Sports » Sports Feature

A Memphis Wolverine's Lament


Taking defeat like a man ...

What do you do when your alma mater goes from national championship contender to national joke the first week of the football season by losing 34-32 to Appalachian State?

Withhold your $100 annual contribution to the University of Michigan alumni fund? Yeah, that'll hurt a lot.

Take the maize-and-blue sticker off your car? That will show them.

Stop making a once-a-decade trip to Ann Arbor to catch a game at The Big House? Ditto.

Quit going to Gill's Bar and Grill on Highland Avenue to watch Michigan games on the big screen with other alumni and fans? Spiteful and misdirected. Nice place, nice group, and it was fun, or at least it was until last November when Ohio State fans took over the place and their team beat us on the field for the 25th time in a row or whatever.

Cheer for Appalachian State? An interesting possibility. A good team, and Boone, North Carolina, is a beautiful place in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But lifetime allegiances are not easily altered. And it's 600 miles away and probably a tough ticket now since their stadium has about 90,000 fewer seats than Michigan's.

Cheer for your kid's alma mater, the University of Tennessee? They lost by two touchdowns to Cal last week and appear to be on a parallel track to mediocrity with Michigan.

Cheer for your in-laws' alma mater, Mississippi State? Slaughtered by LSU in the opener and unlikely to win a game in the tough Southeastern Conference this year.

Cheer for the hometown team, the University of Memphis? Lost to Ole Miss at home last week and play a no-name schedule.

Suck it up, take it like a man, and continue to cheer for the Wolverines and embattled head coach Lloyd Carr to make a comeback against cupcakes like Oregon, Notre Dame, and Penn State in the coming weeks? Much too mature, not to mention risky.

No, the answer is to take refuge in the glorious past. A Memphis friend and fellow Michigan alumnus who shall remain nameless has a collection of Michigan football videotapes dating back to the mid-1970s. Needless to say, there are no tapes of Michigan defeats to the likes of Texas, USC, and Ohio State. At least, not in this collection.

In our little world, the boys in maize and blue, come rain or snow or sunshine, always prevail. Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin always get crushed. Appalachian State does not exist.

So on crisp autumn afternoons, I'll go over to my buddy's house and crack open a beer and sit down in front of the television and watch a little football. We're adults. We're grown men. We have real lives. We know how to keep sports in perspective.

We're not going to let one loss get in the way of an undefeated season and another national championship.

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