I thought this would have picked up a little more steam throughout the day after it appeared in the Freep and on AA.com. This is a tough one. I mean, Braylon was that feel good story, an under-recruited legacy who came out of the dog house and into the #1 jersey...and he single handedly led the Wolverines back from 17 down with 7 minutes to play against Michigan Agricultural College, making keepsake poster moments out of every Spartan defensive back. Post graduation, he has given back to Michigan, donating money and establishing a scholarship fund. It's tough, really tough, not to like Braylon for what he did, and what he continues to do for Michigan. Quite frankly, I love Braylon Edwards. But I grew up loving Jim Harbaugh too.
On Sunday, Braylon used Sunday Night Football to perpetuate the growing rift between Ann Arbor's pro-Carr and pro-Rodriguez camps, announcing himself as Braylon Edwards from "Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan." I'm certain that in the coming days, Braylon will spin it as not anti-Rodriguez, just pro-Lloyd. His dad already made an attempt this afternoon to cover his son's tracks on WTKA, saying that Braylon works with players in the off-season and generally likes Rodriguez. Already feels a bit like that asshole that tells a racist joke, then tells you "some of my best friends are black." Ya, Braylon is a regular Dr. Watley. And I can assure you, this isn't the first time that Stan Edwards has had to make a WTKA appearance to clean up a mess. I can clearly remember him brokering peace between Braylon and Lloyd on the same airways in Braylon's dog house days, telling us all how "misunderstood" Braylon was.
Honestly though, I'm not here to tell Braylon that he needs to like Rodriguez. I'm also not here to tell him to hate Lloyd Carr. I'm just asking him to like Michigan. What he did on Sunday was counterproductive, immature, and detrimental to Michigan. We've got signing day coming up in a month and one of our supposed ambassadors is basically talking shit about the current coach on national television. Think that sits well with our verbals? Liking Michigan means you can honor your mentor, and at the same time respect the current coach. I don't know at what point Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez became rivals, became something you have to choose between. Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez are not mutually exclusive. Lloyd Carr was not fired. Lloyd Carr was not forced out. Lloyd Carr retired, of his own volition, and while he tried hard to create a Bo-like legacy of coaches to follow in his footsteps, he couldn't pull it off. App State happened. We moved on. We're trying something new.
This is bigger than you Braylon, which is probably the most difficult thing for you to handle. Bigger than you, and bigger than Lloyd. This is not, never was, and never will be Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan, nor will it be Rich Rodriguez's University of Michigan. Not to go all "Ohio State" on you, but this is THE University of Michigan, that's where you're from.
I'd appreciate it if you started acting like it.
UPDATE: Like I said, the spin was coming...
If you see Izzo, tell him I'll be cheering him," Carr said of Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo. "He and Jud Heathcote, those are two of the best guys in the game.
I think he's real, Carr said of Izzo. I think there's no airs and no pretension about him. He bring(s) a great intensity and competitiveness. He obviously has a love for the game and for Michigan State that's special.
I couldn't dream of producing prose that exemplifies the exact opposite of Izzo better than that, other than to say that he is also a tall, joyful man.
So, ya, there's that.
It's been a long autumn. If you missed the trip to Minnesota (which based on the crowd there, you did) then your last viewed sliver of positivity as a Michigan fan came on September 27th. That's a long time ago. And this just in...you've got the longest wait EVER for a chance to peek at victory again.
This fanbase is starving.
This night for me, for the better part of a decade, has meant airplane reservations, hotel reservations, and citysearching for the best steakhouse. The BCS selection show has come and gone, and Michigan was unmentioned. The other bowl selections have come and gone, and Michigan has gone unmentioned. The reality should have sunk in weeks, even months ago. But for me, it didn't. It took a full fledged pasting at the hands of the Buckeyes to show just how far away we are, and effectively shut down this blog for the better part of two weeks.
Enter the smelling salts....
Far be it from me to attempt to find solace in one sport through another, but it's important to recognize that while every Michigan Football fan is not necessarily a Michigan Basketball fan, every Michigan Basketball fan IS a Michigan Football fan. That's why on Saturday, the Maize Rage gave Yankee bleacher style recognition to Rich and Rita. That's why the arena cam found its way to Lloyd and Laurie, resulting in a raucous standing ovation. That's why, as a group of athletes wearing maize and blue did the unthinkable, and the court was smothered in joyous celebration, it was impossible to make the comparisons/assumptions between our two West Virginia bred coaches.
But we shouldn't make this about football today. Michigan knocked off Duke on Saturday for the first time since 1997. On that day 11 years ago, we were just two weeks removed from rushing the field after beating the Buckeyes and completing an undefeated regular season. We knew exactly what to do when we knocked off #1 Duke...we rushed the court. That night, Charles Woodson won the Heisman trophy. It was a great weekend. This, my friends, was also a great weekend. What it means with regards to the remainder of the season and hopes of a tournament birth remains to be seen, but what it means right now is not in question. National recognition...recruits in attendance...a sold-out Crisler arena...two victories over top-5 opponenets...Michigan Basketball is back on the map.
Last night the BTN premiered it Legends of the Big Ten, Lloyd Carr edition. The show was good but I thought this quote was important for all of you to remember:
"First, you as a Michigan Man, are a part of something that is bigger than you are. And if you don't understand that then you don't understand what it is. It starts with being a team guy, a guy that is going to give everything he has, he's going to play for his teammates, he's going to play for Michigan, he's going to try to win for Michigan and in a nutshell that's what it means to me." - Lloyd Carr
Even as things change: new offense, new pregame entrance, new Victors Walk, new muscle mass, new stadium, new tailgate equipment... whether you are a student, a player, a fan or more importantly a UMTailgater, remember...
IT'S ABOUT THE TEAM!!!