This year, the emotions are different. I have committed totally to Rich Rodriguez as being a good coach, so watching the team finish 1-7 in a conference that I don't respect is going to be tough. Losing what will likely be a lopsided game against a coach who represents everything I dislike in terms of pussified strategic and tactical decision making won't be fun. (Watching the end of the Ohio State-Iowa game last week, all I kept hearing in my head was Yoda: "this is why you fail." You can win the Big Ten by putting a straitjacket on your offense, especially when you're coaching against an opponent that has to do the same for middling talent reasons, but you can't beat real teams that way. Congrats on winning Sagarin's sixth-place conference! [Mandel, you still think that conference strength is cyclical? When exactly can we expect the Big Ten to have an up-cycle?] But then again, my beloved Rodriguez is about to lead Michigan to last place in that craptastic conference, so the joke's on me.)
Tomorrow's game is almost certainly going to be a physical bludgeoning. Michigan has little chance of blocking Ohio State's front four. The only element that could keep the Buckeye offense from running wild is their constipating head coach. By the fourth quarter, when Tate Forcier's legs are sticking out at odd angles and Ohio State has kicked nine field goals to lead 27-6, Michigan Stadium is going to be full of Ohio State fans, celebrating with roses and the four-letter chant that represents the extent of their spelling skills. Naturally, Michigan's staff has made this weekend the big recruiting weekend for the year, so the collection of talented defensive players who could help get Michigan out of the Marianas Trench of a ditch in which the program finds itself will be watching the rival fans take over the stadium, with Michigan fans either heading for the hills or shouting angry, "I don't understand why this is happening to us, so I'm going to irrationally take this out on whomever is in earshot" statements.
So yeah, tomorrow is looking like a total disaster. I'm not one of the mouth-breathing troglodytes who, in true sports radio fashion, have demanded a coaching change at the end of the season. I still think that any coach should get four years, especially one: (1) with an outstanding track records; and (2) who is implementing significant schematic and cultural changes. That said, I just want tomorrow to be over.
To bring this back to a local angle, I was originally thinking that Georgia fans might feel the same way about their visit to the Flats next weekend. On the one hand, Georgia hasn't imploded quite like Michigan has this year. On the other hand, Georgia's humiliation could be worse because there's something more embarrassing about giving up 500 yards as opposed to gaining 200. Assuming that Georgia plays reasonably well tomorrow, I suspect that Georgia fans will feel like they have a chance of winning against Tech and they won't dread that game the way that I'm dreading tomorrow. Anyway, I thought the question should be asked.
Who ever thought that I would recover from being an emotional basket case as a result of Michigan's failings...by getting satisfaction from the Hawks?