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September 22, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-22

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2B-September2224

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

2B - September 22, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

SPORTSMONDAY COLUMN
he stadium was never
really full in the first
place, but by the end,
the hundreds of fans who
remained had their pick of seats
in Michigan's massive venue to
watch the
final seven
minutes
unfold.
Those
who stayed
waited until
the end. The
rest, thevast
maoiyft ALEJANDRO
majority of
the 103,890, ZfIGA
left well
before
then, streaming out of the gates
when it began raining in the
third quarter, and when Devin
Gardner threw his second
interception shortly afterward,
and when backup Shane Morris
threw one of his own shortly,
iafte'nthat: cvt
The 144-minute lightning
delay nearly cleared out the rest.
And who could blame them for
leaving?
Those who stay are
champions. That's the mantra.
But Saturday, almost everyone
left, because Michigan gave
hem no reason to stay.
The wind and downpour
formed puddles, even under the
roof in the club level concourse,
where those who stayed took
pictures, chatted or just sat
quietly to observe the empty
colossus.
They watched as the rain
cascaded down the concrete
steps until it pooled inches deep
in the first row then waterfalled
onto the artificial turf. The
drainage system was no match,
and soon the water encroached
onto the end zones and sidelines.
One family stayed because
they had driven 15 hours from
South Dakota. A father stayed
because it was parents weekend
and his daughter was in the
marching band. Some stayed out

Those who stayed

A couple hundred Michigan fans waited through the delay to watch the final seven minutes of the Wolverines' loss.

of pure inertia - it was raining, reward for those who stayed.
their car was far away, and Those who stayed have seen
wouldn't it just be worth it to Anthony Carter elude an entire
wait it out? secondary for a game-winning
But most stayed in case touchdown. They've seen
Michigan pulled off the Braylon Edwards pick the ball
spectacular, so that some day from the night sky not once, not
their kids and grandkids might twice, but three times against
all hear the story of the greatest Michigan State. They've seen
comeback in program history. Jeremy Gallon run unmarked
Even though the Wolverines on a wheel route, 115,000
hadn't scored an offensive screaming voices propelling the
touchdown and the coaches had , receiver down the field.
been screaming ateach other on Saturday, after the storm
the sidelines and the fans had passed, the defense made a stop
been booing, they had hope. and the Utes missed a field goal
So they waited in the that clattered off the left upright
concourse and under overhangs in an explosion of water. And
until the lightning had passed for a moment, just a moment,
and the field stopped resembling there was hope. Then Morris
a natatorium. When the bands fumbled and Michigan didn't
came back out, so did they, get the ball back until there was
running to snag the bleachers just 1:10 left, and even then, the
closest to Michigan's flooded Wolverines were at their own
bench. three-yard line.
The Wolverines re-took the But the magic that once
field, though there was no "M possessed Carter, Edwards
Club" banner. The cheerleaders and Gallon just wasn't there
pom-pommed and twirled to Saturday.
empty seats. But those who Because the last-gasp chance
stayed began chanting "Go Blue" at a miracle played out like this:
and singing "The Victors." Morris faced pressure on first
For Michigan's fans, there down, so he fled the pocket into
has almost always been some the very back of the end zone,

tiptoeing to stay inbounds. He
saw Dennis Norfleet streaking
downfield near the 50-yard line,
so he heaved a prayer as he was
leveled to the turf.
The pass fell incomplete.
Norfleet stayed down, injured.
And then those who stayed
got angry.
As the Wolverines waited in
their near-empty stadium for
Norfleet to hobble off the field, a
man began to berate them.
"Have some goddamn pride!"
he yelled. "Play with some pride,
some Michigan pride!
"We're going to the Rutgers
game because we're idiots!"
To which a Utah fan muttered
back, "have some loyalty, dude.
It's your team, for better or
worse."
Morris threw incomplete three
more times, the Utes took a knee
to run out the clock and then the
few who stayed finally left.
And they might be back. But
games like Saturday's nake the
decision more difficult every
time.
Ziiiga can be reached
at azs@umich.edu and on
Twitter @ByAZuniga.

CHANGE.
Fromage1Bpursed and his arms folded. His
From Page 1 focus undeterred from his head
coach taking the blame.
interception and completed "It starts with me as the
just four passes. head football coach," Hoke
The line couldn't said, as he always has. "We've
consistently protect them. It got to do a better job for these
couldn't open enough holes on kids."
the inside to make room for By now his words are hollow.
Derrick Green. The Wolverines It has come to this: either
allowed a punt return for a Brady Hoke has to change,
touchdown, barely getting a or Michigan has to make a
hand on the returner. change.
And all of this came against His team's best play
Utah. Saturday,
It came after all,
against a . oamenfrom a
team that "If ( en ooing) cornerback
finished . who stopped
with just is all for me, then awould-be
five wins .c do* touchdown
last season. goou. I COn t short for
A team po lm a mere
whose have a p o e f67-yard
strength *11 gain.
was quick with that This team
passes and needs a
a fast tempo head coach
on offense who can be
because it doesn't have the more than a figure and help an
talent to run it up the middle offense make it to the red zone
or throw the ball more than 20 or reliable special teams. But he
yards. hasn't proven enough he's that
The boos fell down, the figure.
rain came down harder and Because how can his goal of
everything about a nightmare a Big Ten title really be intact
in South Bend returned. when this is the reality with
Everything about last season which the Wolverines are
returned. Including the coach. faced?
After four years of recruits Who else can be brought
who haven't materialized, and a in on the staff to make a
bunch of sayings about winning difference? What recruit can
the Big Ten and respecting be hyped up enough to slowly
tradition, and calling out fans develop into a top talent?
who don't stick by the program, What else is left?
Brady Hoke is 2-2 before the Maybe it's not now. Maybe
Big Ten season begins., it's not until the season is
Wins against Michigan finished. Or maybe he does
State and Ohio State seem less something to turn it around.
probable with every second But whenever, and whatever
that ticks off the game clock. it is, something has to change.
The Big Ten Championship
is theoretically in reach, but Garno can be reached
realistically, it couldn't feel at ggarno@umich.edu or
farther away. on Twitter @GGarno.
"If (the booing) is all for me,
then good," Hoke said in his For updates fro today's
postgame press conference. "I p r cnfre
don't have a problem with that pre C
at all." Check MichiganDaily.com
Dave Brandon stood in all day or follow us
the back of the room, his lips on Twitter @theblockm.

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