h1

To Michigan Fans Still Unhappy Even After a Win: Get Over Yourselves

11.13.10

Michigan won back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time in recent memory by defeating Purdue 27-16 on the road today.

This comes after a monster win over Illinois, smothering the Illini’s two-point conversion attempt on the last play of the game that needed three overtime periods to determine the winner amongst two teams that kept waiting for their defenses to make that one stop that would give them the victory.

Surprisingly: it was the Maize and Blue squad that provided that one crucial goal-line stand after having not done hardly anything of note for… well, pretty much the last two-plus years.  And, it was one of the most thrilling and maddening games I’ve seen the Wolverines play.

After a three-game skid that threatened to look like the futility of the past two seasons, the Wolverines are 7-3, bowl eligible, and even winning games because of their defense (rather than in spite of).

There are fans out there who haven’t been happy with Rich Rodriguez since the day he was hired.  Well, they were probably unsure at that moment but they were for sure unhappy when UM started out his first season with a loss and went on to having an embarrassing 3-9 record.  And it’s been hard to convince them since.

Michigan fans are extremely proud of their school, their football program, and – possibly even more importantly than anything else – their winning tradition. I get it.  I went to Michigan.  I love that we have the winningest program in all of college football history.  I love that we have the biggest football stadium in the country.  I love that we have 11 national titles, 42 conference titles, and 3 Heisman trophy winners. I love that we have had the longest active streak of going to a bowl game.

It’s what’s made these past two seasons that saw only three wins in the Big Ten and no postseason berths (not to mention extending the losing streaks against rivals MSU and OSU) even tougher pills to swallow.  No one likes losing. But when you’re not used to losing more than three (four, tops) games a season, you get spoiled.  You get a sense of entitlement.

Since we’re Michigan, we must be great.  Since we’ve always won a ton of games, we should continue to win a ton of games.

After last week’s win, I saw all kinds of comments on Facebook and on news articles from Michigan fans angry over the win.  Despite the fact that Big Blue scored one in the ‘W’ column after a three-game losing streak and became bowl eligible for the first time in three years (and hopefully starting a new record-breaking streak), people were still calling for RichRod’s head for the fact that the team allowed 65 points to be dumped on them.

People in the comments sections also bemused that anyone would bother being excited for a win over Illinois — you can practically taste the lack of respect dripping off the words, as if beating even an arguably solid (UI has had a defense that ranked in the top-20 in the nation) Big Ten team was below them, because historically we’ve had Illinois’ number so therefore they’re always unworthy of beating us.

Larry Lage described the excitement as such:

“The Wolverines, meanwhile, celebrated as if they had clinched a Rose Bowl bid instead of just a trip to some second-tier bowl. Forcier jumped and screamed as he ran off the field, then slapped hands with fans along the tunnel before racing to the locker room.”

Why shouldn’t everyone rejoice? I’m sure if I had been there, wrapped up in the excitement and intensity of the game, rolling with all the ups and downs of the inherent drama, going from crushing defeat when Forcier lost a fumble on his first play to total elation when the defense stopped Scheelhaase’s pass, I’d have been beside myself, celebrating with my fellow Michigan fans in every way I knew how.  It’s why you go to games.

And, of course, after this week’s win, the Michigan fans that I saw on Facebook and even with whom I texted throughout the game, the messages were all negative and pessimistic.  They declared it an ugly win; as if it were still embarrassing and unacceptable to not play a flawless game despite winning by 11 points, on the road, in the rain and wind, and holding Purdue to not a single offensive touchdown. How cynical and impossible-to-please are we when all we do is focus on the negative in a victory?  Sure we had five turnovers on offense, for the second week in a row.  But, c’mon: leave that for the coaches.  They’re the ones who are supposed to never be happy, even in a win — but not us fans.

I say to those cynical people: get over yourselves.

I think it’s because many of these people aren’t fans of RichRod, so they have to justify their dislike even in the face of his success.  We won?  Well, yeah, but look at those turnovers.  Our defense held Purdue to only field goals?  Great, but they still racked up nearly 300 yards against us.  We outlasted Illinois in triple-overtime?  Did you see the score, though!? At this point, they’re too proud and have been too vocal in their opposition to Rodriguez as head coach that they can’t now admit that our team is improving.  So they have to just focus on the negative and miss the entire joy of watching a team grow before our very eyes.

The fact is that we’re 7-3.  We’re .500 in the Big Ten.  And we’re going to a bowl game.  We are improving.  Our offense is ranked 5th in the nation.  Our rushing offense is set to break all kinds of Michigan records — a school known for its rushing prowess.

To not enjoy these past two victories is to miss the fun in being a fan of a team.  The point of being such a huge fan is that your day is either made or broken by the outcome of this weekly game.  Winning brings euphoria; losing drives you to bitterness and finding yourself irritated by anything anyone does around you all day.  Winning – for us fans, not for the kids who play the game – is everything.  There are no moral victories against your arch-rivals.  There is no consolation in almost.

And, these past two Saturdays in November, we won.

So, let’s enjoy it.

Image courtesy of larrysphatpage’s Flickr Photostream.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: