Guess who's back—back again?
No, it’s not Slim Shady—although the whole "we need a little, controversy" is right on cue with the 2009 Michigan football season.
Right from the start, controversy and scandal permeated the airwaves, free press, sports blogs, and televisions. From rival teams to student voices to the players themselves, everyone seemed to have an opinion on the state of the Wolverine football program.
No one seemed happy. Ann Arbor was outraged at the prospect of another underachieving season. The students were less than enthused about the year at hand.
If you caught even a glimpse of footage from the press conference held shortly after the Detroit Free Press release, you know that Rich Rod was disheartened, to say the least.
Saturday’s season opener against Western Michigan was much more than a must win.
The pregame announcement that Tate Forcier would start as quarterback for the Wolverines came with much anticipation.
The old versus the new game strategies align, as many die-hards proclaim, with the good versus the bad.
Again, controversy reigned.
Whether the arrival of Rich Rodriguez into Maize and Blue territory will prove to be a Bo Schembechler-style redemption or an Appalachian State nightmare, remains unclear.
What is clear, however, is that Michigan fans must stand behind this team. Perhaps it's better put to say beside this team.
The 109,019 fans in the Big House seemed a little brighter, louder, and more ardent last Saturday. These fans were hoping for change, and were rewarded with just that in their 31-7 win over Western Michigan.
The Big House seemed to omit a golden (or perhaps more appropriately, maize) glow throughout the 2009 season opener—a befitting complement to the "Rich Rod-rig-uez" shouts heard several times amidst traditional game day cheers.
Within this Saturday’s matchup against Notre Dame, all eyes will be on the "Battle of Tates," and the Jimmy Clausen and Denard Robinson showdown.
But special focus will be paid to the Wolverines as a team. This is Michigan’s initial opportunity to upend a top-25 contender, and thus prove that this season has only just begun.
A secure win against Western Michigan lifted student spirits, as was evident by the masses of University of Michigan students celebrating after the game down South University Avenue. Surely, even Schembechler would be proud of Michigan’s triumph this past Saturday, both on the field and in the stands.
Last year Michigan fans witnessed a long season and then an even longer offseason.
Saturday will prove whether the rough road to the 2009 season was worth the wait.
There is an unrelenting hope in Ann Arbor that the wait will pay off.