the same thing I did, that the season was circling, counter clockwise, down the drain.