We've sucked since the internet. There, I said it. Well, maybe not the early internet, but this blog filled internet...this post 1997 internet. UMTailgate.com launched in November of 2000, and you can count on one hand the number of times Michigan has been somewhat nationally relevant in the revenue generating sports from that day until today. But, like Notre Dame, we have a certain caché because of our history. We've been consistently good to very good at winning football games for quite sometime. Actually, we invented this football shit, or we at least taught a class in it in South Bend in the late 1800's.
In hoops, we broke our Final Four cherry in the mid-60's with back-to-back trips. We faced and fell to that undefeated Indiana squad and a young Bob Knight in the championship game in '76. We had our football coach dismiss our basketball coach on the eve of the tourney in '89, and we cut down the nets in Seattle anyway. And paid for or not, we changed the entire face of basketball (not just college basketball) with five freshman armed with showmanship, baggy shorts, black socks, back-to-back championship games, and the ability to wipe their collective asses on the center court 'S' in East Lansing.
I had a sweatshirt in 8th grade that had 1989 National Champions on the front. On the back it said "As if that weren't enough...1989 Rose Bowl Champions." We used to routinely dominate both sports folks. I'm a firm believer that it's not arrogance if you actually are THE SHIT.
In other words, we've been here. We were here before you, and we will be here after you. It's just been so long, and those times are so undocumented. There were two newspapers, maybe 2 or 3 beat reporters. Not 50+ twenty to forty year olds documenting every second of every game with passion and prejudice. A veritable hoard of fans with a voice, waiting for a moment like we saw today. Following many of these writers on a daily basis, I've seen them all deal with crisis, heartbreak, controversy, and occasional relief....but never flat joy, real dominating joy of a national accomplishment.
Four years ago, we had a party because we made the tournament...
Today, we are partying like it's 1989.
I am excited to read these here internets in the morning.
And while I hate to think of the Final Four as a final destination, the sports world has made it so...hell, Sparty lives by it. Regardless, a new banner will hang in "the house that Brandon built with your donations," and the wound left from of the two that Mary Sue stuck in the Bentley Library will start to sting a little less.
Along with that banner, the stuffy annals of Michigan history welcomed a new group of young men into permanent historical relevance today. This team will be remembered forever. You'll tell your kids about how Trey Burke stole an entire basketball game away from Kansas. How he has molded Mitch McGary in to his second in command. After that, pick your poison, either Nick or Tim is going to be hot from behind the arc. This is a really great team, one with a level of youth that led to underachievement during certain times of the year, but that seems to have found its stride and confidence at the perfect time.
Today is for the fans that have waited so patiently, paying prices and jumping through hoops as if we won the national championship in EVERY sport EVERY year.
Today is for the players that were unjustly punished for things they didn't do, things that happened 10-years before they put on the block-M.
Today is, as my good friend Chuck Winters called the victory over Colorado in 1996, "redemption, vindication."
Anyway, here we are, Atlanta bound, two wins from having the ultimate happy ending to the story you'll tell your kids. Enjoy this week...and smile.
It's Great to Be A Michigan Wolverine.