It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine. Except for the times when it is not great. Which is most of the time, actually.
This may come off as sour grapes to some of you. That's fair, but you're wrong and an idiot for thinking so. Let me explain.
In the aftermath of Michigan's 92-87 victory over Ohio State Sunday afternoon, I was admittedly bummed but equally entertained by a well-played game where it looked like both teams had fun, for the most part. Outside of the Wolverines' late run that was fueled by a remarkably dumb no-look behind-the-back pass to a screener who wasn't paying attention, the two squads on the court looked very much like contenders primed to make some noise next month.
As the CBS broadcast shifted to golf coverage (yeah, I watch golf both voluntarily and gleefully), I was grateful for the quick distraction, but it got me thinking.
Distractions are important. When teams I care about suffer a loss, I use past victories as a coping mechanism. Many of us do. We can relive Ezekiel Elliott's near-criminal assaults of Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon on Ohio State's way to the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship. We can rewind 12 years from then and bask in the glow of a bunch of slow midwesterners usurping a dynasty in Tempe, Arizona. And even some of the olds among us can conjure the glory days under Woody Hayes.
Then there's the 1b tier of memories. The sweet victories over rivals or teams you love to hate. The turn-of-the-century November dominance over that team up north. That Fiesta Bowl win over Clemson from a month ago. The sweet demolition of Notre Dame in various New Year's bowl games. Or how about that time William Buford urinated all over Draymond Green's senior day?
That one is so underrated and grew sweeter as Green's role as my personal villain developed an addiction to speed when he became a member of Golden State (long-suffering Cleveland here, yes send help plz).
But looking through this lens as a Michigan fan is, well, depressing.
The top tier of memories is few and far between. Dating back to 1948 (yeah, three years after World War II ended), Michigan's football and basketball teams claim just two (2) national titles.
The football title came in 1997, and it's a distinction the Wolverines technically share with Nebraska, which finished that season 13-0 to earn the Coaches Poll national championship. These two teams never got the chance to settle things on the field because, much like Michigan's football success, college football was old-timey, dumb and bad.
The lone basketball championship came in 1989 when the Wolverines beat Seton Hall in an 80-79 overtime thriller — a really cool memory for any 32-year old Michigan fans able to recall memories from infancy.
That's where the well runs dry for modern-day Michigan fans. After that, the 1b tier of memories is fueled by the basketball team's recent success and that one football season in 2011 when Michigan managed to squeak by the worst Ohio State football team in at least half a century.
The notable 1b memories are highlighted by yesterday's solid win over Ohio State. Then there's that March Madness run in 2018 that featured wins over *checks notes* 14-seed Montana, 6-seed Houston, 7-seed Texas A&M, 9-seed Florida State and 11-seed Loyola Chicago before getting pantsed by top-seeded Villanova in the title game.
The 2013 tournament run was a solid showcase up until Michigan lost to a Louisville team that was essentially a walking NCAA violation in the title game.
Needless to say, it's been tough sledding for our dearest rivals since the turn of the century, and there isn't much in the way of distraction for the fanbase when things go poorly.
But hey, at least things are turning around against the little brother in their back yard and whoops wait nevermind.