We trudge onward through the Big Ten, searching for reasons to live through a summer of boredom.
You May Remember Them From Such Games As...: Last season's 35-10 bludgeoning in Ann Arbor, which followed 2008's 46-17 bludgeoning in Happy Valley. That's 81-27 over two years, mathletes. Ordinarily, this would be a monumental achievement for Penn State, but don't get too proud. Take away a mid-season guarantee game against severely outmanned Delaware State, and Michigan lost their last seven games, including a 38-13 school bus fire at Illinois on Halloween that inspired the dong-punching webinar over at MGoBlog.
Reasons To Hate: Every last morsel of this. Yes, the last two years have been nice, but they don't come close to erasing the pain of 2005, 1999, and a bunch of those other games.
Sole Redeeming Quality: The oft-quoted Chinese Curse seems appropriate -- "may you live in interesting times." Not a problem for Michigan fans, who find their coach under siege from a combination of influential alumni and local writers, and see a quarterback derby that could fracture the team before the conference schedule even starts. Like Michigan or not (and we all know the answer to that), they'll be a wildly compelling team to follow this season.
Last Season, In One Picture:
Above, Tate Forcier and the 2009 Michigan defense. Not pictured, Brandon Graham eating your quarterback and generally destroying stuff.
Cold Blooded Old Times: Semi-vintage trickeration from 1995, as Joe Nastasi runs in a fake field goal in Beaver Stadium.
If Michigan Was A Character In Some Movie Or TV Show Or Whatever: George Oscar Bluth, Arrested Development. Wears expensive suits. Talks loudly. Accomplishes nothing. Expects you to care anyway. Come on!
Oddly Compelling Off-Season Scandal: This dumb "quality control assistant" / over-practicing thing that's been dogging Rich Rodriguez for months and giving ammo to every anti-Rod columnist in that economically shattered mitten we call Michigan. Don't care. Do. Not. Care. On the grand scale of collegiate athletics scandals, this is fun, but piddling. It's the NCAA equivalent of 140 hours of Congressional testimony about the Clinton's Christmas card list. Entertaining to see Michigan pump repeated rounds into their own feet? Most certainly. OMG CHEETERZ? Ehh, yeah, a little. They'll go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in mid-August, when they'll find out whether their self-imposed sanctions (which do not currently include a reduction of scholarships) are sufficient for the NCAA's liking.
Either way, bad timing. It'll be an issue that hangs over the start of the Wolverines' season. That, and the losing. The sweet, sweet losing.
Threat Level, From Amy Grant To G.G. Allin: KANYE WEST. Still garners our collective, fascinated attention despite producing nothing of significance during the past few years. Prone to sudden outbursts of frustration and futility, yet there's a lurking sense that they'll be back and annoying us sooner than later. Their success makes them even more unbearable. Enjoy the quiet time while it lasts.