Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkey Legs | by Jay

I'm about two days late on this, but since this is a blog of record I wanted to archive a few things before we move onto the matters at hand: eating some turkey, and beating SC.

Green Jerseys. I was scratching my head when we ran out of the tunnel in the gold-on-forest colors. Here's Charlie's rationale:

Two nights ago I was sitting there with my wife and my son. My son actually brought it up he said, "Dad we should wear the green uniforms." "Charlie, that's an unwritten rule, uniforms you never wear when you're playing against the No. 1 ranked team in the country."

"He goes, well, Dad you tell me how special this senior class is. It just doesn't seem right that they don't get an opportunity to be honored as seniors going out." I thought for a 13 year old kid to make a statement like that, I thought it made a lot of sense.

So I sat down with our captains and I brought it up and we went over the pros and cons of wearing green. I felt that we would get a little juice in the locker room and by the fans when we went out there, which I was definitely concerned with us being flat...

But I thought more importantly, it gave an opportunity to let this special group of seniors, which we really feel that this is a special group, is kind of like our gift from the team, the coaching staff, the underclassmen, to our seniors.
I get it. I think this redefines the rules of when we wear the green, but I get it. I almost expect a yearly appearance from now on, and not just when we're underdogs to a top team.

A Moment for Bo? Bo Schembechler was a giant personality, and despite his record in the bowls (and a distinct lack of a national title) he was definitely one of the iconic figures of the game over the last thirty years. His death was a sad event for Michigan, a proud program which he rescued from the doldrums; and a loss for college football at large, which is now deprived of one of its more cantankerous, colorful characters.

And while we offer our condolences, we shouldn't forget who Bo Schembechler was vis-à-vis Notre Dame. His passing is a newsworthy event, and we acknowledge it and we pay our respects and everything, but we shouldn't forget that this is someone who really hated us during his lifetime. This was the guy who famously said, "to hell with Notre Dame", and the guy who not even six months ago was once again bitching publicly about ND. I remarked to a friend of mine at the game that any knowledgeable Irish fan should be treating this like the death of a lifelong enemy, like the passing of a Soviet Premier or something. (NDoldtown ran with the same sentiment and came away with this brilliant parody.) CNN actually had frontpage coverage of the Schembechler memorial yesterday, and Lloyd Carr summed up Bo's feelings for our alma mater:
Bo did not have a particular fondness for Notre Dame. One day I got a call from Lou Holtz, who offered me a job as defensive coordinator. So I went in to see Bo, and told him about the job, and how I thought I should take it. Bo leaned back in his chair and said, "NO. You're NOT going to Notre Dame. You're MICHIGAN. So forget that." Now I was 40 years old, and it was better than he was paying me, but I didn't go. I can promise you this: the first time that Bo Schembechler will ever cheer for Notre Dame will be this Saturday.
So color me confused as to why we gave Bo a moment of silence at the Army football luncheon on Friday, calling him "part of the Notre Dame family", and then gave him another moment of silence at the game, on national TV. I realize a lot of people (especially in Michigan) were sad to see him go, but Notre Dame was an object of scorn for this man for his entire life. There is paying respects, and then there is reverence, and I think some of the PTB at Notre Dame got swept up by the (inexplicable) national outpouring and forgot exactly who it was we were eulogizing.

The Black Knights Ride Again. Bobby Ross called three timeouts at the end of the game so he could score a meaningless touchdown against our second string and walk-ons. Did Bobby have money on the game (the early line was +32, and Army would have covered with the extra point)? Or was this retaliation for us going for it on 4th on our own 20? When asked about why we went for it, Charlie replied cryptically, "There is a reason, but I don't want to talk about it." I am truly mystified. What was he talking about? Any guesses?

I met up with my cousin Pete after the game at a big Army tailgater. Pete's a former West Pointer who also played football for them (he was the "passing quarterback" in an option offense, and when he would come in -- maybe twice a game -- you could see the defensive backs immediately start backing up). We jawed about the game a little bit. He likes Bobby Ross, but we both agreed that Army had no business running any offense but the option.

A TV was on, and we watched the end of the Ohio State-Michigan game, with the dreams of a title shot for the Irish going up in smoke (any other outcome would have been better than a close Buckeye win: an OSU blowout, a Michigan win, anything).

But no matter. The circled game of the season for us was always this Saturday at the Coliseum. It's our Super Bowl; the bowl game is far away. Pete also has an MBA from USC, and he actually switched hats from Army to So Cal at the tailgater, shifting allegiances with the swap of a baseball cap, for which he caught no small amount of shit. We will be watching the game together this Saturday at my sister's wedding reception between toasts (and dodging my mother). It's going to be a doozy.

At the end of the Army game, after the players did a victory lap, and Brady & Rhema jumped into the crowd and led everyone in a cheer, "BEAT SC! BEAT SC!", the scoreboard magically changed:

With those green jerseys in the foreground, I couldn't help thinking about last year's game, and how close we came to knocking off #1, and how gut-wrenching the final minute was, and how devasated I was at the loss. Well, it's payback time. Happy Thanksgiving, and game on!