Soooooo now what?
At the end of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, nobody gets the grail. I mean, the French do, maybe, but you don't even see the thing and King Arthur and company get arrested for murdering a historian.
It's one of the greatest movie endings of all time because it's not really even an ending; the film literally runs out and you get zero closure, mocking the idea that you were ever invested in this incredibly silly enterprise in the first place.
Well. It's good to get invested in something sometimes. Ohio State might play Michigan next season, on and on until the eventual heat death of the universe (or until football is deemed an unacceptable bloodsport by society at large, whichever comes first), but dammit, it'll mean just as much in the 117th edition of The Game as it will in the 392nd.
But because of that, just like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we'll never get a real ending.
In a year we'll do this over again, and even though the outcome is now all-but-certain given the disparity between Ohio State and Michigan, I'm sure that I'll be just as nerve wracked and anxious as I was last Friday. Each new Game is an opportunity to for Ohio State to either lose or gain a pair of holy gold pants, and the outcome is never truly known. There will always be a Threat Level to assess, because the Threat never goes away.
Michigan football is dead. They have ceased to be. Joined the choir invisible. Etcetera. Shea Patterson played an excellent first half, the Michigan offensive gameplan was on point, and stars like Justin Fields and Chase Young were severely limited in their effectiveness. And none of that mattered because not a single person in the state of Michigan had a solution for J.K. Dobbins, so Ohio State still scored 28 points in the first 30 minutes of football.
Game over, bury Harbaugh's khakis at the 50 yard line and call it an afternoon. The Wolverines are done. Possibly forever.
Don't just take my word for it, here's like 50 columns from Michigan opinion havers who are suspiciously just now waking up to the idea that the Wolverines are worse than the Buckeyes, as confirmed by a 29 point loss to Ohio State. No, not the one in 2015. And no, not last year, that was merely a 23 point loss, confirmation of nothing.
I mean the one two days ago.
Dan Wolken, USA Today:
But the real insult is that Harbaugh still doesn’t seem to acknowledge that this is a holistic program problem, not just a bad game that happens to occur annually two days after Thanksgiving.
John U. Bacon, Michigan fan, all around good guy, and writer of cool books:
I was putting mustard on my hot dog in the press box when Michigan kicked off. When I sat down OSU was on UM's five yard line. OSU 35, UM 16, 11:18 left in third quarter.— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) November 30, 2019
Mitch Albom, Michigan fan and a guy who also writes books and who might also be an all around good guy, I don't know, I've never met the dude:
Maybe Jim Harbaugh should Meet Five Star Recruits in Michigan before Saturdays with Harbie makes it impossible for Wolverine fans to Have a Little Faith I'm kidding he didn't say this.
He did say this though!
The Buckeyes are better. Say it and get it over with. Say it and spit the bad taste out of your mouth. It’s not a shame to admit, not when it’s true, and it doesn’t have to be true forever but it’s undeniably true now.
But their team isn't as talented as their players would indicate, and after every Michigan loss to Ohio State during the Jim Harbaugh era the Michigan media has gotten increasingly bold about asking just why in the hell that is the case.
Oh wait, that nerd was me! Unfortunately, Harbaugh doesn't have a response and the obvious answer ("Ohio State, top to bottom, is a better football program than Michigan") is apparently not something that he'll allow himself to admit in public. The long and short of it is that Michigan's pageantry and history mean about jack and squat when it comes to beating Ohio State, but until as an institution they figure that out, they'll keep getting the same result.
But there's no "end" here, no closure. Football programs like Michigan's don't die or shut down, even after getting pasted year in and year out by their rival. They'll muddle along for a generation or two, pretending to give a damn because it's a lot easier than actually giving one, sliding into a cozy irrelevance that would make Nebraska jealous.
Which means that for the past 48 hours or so I've been trying to answer a question of my own: how can there be a Threat Level if there's no Threat? My unavoidable anxiety at the end of November increasingly feels like a personal problem rather than a reflection of anything approaching reality, and I'm not sure if that is enough to sustain this column for an entire season. So the Threat Level may have to evolve.
Into what? Well, don't sweat it, I've got a few ideas.