Michigan fans, it would seem, are obsessed. Under normal circumstances they obsess with things such as wide-spread crime, nasty weather and if anyone really cares about that antiquated first cousin rule. But during the first decade of the brand new century Michigan fans quit paying attention to union strikes and the cute girl across the Thanksgiving table and began to pay attention once more to that pesky team from Ohio.
Who can blame them for having lost interest? During the 90s Michigan simply had to run out on the field to beat NFL loaded Buckeye teams. Time and time again the Wolverines just waited for Ohio State to implode and then took advantage of the situation. Congratulations to them.
But now, during the 00s, there was a new sheriff in town and this lawman bought his clothes at Nerds R Us. Jim Tressel, in ten short years, undid decades of pompous arrogance afforded the Michigan fan due to wins established prior to WWI. In ten years the Cooper era was a distant blur in their broken down Ford Taurus’s rear view mirrors and suddenly they had come to understand that Northwestern had a better winning percentage against Tressel than they did.
At first they shrugged; John Cooper’s 2-10-1 record in The Game afforded them that luxury. But then the loses began to mount. Soon it was three. Then four. Then nine. “How can this be,” they shrieked. “How can the best program in history go down year after year after year? How?” Then they received their answer.
Jim Tressel is a dirty rotten cheater.
He covered up the trinkets-for-tats scandal. He lied to his bosses, he lied to the NCAA and he knowingly- knowingly! - played ineligible players. Why, he was Adolf Hitler and Tanya Harding rolled into one neat little package.
And thus ten years of butt hurt was instantly explained away.
“That’s how,” they mused bitterly over a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon at the last Detroit bar not riddled with bullet holes. “That’s how he beat us…he cheated!”
“It all makes sense now,” added others. “The critical first downs, the stellar defenses, the better game plans, the better athletes…it was all due to cheating.”
And with one fell swoop the decade of shame and open weeping was replaced with anger and accusation. With the snap of a fat greasy finger the Michigan fan base was pardoned from the utter inability to beat a Tressel-led Ohio State. Wiped clean were the memories of close games they might have won, close games they should have won and the few blow outs in which they had no chance.
“Except for the Fab Five, anyone can win titles if they cheat,” they say.
It is the work of a delusional mind that allows such answers to round out their equations. It is the same delusion which allows the Notre Dame fan to think they have been relevant for the last 25 years or for the Florida fan to think that football history only goes back to 1996. It gets them through the night, it brings a peace that could never be found out on the football field.
They got what they wanted. They got Tressel removed. But in doing so they now have a bitter rival who has hired a coach that doesn’t understand compassion or mercy or calling off the offensive dogs while sitting on a 14 point half time lead. They now have to face a head coach who will show them the folly of getting what you wish for.