As the clock struck seven, Reza Breakstone takes one more deep breath. The Michigan Superfan passes out flyers containing cheer suggestions to fellow Maize Ragers.
A big night lies ahead for the Superfan. The biggest game of the season, a battle for state supremacy, is just minutes away. And he”s well prepared, with printed color license plates that have a variety of State insults in abbreviated form like “SHT HDS” and “STE SCKS.”
Breakstone is ready.
Meanwhile, recent graduates Brian Galvin and former Superfan Jeff Holzhausen prepare themselves accordingly. Galvin passes out copies of his Maize Rage newsletter, a personal task he spends hours producing before each game. Holzhausen has his oversized “M” flag, his cowbell and his usual cape and mask.
The faithful Michigan fans are ready.
Too bad the team isn”t even close.
Charlie Bell for three. Jason Richardson for three. Zach Randolph for two. Before the Maize Rage has enough time to strum up a Michigan cheer, Michigan State leads the Wolverines 8-1.
The green and white rim swarming in the upper deck of Crisler erupts with noise. Below, in a small L-shaped pattern, 500 or so yellow-clad Maize Ragers can just watch in a confused daze. All their hard work to get ready for the game, to cheer for the team they love, is wasted.
For three straight seasons, Michigan State fans have taken over Michigan”s arena an embarrassment, a mockery, but now, not an aberration.
It”s not the Maize Ragers” fault. You can”t insult and taunt the opponent when Randolph and Richardson are dunking on you at will on every possession.
And as a fan of anything Maize and Blue, you should be downright frightened that the Spartans own Crisler.
You know there”s a problem when the kids in the yellow shirts leave early.
You know there”s a problem when the The Victors, played by the pep band, is drowned out by Michigan State fans” fight song a cappela.
You know there”s a problem when the game changes from a basketball game to a murder.
And worst of all, sitting in President Lee Bollinger”s seats two Michigan State fans.
When the president won”t even show up at the biggest game of the season, you have to wonder how pathetically unimportant this team is to the University.
Are you upset? Are you embarrassed? Are you frustrated?
You may not be able to fire Brian Ellerbe, or find that year-breaking recruit. But you do have a voice.
Some fans have the will to wait this program out. If you believe in Michigan basketball, by all means, keep hoping. But if you”re a fan who wants changes, show it! Either don”t come to the games, or if you do, show Athletic Director Bill Martin what you want.
Make signs, wear green t-shirts, talk to rich alumni who have connections anything you can do it”s your team, too.
Do it for no better reason than the fact that Michigan State coach Tom Izzo supports Ellerbe and states that Michigan is a program on its way up. Funny, but didn”t he say that last year?
And why wouldn”t Izzo support the Wolverines? It”s two easy victories each year.
After the murderous rampage, Ellerbe and several players made excuses. Only heart-filled Chris Young admitted some of the Wolverines just stopped trying.
And in response one fan said: “If they are going to quit on me, maybe I”ll quit on them.”
Mark Francescutti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.