I'll admit that after the 2017 college football season ended, the last thing I wanted to do was see what came of the Amazon documentary show about Michigan Football. Watching the 8-5 nightmare was painful enough, why would I want to relive that at all?
Then the trailer came out a few weeks before the show released and it seriously looked good. Instead of being a show simply about wins and losses on the football field, this looked like a show that was going to give us the glimpse into the coaches, players and program in general that we all had wanted through a tough season. This wasn't going to be like a championship video gone awry because the team had failed to do it, this was going to be a chronicle of what that season did to our Michigan Wolverines on and off the field.
I didn't get a chance to binge it all on Friday April 6 when it was released, but I've been sick lately and confined to quarters so Saturday was a perfect time for it. 8 episodes total, each of them less than an hour in length. I'm in.
After binging through the whole series All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines, I can confidently say that not only am I glad I watched it, but also that any Michigan football fan that suffered through the 2017 season should find some time in their schedule and watch it too. You owe it to yourself to do so, in my opinion.
What do I mean by that exactly? Well if you were like me and many other Michigan fans during the 2017 season you were frustrated, confused, angry and heartbroken for pretty much the entire season through eight wins that were almost all tougher than they should have been, and five losses that outside of Penn State could have gone the other way if only we had a solid QB......or an offensive line......or someone other than Tim Drevno and Pep Hamilton calling plays for us on offense......or if Jim Harbaugh showed the same energy and intensity that we saw him have in 2015 and 2016. You probably fell into one of those four camps of reasoning as to why 8-5 was the final record.
All or Nothing does an incredible job of addressing almost all of those camps, to the point where if you give the show an open-minded watch as a Michigan fan, you might come out of it with a clearer understanding of why this team faltered the way it did in 2017. What makes the show awesome is that it manages to do this without completely throwing anyone under the bus in the process. The struggles and the pain of 2017 are still very much there in a way that we've never been privy to see before, but there's no finger pointing done by anyone involved or by narrator Mark Harmon. You are presented with everything the 2017 Michigan Wolverines Football team had to deal with, what the outcome was and how it affected them. Fully. In great detail.
You really get to know that 2017 team and staff VERY well throughout the whole show. You don't just meet Harbaugh's entire family from Episode 1 on, you also meet Don Brown's family, Pep Hamilton's family, and the families of Rashan Gary, Karan Higdon, Chase Winovich, Brandon Peters and many more on the team. Not everyone is featured or profiled in the show, but you get a great look into the lives of these men that went through a tough season last year.
That's really the part of All or Nothing that makes it a great show: the ability to humanize our heroes at The Big House into regular people and show you their lives outside of the gridiron and how football is just part of their incredible world. It's really an incredible look at the story of 2017 from a lens outside of just being a fan. To see Gary's emotional struggles in a powerful moment with his mother Jennifer, to see Tarik Black's mother with tears in her eyes as she talks to Kevin Tolbert about her son's broken foot, and to see the brotherhood bond between the whole team and the coaches that will never be broken no matter how much we all want to forget the 2017 season. It's seriously powerful stuff and something that really only a Michigan fan will fully understand and accept, especially if you experienced that season as a fan like I and countless others did.
It's not the easiest thing for a Michigan fan to watch at times during the five losses, especially when you remember how you felt when they happened and then you see how the team and coaching staff felt about them. Only a heartless bastard wouldn't feel some emotion for those kids or those coaches after the MSU loss, the OSU loss or the bowl game loss. Sure if you're a Spartan, Buckeye or South Carolina Gamecock fan you'll probably be gleeful at reliving those nightmares for Michigan, but you'll also be wasting time watching a show that isn't made for you and shouldn't concern you at all......unless you're obsessed with Michigan in general, in which case I understand. You poor devils.
If I'm judging All or Nothing as just a Michigan fan, I would absolutely take a show about a much more successful season over what happened in 2017. As a fan of good TV shows however, I could argue that this show is as good as it is BECAUSE the season went the way it did. It's easy and in some cases pretty boring to watch a show about a winning team that experiences a great deal of success because you've got no high and lows or peaks and valleys to entertain you or keep you interested. When that happens a lot of times, like when Big Ten Network does championship season retrospective shows, they'll stretch to find low points in a show to display adversity that the team faced and a lot of the time it just seems contrived or over the top. This is REAL adversity with Michigan Football in 2017 though and we see it up close and personal throughout the show, and more importantly we see the lessons that the players and coaches learn as a result of that adversity. Now whether or not that has bearing on the 2018 football season remains to be seen, but the message is very clear in this show and it is done very well with great production value by Amazon.
The bottom line is watch All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines if you really want some more insight and depth of understanding into what the team and coaching staff went through during a very tough season. Your perspectives on some of what you think you know might change a bit. I've already seen a lot of people change their minds about Pep Hamilton for example, going from fans that wanted him fired along with Tim Drevno to now really wanting him to have another shot to succeed in 2018. Your opinions of Harbaugh's energy and determination may change too. They may not at all and this show just might be a reminder of a terrible season for you, but as a Michigan fan I'm glad to have gotten to know this team better in a way that we fans don't generally see and I truly could not be prouder of them as a fan as I am right now. Here's hoping 2018 is miles better for all of us. GO BLUE!