It's the end of a miserable season, and quite honestly the end to a miserable run since Dave Brandon was named the athletic director.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and go through the minutiae of what happened while Brandon and Hoke were at the helm of this program (Anthony Broome goes over some of it here); we are well aware of the issues the team faced. This is about moving on.
The clamoring, shouting, yelling, and blogging that called for the heads of Brandon and Hoke have been seen through to fruition. We got what we wanted; they are gone. Now we hold on for dear life and hope that the next man brought in will turn things around...for real.
One of the things that must go with Hoke and Brandon is the Michigan Man/Fergodsakes frame of mind that kept people stuck in an era when perhaps prestige and history really did mean something to recruits--or at least more than it seems to mean today. These days, a recruit is just as apt to commit to a school because of all of the different combinations in the uniform as they are for the legacy of the program itself. Michigan fell into the trap that young men would commit just because it's Michigan, or even for only the winged helmet, and they fell into this trap without even attempting to remain relevant. Fergodsakes has forsaken Michigan football.
In order to get back to a level of success and prestige that the vast majority of us are used to seeing in Ann Arbor, the entire program must learn to pull itself back up. Bit by bit. Commit by commit. Play by play. Greatness must be earned; it isn't given to you because of what you were once upon a time. Great is what you are. Greatness must be achieved, worked toward; only then can the domination begin. And the domination will return, but not because of Fergodsakes, but through the hard work and determination of administrators, coaches, and athletes to maintain a level of integrity off the field and excellence on it. That is what makes a Michigan Man.
The title of this piece is borrowed from the Tom Stoppard play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in which Guildenstern says,
"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."
Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the bumbling and clueless Hoke and Brandon were methodically led to their own demise, regardless of The Player (us) who tried to give them clues to their end. It was Hoke and Brandon who have crossed the burning bridge that was once Michigan football, and they do so with nothing to show for their progress. It is the fans who will live with the memory of smoke and watery eyes.