Down. Dead. That's the story that sells the papers, the magazines, or has them clicking stories on the internets. Michigan's fall from grace is a happy tale for those outside of the fanbase. Many have been waiting a lifetime for this moment, pining for a chance to throw back into the face of a Michigan fan their years of pent up frustration. 3 and 9. It's akin to getting a handshake with one hand while getting a middle finger with the other as casual acquaintances that know your allegiance but barely know you give you the "Hey, how you been?!? What's up with Michigan football, huh?!?" And each transfer, for better or worse, is met with some sort of glee. "Hey! Saw that (insert quitter here) transferred to (insert Big 12 school here). What's happening to that program, huh? Bo must be rolling over in his grave." They don't really want answers. They really don't care. They just want to keep poking you with that stick. At 3 and 9...there's nothing you can say. "We'll be back." is simple enough, but citing evidence outside of the elusive stats of Rich Rod's 2nd year at other institutions is a difficult task. Plus, we're not sure we believe it ourselves.
But on one sunny Saturday afternoon, the believers and non-believers alike gathered to catch a glimpse of the uncertain future, hoping for some good news. A new quarterback that just 3 years ago didn't have a driver's permit appears to be leading this offense, and showed flashes of brilliance against a defense that by Spring Game rules was barely allowed to touch him. He did throw some good balls, and showed a decent pocket presence. He seemed to make decent decisions with regards to running when the line collapsed around him. Whether he can actually elude a hit...or more importantly take a hit...remains in question. What is not in question is his athletic ability, which seems to be a significant upgrade from what we saw last year. Put simply, in a vacuum, Forcier throws a better ball, is faster, and is more agile than either option we saw a year ago. But making assumptions that he will be better come gameday are probably premature. He saw a lot of action against a second team defense, the second team of the Big Ten's worst defense and the worst defense in Michigan history.
Outside of quarterback, everything else was equally tough to judge, which is to say it was tough to judge positively. Special teams? Meh. Kicking game? Ugh. We have no placekicker, and even Zoltan had the shanks.
But there was a positive...one that shined with certainty...and that was the event as a whole. People came in droves to tour the locker room, see past heroes play a game of flag football, and to watch the Maize face the Blue under the pretense of hope. Say what you want about the new regime, they created the hype necessary to pull off a successful event using tools that were previously reserved for the spreading of viral YouTube videos. Facebook, Twitter, and the like are now a part of Michigan Football. The old folks will have to adjust to the era of social media like a previous generation adjusted to forward pass. In the end, with a little help from mother nature by way of a beautiful Spring day, 50,000+ made the pilgrimage to the Big House. And that's a good thing. It spawned a spattering of good press, which while possibly counter-productive depending on how big Tate's head gets, still was the first positive press to make it's way out of Ann Arbor since Michigan's 20-point 4th quarter dispatched of the Badgers on September 27th.