Who Do You Love?
[Ed. note: If you're googling the song reference, it's the Bo Diddley one, not YG.]
I have been a Michigan fan since I got out of high school. Before that, I was an Ohio State fan, but only because they wanted me for their "honors" college. True story, bro.' Also, it was because it seemed to drive everybody else at school into a lather. I was a traitor to my state and all that was good and pure and right. Even Sparties were on board with this one. The only worse possible choice would have been Notre Dame.
When college time came, it went the directional school route. Some of my best friends in the world went east to Ann Arbor. I first saw Ann Arbor on a December night. Overwhelming, but I had no time to explore. The only information i had was rough directions to AA from my road atlas, and then the scribbled directions I got calling from a payphone outside the Betsy Barbour Residence.
Why call from outside the Betsy Barbour Residence?
Because I went inside to use a phone, and instead asked for Fawn Leibowitz.
[Ed.: Because "college."]
I arranged a weekend trip the next semester. Heineken labels painted on the Bursley Lewis wall, coed dorm floors with liberal visitation policies, smuggled in booze. Big time college was pretty cool.
More visits followed. More girls. More beer. And there was this magical thing called Michigan football. In 1983, I started going to games at Michigan Stadium. I even bought tickets, when I couldn't snag a student ticket. I was hooked on every part of it. I lived and breathed it. The "shh" wave, making the Sparty Heisman running back look average, Bo's last game, seeing them beat "Ucla" with my future wife instead of going to my cousin's wedding, seeing their first overtime game with my future ex-wife. All of it.
In 1992, I went to law school. In the months leading up to it, I had to choose a school. I narrowed it down to 6. Michigan was a dream that seemed just out of reach. I waited to apply to Michigan until I got my LSAT results. That was a mistake. By the time I sent them that "over 99th percentile" score, the only spot they had for me was on the waitlist. Colorado was also high on the list. They said "YES!" immediately. My other unequivocal Yesses were from Arizona State and Minnesota. Football was one of the subjective tiebreakers, after costs, reputation, size, blah blah, blah. Colorado football was recently good, and they were coached by a former Michigan assistant. That plus mountains made CU an easy choice.
As a CU student, I rooted for the Buffs, but the wife and I still watched Michigan games from Boulder whenever we could (before the invention of ESPN College Gameplan PPV). No conflict; no problem. I could be a CU student and a Michigan fan with no disloyalty to either.
Then 1994 happened. First to arrive was my daughter Kerrie. Then the 3L football season. After a warmup beatdown of Notre Dame (#FCF) it was time for Colorado at Michigan. Wait what?
I didn't know what to do. Did I win either way? Did I lose? Should I be happy or sad after the game? Happy AND sad?
I watched with wifey and infant Kerrie. We know how it ended. Agony and euphoria. A launchpad for a fantastic season (CU went 10-1, killed Notre Dame in the bowl and finished #3 in the country) and a pothole that broke a tie rod on what started as a promising season (Michigan finished 8-4). Click the image and Keith Jackson will show you where things gelled/the wheels fell off.
Boulder was eerily silent in those last seconds: no cars, no pedestrians. Then the whole city exploded! Car horns blared! Students hollered! Grad students fist pumped the air and then went back to the books! That day I chose to be a Michigan fan AND a Colorado fan.
In '96, it came down to the end. Michigan won and that was fine. The next year, it was a Michigan beatdown of the Buffs, but UM went on to win the national championship, Charles Woodson won the Heisman en route to #GoAT and the Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl. Plus another new baby. No tears for the vanquished Buffs. Too busy.
CU is back in Ann Arbor tomorrow, and the same dilemma from 1994 rears its head. Both teams are 2-0. I wish them both well, which is impossible. I'll be watching it unfold with now-grown-up Kerrie. The old dilemma is still there. Is one a pretender who needs to be exposed? Is one a champion to be, if they can just get past this hurdle?
While the teams will settle things on the field tomorrow, I will celebrate them tonight with the beers of my respective people. Maybe that's how I decide. Tomorrow it's game on. Go team! - just as soon as I figure who I love more.* Last time it took until the final 0:06.
*yes, I can chose favorites. This is just beer and football, after all.
**Side by side, it's Fat Tire for the win.