Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hip, hip hooray to Michigan's blues

Pardon me if I need to put my journalistic instincts in mothballs for a four or five minutes. But hearing bad news about the University of Michigan is the reason. It makes me wanna holler: Hallelujah!

Now, I don’t go as far as Woody Hayes in voicing my abhorrence for all-things Michigan. For unlike the late Buckeyes coach, I have no problem saying the school’s name.

On occasion, I do refer to Michigan, as Woody did, as “that school up North,” but then I’ll grudgingly give the school its just due: Michigan is Michigan; fine, I’ll accept it. 

I don’t, however, root for the Wolverines unless they’re playing Notre Dame. I’d have to turn in my two Ohio State degrees if I confessed to wanting Michigan to beat anybody else.

Like the tempestuous Woody, if I had the chance to bury the Wolverines in points, I’d attempt a two-point conversion with a 37-10 lead in the final seconds. I’d go for two only because the rules wouldn’t let me go for three, which is how Woody once put it.

I dislike Michigan as much as anybody else who bleeds Scarlet and Gray, so no one in America could be happier than I am about the controversy that swirls around Michigan football.

Is it picayunish stuff? Perhaps, but any controversy that stains the school’s holier-than-thou reputation is all right in my mind.

Here’s what the controversy is: Coach Rich Rodriguez, the wrong man for Michigan in the first place, has run afoul of NCAA rules by keeping players at football practices longer than allowed, according to The Detroit Free Press. Current and former Michigan players told The Free Press of the abuses, which have put the program under NCAA scrutiny. Rodriguez is denying these allegations.

But I suspect many schools run afoul of arcane NCAA rules -- even my Buckeyes, as a good friend with Michigan ties took pains to point out. But they aren't under the NCAA microscope; the Wolverines are. 

I wish I could say I want the NCAA to find nothing. I wish I could say I want this issue, if it is true, to be much ado about nothing. I would be betraying Woody’s legacy and my own roots if I did.

I would be delighted to learn the integrity-challenged Rodriguez runs a renegade program, one that breaks NCAA rules. If he were to lose seven or eight scholarships, I’d say good. If he turned the Maize and Blue into one of the Big Ten’s bottom-feeders … hooray, even better.

Call my thinking petty or mean-spirited. Right, it is. But people who do don't understand the depth of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.

The Yankees and the Reds Sox, the Giants and the Dodgers, the Cowboys and the Redskins, the Celtics and the Lakers or the Hatfields and the McCoys … well, the king-of-all college rivalries is that kind of blood feud. 

So as I wait for The Free Press to reveal more specifics in its Rodriguez-gone-wrong saga, I keep my fingers crossed that the situation in Ann Arbor is worse than it seems.






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