Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The stars, they are burgeoning

As a Michigan fan, I've had my fair share of tough days over the last two years. But one of the more difficult days for me this year was last Saturday: Championship Saturday. It's not that the Big Ten has a championship game proper that Michigan was missing out on. But as I was watching Cincy vs. Pitt and Georgia Tech vs. Clemson and Texas vs. Nebraska and Florida vs. Alabama, I thought to myself, "Wow, we've got a long way to go." Even with Nebraska and Texas' thoroughly awful performances, I still sat there thinking that Michigan would have absolutely no shot against any one of them. This year, last year, next year. Michigan has so much to rebuild that there are more rough days than good ones in the immediate future.

I don't know who to direct this anger and disappointment toward. Lloyd Carr for leaving the program in a tough spot seems the most immediate choice. But what about Bill Martin's sailboat and the inability to get Les Miles? Would the program be performing as poorly if Miles was coach (read: less attrition, same offensive schemes)? Rich Rodriguez for recruiting and playing walk ons and schematic problems? Scott Shafer?

Frankly, it doesn't matter. Michigan finished in the basement, had an awful defense last year--that looks to get more awful next year--excessive youth, and still looks to be somewhat behind the eight ball in terms of talent against even the middling Big Ten. This is where we are now, and Championship Saturday is a pipe dream. January bowls and victories over OSU are a long way off, even if the latter seems a far more realistic possibility than it did before the OSU loss this year.

And now we're left with a team that I like probably more than I should. Tate Forciers and Craig Rohs and Roy Roundtrees and Vincent Smiths are the future and are somehow supposed to be winners. It's tough to see them in that light though, isn't it? Imagining them hugging after an Ohio State win. If Henne and Hart and Manningham couldn't do it, how will these youths?

One of my biggest problems with Ohio State fans (and living in Ohio, I deal with them constantly) is their arrogance. It comes out in all facets of their discussions about the team and extends to the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and whatever other team they root for. It's why they think Michigan will never win again and they call Michigan $cUM and whatever else is thrown around in Buckeyeverse. But it's tough not to see where they're coming from sometimes. Saturday was such a day.


Before the Ohio State game, I wrote about my coming to Michigan football, and football in general. The NFL was never something I cared about and to this day, I still rail against it. But Sundays have become something of a safehouse for my sports sanity.

I'm a homer, but I like to think a reasonable one. And for all intents and purposes, this blog was named after my homerism and fantasy football. It seems only fitting that fantasy football lineup this year includes Henne, Manningham, Braylon, Avant, Jay Feely, and Breaston. We're not winning. But Burgeoning Wolverine Stars nonetheless; guys I can root for and that make me happy.

And so watching Michigan on Sundays has become something of a joy. And this week was no different as Mike Hart, who I thought had been waived by the Colts, got into the game against the Titans and carried the ball four times for a whopping 11 yards. It's not much but it's something. And it made me smile and think of better times and players that I really truly liked. And then Tuesday rolls around and things like this show up in my inbox:

Second-year RB Mike Hart: “Mike is fine. As you saw Sunday, he did a great job. He has that special magic where he can make people miss. He has great hands and he's a very reliable blocker. He finishes every run. We're happy he got out there and got a chance to show what he can do. I know there a lot of Mike Hart fans here in Indianapolis. I'm one of them. I was thrilled to see how he'd done. He has worked his way back from a tough [knee] injury sustained last season."

That's the Colts GM Bill Polian talking about Mike Hart, our Mike Hart. The guy who was too small for the NFL and who fumbled in one of his only appearances his rookie year. The guy that had been demoted to the practice squad and then presumably waived. He played and got a measly 11 yards on a measly 4 carries and it made me happy. And of course that doesn't mean that he's great or he is fit for the NFL or that he'll even see the field again this year. But it's a little solace in an otherwise bleak football world for the Wolverine faithful.

This isn't to imply that I don't think Rodriguez will be unable to get players into the NFL or that the program's best year's are behind it. At the beginning of this season, as short ago as it was, Michigan was 4-0 and everyone was excited and thought 8-4 was a possibility. And we all started to really appreciate wins for what they were. It didn't matter whether or not it was against Delaware State or not. A win is a win is a win. There haven't been many of those on Saturdays around these parts lately. But Sundays have had a few this year. Go Blue.


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