Chris Perry summed it up. Surreal,
he called it. As students poured onto the Michigan Stadium turf to
celebrate an outright Big Ten championship last Saturday, he was
thinking the same thing I was.

Janna Hutz

Somebody, pinch me.

I don’t know about the rest of you seniors, but even
today, nine days later, it still hasn’t sunk in for me.
We’ve been through it all together, haven’t we?

I won’t spend time regurgitating the past four years. We
all know what happened. Way too many losses to teams Michigan
shouldn’t have lost to. That just about sums it up.

But somehow, someway, these Wolverines, built on heart,
determination and a butt-load of talent, have sent us out on
top.

And it’s the sweetest feeling ever. Why? Because
we’ve suffered. Because we’ve endured three years of
frustration and heartache.

Watching the pandemonium on the field last Saturday (I
can’t celebrate, I’m supposed to be an objective
journalist), I felt like a kid again. But oddly, at the same time,
it made me feel old — like a proud father realizing his
firstborn son had finally come of age.

I began to think about what it would be like to be a freshman
watching the celebration from row 89.

Imagine it, seniors. Imagine how different our four years would
have been if Michigan had met our expectations and won the Big Ten
title outright our freshman year.

Would we have appreciated it? Would it have felt this good? No
way.

As an out-of-stater, I remember not caring that much about the
Big Ten championship when I was a freshman — all I wanted was
a national title. Michigan winning the Big Ten was to be expected,
especially with Drew Henson, Anthony Thomas and David Terrell
leading the offense.

After last Saturday, the class of 2007 must be thinking big. Two
or three national championships, definitely three more Big Ten
titles, a Heisman Trophy for Braylon Edwards, a Heisman for Stevie
Breaston the next year, another Heisman for Matt Gutierrez his
senior season and at least five or six more rushes of the field
before it’s all said and done.

Please, freshman, let me give you some friendly advice. Slow
down. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Soak this one up and
realize how lucky you are to win a Big Ten championship in your
first try. Six years went by before this one, and another six could
expire before Michigan wins another one (2009?!). So gloat like
you’ve never gloated before. Savor it like a senior
would.

The same goes for everything you do until you lose that
once-in-a-lifetime title … college freshman. I’m
serious. It’s sad to say, but the best memories I have from
college will be from freshman year — because they were novel
memories, ones you never thought you’d get to have as high
school kept going and going and going.

There are times I yearn to be a freshman again, with that
“nobody can stop me” mentality, if only for a
night.

Never again will you rumble out of your dorm on a weekend
evening with 15 of your new best friends singing Biz Markie at the
top of your lungs. OH BABY you, you got what I neeeeeed!

Never again will you introduce yourself to everyone you meet and
actually try and remember where everyone you meet is from. Hell, as
the years roll by and you find your comfort zone, you’ll stop
introducing yourself at all.

Never again, unless you chose to join a fraternity or sorority,
will you rumble onto the dance floor at the frats with a warm
Schlitz Ice and shake it like a Polaroid picture. In three years
time, you’ll be shacked up in a booth at Mitch’s or the
Little Brown Jug drinking pitchers. But make no mistake, the
freshman that dwells within you will still be there, trapped inside
your more robust, less aerodynamic senior-year frame.

I don’t want to give you the impression that sophomore
through senior years are a drag, but they’re just different.
In the minute span of three years, sometimes I feel like I’ve
aged about 30.

Freshman, heed my words. We were all just like you at one point
in time.

Appreciate every glorious freshman day you have. Appreciate the
short-lived sound of Biz Markie and the fleeting fragrance of warm
Schlitz.

Above all, appreciate the sweet smell of roses; you may not
smell them again.

J. Brady McCollough’s freshman is waiting to get out, but
he needs to be on the list first. He can be reached at
bradymcc@umich.edu.

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