Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

THOSE THAT STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS

From Seth...

When Bo first came to Michigan, he instituted a ludicrously hard summer practice that Bear Bryant would have been proud of. As players started jumping ship, he put up a sign: "those who stay will be champions."

Most left. Only 70 players were on the team in 1969, when they started with more than twice that (NCAA rules didn't yet limit scholarships).

But they beat Woody's best Ohio State team. And they set the foundation for the next era of Michigan success.

That era ends in less than an hour, when Lloyd Carr makes his retirement official.

Lloyd stayed.

And he also convinced his senior stars to stay. Jake Long, Chad Henne, Mike Hart -- these guys were the heart and soul of our team -- guys you could put up against any of those players from the years of Bo, Mo and Llo.

Yet these guys never beat Ohio State, the only marker of success.

It's a Shakespearean tragedy, really. They deserved it. They played hard enough to get it. But in the end, it was never theirs. Henne's shoulder was too hurt. Hart's leg was too hurt. Two freshmen offensive linemen couldn't hold back Ohio's star-studded defensive line. Manningham couldn't get his head into the game.

It was Manningham who hurt the most. Here's a teammate of three guys who spurned the NFL for one more shot at beating Ohio State. And in the Ohio State game, here's Manningham, one foot out the door, trying to make an NFL film before making sure the ball is secure in his hands. Letting down his teammates. Letting down those who stayed.

Was it worth it?

Well Henne's shoulder will heal.

Hart makes a better college star than NFL back.

Long: well, he probably moved up 10 spots in the NFL draft, perhaps to No. 1 overall.

But they still couldn't beat Ohio State.

It's the greatest tragedy, for three men who deserved to win this game several times over, to have never tasted it.

It's the greatest tragedy for Carr, the classiest act in college football, who now has to retire with a losing record in the rivalry. He stayed. He stayed when a 7-5 season had people questioning if he'd lost it. He was ready to retire last year, but stayed to see out the reign of Henne and Hart and Long.

Yet they weren't champions. They were jokes. They smeared the whole conference, getting blown out in the Big Ten's biggest non-conference game to set the tone for Big Ten bashing all year.

Yes, in case you're wondering, it's Michigan's fault that OSU is ranked behind 1-loss LSU, West Virginia and Missouri, even though the Buckeyes' loss to Illinois is by far the most respectable. It's also Michigan's fault that Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin have spent weeks out of the Top 25, despite seasons that more than warrented it.

It's a tragedy.

These are men that deserved better. They'll never get it.

This is the year the enemies of Michigan got everything they could hope for.

Who knows what the future will bring. At present, there is only pain, pain as deep as any in sports. That such men, such exemplary men as Carr, Hart, Henne and Long should walk away disgraced is the worst thing to ever happen in all of sports.

Is there good that can come from it?

After all of these years of Bo and his two coordinators, what has Michigan learned?

Those who stay...

You feel the pain. You know now that those outside of the Michigan program are going to take this loss as far as it can go. They're going to trash us, and they're going to trash the Big Ten. And those in the Big Ten will laugh along with them.

You feel the pain.

We're right back to where we started. It's 1969. And all of us, every Michigan man from the eldest alum to the incoming freshman, are back in Bo's camp, sweating through the most rigorous summer practice this game has ever seen.

The door's that way. Many have walked through it already. There's a whole country out there who will say it's perfectly okay if you want to leave this program now.

But those who stay will be champions.

Henne, Hart and Long will never beat Ohio State. But they are our champions. They have earned the respect of Michigan men.

But the Michigan men who come after are going to have to start from scratch now. We're going to be a younger team next year than Notre Dame is this year. We're going to have a new coach, and there's very small chance he'll be as good as Carr.

Being a Michigan man is not going to be easy. We're going to rebuild. We're going to lose some recruits and lose some rivalry games, and Ohio State and the SEC are going to rub our broken faces in the dirt and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh at us. There's no sympathy for tragedy in college football.

But those who stay will be champions.

I can take the pain.

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