Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Precious. We Must Get It Back: Tolkien, Harbaugh, and the Return of the King

Is the Michigan coaching search done yet? I'm ready, Jim. And you can take that to mean Hackett or Harbaugh. After weeks of wild speculation and irresponsible sports journalism, I'm maddened by the contradictory stories coming from every direction. Each word that can be spoken about it has been said with the exception of one little word that most everyone is anxious to hear: "Yes." Spoken by Jim Harbaugh when asked if he's on his way to Ann Arbor. With his 49ers out of the playoff picture, the way becomes a little clearer and the answer, whatever it will be, seems close enough to touch. His team's season is two games from over. An eerie quiet has settled over the search process and even the media have settled down into a watchful, questioning wait.

So what to write when every list has been made, every rumor has been circulated, and there's nothing to do but sit impatiently to see what happens? In analysis you definitely won't see on ESPN, I'm going to mash-up some of J.R.R. Tolkien's wisdom and foresight on the subject of Harbaugh watch. Strange? Guilty. What can you expect of a Michigan-educated literature nerd? But at least you won't walk away feeling that you've read the same old thing about the same old people involved in Coach Search v.3.0. 

As it happens, weird Michigan fans like me can find solace in Tolkien's words as we look for an end to darkness after years of battle in which all seems lost. The quiet watch taking place now is the deep breath before the plunge. Focus on Harbaugh now is as intense as the Eye of Sauron. He carries our dreams on the path he chooses, the future gold rings of championships, the souls of good men who could defeat evil wizards like Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio. Tolkien, in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings is quite clear on the subject.

On the hopeful calm coming over the search process:

“The world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air.” 

"The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true."

"Something draws near. I can feel it."

"A king will come and this city will be as it once was before it fell into decay."

Don't you feel it, too? The stars are aligning too perfectly for this not to happen.

On Harbaugh coming to Ann Arbor:

“The winds of wrath came driving him, and blindly in the foam he fled from west to east, and errandless, unheralded he homeward sped.”
Weary of the troubles with the 49ers, Jim will come with stealth to surprise us all with his introduction to the media as our new coach.

“A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship.” 
Come home, Jim. To friends and good times.

“His old life lay behind in the mists, dark adventure lay in front.” 
A clear reference to the fogs of San Francisco and the battles ahead of him in Columbus and East Lansing. 

What's going through Harbaugh's mind:

When he thinks of the NFL trying to keep him from Michigan: "Authority is not given to you to deny the return of the King."

Michigan Fans: You're late.
Harbaugh: A wizard is never late, Wolverines. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.

Hackett Makes a Case

"Fight for us, and reclaim our honour! What say you? What say you?"

Hackett: Why do you fear the past? You are Schembechler's heir, not Bo himself. You are not bound to his fate.
Harbaugh: The same blue blood flows in my veins. The same weakness.
Hackett: Your time will come. You will face the same evil (in Columbus), and you will defeat it. 

"The man who can wield the power of this job can summon to him an army more deadly than any that walks this earth. Put aside the NFL. Become who you were born to be. Take I-80."

Who could resist us?

Fans Dream

Michigan Fans: Do you remember when we first met?
Harbaugh: [musing on his first game in the Big House] I thought I had wandered into a dream.
MF: Long years have passed. You did not have the cares you carry now. Do you remember what we told you?
Harbaugh: You said you'd bind yourself to me...
MF: And to that we hold. We would rather share one lifetime with you, Jim, than face all the ages of this world alone. In our sad state.
[MFs hand him the headset]
MF: We choose a mortal life, but your name will become immortal.
Harbaugh: [regarding the headset] You cannot give me this.
MF: It is ours to give to whom we will. Like our hearts.

"From the ashes, a fire shall be woken. A light from the shadow shall spring. Renewed shall be blade that was broken. The crownless again shall be king."

At the Announcement:

Hackett, on his success: “It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.”

Harbaugh: "Well, I'm back," he said. “Was I chosen? Such questions cannot be answered. You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But I have been chosen, and I must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as I have.”

The collective relief of Wolverine Nation:

“All's well that ends better.” 

And ain't that the truth. 

Time will tell, but the day of reckoning draws near. I think it's happening. The silence, to me, seems a deafening YES! But if things go awry, it may change to "LES!" 

And if that single word is not the one we want to hear, I'm certain Tolkien will have plenty to say about that, too.

Come home, Jim.

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