Monday, January 12, 2015

Déjà-vu and '69: Does a Buckeye Win Mean It's Happening?

The National Championship Game tonight looks a lot different than I expected it would a couple months ago when the world was wondering how the NCAA was going to pit two SEC West teams together without angering the rest of the country. Like most non-SEC fans who are sick to death of hearing about SEC greatness, tonight's match-up between Oregon and Ohio State pleases me. At least on the surface. 

I like the new format because the playoffs to get to tonight's game did a decent job of getting two very deserving teams together. In retrospect, TCU may rightly argue that it deserved a playoff berth over FSU based on both teams' bowl performances. These kinds of judgments will always leave someone upset. If they went to an eight team format, Team #9 would feel the same way. For a first time run through the process, I think it's proven itself superior to the old BCS format already. With no changes, we'd likely be watching an Alabama/Florida State or Alabama/Oregon game tonight. 

The moral quandary I feel about this game lies in who to support. I have no affinity for the Oregon Ducks. They can be fun to watch and I like their uniform combos. Forgive me, this is the "girl" in MGoGirl! I also have plenty of unadulterated hate for OSU and it would take a whole separate post to document its history. In the end, I think I can justify nearly any outcome tonight in a way that makes me feel good - or at least feel hope.

If the Ducks Fly High

This is the easiest and happiest outcome to swallow. It doesn't compromise any deep-seated values and beliefs. If the Ducks win, I don't have to live in a world where Buckeye trolls can taunt us with "THE Ohio State University Buckeyes - 2015 National Champions" for the rest of the year and God knows how long after that. The jealous Wolverine in me would take immense pleasure in seeing OSU lose ... and the bigger the better. If the Bucks have to choke down the bitter pill of loss and humility, I can support that with enthusiasm. The Buckeyes always get nice things. Some deserved - I can't deny that they have one dee-luxe incredible coach. Some not deserved - again, that's a whole other post. Tonight, I'm okay to let Urban Meyer eat cold, sad post-game consolation pizza. Again.

If the Buckeyes Rise

This is where I'm supposed to insert the usual platitudes about the B1G not having a great reputation and how an OSU national championship would raise the conference into a semblance of respect again. And, yes, I do believe that it would help the B1G a little bit. 

Most of all though, it would just suck. Helping the B1G isn't a big enough feel-good point to justify puffing up the most irritating fans in college football with the eternal glory of their victory. There would be no end to it for years to come. 

So just how do I justify acceptance of a Buckeye championship? 

It comes down to my feeling that something is happening beyond our control. A little déjà-vu, if you will. A little karmic justice. And all we, as Michigan fans, need to do is be patient and put up with the trolls for a few months.

All the Pieces are Falling Into Place

This is what I feel in my bones. And you may think I'm nuts and that's okay. But IF Ohio State wins tonight, it's happening. 1969 redux. The parallels are there. 
  • I think it's the reason we've spent years wallowing in mediocrity. Like the 1960s under Bump Elliott, whose tenure had some rough years and perennial problems beating OSU and MSU. 
  • I think it's the reason that Jim Harbaugh came to us this at exactly this time, in a moment of great need and desperation for the program. He was schooled by Schembechler, the man who took over a struggling Michigan team from Elliott in 1969. A team for which few people had great expectations going into the season. 
  • I think it's the reason that Ohio State might win the National Championship this year and carry itself with the arrogance of invincibility into next fall. The same way they carried themselves into Ann Arbor that fatefulday in 1969. Defending champs expecting to let the blood of a few Wolverines. And the rest became history.

If OSU wins tonight, it's all happening so that on November 28, 2015 in front of what could be a record crowd at the Big House, Jim Harbaugh will lead a recharged and resurgent Michigan team to an unexpected victory over the Buckeyes - defending National Champions - just like his mentor Bo did 46 years earlier. 

We all know history is bound to repeat itself. In a few hours we'll know just how closely it might come to pass. 

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