Before the game, the talk from Michigan fans and radio hosts and blog writers was actually about The Game. How to win it, how not to lose it, and how much a win was needed and wanted.
And how possible that win actually was.
They picked Michigan to beat Ohio State. They believed it was possible. Hell, they believed it was probable.
Or at least they wanted to believe it was probable.
They had hope.
For maybe the last time.
After the game, the talk turned to OSU’s online classes and cheating and how it’s good that Michigan would never resort to such things.
The excuses emerged like unknown cousins following a lottery win, but if those excuses were such powerful factors in the game, why wouldn’t they have been brought up beforehand?
Why is it that no preview of The Game said anything about Michigan not having a chance because some of Justin Fields’ classes don’t take place in a classroom?
As if a classroom is the only setting where learning takes place. Ryan Day hasn’t needed a classroom to teach Michigan fans how to count into the 60s the last two years.
There was nary a mention of tattoos from 2010 in any positional breakdowns. What a gaffe!
You know what is more of a factor than a couple of online classes or some 10-year old tattoos?
Being able to run the ball.
You know what else?
If you can’t do either of those things, then maybe it’s time to get a cottage up on the lake with Northwestern and read poetry together by the light of the fireplace.
But that’s not what Michigan is, even if sometimes they’d like you to think that. Let’s not forget that they are paying their coaching staff around $13 million a year, and they’re not doing it to make sure kids are reading Leaves of Grass.
Michigan fans don’t want to root for a football factory?
That’s a load of crap.
They’d give up Kurt Vonnegut’s left testicle to be in the College Football Playoff hunt every year.
All Michigan fans want is to be able to talk about football superiority. That’s what they talk about from January to September. I see it, I hear it, I interact with it. They want to root for a great program.
Resorting to spurious barbs about academics or cheating after yet another loss is the only lashing out that can be done as a fan base brushes off the dust and grass stains, checking for bruises, broken bones, and open wounds.
This is a Michigan fan base that probably doesn’t want to resort to excuses, but has had no choice for the last two decades.
They want to root for the program that so many promised them they had this year.
The one that was favored to win the Big Ten and go to the playoffs despite the fact that there was no defensive line depth, no running game, and multiple starters who would never see a starting lineup at Ohio State.
But they had a quarterback and… the law of averages?
Here’s a tip for you — the only thing the law of averages has ever won is a coin toss.
Ohio State may have beaten Michigan 56-27 on Saturday, but this game was won long ago.
It was won when Urban Meyer went into Texas and signed JK Dobbins, Jeff Okudah, and Baron Browning in the 2017 recruiting class.
It was won when the Buckeyes signed defensive lineman after defensive lineman for the last five years.
It was won when Ohio State discovered 3-star receiver Chris Olave out in California. So far under the radar that the blips weren’t even present.
It was won when Ryan Day turned Justin Fields from an elite recruit who was a gimmick player as a true freshman at Georgia into a Heisman candidate and a likely Big Ten record setter in his first year as a starter.
It was won when Michigan failed to recruit enough talent to build usable depth. And then failed to develop it as well.
It was won when only six of Michigan’s 30 signees in the 2017 class became starters.
It was won every day. Every workout. Every meeting.
If Ohio State ever loses this game again, they damn sure won’t be looking at anybody other than themselves for allowing it to happen.
I’m not going to destroy Jim Harbaugh for going 0-5 against Urban Meyer and Urban Meyer Jr. Most coaches would.
I mean, Jeff Brohm wouldn’t. Kirk Ferentz wouldn’t. James Franklin wouldn’t. Mark Dantonio wouldn’t. But just imagine the amount of cheating those guys must have been doing to have had any success against Urban Meyer.
I see people writing and talking about the death of the rivalry, but it’s not dying, it’s just not the two-way street Don Brown said it was.
It could get there again, but it’s up to Jim Harbaugh to make it happen.
And it will take much more than he’s given to this point.
But then why should he bother?
Michigan fans don’t want a football factory, remember?
As if one Tom Brady is enough and two Charles Woodsons is too many.
Did Wisconsin have online classes this year? Was Penn State cheating?
Both teams handed a loss to Jim Harbaugh this year, and it wasn’t the first time.
They must be doing something shady.
Or maybe they simply have better programs.
Just like Ohio State.