20B - The Michigan Daily - Wekeld MNgaziue - Thursday, April 10, 2003
Football still tops hearts of Michigan faithful
By J. Brady McCoilough
Daily Sports Editor
Is the Michigan football team the best team in
Ann Arbor? On a year-to-year basis, the answer is
yes. The Wolverines are one of the most storied
teams in college football history, and are usually
just two or three plays away from competing for a
national championship. Lately, though, those two or
three plays have blown up in Michigan's face.
Take last season's Notre Dame and Iowa games.
In South Bend, delete the hold by offensive tackle
Courtney Morgan in the end zone, which resulted
in a safety, and the score is 23-23. At home against
Iowa, in an embarrassing 34-9 defeat, delete cor-
nerback Markus Curry's muffed punt return and
you've got a 10-9 ballgame in the third quarter, and
Michigan has all the momentum.
But that didn't happen. When people voted the
football team the best team in Ann Arbor this year,
they must have neglected to consider the Michigan
hockey team, which is going to its third straight
Frozen Four. Now, of course, the competition for
the football team in the Big Ten is obviously more
fierce than the best of the CCHA, but you can't
argue with a team who gets it done in the clutch.
How about the men's swimming team? The
women's gymnastics team? The women's cross
country and indoor track and field teams? These
are all currently Big Ten champions, and you prob-
ably didn't even know it. The football team has
failed to win an outright conference title since its
magical run to the national championship in 1997.
The point is, it doesn't really matter what other
teams do in this town. Football is god, and it always
will be "the best team" as long as it puts up 8-4
records. Is that because the fans in this town are
detached from every other sport besides football?
Michigan Marching Band make its march to the
stadium under the picturesque fall foliage that lines
Hoover Street. There will be people to your right,
tossing the pigskin around on Elbel Field, imagin-
ing they are wearing a maize and blue No. 21 and
striking the pose for 110,000 people to see.
There will be volleyball being played at "The
Volleyball Frat," and music will be blasting from
the houses on State Street. You'll smell the "dollar
dogs" aroma from a mile away, and in 20 years,
you'll buy your kid one, and you'll tell him or her
that this is your school.
On your way to the stadium, you'll tell your kid
to ignore the countless scalpers, who are trying des-
perately to get rid of tickets before the game begins.
When you get to the stadium, you'll brace yourself
for that moment when you walk through the
entrance to the Big House, and you see the band on
the field. If you're lucky, you'll be there just in time
for the first rendition of "Hail to the Victors." You'll
sing that song at the top of your lungs with chest-
bursting pride, and you'll clap - clap like you've
never clapped before - because you are about to
witness something special. Halfway through the
first quarter, your kid may ask, "Why is there so
much clapping?" And you'll answer - "Because
that's how we do things here at Michigan."
Nothing shows off the University and its incom-
parable pride like a Football Saturday. And that is
what you will remember. You'll remember the emo-
tions you shared with total strangers in exhilarating
wins over Washington and Penn State. You'll
remember the experiences - not the records.
And that's why nothing compares to Michi-
gan football. No matter what the votes show
next year in "Best of Ann Arbor," the Wolver-
ines on the gridiron will always be the best
team in this town.
In Ann Arbor, football will always be king.
Partly, yes. But more than anything, it's that other
vote - Best Gameday Experience - that glosses
over all those heartbreaking plays and mediocre
records, and still makes you think those Wolverines
on the gridiron are the best.
There's nothing like the sights and sounds of a
Football Saturday in Ann Arbor. While some peo-
ple (myself, included) think that the in-game
atmosphere in the Big House needs a major boost
in enthusiasm, the apathetic, stoic and graying con-
tingent of fans makes the Michigan football atmos-
phere what it is - one of a kind. Where else can
you find a team built on a tradition like Michigan
football - with fans that are so die hard, yet can't
even raise a whimper on a critical third down?
Even though Michigan football fans are laughed
at by most of the Big Ten for their indifference, it's
the "We don't care what they think, because we're
Michigan" attitude that makes it socially acceptable
to sit on your hands for four quarters.
And maybe Michigan alumni and students have
earned that privilege. We are Michigan. We have
the best uniforms and helmets in college football,
regardless of what players are wearing them.
Then there's the walk to the stadium, and if you
do it right like a real "Michigan man or woman,"
you'll go an hour early, even if that means getting
up at the crack of dawn, to see the world-famous
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