Friday, September 07, 2007

Being a Wolverines fan is just as painful as being a Lions fan

This weekend is the true start of football season for me, as I'll be able to watch the 2 teams I've rooted hard for since I was a wee child, the Michigan Wolverines and the Detroit Lions.

As I thought about my life-long fandom of 2 teams, that for the most part, are on opposite sides of the spectrum, record-wise, I realized something. Both teams have brought an extraordinary amount of pain into my sporting life. It's a surprising thought, but when you really think about it, it's quite true.

The Lions dishing out the pain is a given. Considering the following, a great deal of suffering is the only option: Decades of do-nothing ownership in the Fords, a pair of historically lousy general managers in Russ Thomas and Matt Millen, a string of moronic/inexperienced/overrated head coaches whom are given several years too many to fully show off their ineptitude, 50 years of bad QB's, and 1 playoff win in my lifetime.

That's painful to just read, let alone live through.

So how can the Mighty Michigan Wolverines even compare to the Lions, pain-wise? They've won more games than any other school in history, have been lead by a series of hall of fame caliber coaches, won numerous Big Ten titles, bowl games, and a mythical national championship, all in my lifetime, and are rightly considered a national power, one of the gold standard football schools. That's all indisputable, but...

And that's the rub. There's always a "But," an "If," or a "Should of" when it comes to the maize and blue.

But the Wolverines are better and more talented than Appalachian State! If it wasn't for that that blocked goal! If Lloyd had prepared the team properly, Michigan should of beat Appalachian State like a drum! But they didn't...

Every year, save for the marvelous 1997 season, that has been the story of Michigan Wolverines football. having to use but, if, and should of, while trying to explain an unexplainable loss.

You know Michigan's bad loss is going to happen, it's just a matter of when. Be it losing the 1st game of the season. Losing the last game of the season. Losing to a much less talented team. Losing to your most bitter rival.

Is there another school that has had such a long and illustrious history of bitterly disappointing, unfathomable losses? Think about some of the weirdest, strangest, most unexpected, and absolutely heartbreaking losses in college football history, and Michigan leads the pack...

Blowing a huge lead to Miami at the Big House. (I was in the stands for that one...) Kordell Stewart's miracle Hail Mary. All the weird losses to Notre Dame, from a last play field goal when a gale force wind suddenly eased, to Reggie Ho never missing, to Bo Schembechler's stubborn refusal to kick away from Rocket Ismail and Tim Brown. The yearly loss to a down Big Ten team in the 70's and 80's while highly ranked.The "Spartan Bob" clockgate game. Donovan McNabb running unmolested through the Wolverine defense. The 54-51 track meet loss to Northwestern. The bizarre loss to Minnesota in '05. Being owned by Cheaty McSweaterVest and tOSU.

Losing all those bowl games. The yearly embarrassment of laying an egg in the Rose Bowl. The "Phantom fumble." Bo's heart attack before the Stanford game. Being run off the field by Tennessee. Blowing the Alamo Bowl against Nebraska. Texas winning on a late field goal.

Now add Appalachian State to the list.

There's plenty more. Need I go on?

The big difference between the 2 teams is that the Lions never get my hopes up. Their season is over before it even starts. A loss, is a loss, is a loss. At least I'm prepared for the inevitable pain that is to come.

But Mighty Michigan? The dream of an undefeated season, and a national title, is alive at the start of every season. At the very least, 10 wins and a January bowl game are normally within reach. It's not an unreasonable belief, as Michigan is almost always loaded with talent. But on the way to that bowl game, to that high ranking, Big Blue somehow finds a way stumble just enough to break their fan's hearts.

It's an annual rite of a Michigan fall. The Lions and their annual death march to irrelevancy, and the Wolverines losing a game (Or 2) they aren't supposed to.

So as we watch another season of Lions and Wolverines football, be prepared for them to bring the pain. The Lions bring it weekly, and the Wolverines when you least expect it.

It's been the way in the great state of Michigan since...Well...Forever.


  1. You are absolutely Correct. I've been a Detroiter (until last week) and fans of both teams since I was 8 years old (36 now)... and it truly is a toss-up as to has provided more heartbreak. A Sad State of Affairs.