When every freshman arrives in Ann Arbor for their first year at the University of Michigan, the first lesson they learn is not in Econ 101 or English 125. It is not in the venerated Angell Hall, or in room 170 Dennison Hall. It is on that very first Saturday, in every dorm room, fraternity house, sorority house, and of course, the big house. It is the first Michigan football game in which every freshman, whether they come from Saginaw or Singapore, gets their taste of the Michigan tradition and takes the first step in learning the ethos of being a Michigan man and woman.
They learn every word to The Victors, every chant for every down, and the important fact that it's not yellow, but maize. Over time, they will hear of the legends of Bo Schembechler and his ten year feud with his mentor, Woody Hayes. They will realize all the great quarterbacks that once captained the Wolverines during their college careers. And most importantly, they will know how important the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State is.
Every year, it is "The Game" that is the most important game of the season, regardless of the circumstances. Next to the Yankees-Red Sox, it is the second most fierce, bitter, and historic rivalries in American sports. All year long, the team plays with one thing in mind: to beat Ohio State. Bo Schembechler made sure his students prepared with this kind of mindset. Lloyd Carr made sure that everyone knew that this was their mission. That is why, in every matchup, it was truly a "clash" worthy of such grandiose and self-important title "The Game."
But the days of such history and tradition are gone. Rich Rodriguez, with his spread offense and quarterback that's more comfortable running than passing, has transformed the tradition of Michigan football into something unfamiliar to any alumni; soulless, classless, and devoid of any character. A whole generation of Michigan students have gone through their entire college careers without anything to be proud of. There is no memorable game, nor any standout performance that can be talked about at every Thanksgiving dinner table from here on out.
The game against Ohio State revealed how much Rich Rod does not understand the tradition of the school and the history of the program. Even if he did understand it, he did not cherish it, value it, or take care of it as his own. The players clearly seemed unprepared to face their opponent. They did not show the kind of tenacity and "do or die" mentality that is necessary for this game. Even if you lost every single game of the season, you still played your heart out for The Game. The players did not realize how this very last game of the season is what every single student, every single Ann Arborite, and every single alumni is waiting for with bated breath. And Rich Rod is to blame for this.
So, it is time to move on from the Rich Rod era. It is time to be done with the "spread offense" experiment and go back to what Michigan does best, classic smash mouth football. It is time to bring in a Michigan man, who knows the history and will preserve the tradition. It is time for someone who will invoke the spirit of Bo Schembechler and seek the wisdom of Lloyd Carr. And speaking of Bo, this speech about "the team" chokes me up every time I hear it. It's a breath of fresh air compared to the stale stench that is Rich Rod.