I was out of town for the game last weekend at a lake house with remote Internet access that consisted of a blackberry and an old tube television that somehow managed to find ABC on the dial. Yes, there was a dial. With such connectivity it was impossible to get to this site to post anything meaningful about the game, and once I got back to the land of the wi-fi, most folks had already gone ahead and put their mushy feelings down on paper and moved on to Notre Dame. Forgive me this look in the rearview as a simple indulgence. After last season, I've earned it.
There is nothing to be said about last season in this space that has not already been typed, screamed, or vehemently thought out as you lie in your bed. For most of the folks who have stumbled across this website, college football is the brief window in your year where the lights flash and the bands play and your senses go into overload mode and it's about all you can do just to take in the colors. You watch Michigan play every weekend, sure, but you probably also watch Miami and Florida State and Alabama and Texas Tech and revel in the insane conglomeration of personalities that make the sport what it is. Lee Corso puts his head gear on and the games begin; ending only when the WAC nightcap has sounded its final horn. And don't even get me started on Thursday games. Tulsa vs. Colorado State? Don't mind if I do!
Then, as quickly as the countdown to kickoff clocks hit zero, it's December 1st and it's over. 3 months. That's all we get before it's bowl season, and sure you'd like to see your team play once more, but honestly the bowls are a simple reward for the kids who gave up their summers to entertain you. You can't get tired of it because there simply isn't enough time. Then the team that you thought you loved graduates, and your left with a bunch of new faces - maybe even a new coach - and you've got to learn to love them all over again. If you've stuck around long enough, you will.
Last season, for a Michigan fan, the colors may have been a bit duller, but I still got chills when I saw Crabtree haul in that game-ending catch, and I still watched in awe as a seemingly out-gunned Utah team stuck Alabama. All the components were there except Michigan. It was like Christmas had come - all the decorations were in place, the radio had switched to its 24/7 DEATH KILL ME NOW holiday music - but there was no present for Michigan fans. Just a lot of complaining, infighting, and bad football. We were stuck out in the night watching everyone else celebrate, which can be a damn fine view except that you'd rather be inside where it's warm and maybe have a celebration of your own.
In 2006, Ball State took a Michigan team that was a hair's breath and a ref's flag from potentially playing in the National Title game to the wire. In 2007, Michigan lost to Appalachian State. in 2008, Michigan lost to everybody. For Michigan, there was no cupcake game, and we finally realized it. Western Michigan might as well have been Ohio State in my mind. Then, amazingly, all the things that I had talked myself out of believing - that a freshman (2 freshman!) could lead a competent offense after last season, that a defense could stop a 5th year senior QB, that this team could handle what figures to be a contender for the MAC title - started creeping up over the horizon. The grainy broadcast of my dial-laden television provided the first rays of daylight that Michigan fans have seen in over a year. And Tate threw touchdowns, Shoelace broke free (prompting me to yell "nobody's catching him now!" despite the fact that I had never actually seen him run), and the defense was hitting with intent, and Michigan won going away.
This season, Michigan will probably not contend for the Big Ten title. And it's absurd, given where we were in 2006, that I would be this excited about a win over a MAC team, but damn it, here I am. If last season was the dark night, then last Saturday was the first few rays of light streaming out over the horizon. It's not so much that those glimmers of light are important in the grand scheme of things; it's just that after spending so much time in the cold dark those first few glimmers are all you've got. And who knows? Maybe the dawn will give way to what we're all really waiting for: broad daylight.
Shoelace's 43 Yard TD Run (via rs207200)