Appalachian State. Two words that will forever haunt anyone ever associated with Michigan Football. Just typing those words makes me want to chuck this laptop out the window, go outside, find it, pile all of the pieces up and set them on fire.
I absolutely hate that Michigan is playing them again. Everyone hates it. I'd rather play Slippery Rock. Some people are saying this is Michigan's shot at redemption. No. Its not. There's no redeeming being on the losing end of the biggest upset in college football history.
I don't care how much better they were 7 years ago than they are now. I don't care that Michigan is a 35-point favorite. What I do care about is that Michigan is opening the season against the team that triggered one of the roughest stretches Michigan Football has ever endured.
“We look forward to facing Appalachian State again,” said U-M Athletic Director Dave Brandon.No, we don't.
How they ended up on Michigan's 2014 slate is an abomination of administrative planning. All it does is conjure up images, like above, of blocked field goals, heads in hands, shocked fans and jubilant rivals. How could ANYONE think this would be a good idea to do it all over again?!?!!
If it was a good idea, there wouldn't be thousands upon thousands of unsold tickets. Season openers against sacrificial lambs are nothing new, but Michigan fans are actively avoiding this game because of who it is. Even if tickets were free, it'd be a tough sell. As the athletic director at Michigan, when you schedule a game like this, you forfeit your ability to use big screen TV's as an excuse as to why fans don't want to show up.
And just for fun, guess who doesn't play anyone in week 1 this year? Cincinnati, Kansas, Army, South Alabama. You can't tell me any of those schools wouldn't drop everything to make a trip to Ann Arbor to open the season, can you?
September 1, 2007
If you ask any Michigan fan where they were the day Bo died, I'm sure they could tell you. They'd also be able to tell you where they were 9 months later as they watched an upstart football championship subdivision program march right into the Big House and dethrone the preseason #5 team in the country.
Like any tragedy, people sometimes feel the need to tell you where they were when such and such happened. Its how we cope. As fans, we can handle losses...even big losses...to good teams in big games. The 2012 loss to Alabama was tough, but we dealt with it because Alabama is stupid great at football and they showed it.
But Appy State? You don't move on. A loss to them will fester. Especially when you schedule them to come back 7 years after they single-handedly changed the entire sport of college football.
The summer of 2007 was a hopeful time. Michigan was coming off an 11-2 season where by the end of the year, they were ranked #2 before the loss to #1 Ohio State in the biggest game ever. Seniors Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Jake Long were all back to lead Michigan to salvation. Lloyd Carr had redeemed his career after a disappointing 2005 campaign. The stage was set for Michigan to regain it's spot atop the Big Ten.
But the party never even got started.
The back-to-back painful losses to Appy State and Oregon to open the season, which both featured fast spread-option offenses, were enough to persuade then athletic director Bill Martin that the future of Michigan Football should be the spread offense. The worst knee-jerk reaction ever.
Since that day 6 years ago when Michigan decided to all of the sudden stop doing what they've done since forever and start running a spread offense, their record is 41-39. Their record the 6 years prior to that (2002-2007)...is 56-20. Would a win over Appy State this year somehow, cosmically, realign the stars to satisfy the college football Gods? It would improve that dismal record to 42-39...the score of the infamous 2006 Ohio State game. Just sayin'.
No one really knows what to expect this year. Most fan bases are hopeful in August...like they should be. Michigan fans are hopeful...ish. Maybe not so much "hopeful" as they are "hopeful until week 2" when Michigan has to play a big away game. That's typically when hope turns into terror.
No, for 2014, its all about the proof on the field. Just win. Show me the scoreboard at the end of the first game and then I'll tell you how I feel. Because right now, there's no way to feel. There's no right answer when someone asks you what you think Michigan's record will be. They're all right and they're all wrong.
Was anyone predicting that a 3-9 Auburn team in 2012 would make it all the way to the national championship game the very next year? Was anyone predicting Michigan State would go 11-1, beat Ohio State in the conference title game and go on to beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl? Sparty was 7-6 the year prior.
Much like Michigan this year, both of those schools started the season unranked a year ago. Who's the dark horse this year? Who's going to shock the world? Could it be Michigan?
If you're Michigan and you're staring down the barrel at Appalachian State in week 1, you're not hoping for "shock the world". We've had enough of that. For at least week 1, let there be no shocking of said world. Let's just win. Forget the spread. Just win and move on. The shocking of the world can commence in week 2.