Michigan Football: Those Who Stay Will Be Champions

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Michigan Football: Those Who Stay Will Be Champions
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Bo Schembechler

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

A creed. A statement of fact. A powerful edict, laid down by Bo Schembechler many years ago.

It has stood as a testament to all those players who run through that tunnel to march onto the field at Michigan Stadium for as long as I can remember.

Bo laid that challenge down in 1969 to those who remained at Michigan after he became head coach.

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

As we all know by now, Tate Forcier has left the University of Michigan Football program and is transferring to another school, as of yet undisclosed.

Tate the Great showed himself to be a terrific athlete and player, sometimes moving the team at lightning speed.

And Tate Forcier has also shown himself to be a pouty, self-centered, immature and spoiled brat when things didn't go his way at others.

The Tate Forcier I want to remember is the kid who took over in the Illinois game and got Michigan into the end zone in that last overtime, who simply would not quit pushing, the kid who refused to lose, who refused to accept that it couldn't be done, that Michigan was not going to win that game.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I was there that day. Section 34, row 65. He was simply awesome to watch as he quarterbacked the Michigan Football team.

That's the Tate Forcier I want to remember.

The Tate Forcier I do not want to remember, however, is the one sitting alone on the sideline, towel draped over his head, pouting, because things did not go his way.

His teammates were on their feet, cheering their fellow players on the field, supporting them with their presence, their spirit, their shouts and their hearts and souls.

Tate Forcier sat alone, self-absorbed, sticking out like a sore thumb from the rest of the team. The network noticed it, and numerous shots of him sitting there spoke volumes about him, his character and his relationship with the University of Michigan.

Tate Forcier does not understand that there is no "I", no "ME", in TEAM.

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

There are videos before every game at Michigan Stadium that are all about THE TEAMTHE TEAMTHE TEAM. He could not possibly miss these. But, he most certainly missed the message they carry.

Forcier got sent home last month for academic ineligibility before the Gator Bowl. That had to be embarrassing as hell. It certainly would have embarrassed me.

Ken White/Getty Images
Brian Griese, UM Quarterback

It should have been a swift kick in the backside, a wake-up call, a glass of ice-cold water to the face, to get his full and undivided attention to what he was about to lose.

Apparently, it wasn't perceived that way. It didn't get through to him that he was about to lose everything he had been blessed with here at Michigan.

I remember Brian Griese and the fiasco that was about to become of his career at Michigan, the trouble he got into because of a bad night in a barhe got kicked off the team. He was publicly humiliated, and he admitted he deserved what he got.

But, Brian Griese went to Lloyd Carr, apologized and asked for a second chance. Lloyd Carr gave him a chance to prove himselfit's one of the most incredible stories in Michigan Football history.

Brian Griese got his grades up, removed his head from his posterior and went to work. He pushed and ran and fought and sweat, enough so that Carr gave him a full ride and Brian went on to win the starting quarterback's job.

From there, he piloted a team filled with greatness, to become possibly the greatest of all Michigan Football teams, going 12-0 in the most difficult schedule of ANY team in the country and winning the Rose Bowl, as well as the first National Championship in 48 years.

I was there, too. Section 25. It was the most fantastic experience I have ever had as a Michigan Man.

Brian Griese, Michigan Man extraordinaire, the benchmark for ALL Michigan Men to come.

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

There are very few Einsteins out there, let alone the ones who get to play sports in college or the pros. There are some out there, however. These are the guys who have brains and talent galore, who are blessed beyond anyone's comprehension, it seems, who simply cannot fail, and who refuse to accept second best or allow the possibility of defeat, both in the game they play, as well as their personal life.

Tate Forcier isn't one of them.

Unfortunately, we have his two older brothers to compare him to. They also quit and transferred to other schools. Both of them. Tate has now followed in their footsteps.

What a shame.

Tate Forcier had the opportunity to stand out and be the very best he could be. He slacked off, got demoted, even had the wings removed from his helmet, fer cryin' out loudhe fought his way back from that and it seemed he was on his way "up" again, as he put forth the effort to excel and show himself to be worthy of wearing that Wing-back helmet and the maize 'n blue. He stepped it up big-time.

It didn't last very long.

I feel bad for him. But I feel even worse for Michigan. He could have been one of the greatest players, one of the greatest quarterbacks, another one of the greatest stories of Michigan Football of all time.

Here was a kid who had all of the gifts, who had the chance so many other kids who didn't share his talents can only dream of. A kid who was here, who led the Wolverines out of the tunnel numerous times, who jumped up and touched that banner as he led the team onto the field as THE VICTORS sounded all around them, a hundred thousand people cheering like hell for them, Saturday after Saturday

Who, in the end, quit when it got tough, who then left Michigan to go somewhere else, where the path is easier, the spotlight less intense, the challenge less than it is here.

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

Tate Forcier will never be one of them.

My criticism here is admittedly harsh, but fair. Others have left Michigan too, most notably on the 1969 team, when Bo Schembechler first arrived in Ann Arbor. Some of those kids literally flew out the door because it was too hard, because Bo asked too much of them, because they couldn't accept the challenge that Bo laid down to them.

They weren't tough enough, dedicated enough, they couldn't see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the forest for the trees, however you want to put it.

They didn't see all of what they could have been or all they could have accomplished, if only they'd stayed, if they'd fought, sweat and bled together, as a TEAM.

They were not true MICHIGAN MEN.

Bo Schembechler started a new era, began a new way of thinking and set a new path to greatness in 1969. It has been the standard against which EVERY Michigan Man has been measured ever since.

And it stands firm today, just as it did when Bo laid the gauntlet down for the very first time in 1969.

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

Unfortunately for Tate Forcier, his exit says it all. He left Michigan of his own accord, taking the easy way out.

You want to know who is a true champion, in my book?

Denard Robinson. Now there is a champion, kids. There is a true MICHIGAN MAN.

His coach is dismissed after his sophomore season ends, a new AD hires a new coach, a new staff is presently under construction, nothing is set in stone anywhere yet, no promises of the future regarding this team can be made, all of this is, as of today, still yet to be determined.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Denard Robinson, UM Quarterback

He could have gone anywhere else, to just about any team in the country and could have been the starter after he sat out a year. Auburn. Oregon. Stanford.

ANYWHERE.

He could have been a superstar anywhere else he wanted to go. Schools were calling. Offers, I'm sure, were made. His kind of talent doesn't come along every day.

He is the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush and pass for 1500 yards in a season.

Elway didn't do that. Neither did Vince Young, Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb.

Denard Robinson did that. A Michigan Man.

Denard chose to stay at Michigan. He chose the hard road. He took the challenge, put himself ALL IN FOR MICHIGAN, future be damned. He wants to write that history personally. He said so by his commitment to stay here.

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

Denard is not the only one. But he's the leader of the pack of this group of Wolverines, who will most certainly make their presence known before their time here is up. They are to become the foundation of a new era, a new team, a new way for Michigan to proudly march into the future, the M banners waving again, THE VICTORS blaring as the anthem millions will be singing in the end, as glory and winning traditions return to the greatest, and to the winningest, program in the history of college football.

THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

Indeed, they will be.

 

Until next time,

              THE UNKNOWN WOLVERINE

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