Saturday marks the opening of Michigan football‘s 135th season of action. Many fans are optimistic and excited for the return of meaningful football and the promise that the season could hold. However, there is also a contingent of fans that dreads Saturday because of something that took place almost seven years prior.
The Appalachian State Mountaineers will make their return to the Big House on Saturday afternoon. Yes, those same Mountaineers that marched into Ann Arbor and pulled off the biggest upset in college football history against a Michigan team that had high hopes for the year.
The loss was unthinkable. Embarrassing. Inexcusable. Any of these words and more could describe the feelings that I have towards that season opening nightmare and many other would echo these sentiments.
When Appalachian State was announced as the opening game of this season, fans went absolutely bonkers, saying the game is an unnecessary reminder of what is perhaps the darkest moment in the history of Michigan’s storied football program. In some regards, they’re absolutely correct.
But guess what? It’s time to get over it.
If Michigan had been consistently winning since that game took place, public outcry over this game taking place would be far less than it is now, and cynical fans and observers of the program are using it to pile on a team that has had it rough over the last few years.
None of the players and most of the coaches that will take the field Saturday had nothing to do with that game in 2007. I completely understand why people do not want to see this game take place, but the result will be much different.
I am in no shape or form making excuses for the 2007 Michigan Wolverines. That was as head-scratching and demoralizing a loss as there can be, but that Mountaineers team was not bereft of talent. Seven of them went on to play in the National Football League.
“How dare Dave Brandon schedule this game? Why would they willingly remind us of our lowest point as fans?”
Because you’re talking about it. Period. We don’t need to document the business model of the Michigan athletics department, but because people are talking about it, everyone wins.
I do not understand the rationale of avoiding scheduling games because of past embarrassments. Should Michigan never schedule Oregon again? Because the following week they were taken to the woodshed by the Ducks by a score of 38-7, again at home.
As a fan, I am far more embarrassed that in 2008, a Michigan football team took the field that finished with a record of 3-9. Should they never schedule Toledo again after another bad loss that season?
If we want to stay in the Brady Hoke era for argument’s sake, should they never schedule Alabama again? The Wolverines lost by a score of 41-14 to start the 2012 season. Or how about Akron in 2013? It took a last second goal-line stand to walk out of the Big House with a victory that day.
The examples are endless, and everyone has a right to still be upset over events like these that took place. As Michigan fans, we’ve experienced a lot of hurt recently, but it is all in the past.
Michigan will win Saturday and they will likely do it handily. It will be a big first step for the 2014 Wolverines to take to try and collect their first win of the year. Fans will likely have a lot to cheer about and be excited for what could come the rest of the season.
We’ll have to take the good with the bad on Saturday, and we’re going to have to suck it up when 2007 is brought up and highlights from that game are shown. Some will still feel the match-up unnecessary, while others may find closure in the events of the game.
Personally, I’m going into this game as one that I expect the Wolverines to win and feel pretty comfortable in predicting they will do so running away. This is just another game. A new beginning to what has the potential to be an exciting year if everything falls into place.
You can be sure that this is a game that Michigan will be prepared for and expects to win, as well, but they certainly will be mindful what took place in the past. Out of all the storylines, criticism and distractions that could come from Saturday, one thing is most important out of all.