It was 2 a.m. on the morning of last
year’s graduation, and for three of my best friends, it felt like
the last chance to sit by a bonfire with your boys, sip an ice cold
brew and talk Michigan football. It was one of those moments in
which everything was so clear.
Some things I didn’t want to see, like the fact that I wouldn’t
see those guys in the fall. But then, there were other things that
rang so true and made such sense. Things so perfect that they could
never have been discovered in any other situation.
Things like this.
You know that girl who you just can’t get rid of? No matter how
many times she breaks your heart, you just can’t kick her to the
curb? Yeah, you know her. If you think you don’t, you either
haven’t gone out with enough girls here at Michigan, or you must
not have a very good relationship with Michigan football. Because
that is what Michigan football is.
I know. You’re a little confused. “Michigan football is like a
girl? Huh?” Just bear with me for a few minutes, and don’t take
things literally. We all know the Wolverines tackled like girls on
Saturday against Central, but I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about how every single year, no matter what happened
the past year or which players are coming back, we believe that
Michigan can win the national championship. We believe she’s
She won’t nag at you because you never take her to any nice
places to eat. She won’t come out totally flat at home against Iowa
in the biggest game of the season. No way, not this year. This
relationship will be different, that’s for sure.
She won’t bitch at you for leaving the toilet seat up. If she
falls in the toilet this time, you won’t hear a word about it. She
won’t fumble away a rivalry game on the road against the Irish.
Won’t pass interfere or hit someone out of bounds to extend a drive
with the game on the line. Not this year, not this
Won’t tell you that she loves you and then, two days later, tell
you that she wants to see other people. Won’t play with your
emotions by leading Ohio State 9-7 in Columbus, only to make no
offensive adjustments and lose 14-9. Won’t tell you that
Valentine’s Day isn’t very important to her, and then jump on a
broom on V-Day when all you do is buy her a biggie meal at Wendy’s.
Won’t call three running plays to begin a New Year’s Day bowl game.
Not this year, not this relationship.
Won’t cheat on you with another guy while abroad in Costa Rica,
then come back and tell you that she wants to be “independent.”
Won’t jump ahead 28-10 in the second quarter and end up losing the
game twice in one season. Won’t beat you in beer pong, no matter
how much better she is than you, because she knows it crushes you.
Not this year, not this relationship.
We just can’t let her go. Part of the reason is that even though
she can be so annoying and harsh, she’s so damn gorgeous. Those
deep blue eyes. Those succulent lips. Those winged helmets. Those
winged helmets. Those winged helmets. Those maize-and-blue
uniforms. The way she walks into the door and the room lights up.
The way she runs through the tunnel and the crowd goes wild. The
aesthetic value is enough by itself to keep us coming back for
You may be wondering what is different about being in a
relationship with Michigan than any other college or a pro team. As
a guy who’s been in a lifetime relationship with the Boston Red Sox
and the Buffalo Bills, trust me, there’s a big difference. They’re
the teams who you never believe can win the championship because of
all the inhuman things they’ve done to you. Michigan does just
enough to keep you coming back for more.
She’ll drop anything for you if you really need help. She’ll win
games she shouldn’t win like Penn State and Washington last year,
and then she’ll give you some love in the middle of the crowd. And
here’s the biggie – we know that she’s capable of being perfect.
Hell, she did it in 1997! That’s a whole year without a mistake!
Just the chance of her pulling that off again is enough to keep
your car parked in the same garage.
A friend gave a classic Michigan fan analysis of Saturday’s game
against Central Michigan. “There were some bad things, but I think
there were a lot more good things.”
OK. I’ll give you that. But how long are we going to put up with
the bad things? Will we ever look Michigan in the eye after she
breaks our hearts and say for one last time, “It’s over?”
No. Not if we really love Michigan. The sick thing is that we
love Michigan more and more every time she breaks our heart. And
that is really the only major difference between Michigan football
and that girl we all know and love: When she breaks our heart time
and time again, we’ll eventually get the hint that she’s not good
for us. But Michigan can continue to send us into cardiac arrest
each fall, and we’ll always come back for more.
And that, as one friend said back in April, “is why Michigan
football will always be the best.”
Valentine’s Day at the Big House anyone?
J. Brady McCollough is looking for the perfect woman and the
perfect football team. He’d rather have the perfect football team.
He can be reached at