I don't like it when my teams lose. In fact, I hate it. It makes my skin crawl.
Part of the reason why isn't the loss itself. It's the fans, so called pundits and trash talkers that do everything in their power to troll you afterwards, especially if you lose to a rival.
The 21st Century has been anything but kind to Michigan Football when it comes to major rivalries. In 2001, Ohio State hired Jim Tressel and in his decade of tenure as the Buckeyes head coach he went 9-1 against Michigan, a stark contrast from previous head coach John Cooper's 2-10-1 record against the Wolverines, which was a great time to be alive for sure. Urban Meyer is in his sixth season at OSU and is a perfect 5-0 against Michigan there.
That's just the beginning of the nightmare. In 2007, Michigan State hired Mark Dantonio as head football coach and he is now 8-3 against the Wolverines, with four of those wins coming in Ann Arbor at The Big House. Now granted, six of those wins came during The Dark Times of Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke from 2008 to 2014, but it's beyond maddening to consider that Michigan's primary rivals are a combined 17-4 against the Wolverines in the past decade, the most recent win being a 14-10 debacle which saw Michigan's offense turn the ball over to Michigan State five times and manage only 300 yards of total offense.
Naturally, the headlines have been nothing short of vile:
Yes, those are vile to me. I told you, I hate when my teams lose.
Now look, I won't even deal with the full unpleasantness of the game, with everything from ESPN's Spartan Love Fest during the entire broadcast to the refs that managed to give MSU home field advantage in the first half, because the truth is that Michigan deserved to lose that game. Well, the offense did. On all levels and in all facets. Blocking, ball security, ball control, red zone, field position, play calling, clock management, etc. All of it was putrid for the Michigan offense against its in-state rival on a national stage at night in front of 112,000 fans that got drenched in a monsoon during the second half. It was a bad game for Michigan, there is no doubt about it. Everyone shoulders blame and everyone gets to live with the sting of those rats in East Lansing taking Paul Bunyan back there yet again.
So now we deal with the aftermath, which is nothing short of biblical already. For someone like me that is a rational Michigan fan, I'm basically dealing with several levels of classless behavior for at least the next week from the following sources:
- MSU fans that love nothing more than to pour a giant bag of salt into your gaping wound. All of you can go straight to Hell, I mean that with everything I have in my cold black heart. You had no business being in that game let alone winning it and now I have to deal with your fanboy chirping about how Harbaugh is one of the worst coaches in the country and can't hold Dantonio's jock.....the same Dantonio that half of you idiots wanted fired after you won three games last year. Go share the Paul Bunyan Trophy with your prison brethren and call it good, you classless little rats. Was that too harsh? Good.
- Pundits and experts that spell doom and gloom for Michigan and are itching to put Harbaugh and his staff on the hot seat. Without question, BTN, ESPN, FOX and any other sports outlet that covers college football will be dancing cantatas on the figurative graves of the Michigan offensive coaches and Harbaugh himself. Expect Paul Finebaum to chirp about it on his show, expect Mike Valenti to have a field day with his daily browbeating of Michigan fans on 97.1 The Ticket, expect former players from MSU and OSU to chirp about it on television and social media, and expect Michigan to be declared the worst ranked team in all of college football over one horrible performance. If there is one thing that is certain about life itself it is that our misery and pain as Michigan fans is joy and rapture for the rest of the world. Everyone else loves to hate us. Period. When we lose, especially badly, the jokes, the memes and the genuine cruelty can't come fast enough.
- Michigan fans that are beyond impatient and now want the entire offensive coaching staff fired, up to and in some cases including Jim Harbaugh himself. Believe it or not, this is the worst group of them all because these are Michigan fans that are choosing to ignore reality and practicality in favor of hyperbole and snap judgment. These are people who think we were better off back in The Dark Times with Rich Rod and Hoke because Hoke had a better winning percentage at this point against the rivals. These are people who only see the 1-4 against Dantonio and Meyer now for Harbaugh and completely ignore the fact that it's Year 3, or they know that it is Year 3 and they think he should be ruling the roost now because they ignore the fact that unlike other successful coaches in Year 3 like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh was sandbagged with his first recruiting class by the previous regime, so instead of a Top 10 class of 25 kids in his first year like both Saban and Meyer had, he was stuck with a class ranked 50th of 16 kids, half of whom transferred or left the team by now. This means an offense in Year 3 that is devoid of super talented juniors and is heavily reliant on freshmen and sophomores to get the job done in several places. In fact, aside from Mason Cole, Patrick Kugler, John O'Korn, Ty Isaac, Grant Perry and Karan Higdon, the entire rest of the offense that regularly starts is underclassmen, especially at wide receiver. Good luck winning a national title with that because neither Saban nor Meyer had to deal with that one bit.
Look, I understand the frustration to a point. After The Dark Times, Michigan fans are tired of excuses and waiting for the ship to be righted. They want to go back to beating both rivals into submission, they want pretty blowout wins, an offensive line that blows everyone five yards off the ball on every play, running backs like Mike Hart and Tyrone Wheatley, wide receivers like David Terrell and Braylon Edwards and QB's like Tom Brady and Chad Henne, and since they haven't had that for so long, they want it all right now. They see the salaries that the coaching staff is currently making, they see the lack of results offensively every week and they are out for blood and a pound of flesh right now. Patience is the last word they want to hear at all about Michigan Football......which is partly why I am going to say it here because I couldn't care less if they don't want to hear it. The truth is that patience is needed here because this team full of underclassmen has got some growing up to do and that only comes with game experience, not practices.
I watched that game against MSU and I saw a young Michigan team that had no idea what that game was going to be like. No idea that MSU wasn't going to be intimidated on that field because of how many times their stupid program has won on it in the last decade. No idea how physical they were going to be and how chippy they wanted the game to get. No idea how personal and emotional that setting was for them, especially with a chance to humiliate their hated rival on ESPN in front of the whole state of Michigan and the entire nation itself. They were expecting a football game and they got a street fight, which is what MSU does under Dantonio. It's dirty, it's ugly and it's grinding but it's what they do. Our kids didn't know that going in and they weren't going to know that until they experienced it themselves. Now they have, in brutally honest fashion and they will never hear the end of it from anyone, including our own fans. This is the time when a team faces true adversity and decides whether or not they are going to answer the call.
It's very easy to point the finger at people and say it is their fault that games are lost or that things happen. It's much more difficult for people to look at all sides of a situation and understand exactly what is going on that is causing things to be the case. For me, I'm not happy about any loss whatsoever, especially to THAT fanbase in East Lansing, but I'm also not surprised, nor am I angry about it. I said going into the season that the floor for a Jim Harbaugh coached Michigan team was 10-2 and I stand by that. One of the games I thought they might lose was Florida and they didn't. The other one I suspected was Wisconsin at Camp Randall in November so two losses are certainly still possible, but I'm not allowing the MSU game to plunge me off the ledge into "this is a 6 or 7 win team" territory like so many fans have already done. I'm not allowing it to change my opinion of Harbaugh as a head coach, or my belief that this team is talented enough to win the remainder of its games on the schedule. They hit a major snag against the Spartans and it's going to hurt them, much to the delight of Dantonio and his classless cronies, but this team and these young players will learn from this pain, their coaches will help them learn from it and it is up to them to decide how they are going to fight back for the rest of the season. Michigan is now a one-loss team, that is true. So is Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and USC, all teams that lost while being ranked in the Top 10. If none of those schools are going to give up at this point in the season, then neither should Michigan......or its fanbase.