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November 25, 2013 - Image 10

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2B - November 25, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

2B - November 25, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

,z 51

Bless you, Buckeyes

ach word seemed to
quiver when it came
out of Devin Gardner's
mouth, each syllable so fragile
and tentative one feared it might
crack and
crumble in
the air before
it reached
anyone's ears.
At his press
after another
loss, this ZACH
time to Iowa, HELFAND
covered his
upper lip with his lower one, and
he looked down. In the back of
the room, behind the cameras,
someone opened a door badly in
need of oil. It closed, appropri-
ately, with a high, sad, slow wail.
Gardner and Michigan had
once again taken a pummel-
ing. On the offense's final play,
a Gardner fumble, he stayed on
the ground, his head in the turf,
as - wait. No, sorry. Stop.
Let's not do this again. Let's
not rehash another utterly for-
gettable game in an utterly for-
gettable season. It's clear by now
the first 11 games of Michigan's
season have been a failure. It has
been that way since Michigan
was dismantled and embar-
rassed in a loss to Michigan
State four games ago.
Let's not further belabor the
fact that Michigan's offensive
line is as bad as anyone can
remember. Or that the team has
regressed, or gets out-adjusted
in the second half of each game,
or that Michigan's Big Ten
record at this point in the season
is exactly as in Rich Rodriguez's
final year.
Oh, and let's not talk about
Rich Rod, who had a rather
impressive win over Oregon on
Instead, how about a story?
Guy walks into a high-school


The Ohio State game has the potential to transform seasons. For Michigan, it's a chance to erase memories of a failed season - and ruising the Buckeyes' undefeated season would be a nice bonus.

football stadium. It's the sum-
mer of 2008 in Dublin, Ohio.
Guy's boss wants him to meet
someone important.
Boss says, "This is David
Katz, he was the photo editor
of The Michigan Daily, and I'm
sorry that we have to bring him
here so close to Columbus."
Boss was Senator Barack
Obama. Even for the future
president of the United States,
with 50,000 people waiting for a
speech, even when introducing
Katz to future Vice President
Joe Biden backstage, the first
thing that came to mind after
"Michigan" was "Ohio State."

This is appropriate to tell now
because Michigan is mired in a
season on the fringes of medioc-
rity. On Saturday, it will finish
the regular season with either
a dull 7-5 record, or a dull 8-4
record. But the first thing that
comes to mind for Michigan is
always Ohio State. Did the team
beat the Buckeyes? This year,
that changes everything.
This is a University where
the Peace Corps was conceived,
where polio was cured, where
some student you went to class
with will someday lead some
entity that changes the way
we look at the world. (Hello,

Google. And Twitter.)
And yet, just as much, Michi-
gan's identity is shaped by Ohio
State. It's why, if you ask any
Michigan football player about
their time in Ann Arbor, the
first thing they'll tell you is how
many times they beat the Buck-
eyes. It's why the first thing any
Ohio State player will show you
is his Gold Pants.
And so that's why the best
thing that could've happened
to Michigan in a season that
has jumped the rails is Ohio
State and its undefeated record.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke
was asked at his postgame press

conference Saturday what there
was left to play for. The Big Ten
Championship is gone, as is the
10-win season. Even a winning
record in the Big Ten is out the
Hoke didn't pause.
"We got a pretty big rivalry
game next week," he said.
Michigan will be a very large
underdog in that game, and it
should be. If the outcome is still
undecided in the final quarter,
that would count as a minor
upset. Ohio State will probably
win, and then root hard for
Auburn or Florida or anyone
other than Alabama and Florida

State in the conference champi-
onship games.
But if Michigan wins, well...
So let's forget about all that
has happened this year and say
this: thank God for Ohio State.
Thank you, and your BCS-flip-
flopping coach and your Big
Ten-beating offense and your
undefeated record. Especially
your undefeated record. Bless
your undefeated record.
It's the only thing Michigan
has left.
Helfand can be reached
at zhelfand@umich.edu or
on Twitter @zhelfand.


'Los Victors': Alumni in Puerto Rico

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French, or Italian and want to
specialize in Europe?
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Modern European Studies
15 credits -+ Start by taking
HIST 319 in W14

Daily Sports Editor
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -
"The Victors" sounds a little dif-
ferent down here.
But every Saturday afternoon
throughout the fall, you'll hear it
in the unlikeliest of settings.
Shannan's Pub - tucked
right off the highway in nearby
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, away
from the cruise ships and tour-
ist traps that permeate San Juan
- is like any bar you'd find in the
United States. The walls, lined
with green Christmas lights and
Boston Celtics jerseys make it St.
Patrick's Day every day - except
on Saturdays.
Alumni from Penn State, Ohio
State, Florida, Notre Dame and
a host of other schools descend
upon the bar, but the Michigan
game takes center stage.
Thanks to David Del Toro,
a co-director and the official
spokesperson for the University
of Michigan Puerto Rico Spirit
Group, the University's offi-
cial alumni group on the island,
between 40 and 80 alumni and
their families watch their alma
mater on the bar's biggest TV
every week.
"What we try to do is bring
the Michigan environment that
we had in college to the bar and
to Puerto Rico," Del Toro said at
halftime of the Michigan-Iowa
game on Saturday. "We try to
bring people together. It gives
us a chance to... create a college
football environment within the
After each of Michigan's three
touchdowns on Saturday, another
of the club's co-directors, Jason
Arguilo, led the crowd in singing
"The Victors," something it does
after each Wolverine score.
But the fight song - considered
by many the most recognizable
in college sports - has a unique
tinge to it. As Del Toro points out,
it's sung with a bit more pizzazz.
"It's a bit faster - it's not as
paused as it is in the States," he
said. "It's a bit of a local kind of
'Hail to the Victors' for us."
Big Ten and Notre Dame fans
typically dominate the bar on
game days, and if the gridiron

rivalries weren't enough to set
the atmosphere - there's always
"a lot of trash talking," Del Toro
said - most of the viewers have
long-standing relationships.
Arguilo noted that many of the
game-day attendees have been
friends since high school, long
before they went off to Ameri-
can universities. The others are
quickly taken into the fraternity
of college football fanatics.
"Those guys are either already
our friends or become our
friends, so every Saturday, it's
like a brotherhood," Arguilo said.
Added Del
Toro: "You
wear your
colors, you I want
brag about
your school. It to think
brings a col-
lege football an amb
environment o
to Puerto Rico, of M ic
because in all
honesty, we
don't have that
down here. This is kind of used as
our bragging card."
Maize and an island blue
Hector Martinez's custom-
made Puerto Rican flag isn't the
perfect blend of maize and blue -
it was made in a pinch before he,
Arguilo and Del Toro left for last
year's Final Four in Atlanta - but
ithas gained significant notoriety
this week.
Martinez, a 2008 Ross School
of Business graduate and the
third of the Spirit Club's four co-
directors, is part of the base of
young alumni doing their part to
keep the Michigan connection
going strong south of the contigu-
ous border.
Del Toro estimates 450 alumni
live on the island, and because
most Puerto Ricans that go to
Michigan return after gradua-
tion, the number is continually
growing. There are nine Puerto
Rican freshmen at the Univer-
sity this year - one of the largest
classes in recent years.
That's due in large part to the
recruiting efforts of Del Toro's
crew a d
"We want the students to see

some of the perks of going to
Michigan," Del Toro said. "We
try to start the whole process of
getting to be a'Michigan Man' -
a fanatic."
Each August, Del Toro hosts a
send-off barbecue weeks before
the freshmen head to Ann Arbor.
Most of the current students join
the alumni group, giving the
incoming freshmen a network
both on the island for internships
and jobs, and at school to ease the
difficult transition - something
that wasn't available to Del Toro
when he left for school in the mid
"They get
to get tips on
people classes and
where to live
of me as and little
things - and
assador it's fun. We
can already
[igan." see they're a
nice and unit-
ed crew," Del
Toro said.
Del Toro, a banker, is some-
thing of a local legend. During
lunch at a local restaurant prior
to Michigan's opening-round
game, he seemed to know every
customer and most of the wait
staff. It's his outgoing personali-
ty, he says, that made him perfect
for the job as an alumni coordina-
"I would always tell this to
people, when I was at Michigan
that I wanted people to think of
Puerto Rico and think of me as an
ambassador," he said. "When I'm
in Puerto Rico, I want people to
think of me as an ambassador of
Michigan. I enjoy people think-
ing, Michigan - David down
Creating a home away from home
The Michigan Alumni Associ-
ation's traveling party easily out-
numbered any of the other seven
schools in the Puerto Rico Tip-
Off. But the Wolverines' biggest
home-court advantage inside the
Coliseo Roberto Clemente was
the fans who call the island home.
The group's various instru-
ments - cowbells, drums and a
set of other noisemakers - along

with a series of Spanish chants
could be heard clearly through
television sets nationwide.
"The most gratifying thing
for me has been for our group,
particularly our cheering sec-
tion at the stadium, has made its
presence felt and made a differ-
ence," Arguilo said. "We're very,
very proud Michigan alums, and
we're thrilled that we're having a
chance to put on a show."
A few of the coaches' wives
have approached Del Toro, ask-
ing what the chants mean.
Many of them are what he
calls bombas, and have a Christ-
mas theme to them - the holiday
on the predominantly Catholic
island is very drawn out. Though
Del Toro admits it doesn't com-
pletely correlate to the English
translation, one means roughly,
'Tomorrowmorning, I'mgoingto
take flowers to your house.'
But others, he said, "aren't
"It's a good thing we were
chanting in Spanish, so they
wouldn't understand," Martinez
At one point during the Flor-
ida State game, after two warn-
ings over the public address
system, Martinez and others
were warned by an official that
Michigan would receive a tech-
nical foul if they continued to
play their noisemakers. "But we
kept on doing it anyway," Arguilo
noted. (The Wolverines never
received a foul.)
But for the lively band of alum-
ni in Puerto Rico, Michigan's trip
provided a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity - one they hope will
add to the University's image on
the island, and one they certainly
won't soon forget.
"We're a bit loud-ish, a little bit
in your face, but we've certainly
enjoyed mixing the U of M chants
that you would normally get in
the Big House or in Crisler (Cen-
ter) with the typical chants that
you would get at sporting events
down here," Del Toro said.
Added Arguilo: "We might not
be great in numbers, but to have
our own little local Maize Rage
with a Puerto Rican flavor, that
has really been for me, the best

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