Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts on the Transfers


Yikes. Take a couple (unannounced) weeks off, and shit really starts hitting the fan. We lost to Northwestern during a miserable day at Michigan Stadium. I left at halftime while we were ahead, something I could never have imagined doing just a short few months ago. I was too numb, in every sense of the word, to willfully stay while every fiber of my body screamed for a warm couch, some hot food, and a clear view of an HDTV. I watched the rest of the second half, still caring about the outcome, but for the first time as a Michigan fan also caring about my sanity, and whether this was all worth it.

I guess I wasn't the only one feeling like that. Zion Babb got kicked off the team, Jason Kates has decided to transfer, and there is rampant speculation that Artis Chambers and Sam McGuffie will also finish their collegiate careers elsewhere. From a completely nonpartisan standpoint, I can't say I blame them. It's easy to sit here, quote Bo, and dismiss the players as not tough enough, mentally or physically, to play for Michigan.

Except, as much as I can, being a 5-11, 140 pound bespectacled aspiring writer, I understand why these guys would leave. Nobody signs up to play for Michigan player thinking 3-8 (and in all likelihood, 3-9) is within the realm of possibility. Recruits weren't thrown into the middle of a Mike Barwis workout on their official visit. Most of this team signed a letter of intent to play for Lloyd Carr. Many of these players saw their positions disappear, or other players leap them on the depth chart, and have little hope of seeing the field is they remain Wolverines. To see the end of your playing career when you're 20 years old can't be easy. I'd be looking for ways to extend it as long as possible, too.

It doesn't just end with football. No matter how much help these guys get, Michigan classes are hard. Nothing in high school prepares you for your first week of midterms, or having hour-long tests that count for 30% of your overall grade, or how hard it is to write a five-page paper when you know your friends are just ten minute walk away, getting drunk at a house party. The flip-side to being a great school academically is, well, that it's a great school academically. I can't imagine how poorly I'd be doing in school if I had to juggle academics with a sport as time-consuming as football.

It's not just the academics. Ever been through a Michigan winter? It sucks. You go outside only as a last resort. The wind cuts straight to your bones at every corner, and it always seems to find a way to blow right into your face. Nobody wants to party anymore, since cabs are expensive and there's just no way you're walking across campus. All the pretty girls in tank tops and miniskirts you saw during welcome week are replaced by an army of puffy Northface coats, scarves, and sweatpants. You're pretty sure there's a girl in there somewhere, but there's just no way to be sure.

North Face, the official sponsor of the least-titillating winters of your life.

I love Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan. I grew up here. I always knew I would go to school here. But for the kids who came here expecting one thing, and getting something completely different, I feel you. As Brian so eloquently put it, these guys want a place that will specialize in Not Vomiting Every Weekday. And maybe that place won't stress you out so much with an academic program that causes 4.0 GPA high school students to decide that Tuesday is a tremendous night to get shitfaced, as long as it makes them forget about their test on Thursday. Maybe they'll even be able to see the sun between November and May.

Although I didn't intend this when I started writing tonight, this has essentially become an open letter to the fans who make personal attacks on the players.

Get a life.


Anonymous said...

I hear McGuffie is now expected to play Saturday. Hopefully he'll jump over somebody.

Anonymous said...

Okay so now RT Schilling is questionable. Hopefully Sam will jump over his replacement.

Anonymous said...

I can give you the smallest bit of hope. When favored, Michigan is 1-4 ; when NOT favored Michigan is 2 -4. Also the close games when we were favored we against poop teams like Miami (OH) and Toledo whereas the close games when we weren't favored were against teams like Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota. My point is that we play better when we aren't expected to because we're a young team. Go Blue!