|Probably the first player I ever really remember.|
It wasn't always like this. I have been a Michigan fan pretty much my whole life but never to the extent that I am now. On the most basic level I was born into it. My father was a graduate and devoted fan of the Wolverines which exposed me to the team long before I could ever really have any perspective on what I was seeing. I remember being aware of Tim Biakabutuka
|It wasn't hard to get excited about Charles Woodson.|
High school saw my Michigan fandom grow as my appreciation for the game grew. Much to the disappointment of my mother, I tried out for the freshman football team and made it by the grace of god and an utter lack of players
|I won't soon forget Braylon-fest. Neither will|
my friends from MSU.
I graduated from school at the same time Rich Rodriguez was hired and rather than move home with my parents to a small town that was twenty minutes from everything, I moved in with friends in East Lansing and proceeded to live like the locals and halfassedly search for jobs. I was fortunate to first find Wolverine Liberation Army, then Varsity Blue, and finally mgoblog to help me argue with and keep my sanity amongst a sea of MSU fans.
Today I am to the point where I spend entirely too much time consuming Michigan football news. I have thrown myself so far down the rabbit hole that I started this blog to try and find a positive channel for all my thoughts and research on the team. I am in a word, obsessed. Last weekend after the game I had a few people ask me how Michigan did that day. Not only did I spout off the score but a full recap of what went wrong with the defense, the continuing woes of the special teams unit, and complete offensive stat lines which I recited verbatim. I am to the point where the UFR recaps on mgoblog are the highlight of my week. From what I read on the mgoboard, I'm not the only one.
|Kovacs embodies the new era Wolverines:|
young, inexperienced, but a great work ethic.
This Michigan program is much the same. Coming off years of sustained success the program was thrown out into the wild with the arrival of Rich Rodriguez. Just like my academic career, it seemed all the Wolverines needed to do was show up in the fall and they were guaranteed a certain level of success. Now just showing up in the fall is no longer enough.
I hesitate to try and draw too many parallels between my life and the current state of the football team. I'm not quite that vain, and the two are really too complex to break down side by side. It's not like comparing apples and oranges. More like apples and something much more complex that a whole lot of people actually care about. However, the one thing I keep coming back to is that both my life and Michigan football are currently in a state of extreme flux, where for the first time ever failure seems like a distinct possibility, and that scares the hell out of me.
I root for this team in a different way than I used to. I read the team previews and the reports from spring and fall camp and get to know the players. When the games come I root for success on an individual level as much as I do on a team level. I get excited when Jonas Mouton makes the kind of great play at linebacker that I always felt he was capable of. I cheer when Mike Martin beats a double team to rack up another TFL because I want him to prove the skeptics wrong that said, "Brandon Graham was your whole offensive line last year." And I smile wide at the development of Denard Robinson, a guy no one wanted as a quarterback at the college level who none the less busted his ass to win the starting job despite the doubters and the skeptics, and is now the most exciting force (not) lacing up his cleats on Saturdays. The childish love of the maize and blue is still there, it is just tightly wrapped in the cold logic of an adult who wants more than anything to see his team succeed so in some way he can justify his own time spent wandering lost in the woods as merely a temporary stop on the path to greatness.
It feels anticlimactic to go all this way and not really come up with an answer. I guess in the end my fandom is simply greater than the sum of its parts. My father's love for the team, my long history of rooting for Michigan, my time spent in Ann Arbor as an undergrad, my connection with the mgoblog community, and the uncertainty this team faces going forward have all come together to make Michigan football more than just something that I pass time with on Saturday afternoons. If it is cliche to say that Michigan football is life, then I suppose I will have to accept it for what it is.
|Few moments were better than this.|
I like it this way. It gives me something to look forward to, and a way to disconnect from my own reality. Michigan football long ago ceased to be just a game that was played twelve Saturdays a year. Now it is an old friend. who's success I am heavily invested in.
At the end of the day, that is a good enough explanation for me. I imagine if you are reading this you probably feel the same way.