I have this vivid, unshakeable memory of the iron clutch of my son's hand as we watched in pain and disbelief the last few minutes of The Horror. We had perfect seats. It was his first weekend as a student at the University of Michigan. It should have been a glorious football Saturday, like so many I knew growing up with Bo.
But it was The Horror. We have never recovered from the trauma. Nor, to be fair, have we been given much of a chance, what with all the misery and turmoil Michigan's football program has suffered since then. We had moments of hope--Hoke's first season was so lovely--and moments of glory--thank you, Denard (among others, of course). Mostly we had endless, endless months and years of questions and disbelief and woe. What had happened? How had it gone so wrong? What the HECK?
Those last few minutes of The Horror, I thought they could never be repeated. Yet I felt caught in an endless loop of them for so much of the past seven years. To make it worse, the AD seemed determined to turn the program into nothing but a vehicle for crass commercialism. When you talk about your students as a product, you have gone horribly, horribly wrong.
But enough. Now we have (yet another) new coach. One who grew up with Bo, played under Bo, quotes Bo before all others in his first press conference. You know, "it would have killed a lesser man."
Hope--delerious, hyperbolic, unchecked--hope springs forth again in full unstoppable bloom. Harbaugh returns as head coach (Jim, not John or Jack) and suddenly you hear talk of prodigal sons and messiahs and instant cowering in dread and fear by all other Big Ten (Fourteen?) teams.
Hm. Overreaction, much?
Part of me can't overcome an obsessive compulsion to read all the articles, check all the news, read every scrap of rumor and information that supports the idea that we could have winning seasons ahead of us. Maybe even next year. National Championships again. Big Ten titles in our future so often they become commonplace and expected. You know, the old days back again.
Part of me sees all the hoopla and remembers the optimism we felt 4 years ago, when the new head coach was so likeable and said ALL the right things at the press conference, and withholds a lot of judgment.
Part of me (I'm a woman of so many parts) thinks of The Horror and shudders. Can we ever have nice things again, after that?
I hope so. Tentatively, and with reservations, I hope Bo's spirit returns to the program. I hope Harbaugh rebuilds the program and stays and proves himself worthy of Bo's mantle. I hope... because it's Michigan. Because I want this to be the last year for a long, long time that I'm watching bowl games and Michigan isn't even eligible. Because the school, and the students, and the players, they all deserve better. Because hope really does spring eternal.