What Are Our Boundaries As Michigan Fans?

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

Yesterday wasn’t a good day for overreactions during Michigan‘s game against Miami (OH), and that’s a good thing. Some early miscues and questionable calls from the sideline received quite a few jeers from fans, but TheBigHouseReport.com’s Twitter account wasn’t blowing up with negative mentions in the same way it was last Saturday against Notre Dame. So instead of pulling multiple tweets from the game, I’m going to pull only one—one that intrigued me—and discuss it.

The tweet:

I want to focus on the last two sentences.

“True fans need to support their team or get out.”

Head coach Brady Hoke obviously shares similar feelings, as expressed in last Monday’s press conference. It received some criticism, but I think the overall reception of his comments on fans was evenly mixed. But here’s the thing: As fans, do we really need to support the team or “get out”?

What I mostly see regarding Michigan football these days is criticism. We criticize the quarterback, we criticize the coaches, we criticize the athletic director. We’re a critical fan base because our believed Wolverines have been left vulnerable to teams that normally wouldn’t be able to hang with them, and those struggles are being coupled with crippling losses to rivals, especially on the road.

Brady Hoke said himself that fans have high expectations for this team, hence the negativity we so often see. Does that justify it down to the very last drop? No, certainly not. But the very last thing I want for the Michigan fan base is for it to become a mindless organism devoted to defending every move of the program. We wouldn’t be “fans” in that case, anyway.

Part of our job, as fans, is to remain critical of the team and keep our expectations high, especially when the head coach himself acknowledges that our expectations are the same as his: beat teams and win championships—specifically the Big Ten Championship. If all the fuss was surrounding this team not having a good chance of winning a national championship this season, then the criticism is completely unwarranted. But for the most part, we’re talking about improvement, and it’s our job to expect and demand that, just as it is the coaches’ jobs to expect and demand that of their players. If coaches aren’t out of line for wanting that, why are we?

“Don’t need fans part time.”

I’ll completely agree with this; we don’t need fans who are all in when Michigan slaps around Appalachian State, but then are nowhere to be seen when Notre Dame delivers a 31-0 blow. Fandom is loyalty.

In this context, though, I can only assume the “part time” fans are the ones who are being critical, and that’s where I find the problem. Again, part of our job as fans of this great tradition is to expect something greater, especially in these shaky times. When TBHR gets a mention that says something like, “Damn, we can’t keep it turning it over like this!” I don’t think they’re part-time fans at all; I think they’re angry, and have a right to be.

When we become critical of Michigan, it is sometimes taken overboard. People are calling for Devin Gardner to never see the field again, and they want Brady Hoke to have a pink slip waiting for him on his desk immediately following the game. But when we’re talking about criticism in its most common form, there is nothing wrong with it. If people weren’t angry about this team right now, and expressing it, I think we’d have even more reason to be worried.

Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of TheBigHouseReport.com. Follow him on Twitter and “Like” him on Facebook.

Tyler Fenwick
Managing Editor at The Big House Report
I am an aspiring journalist studying at IUPUI. I am the third (and youngest) manager of The Big House Report, and it's my responsibility to make sure it runs more smoothly today than it did yesterday.

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