As I sit here on my deck in late July writing what will hopefully be the first of many entries on this site, there is a slight chill to the air. And not the normal, because-I'm-almost-living-in-the-Arctic-Circle chill. It's the chill of Fall, barely present amongst the blossomed flowers and green grass and all-encompassing grapevines. The slight kiss of cold weather, hinting at the changing of the seasons and the best season of them all: football season. But like your vision of a perfect woman, this is but an illusion; there are no perfect women, and, sadly, it's only late July.
Each and every day drives closer to the kickoff of another glorious year of Michigan football. I use the term "glorious" loosely, because as you are well aware as Michigan fans or just fans of college football in general the words "glorious" and "Michigan" have not been used in the same sentence for awhile, unless it was in the context of "that was a glorious failure by Michigan". I digress; salt in the wound, kicking a man while he's down, etc.
This season will be one in which no living person has witnessed before: this year a revolution takes place for Michigan football. It should (hopefully) be of the American Revolution variety (good) and not of the French Revolution type (gory). I am a History major (along with English, hurray for lots of reading!) and the first thing we're beaten over the head with until we all succumb to our head wounds and then rise again as half-living, half-dead history zombies is that HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. If you ducked and missed the club that was aimed at the back of your skull, you surely will not dodge this one: HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. There, got you. Now that you know that history, like old men, repeat themselves, this column will go from seeming wildly optimistic to being slightly optimistic. This, if you are a Michigan fan, is a good thing.
Let's review what has happened in the past, shall we? Ancient "Michigan man" head coach with even more ancient "Michigan man" ideas and schemes began to lose it. Losses to inferior opponents piled up, losses to that one school down south came in bunches that would make a banana blush, and people began calling for his head. Athletic facilities began to fall behind other leading institutions around the country, and suddenly the "Leaders and Best" had a very unfamiliar view: looking at the butts of others as they were passed quicker than a Prius on a highway. Suddenly, old-school "Michigan man" is on a seat made of lava and talk of facility upgrades and additional ways of gaining income, until now thought of as "brash" and "new-fangled" and "not Michigan", are being talked about and are likely to come to fruition. The "Michigan way", the safety blanket hidden under by all fans, alumni, and (most especially) old people is ripped away, held in front of the noses of these people, and burned. The "Michigan man" resigns, upgrades to facilities become a reality, an outsider of the Michigan family is hired to be the new coach, and thousands of enraged people all bellow "NOOOOOOOO!" at the same time.
Then what happened? Then, my dear reader, people asked the same question: Who the hell is Bo Schembechler? Ooooooh, got ya. You thought I was talking about Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez, didn't you? And that question everyone asked was going to be something like "What the hell is a Zone-Read Option?". Nope. Remember what we talked about at the beginning of the piece? HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. As you're picking yourself off the floor, and wondering if you've suffered a lobotomy, I can assure you that no, you didn't, that yes, the pain will go away after a while (so much so, in fact, that the clubbings become less and less painful), and that no, in no way, shape, or form am I comparing Lloyd Carr to Bump Elliot and Rich Rodriguez to Bo Schembechler (God bless you, Bo). Except that I am. You see, to avoid the club coming out for a fourth time this piece, these things tend to fall into patterns.
Almost since the beginning of time a "Michigan man" has been the head coach, then has retired and had his descendants coach, until there's a break in the chain because an "outsider" has been hired; said "outsider" is soon wildly successful, elevating the program to heights only occasionally reached by the previous regime, coaches for awhile then retires, leaving one of his descendants to take over until the next "outsider" is hired and the process repeats itself.
It's like in the Bible: Creation of the program begat "Michigan men", Fielding H. Yost married in and begat "Michigan men", Bo Schembechler married in and begat "Michigan men", Rich Rodriguez married in...
You get the picture. The point, to avoid the club one more time, is that these things are cyclical. So please, as you're sharpening your pitchforks and oiling your torches for this fall, remember that these things are usually good, and sometimes they take time. This isn't 1901 where simply changing the scheme is going to produce instantaneous results, or 1969 where simply training the kids better is going to produce better results. This is a hyper-competitive age of football, where rules and scholarship limits and this thing you may be aware of called "practice time limit" and ESPN 8 all skew the game to favor "the little guy".
Give Rich a chance. After all, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; we get to witness, firsthand, the transformation of a football program to once again take its' rightful place as NUMBER ONE WOOOO! and put those morons from that school down south back in their place (shut up, Little Brother, no one cares about you).
This is like witnessing the American Revolution; something that is so awesome and overcomes all odds and morphs into this beast of a nation/football program after the fact.
That, or it's going to be like the French Revolution, and it's going to be bloody and there's going to be heads and guillotines everywhere and wildly unsuccessful and OH GOD WHAT WERE WE THINKING, we're just going to be an after-thought has-been the rest of time.
But HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF, right?