September 7. 2013: It was the summer of Lennay Kekua, and the theme of the tailgate was catfish. The PA played the chicken dance as Michigan defeated Notre Dame 41-30 behind nearly 400 all-purpose yards and 5 TDs from Devin Gardner who donned the old 98 for the first time.
So exited to announce that due to the plethora of comment cards I received from The Godfather, we will be completely Breakfast Hash Free in 2018! To replace the (what I thought was a UMTailgate tradition) hash, I will be working harder to get some more of Godfather's favorite foods on the menu: Basically, things easily digestible for old people, and that are easy for Pammy to hand spoon into his face.
The talking heads tell me we are but a month away from a pivotal season in Michigan Football history. By my calculations, this is the 21st consecutive such season. Whatever dudes. They're all pivotal. And they're disappointing on some level to 127 teams, so you're probably going to be pissy come December. But at least you'll be drunk and overweight. Here are the ways we plan to numb the pain, the 2018 UMTailgate.com Themes...
**All food, plans, and themes subject to change based on my personal whim and (likely lack of) motivation**
September 1, 2018 - AT Notre Dame 7:30PM, Theme: "Party at The Godfather's Daughter's"
You need to know somebody to be on the list for this event, which is the final straw with regards to the The Godfather's obvious retirement from doing anything tailgate related. This used to be his time to shine. He'd have all the undesirables over to his place and provide food, drinks, and even T-shirts! There'd be vomiting, fights, homeless people sleeping over, and typically a lot of disappointment. Now he's outsourced it to his daughter, who is trapped in a house divided on a piece of property sizable enough for all of us to pee (and vomit) outside.
September 8, 2018 - Western Michigan, 12PM, Theme: The Pancake Breakfast
The home season opens with a nooner, so a breakfast theme is appropriate. It's probably the only game people will arrive early to, ya know, before they get bitter, bored and lazy. Pancake breakfasts are typically used as fundraising events, so it's time you all learned of my deep philanthropic ideals. The breakfast will support the #BassetHoundsToo movement, which keeps canines away from the prodding appendages of the people of East Lansing. Oooh, just think how excited Sparty is going to be that we are talking about them! "They recognize we exist you guys!" Preliminary food plan is: Pancakes, Bacon, fancy syrups and condiments, and probably a quick burger snack before we head in to help those abandoned Bronco bastards continue to un-row their boat.
September 15, 2018 - SMU, 3:30PM, Theme: Low Country for Old Men
Low Country is a fancy, dare I say millennial, variation of Southern Cuisine. Old Men are something we have a large quantity of at the tailgate. No Country for Old Men was a movie that came out the year Michigan lost to App State and featured this super creepy killer dude. Low Country for Old Men is the name of the theme and a moderately clever pun. You're welcome.
So ya, Southern. Preliminary food plan has a morning filled with biscuit sandwiches, sausage gravy, bacon, etc...and an afternoon that has a massive smashed potato casserole, chicken fried steak, and something green.
September 22, 2018 - Nebraska, Time TBA: Sheelytown Polish Festival
We will celebrate Nebraska's rich Polish history with the Sheelytown Polish Festival Theme. You probably didn't know about this strong connection and the proliferation of Poles in Nebraska, but I'm here to learn you stuff. OK, to be honest, I would have found a deep Polish connection with some team on the schedule this year. I've been dying to make pierogis and large vats of pickle soup, and if this kicks at 3:30, I promise to look up what Polish people eat for breakfast too!
September 29, 2018 At Northwestern, Time TBA, Road Theme TBA
I'll be in Chicago. I used to have like 10 places to stay out there but everybody moved to South Carolina. Still looking for that elusive Allinea resy...who wants to sponsor me?
October 6, 2018 Maryland HOMECOMING, 12pm, Theme: The Goodell
Not sure why they pre-hamstringed Homecoming to a noon kick. I feel like 3:30 has been the norm of late, no? Regardless, we will power through with the third in our continuing series of Tailgate Roasts (The Gar 2016, The Godfather 2017) by having the first ever Goodell themed tailgate. Sure, we could have just done a Captain Michigan theme solely celebrating the masked patriarch of the clan, but then we couldn't throw shade at everybody's (or maybe just my) favorite punching bag, Shane. We also hope to have all 245 grandchildren on site.
I wanted to outline a couple of ideas I had for this one, but they're too damn good to ruin. But please bring your own temporary tattoos and be prepared to see Shane sitting in a corner crying over his food.
October 13, 2018 Wisconsin, Time TBD, Theme: Suntory Times
Follow along with me here: I wanted an Asian themed tailgate, basically because I want gyoza (all cultures make pierogi folks), fried rice, and Korean spicy pork on the menu. Wisconsin is sometimes known as Wiscy, Wiscy sounds like whiskey, Suntory is Asian (Japanese) whiskey. There you have it. A somewhat forced yet tasty theme with a oyster pail full of cultural misappropriation.
October 20, 2018, AT Nassar U, Theme: Leave Your Dogs at Home
This is a business trip. I will not speak of it until it has been completed.
November 3, 2018, Sandusky State, Theme: Paella Party + Fried Catfish
Back to back games against the world's 2 most disgusting universities! This theme is an excuse to purchase a commercial grade paella pan setup. Expect saffron studded rice packed with longiniza and shellfishes, and a pile of catfish done cajun style on the side. I'm guessing this will be 330 (or maybe later?) so mix in a breakfast or dinner TBD.
November 10, 2018 AT Rutgers, Time: TBD
I wanna wake up in a city, that doesn't sleep...And find I'm king of the hill, top of the heap.
So, ya, I'll be in NYC and take an uber into Pissedthataway. See you all at Little Branch on Friday night.
November 17, 2018 Indiana, Time TBD, Theme: Lumberjack
Bust our your flannels for the home finale, which will have the traditional Filet-based tailgate fare, usually with a surf option to go with the turf. Do you know how close our last gaggle of IU games have been? They scare the shit out of me. End of year awards and such typically follow, assuming their not outsourced by The Godfather.
November 24, 2018 AT Ohio State, 12pm, Theme: Another name for tank tops
This is a business trip. I will not speak of it until it has been completed.
We sang. We cheered. We lived vicariously through Jordan Poole's smiling face. From all corners of the country, ghosts of tailgates past descended upon San Antonio, joining together to catch a glimpse of the final game of John Beilein's latest miracle creation. It was glorious and sad and fun and excruciating.
I didn't stay for One Shining Moment like I did back in '13. As the streamers fell from the rafters, Jordan Poole wouldn't have a chance to blow confetti off of Jim Nance again, and I was ready to go home. This is not my first lopsided affair, and in my experience there's something cathartic about blowouts. My peace with the result had been made shortly after halftime.
We never thought we'd be playing in April. We didn't think we'd be playing in April 2013 either, which is crazy because that team had twice the individual talent. But at some point, you need to realize that John can take anyone and have them playing in April. It's time we stopped being surprised and learned to appreciate and revere John Beilein. He's the best Coach Michigan has ever had, in any sport. So there, I've said it. John recruits character over stats, develops talent like no one else, and emotes just the right amount of Bo. "The Team The Team The Team" is chanted at the end of every huddle. And Beilein, when pressed about not getting "his" championship, paraphrased Bo when explaining what success is to him, doing his own version of "success is when those players come back and we see what kind of husbands and fathers they are."
I've watched OSM at least ten times since returning to Ann Arbor. There's a lot of Michigan in there. Caught up in my local tunnel vision of Michigan's NCAA tournament run, which was buoyed by the terrible "NBA does NCAA" coverage on TBS, I was isolated from the national attention and broader perspective.
This was a big fucking deal.
Somewhere there's a kid who just decided he only wants to play for the Wolverines, like a younger and more German version of Mo Wagner did back when Trey and Mitch led us to the Finals. And there's hordes of kids that saw something perhaps more important than just success, and that is success with class. From Mo Wagner halting his celebration of the shot of the tournament to console a Houston Cougar, to Jordan Poole giving respect to Sister Jean on his way off the court, to the flurry of post-finals interviews of Michigan players, each of which mostly contained praise for how great Villanova was. This team, so much greater than the sum of its parts, played with huge hearts, amazing togetherness, and a child-like spirit. No one had more fun in March than Michigan. This team, a derivative of one that was forged of near tragedy a year earlier, is the absolute embodiment of their Coach, a man that has changed, adapted, and stayed ahead of a game that has passed so many others by (Hi Tom!). And he's done it with faith, hard work, and occasionally a super soaker.
As the John Beilein narrative devolves into the backhanded complement "best coach to not have a championship," I remind you that John is not done, and does not need your charity. Michigan will be back, probably sooner than later. And they will do it better and cleaner than most, without whining, and without excuses or finger pointing.
This is Michigan Basketball.
March 17, 2018 - Jordan Poole celebrates after hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to defeat Houston and advance to the Sweet 16. Michigan would win 3 more tournament games before falling in the NCAA Tournament Final Game to Villanova.