What Is a Michigan Man

William McCormickContributor IAugust 20, 2009

1 Jan 1987: Head coach Bo Schembechler of Michigan during their 22-15 loss to Arizona State at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

I am not a band-wagon fan.  I still root for the Detroit Lions even though I have rarely had to remove a second glove to count their victories in the Michigan cold.  When attending a game of a team I root for, I have never left before the final second has ticked off the game clock regardless of the score; my team up 30 or, sadly, down 30 does not change anything. 

By virtue of a career that has moved me around the country I have been exposed to fans all over and entertained by them all—some by their rabid nature, some by their customs and some by how they present their loyalty.  I only mention this so it is not viewed as someone trashing their own, without a frame of reference, when I question some fans of the Michigan program.

Michigan football has had 110 winning seasons and has earned all kinds of accolades in the sport. So I find it funny when a fan questions the very nature of a program after one very bad year.  I watered down many a beer with a frustration tear last year myself, but I never lost my balance on the bandwagon.  I root for Michigan, all the schools of the Big Ten, and anyone playing against that school in Indiana with the drunken gnome as its symbol.

Coach Rod is the one at the tiller now and while he may not be the favorite son of Appalachia anymore he is the current Michigan man.  I state this because people seem to forget that those who are most often referred to as examples of Michigan men from that rich past with one exception were not always Michigan men.  Only Bennie Oosterbaan could claim to always be a Michigan man (He played for Michigan (1924-28) and only coached for Michigan (1928-58)).

The others that are most often pointed to as establishing Michigan as an elite program were not as Coach Oosterbaan always Michigan men.  They just did great things for football once they were the Michigan man.

* Fielding Yost (1901-23, 1925-26) Coached at Ohio Wesleyan, Nebraska, Kansas, and Stanford before he was the Michigan man

* Fritz Crisler (1938-47) Coached at Minnesota and Princeton before he was the Michigan man

* Bo Schembechler (1969-89) Coached at Ohio State, Presbyterian, Bowling Green, Northwestern, and Miami Ohio before he was the Michigan man.

So when I hear that there were Michigan men that were not chosen and that an outsider was brought in, I wonder if they also object to having had Fielding, Fritz and Bo at the helm of the Michigan program.  I know that I do not.  Also when you hear claims of the program losing family values, remember it is the "team" and look how many people were gone after the first few camps run in Ann Arbor by one Glenn "Bo" Schembechler. 

I stand by my team, not blindly, but my loyalties do not leave after a loss or a bad year.


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