The circus of failure that’s three years old now continues in Ann Arbor. It’s painful to watch the disintegration of a once proud football program, but that’s what this is. I’m not the most avid football fan anymore, but i was raised to be one. Specifically, a Michigan football fan. And i’ve always considered myself a lucky Michigan football fan. Thanks to my grandmother’s mid-life BFA at the UofM, my family had season seats when i was little. Imagine being a five year old at Michigan Stadium sitting in the row behind the band…and the trombone section no less. I was there for the video below. I remember chaos as the band tried to turn their hats and play “The Victors” while 100,000 people went absolutely crazy.
I still have the commemorative mug for the 1980 season and the 1981 Rose Bowl victory. It was a gift from my first grade teacher. I was there when Elvis Grbac and Desmond Howard exorcised the demon of Notre Dame, about 15 rows up in the corner that Howard caught the pass to be exact.
And i was there for Bo’s last home game against Ohio State.
Now i’m just embarrassed. A semi-literate, blundering jackass was hired to coach at the UofM three years ago. So far his only accomplishment has been to get Michigan its first major NCAA violation in program history. Everything else has just been losing something. Players he inherited, recruits, games…lots and lots of games, especially the important ones.
The faithful want Harbaugh, but his criticisms of the program are all too accurate. I don’t think he’ll do it. More importantly, his criticism of Michigan football is all too accurate about college football in general. Only a tiny handful of these kids will ever have a successful NFL career, and a degree in “sports communication” is little consolation. Clearly there’s no rule that only idiots can be good at football. Look at Harbaugh’s Stanford team. I watched the end of the Orange Bowl and just about fell out of my chair when his breathless players talked to reporters. They sounded like student-athletes, that is, they spoke in complete sentences with proper tense throughout and other signs of an education. Michigan’s current coach can’t even manage that. Which makes me wonder how he can teach his players a damned thing, even just to value the education they’re earning.
I want to be clear. I don’t think that only kids with a 32 on the ACT should be allowed to play football. I don’t even have a problem with athletes entering under a slightly less rigorous admissions process, because i realize that for a lot of kids in America, playing sports is one of the only tickets to a better life. That’s why it is so important that these young men get the most out of the education they’re earning on the football field. And i think that it’s the coaches job to make that a priority. Coaches are no different than professors in their role and relationship to the students.
So i guess i don’t really care who will be the next coach at the UofM. I just care whether or not he has integrity. I care that he takes his role as a mentor to hundreds of kids with big dreams and slim chances seriously. I understand that it’s big business; teach those kids that big business can be done ethically.
In short, a little less American decadence and a little more of this please: