Friday, November 20, 2009

This Is Going to Suck

I've been a Michigan fan for two decades and I have never had a greater feeling of dread before an Ohio State game than I do for the one that will be played in Ann Arbor tomorrow. There have been times where I felt really nervous. (1997 comes to mind. The fourth quarter of that game was absolute torture. 10.75 perfect games coming down to a terrifying effort at holding onto a six-point lead with an offense that could not get a first down.) There have been times where I've worried about getting blown out. (1993, my freshman year, comes to mind. Michigan was 6-4. Ohio State was 9-0-1. Final score: Michigan 28 Ohio State 0.) Last year, I just wanted the game to be over quickly so that disaster of a season could end.

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 getting satisfaction from the Hawks?


Anonymous said...

Disagree; Michigan's best chance is for Pryor to make a ton of costly mistakes that generate turnovers. This is one of those rare situations where Tressel's conservative gameplan is probably appropriate.

Of course, if OSU wins tomorrow Rodriguez will have lost as many Big Ten games in 2 seasons as Tressel's lost in 9. So Tressel probably knows what he's doing with this one.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to RichRod? You mention he has made significant schematic and cultural changes, but so has Paul Johnson, obviously with much better results.

I have a hard time believing RichRod has suddenly become a bad coach, so what is it that's happened?

PS: Enjoy the blog, and have become a recent convert to Euro futball thanx to a recent switch in cable providers. My "A-ha!" moment came a few weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon when I realized I could either watch some dog of an ACC/SEC/Big10 12 o' clock game, or watch Manchester United vs. Liverpool at Liverpool. It was a very easy call.

Hobnail_Boot said...

Ahhhh, the '93 UM-tOSU game. That was the first live college game I ever attended.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to RichRod?

RichRod appears to be a terrible diagnostic (at least defensively), and he hired a terrible defensive coordinator (Robinson) who has shown that he's a terrible diagnostic for the past 9 years. If RichRod had been able to convince Casteel to follow him from West Virginia, things probably wouldn't be this bad.