We learned more from a 12 hour practice than we ever learned in school

I had a job; I had a girl; Had something going mister in this world

There have been two songs playing in my head for about a week. They’ve also been wearing indentations in my car seats from being played so much and I think the ipod is just playing them by default now; pretending the rest of the library doesn’t exist.

The first isn’t happy. The guitar riff hangs ominously in the air. Desperation is, as the saying goes, palpable.

Life isn’t so easy in the region that was formerly the automotive manufacturing capital of the world. All of us are feeling the squeeze. I work for a company that was, in happier times, one of the biggest employers in my hometown and a gleaming, glass office building was a monument to the niche they carved out. I joined at the tail end of this boom, and I’ve seen men I’ve known my whole life laid off. We’re working to change the culture, to diversify, to return to glory, but so far it’s only slowed the drift downward.

My football team isn’t doing so hot. I’ve never been one to care much about the ribbings from rivals, but acting like a football violation somehow makes my education invalid … well … that does sting a bit. I know it’s irrational, but it’s life. I’m not going to fight anyone over it. I will just wish it goes away for now.

I’m not a big fan of going out on limbs. But I did to support two men I have believed in. A President and a coach. Neither inherited an ideal situation. Both promised a revolution of sorts. Neither is having much success, and the public isn’t much for patience in these times.

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you were cryin’ cryin’ you were so alone

I have a vested interest in their success. Externally, I want them to succeed because they manage two things I happen to like very much. Internally, I need them to succeed because I can’t go on living in a world where Glenn Beck and Drew Sharp are right and I’m wrong.

Change takes time and it takes a lot of luck. Every set back and distraction has only served to sidetrack the agendas I, in my heart, believe are the right course. Each sidetrack increases the chance of failure. It feels like momentum keeps rolling in the opposite direction; the direction that ends with me homeless and wrong.

As this song nears its climax, I occasionally find myself once again staring at my meager belongings and mentally figuring out how many boxes I’ll need for my escape. I’m young – I could go anywhere. Then the drums kick in, and I’m thinking about what I can do tomorrow to be better at what I already do, where I already am.

It’s only appropriate that after an agonizingly long off-season we’re forced to endure the biggest bombshell of them all on the eve of kickoff. Sorry, Rosenberg and friends, you aren’t sucking me in.

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Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound

Saturday they will play football. No worries, I’m not going to give you the cliché and grating list of 100 Sappy Things I Love About Michigan. And I’m not going to regale you with a touching story about the time my grandpa drove me into Ann Arbor for the first time and I spontaneously orgasmed and he got pulled over and had to explain to the nice police officer I was just excited about the city and no don’t worry nothing inappropriate is happening and yes he is my grandchild no I didn’t kidnap him.

The songs and uniforms and crowd and all that jazz is nifty. I dig the scene, man. But I’m there for football. These dudes could be playing in all white uniforms against a team in all black and be named “Mr Jones 1” through “Mr Jones 22” and I’d be there watching or stuck in front of the TV because I like the fucking game.

Michigan three top QBs, (from left) Tate Forcier, Nick Sheridan and Denard Robinson, pose for photos during media & fan day at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Sunday.

We swore blood brothers against the wind
Now I’m ready to grow young again

That’s why The Story pisses me off – not because I feel a need to defend the time management decisions of a 20 year old or have some sort of crushing need to see Michigan be VICTORIOUS over all comers – but because it has nothing to do with the game. It’s kinda related to the game, but it’s not about watching teams of 85 battle each other, it’s about disgruntled dudes and old whiny dudes with an axe to grind and rules and shit. Fuck all that. I want to see some dude hit some other dude.

And while I’m a Football Man first and foremost, I’ve obviously got a little something in my heart for the Block M. It makes me mad to think about the guys still here – working their asses off through those alleged 12 hour days and not complaining – being treated like they aren’t big boys old enough to make their own decision. When shit hits the fan, and it has, you need to work that much harder to get out of it. You can leave, that’s fine, or you can stay and work. The guys that left shouldn’t be “saving” the guys who decided to stay. We all make our own choices and live with the consequences.

Those who stayed at Michigan, and those of us still working in factories and offices designed specifically to feed King GM, know that times have changed. We also know how much work it’s going to take to change everything we’ve ever known and catch up to those that already changed. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

That’s all I have to say about The Story, except for this final vintage WLA shot:

Michael Rosenberg, you limp wristed piece of shit impersonation of a reporter, you can go fuck yourself in your own piss hole with a tetanus covered pipe. Grow a pair of testicles like a real man and be upfront with the people you are trying to interview. It’s not hard to trap 18 year olds into saying something stupid. It is fucking cowardly though. Take your wannabe Woodward and Bernstein ass and go do some investigative reporting on why you are working the sports beat in a dying medium if you are so god damn smart. And all of us bloggers and writers and radio talkin’ dudes wasting our  time on this story – which will go nowhere – can at the very least be forced to watch you perform that brutal act of self-satisfaction.

It doesn’t matter what the Sharp and Rosenberg style “fans” think anymore. While some of their criticisms have been valid, they’d been frequent enough and ridiculous enough at times to finally convince me they don’t care what Rich Rodriguez and Michigan do – even if they win, they will find something wrong. Let them hang themselves with their rope of doubt. It’s not our problem anymore.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez waits as various team photos are organized during media & fan day at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Sunday.

There’s a war outside still raging
You say it ain’t ours anymore to win

Saturday, we’ll take a break from the pay cuts, layoffs, and bleak forecasts to go watch these college kids fight their battles. This is why I love sports. Michigan can solve every problem they have by winning a game. That’s no easy feat – If you haven’t managed to learn in the past two seasons that no game is a gimme than I really feel for you; mostly because you must have a hard time eating soup without hurting yourself.

You can focus on trying to parse the draconian NCAA rulebook and wring your hands about the childrenmygodwon’tsomeonethinkofthechildren!!! all you want. I’m here for the game.

That’s the scenario. Hungry young team looking to define itself versus relatively veteran and overlooked team looking to make a statement they are in the running for Best Team in Michigan. The debut of a squadron of angry young men in winged helmets out to defend their coaches and school. A nice guy on the sideline who keeps getting pummeled by jackasses from all directions no matter what he does. A potential future NFL QB on the Bronco side. This all makes a compelling FOOTBALL GAME. And that’s what really matters now – the season. Year 2. The Second Campaign. Let the war begin anew.

Michigan football players take the field for practice in Ann Arbor on August 10, 2009.

no retreat

Michigan running back Brandon Minor goes through drills in Ann Arbor on August 10, 2009.

no surrender