April 28, 2008

Hail to the Victors (We Hope)

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Apr. 27 -- SINCE FOOTBALL will be the prime focus of this and several posts following, it's important to mention The Rant's football-related quote of the week, from none other than my good friend Geoff Brown:

Michigan State is like Scrappy Doo -- lemme at 'em! Lemme at 'em!"

This quote, admittedly, will make no sense to anyone over 40 years of age, nor anyone who does not follow college football or the Big Ten Conference. But if you are under 40 years old and do follow college football, you realize the beauty and majesty of this simple statement, which is clearly correct and just.

You see, like many second-rate agricultural schools, Michigan State is in a one-way rivalry with their more prestigious big brothers in Ann Arbor. Simply put, they can't stand us and would consider their annual football season a success if they beat us. We, on the other hand, find Michigan State an annoying irritant. For fans of the Michigan Wolverines, the idea of losing to the hapless Spartans is mortifying and a loss to them would prove hugely embarrassing. Fortunately, we have beaten the Spartans six years straight in our annual matchup. Unfortunately, as Mr Brown pointed out during our recent dinner togheter, they could pull it off this coming year.

After all, as Mr Brown noted, Michigan has a new coaching staff, a new offensive scheme, and a lot of relatively new players. Not only that, it's still somewhat unclear who our starting quarterback may be. All this, therefore, led Mr Brown to conclude Michigan will get beaten like the proverbial red-headed stepchild this season, and part of my worries he is right.

But I remain cautiously optimistic about the season. After all, college football is played in autumn, and autumn is the Season of Miracles. If a miracle doesn't happen, well, I'd settle for beating Ohio State. If we lose to both Ohio State and Michigan State, it will immensely suck, because wearing a paper bag over one's head to mask the shame isn't any fun.

Anyway, Geoff and I had dinner -- as we traditionally do -- at Good Time Charley's, a hangout on South University Street famed for its "count twists," which are a type of cheesy bread. I must say I've never seen Ann Arbor that quiet before -- but it was the day after graduation, and so the campus was quickly emptying out. Although this did not change some things -- the line at Blimpy Burger was still very long -- it did have its benefits, much to my surprise and amazement.

For instance, parking was free in the Maynard Street parking structure. This was downright amazing -- free parking? in Ann Arbor? As a former resident of the city, I concluded what any Michigan student would have concluded: that the rage virus had somehow gotten loose from the University's researchers and was rapidly turning Ann Arborites into zombies. But then I realized the tired, frustrated Baby Boomers I had come across were just ruminating about their kids' tuition bills. A degree in art history, even from a prestigious school like Michigan, is still a degree in art history.

But Ann Arbor was as nice as ever -- and both Geoff and I admitted it would be pretty cool to move back to the place. (Mr Brown lives on the outskirts of metropolitan Detroit). There's something to Ann Arbor that is incredibly pleasant. Perhaps that's just a combination of nostalgia and the grass being greener, but there are fewer places in the world I would rather live.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 28, 2008 11:59 PM | TrackBack
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