Hi, hello and how are you? Fantastic so look, I have a few things I wanted to discuss with you.
First off, I guess a sort of congratulations on in order. Oh, no, I saw the year this football campaign turned out to be so I’m not congratulating you on a job well done, or even on a job done, but I’m congratulating you on MAKING IT OUT ALIVE. That is an impressive feat in and of itself.
I know this is your first year and all so it wasn’t like I was expecting miracles. I spent the year defending your results, after all, you have a different coaching scheme than Coach Carr and you were playing with his kids so it wouldn’t be for at least a year until you could actually go and recruit your own players that any kind of effect would have taken place. I took “Psychology of Sport” with Dr. George so I totally understand the inner complexities of coaching. Or at least the superficial complexities [the class was only a semester long after all].
That said, even I can’t defend the worst performance in 129 years of Michigan Football [the football team hasn’t been that bad since they went 2-7 in 1962 –YOU WEREN’T EVEN BORN IN 1962!]. Three wins? That’s all you could chalk up? Sure you had some hard teams to play, like JoePa’s reinvigorated Nittany Lions [and hey, can we give them a WOOT! for beating the team down south AND for keeping them out of the Rose Bowl? WOOT WOOT JoePa!] but losing at home to Toledo? Really Rich? Toledo? How do you expect I explain that one away? Because it’s really hard to do.
There have been some flashes of brilliance over the course of the season, like that game opening interception during the OSU game this weekend, but those have been outshone by the general ineptitude of the team later that very same game. Like the second half of the OSU game.
But again, first year, new coaching scheme, same players…not much can be done until you recruit the guys that will work best under your guidance, which can’t happen until after this season is done. And even that, it will still take a few years to get everything smoothed out and in good working order. That’s what happens in a rebuilding year. I got that.
However, ahem, what I can’t really get behind is your public exclamation that some Michigan fans should “get a life.”
And this is where I break character: DUDE! You can’t say THAT! Not out loud! And especially not to the papers for the world to see!
I know what you mean, trust me: sports fans are an entirely different breed onto themselves but no amount of rhyme, reason AND logic will get them to see straight. What can you say to a person who is convinced that their team lost because they weren’t sitting in THEIR CHAIR for part of the game? Seriously Rich, what do you tell them, because I need something to tell my sister for all those years of banning her from the room during Yankees playoff games. And even though I know that doesn’t matter, I still stupidly and doggedly follow my made up superstitions. Team starts to lose while I’m watching? I’m turning off the game, not because it’s too hard to watch but because maybe it’s me that’s jinxing them. And I’m otherwise a fairly rational person.
Those of us on the inside know there are more important things going on besides a game but you can’t tell the fans that, no matter how true it is and definitely no matter how much you want to tell them. You just can’t. It’s unfair and stupid but that’s the way it is. Leave that for the columnists and talking heads to take care of because otherwise you make yourself that much bigger of a target.
Let me hip you to a few things Rich:
1] half of your fans are college students and about half of them don’t really care that much about the economy. Trust me. There are plenty of students with deep, deep pockets going to that school. Need more proof? Stroll down the road by the sororities towards the end of the April as everyone is packing up. Notice those car transports waiting outside with all of the luxury SUVs parked on it? They belong to your fans. Think they’re much concerned about the economy?
2] you also have some alumni with deep, deep pockets: these are also known as boosters and considering that this isn’t your first head coaching job, you know how important these people are to your overall job security. If they are unhappy, they will start to pull money out of the program and force the AD Bill Martin to make some decisions. You do not want Bill Martin making any of those types of decisions.
3] under no circumstances are you to alienate your core fan base. Once you start lashing out into a war of words with them the warm and fuzzies dissipate and that coldness you’re feeling is not just from the bitter Michigan winters.
Of course, the fact that you even deigned yourself to say such things in public [keep that to your inner monologue voice] makes me wonder if you didn’t fully understand what it was exactly that you were taking on. This isn’t your everyday football program. Michigan has, or at least used to have [to be fair to you, it has been on the steady decline before you accepted the job], a very prominent football program and illustrious history. You waxed poetic about the traditions of the school’s program and the passion of its fans and now you’re complaining about them complaining? Can you not take the heat associated with such a high profile, national job?
Among top programs there is a certain high-level of expectations that fans have for the team’s performance and quite frankly, that hasn’t been reached at all this year, a fact that is not debatable. And when the team fails to perform then you’re going to hear it. Plus, Michigan fans are picky and outrageous. You’re talking about a group that booed both Drew Henson AND Tom Brady IN THE SAME GAME. FOR EVERY GAME. We’re not happy unless we’re winning, and definitely not happy if we’re losing to Ohio State. You saw how Ohio State got rid of John Cooper after his troubles beating Michigan. Same deal here.
The fact of the matter is, yes, there are more important things than sports. The economy is struggling, people are losing jobs and their homes, education is getting cut left and right, we’re becoming a fractured and divided country, the world is getting hot, stuffy and overcrowded. I get it, we all get it. But remember that sports offer an escape from the reality that is constantly around us. For three hours we can cocoon ourselves in sports and forget about what’s going on. We can high five and hug complete strangers, join in with thousands and yell and scream and celebrate and go home with a warm and fuzzy feeling that will last much longer than that hangover that will inevitably come. Its sports that is able to unite so many different people.
I really hope you have better luck next season because now you have a lot more eyes watching you. You’re going to need all the luck you can get.
Michigan Alumna, 2003
P.S. LZ Granderson is all up in my head. Good show G. Good show!