Michigan sophomore Chris Baldwin is finally breathing easily.
Baldwin — who claimed Internet fame when an image of him with his hands over his head went viral following the Michigan football team’s last-second loss to Michigan State earlier this year — had his hands raised over his head again on Saturday as he watched the Michigan men’s basketball team take on Houston Baptist. This time, though, Baldwin, along with the rest of the student section at the Crisler Center, had his hands up high and fingers wiggling as sophomore guard Aubrey Dawkins stepped to the line for free throws late in Michigan’s 82-57 rout of the Huskies.
Baldwin, an engineering student from Saginaw, Mich., said that before Michigan’s loss to Michigan State, he was “no different than anybody else — just a good sports fan.” But that day, when Michigan punter Blake O’Neill bobbled a snap with time expiring and the Spartans ran the ball back for a game-winning touchdown, that all changed. ESPN’s cameras focused in on a stunned Baldwin, and the image quickly went viral.
“I guess I was doing the surrender cobra pose,” Baldwin said. “And now everybody knows who I am. … I felt a bunch of text messages right after the game ended, but I figured it was just people talking about the game because, of course, it was crazy, and then when I finally looked as we were getting ready to head out of the stadium, I had all sorts of texts and tweets and things on Facebook — all sorts of pictures and people talking about how I was suddenly famous.”
The pose — known as the “surrender cobra” — is a common sight in stadiums following come-from-behind wins and thrilling finishes. It consists of hands over the head, elbows pointed out and jaw dropped — making speechless spectators resemble the venomous snake. The pose even got its own segment on ESPN’s College GameDay last week, in which Baldwin was featured.
“I’ve tried to have fun with it,” Baldwin said. “Of course, everybody here at (the University) supports me, because they all felt the same way I did.”
Another image of Baldwin doing the pose, this time in Detroit Lions gear, went viral after the NFL team suffered a Hail Mary loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers on Thursday. It was actually taken at an earlier date — Baldwin watched that game in his dorm room, and he was able to restrain himself from breaking out the cobra.
“I kind of felt like that pose,” he said. “But I don’t think I was doing it.”
So after lots of devastation, when Michigan hosted Houston Baptist in a guarantee game on Saturday, it meant that Baldwin would most likely be able to keep the cobra in the cage for the game. But after some of the finishes he’s seen, he wasn’t 100 percent sure.
“I guess there’s no guarantees, especially after last year’s season,” Baldwin said during the second half. “But yeah, it’s nice not to worry as much about the game and just kind of enjoy it.”
On Saturday, he did get to enjoy it. Michigan rolled past the Huskies and — at least for one day — the cobra got to go into hibernation.