Monday, November 08, 2010

Turning the Corner

"Daddy sad."

These were the words uttered by Coffeeson late Saturday afternoon. I had just broken down sobbing, an unexpected and involuntary action in response to what many may deem a silly cause. Nevertheless, there I was, sitting on the floor leaning up against the couch, my face in my hands, tears welling up.

On my television screen were a bunch of kids, ages 18-22, clad in maize and blue jerseys, jumping all over the field. They were smiling, laughing, hugging. And along with them, 110,000 people were going absolutely crazy, happy to join in the celebration.

The Michigan Wolverines had just beaten the Illinois Fighting Illini, 67-65, in triple overtime. My brother had texted me saying he'd just run laps around his apartment. I myself had also thrown up my hands, screaming my head off...which eventually gave way to the crumpled ball of mush that caused my son to worry if I was okay.

I don't cry at the outcome of sports games very often. In fact, I can count these instances on one hand. The only other time, I think, was after the Detroit Tigers had beaten the Yankees in the 2006 playoffs, after which the players ran back onto the field with champagne to celebrate with their fans.

The thing about this instance, however, is that as emotional as this particular outcome was, as insane as this game was, it wasn't just this win that caused it. It was the release that finally came with it. Finally, after 3-9 and 5-7. Finally, after an NCAA investigation and the ensuing tarnished reputation on the coach and program brought about by a hatchet-job of a newspaper article. Finally, after watching this team struggle and stumble all over the field for the past two years and for chunks of this year. Finally, after watching them lose to inferior versions of this Illini team twice, along with loss after loss to nearly everyone else, including others they were supposed to beat. Finally, after being at the Big House in person for '08 Toledo. Finally, after sitting around the week between Christmas and New Year's with minimal interest in any of the bowl games being played because my team hadn't earned a spot. Finally, after two years of fielding a team hampered by injuries, inexperience, youth, and lack of depth.

Finally. Finally. Finally. Finally a 6th win, a bowl game, and no losing record to finish the year. The release that came with that is indescribable. There were plenty of mistakes made; it was far from a perfect effort. There's plenty of improvement left to be made. And many may look at the amount of euphoria being displayed by Michigan fans this weekend and say, "Really? This much excitement about 6 wins? This much excitement about a win over ILLINOIS? This much excitement after your defense giving up 65 points and your offense committing five turnovers?" Yes, really. Read the last paragraph again.

Michigan is turning the corner. After two and a half seasons of crap, they're finally turning the corner.

Finally.

Go Blue.

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