Thoughts on the Return of College Football


Bo and team

Holland, MI. The beginning of the college football season is the closest thing to a state holiday in Michigan. The release of the new auto line might have at one time sent a frisson of excitement through our spines, but now it’s mostly a cause for mourning. We Michiganders can live with the collapse of the auto industry, the massive budget crisis, the gross mismanagement of resources, our failing schools, our declining population, and the degradation of our lakes. We can live with these, I say, because they don’t cut to the core of our identity the way Michigan football going 3-9 does. The winningest and most storied program in college football does not have losing seasons, and it does not have academic scandals (other than the fact of intercollegiate athletics itself, which is a scandal so large as to be nearly invisible). Oh, I know there are Michigan State fans out there, but I’ve never really seen the point of being one. There’s something quirky about being a Spartan: they’re the kind of people who think Ariston was a greater ruler than Pericles, who would rather fly coach than first-class, who prefer hamburgers to steak, who think A-ball is actually better than the play at the majors. They wallow in their losing and expect to do so. When we study history, it’s the Athenians who get our attention – Spartans are always on the short end and an object of curiosity. My guess is that most Sparties were younger brothers who routinely got walloped by their older siblings. Sure, every now and then they might land a wayward haymaker, but mostly they’re a punching bag.

Michigan football, on the other hand, is about sustained excellence. Granted, critics will point to the Wolverines’ bowl record over the last 30 years, or they might pick a nit or two about the fact UM has only had one national championship in the last fifty years, but Michigan is a program that matters, and a program that consistently delivered winning, competitive teams. Until last year. When Lloyd Carr left, most fans knew the cupboard was somewhat bare, but no one anticipated going 3 and friggin’ 9 – the worst season in the program’s illustrious history. New coach Rich Rodriguez installed (gasp!) a spread offense which emphasized (gasp again!) PASSING. Bo Schembechler, who, if his name appeared on the ballot could still win a gubernatorial race in this state, used to say only three things can happen on a forward pass, and two of them are bad. There was nothing profligate about Bo’s teams, and he fit the mien of the state perfectly. He was intolerant of nonsense and disloyalty. As AD in 1989, he fired head basketball coach Bill Frieder just prior to the NCAA tournament when Frieder accepted an offer to be head basketball coach at Arizona State. “A Michigan man will coach Michigan’s teams” Bo sputtered at the press conference. Steve Fisher led the Wolverines to the tournament title that year, and not a person in the state believes that Frieder would have done so. The move simply entrenched Bo even more deeply in our affections. When he passed away just prior to The Game a couple of years ago, when both UM and That Team to the South were undefeated, the mourning was palpable. Bo was the closest thing we had to a genuine icon, and his death let the air out of the whole state. The Wolverines fought gamely that day, but the forces of evil won out in the end, leaving us twice swallowed up in death.

My first college football memory is of the 1969 classic between the Maize and Blue and the Scarlet and Grey. Woody Hayes’ boys were the defending national champions and he brought to Ann Arbor that year what he would later call his best team ever. For those unfortunate enough not to have been around in Woody’s heyday, I can only say he was the easiest person to hate you ever could find. He had a violent temper, ugly rimmed glasses, and top-notch well-disciplined teams that wore the opposition down to a nub. He lost his job upon punching Clemson player Charley Bauman after the latter intercepted a pass in the Gator Bowl and was pushed out of bounds into the path of Woody’s flying fist. I’ve watched the youtube video at least a hundred times as an exercise in pure schadenfreude. Bo was in his first year at Michigan in ’69 and the team was a decided underdog. The program had fallen into some disrepair during the 60’s, but Bo brought with him (alas, as a protege of Hayes) conservative principles. Work hard. Be smart. Discipline, discipline, discipline. Play stout, unyielding defense. PROTECT the ball. He assured the team that “those who stay will be champions” and the words stuck and became the unofficial motto of the program. Bo focused on doing one thing: winning the Big Ten Conference championship, and that was back in the day when the conference actually had ten teams. Winning the Big Ten meant being able to win in Columbus on cold, blustery, grey November days, and Bo did it like no one else. This left his teams at a disadvantage in the artificial climes of places such as Southern California and Florida, but none of that mattered much. The season ended when the final gun sounded against the hated Buckeyes. Everything after that was mere exhibition.

People born after 1980 might find this hard to believe, but back in the day there was no ESPN. ABC was the only network that carried college football, and they typically showed only one game a week. If you were a fan, and you wanted to follow your team, you listened on the radio. As Michigan fans we were twice blessed. Not only did we have a dominant team through the 70’s, but we had as our radio voice the inimitable Bob Ufer. One hardly knows where to begin in describing Ufer. He was so far beyond being a homer that he made Harry Caray look like a model of neutrality. On those rare occasions Michigan would lose he would weep openly into the microphone, complaining about the pain he felt “in every bone of my Maize and Blue body.” He had next to him in the booth a bulb horn he reportedly stole from the jeep of General Patton and would blast it repeatedly after a Meeeeecheegan score (as he always called the team). His play by play was littered with literary and historical references. He was bombastic, audacious, politically incorrect, hyperexcitable — and we loved him. On that November day Meeeecheegan pulled out a 24-12 victory in what Bo would later call the greatest victory of his career. Ufer’s voice, horribly hoarse at this point, became rhapsodic, ecstatic. He recited a long poem he had written for the occasion, regaling us with the magnitude of what The Victors had accomplished. Thus began what is referred to in these parts as “The Ten-Year War,” where every year Michigan and that other school played every season for the Big Ten title, Bo’s boys going 5-4-1 in those games.   The rivalry was never quite the same after Woody’s departure. Having toilet paper with Earl Bruce’s mug on it was just never as satisfying.

Football then was about regional and conference pride. It was about crushing the little sisters like Northwestern 70-0 with everything leading up to The Game. The Game produced its legends. There was Dennis Franklin leading the team to a 30-2-1 record in his three years as quarterback but robbed of going to the Rose Bowl in 1973 after the infamous 10-10 tie when the conference voted to send the Suckeyes instead because Franklin broke his collarbone in that game. The tie itself was controversial because Mike Lantry missed two fourth quarter field goal attempts, but Michigan fans still swear that second one was good. Bad reffing. Woody Hayes trashing a yardage marker. Bo relentlessly chewing his gum. The classic uniforms. The crowds. The sense of anticipation. There has been nothing like it.

College football has changed. With the advent of ESPN games now have national, not regional significance. The coverage is relentless. Thursday night. Friday night. Saturday from noon until 2AM. Sometimes even Tuesday and Wednesday now. Teams are encouraged to schedule outside their region. Not only does this increase costs, but it homogenizes the product. Oklahoma has a Heisman winning quarterback who led the nation in passing? Michigan is running the spread? Nebraska is playing out of the shotgun? What in the name of Red Grange’s ghost is going on? What happened to the wishbone, the power I, the wing T? Players expect national coverage and to compete on the national stage. Teams aren’t built anymore to win in Ann Arbor in late November, but to win in Orlando in January. They don’t recruit from their home bases, big strapping farm boys to Iowa, union boys to Michigan, steel mill workers to Penn State, Wisconsin linemen who milked and slaughtered cows, Minnesota players right off the lumber yard, murderers and gamblers to OSU. I guess drama majors to Northwestern. None of us can figure out why they’re in the Big Ten.

The teams reflected their place, they drew from their population. The crowds knew these young men back when they were playing pee-wee ball, and followed their careers. They played for The Old Oaken Bucket, Paul Bunyan’s Axe, The Little Brown Jug. They played for pride of state as well as pride of university. Sure, there was conference pride on the line in the Rose Bowl or the Orange Bowl, but our teams weren’t built for success in those venues, and the season didn’t ride on the outcome.

Then, I think it was in the 80’s, not long after the advent of extended coverage, people became obsessed with National Championships. If ever there was a quixotic quest, this was it. There is no way realistically to determine on the field who the best of 120 teams might be, especially if you want to maintain any pretense that academics are somehow involved in the lives of the “student-athletes.” College football always had the disease of “poll-io” but it became inflamed. There is absolutely no reason to rank teams in a poll PRIOR TO THE FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON, yet there you have it. The practice works distinctly to the advantage of some programs and to the disadvantage of others. Truthfully, there is really no good reason to rank teams at all. Decide the conference champion on the field and leave it at that. The obsession with polls and national championships has a negative effect on the players.

It used to be that any team that won a conference championship could hold its head high about the season; now, anything short of a national championship and you’re a loser. If you won your bowl game you could feel good about going out on a winning note. The poll obsession robbed teams of such warm feelings. It’s made football less interesting. What would happen if a wishbone attack played against a four-wideout system? We’ll never know. All the teams just copy whatever last year’s top-ranked team did.

After the split championships in ’94 and (reportedly) ’97, the cry went out for a playoff system that would decide “a true national champion.” Actually, it would decide the winner of an extended tournament, but you could call it a national champion if you liked. You could call it a red worm too, and both with equal truthfulness. Addicted to the money of the bowl system, the conference presidents came up with a system insured to generate universal dissatisfaction: the BCS. Most people complain about the BCS because it doesn’t produce a true national champion, but that’s not really the problem with the system.

The main problem is that it exacerbates our obsession with national championships, an obsession that uproots programs, that disconnects them from their place. It deepens the homogenizing of the game. It creates estrangement between fans and their programs. Over half the players on Michigan’s roster are from out of state. It creates coaches with massive egos and even larger salaries. It creates greater pressure on academic institutions to sell their soul to the football program because football, for the big-name schools at least, is a huge income generator. OSU’s athletic budget is over $110 million a year. The pressure has now spilled over into the high schools, as recruiting watches have become full-time information services, as ESPN now covers high school games and high school all-star games, as TV covers press conferences of players making their ridiculous announcements with the multiple hats about where they will go to school. One almost feels sorry for the multi-millionaire coaches who have to spend half their lives prostituting themselves to 16 year-old lunkheads. At least they’re paid well for it.

I miss the days of playing football in the backyard with my brother listening to Bob Ufer screaming from the sideline radio. I miss the prelude to The Game, as the weather got gloomier and the fingers froze and the ball would hit your hands and you could feel the pain all the way up to the shoulder, and that nothing before or after would really matter but you were in the moment and that the day would come and the whistle would sound and the ball would arc against the cold November sky and someone would emerge as a hero, and your heart would be broken or you would be giddy for a couple of weeks until Christmas took over. That you had witnessed something you would remember forever, the memory all the more real because you only saw the team once a year, but you knew them by position and could recall each tackle, block and touchdown because the words still resonated in your ears. I miss believing the season was a success even if we didn’t finish at the top of the poll, because Michigan was “the champions of the West” and, really, that was good enough.

Basketball has already completely given in to the furious desire to crown a national champion, and I’ll admit it’s a fine tournament, but football is the midwest’s sport. It’s mud, dirt, sweat, hard painful labor, your blood mixed with the soil. It’s about strength, stoicism, perseverance. It’s the life of the pioneer turned inward and to its essence and into a spectacle for all to see and admire. Now? It’s about speed and space and deception and making everything quicker, quicker. Even our games have gotten themselves into a huge rush, and still that’s not enough for us. Ask not for whom the whistle blows. It blows for thee.

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Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. This is just excellent!
    But, my goodness….MICHIGAN?
    And, Ohio State has only played one, maybe two murderers! And what sweet victories Trussel has rendered over that team from ‘up north,’ may the irasible Woody rest in peace.
    But, it is our Lady’s team, blest by the Lord himself and daily and during every home game, that elevates this violent sport to a metaleptic event, where God and man commune on a field that forever represents the tension of human existence, where the immanent is ‘their’ endzone and the transcendent is ‘our’ endzone.
    And, so it is that Notre Dame’s last national title was hard won under the tutelage of that son of East Liverpool, Ohio and St. Aloysius and the “Potters,” the legendary Lou Holtz!
    But, MICHIGAN…geez, that’ll put me off my feed all day!

  2. As a teen, I was trouble, and so wound up going off to Michigan instead of Notre Dame for college; it was safer to house me with the other academic barbarians than allow me in with the saints and scholars, I suppose. While there, I had a short career as a reporter, and here is one of the short press releases of which I’m most proud:

    Michigan Quarterly Review article chides end of Rose Bowl tradition

    I’m especially grateful for this essay, for, as an East Lansing native and son, brother, nephew, grand-nephew, and cousin of Domers, I simply never understood how it was possible to like the Wolverines. Now I get it; I just don’t like it!

  3. What’s round on the ends and high in the middle? I think I hear “Hang on Sloopy” playing somewhere in the background…

  4. Nice posting. Michiganders and Ohioans are not alone in their identification with football. Growing up in Western New York we lived and breathed it. Espacially High School football, as the best we had to offer for local college ball, Syracuse, just didn’t cut it. Of course, as a working class Catholic, there was only one team we were allowed to cheer for in my house, and it sure as heck wasn’t the Wolverines.

    I just posted on my memories of growing up following the local team over here:

  5. University of Michigan = coach thieves
    May they and that false son of the Mountain State Rodriquez rot in Big Ten purgatory for 100 years!

  6. JMJ: I simply never understood how it was possible to like the Wolverines. Now I get it; I just don’t like it!


    Gooooooooo Irish! Go Irish! Beeeeeeeeeat Wolf Pack! Beat Wolf Pack!

    I have no ticket, and I’m too poor to buy one, but I’ll be in South Bend today, for God smiles upon Our Lady’s University (even if the ultra-conservative Catholics don’t!) and, we hope, Her men of the gridiron.

  7. I’m sure the localistas on FPR would be appalled, but growing up in Western New York, as the descendant of the Catholic refuse of Croatian and German stock, there was never any thought of rooting for a local college like Syracuse. Their was only one football team we identified with and it belonged to Our Lady. Devotion to her, and that team from South Bend was as much theological, as cultural.

  8. There’s better authorities on this matter than I, but I have always wanted to write an essay on the theological and cultural component of the cult of the Irish.

    As I’m sure many of you have encountered, I find myself exasperated when some sports fan writes of how much he hates ND and how he cannot understand why they are always “over rated” and over adored compared to his favorite team, the Meathead State Chuckroasts.

    Football alone could never have generated and cannot explain the cult of the Irish; to grasp it, one has to have a sense of American Catholic history, our existing quite contentedly as a state within a state for nearly a century (note the Bush-Administration terminology!), and the curious (analogous) applicability of that very Catholic word “adoration” to Irish football. The Irish marching from the Basillica to the stadium bears more than an incidental poetic resemblance to a Eucharistic procession. Both speak — or are intended to speak — of the triumph of the Church over the darkness of this world . . . in ways so radically different, of course, that it might strain reason but it does not strain the moral imagination.

    Todd Tucker’s “Notre Dame v. the Klan” book cashed in one, assimilationist version of this adoration. The protestors over Obama’s appearance at ND homed in on another.

    Oh, there’s so much to say. But, to reformate the maxim of the Treasonous Clerk, if you like your politics local and your Church universal, then Notre Dame is the team for you . . .

  9. Notre Dame football is an interesting phenomenon, for it is about more than local identities. The nationalizing of ND radio broadcasts in the ’20s was essential to the mainstreaming of Catholics into American political and social life. I’ve often thought the bizarre establishment clause cases of the 40’s and 50’s would have never happened without Notre Dame football.

    As a convert to Rome I have ambivalent feelings about ND football. On the one hand I feel as if I ought to embrace both the crusader and the triumphalist elements of the Domers, while at the same time seeing it as part of my new found identity. On the other hand, I have too much Maize and Blue blood in my veins to be able to actually bring myself to root for Notre Dame. Those loyalties go too deep, and the rivalry is too historic. I doubt Augustine would approve, but like in Book VII of the Confessions, I am still bound by the chains of a perverse will.

    In terms of Michigan’s rivalries, That Team to the South will always be number 1, Notre Dame will always be number 2. Perhaps MSU is three, but only if they win a few more in a roll, which is now actually thinkable. Jason, I’m afraid you are subjecting your poor sons to a lifetime of identity crises. You might want to rethink things.

  10. Congrats to Kauffman’s BYU Cougars on taking down one of the NCAA football empires by the name of Oklahoma (who under the fraud named Switzer made steroids romantic). Great piece on Michigan. As a fellow Big Ten fan (Purdue)I know about how Michigan and OSU despise one another. Also, I think that is still one of the few rivalries that takes precedence even over the national championship in the minds of the fans involved. Having OSU in laws they could care less about anything but beating Michigan.

    Being from a basketball loving state we pay most attention to those games between Purdue and Indiana University during the drab winter nights in the midwest. Frankly nothing better than an IU vs Purdue basketball game in January/February. Those regionalisms are priceless. However, the best games always come when Purdue and IU have the players from inside Indiana playing, who know the rivalry.

    IU in their national dominance under Bob Knight had usually more out of state players than Purdue but IU had their share of Hoosier players. Purdue still has the most Big Ten basketball championships with mostly local talent over the years. Purdue is slated for a good year and have had two good seasons the last two years. Of their current top seven players 6 come from the far corners of our own state of Indiana, and much of the reserves are in-staters. I ask the FPR followers to follow how Purdue uses the local talent to hang with those teams utilizing the coasts’ best and international players.

    I love Big Ten basketball for that fact that many of its teams take from the local crowd in their respective states and regions. I agree that the college athletic experience has become a commercial nightmare with kids being recruited in 8th grade, but my team is a local diamond in that global rough by recruiting student athletes from Indiana and graduating over 90% of them.

    Didn’t mean to switch off subjects from football to basketball, but thought it necessary to point out that local talent and local pride still matters and can be successful.

  11. I’m proud to say Wisconsin still gets a good deal of its players from in state, a few of those indeed from right straight from the milking barn. Of course they can still milk cows if they want even on campus. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences still has barns, silos and milking palors right on campus. They’re milked twice a day, 4:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to the sounds of “On Wisconsin!”

  12. Thomas G., I guess you knew a small part of western NY. The dozen or so of my family who have degrees of one kind or another from Syracuse would find your sentimental attachment to Charlie Weiss rather ludicrous. Go back a few years, and Syracuse was the stuff that movies are made of. The ‘Cuse is now trying to find an impossible niche in “college” football: a place to play and win honorably. They won’t do it, any more than will Meeechigan or any other big time program. Mr. Tressell probably comes as close as anybody except Mr. Paterno, but anyone who knows football at that level knows what it takes to win, and it has nothing to do with what Mr. Polet thinks used to happen at Meeechigan. Ufer used to call Bo, “General George Patton Bo Schembechler,” and end every broadcast with the conviction that they would “carry Woody Hayes away.” That about says it all.

  13. John,

    Indeed, I find my attachment to ND to be ludicrous at times as well. But most affairs of the heart are ludicrous in one way or another, and the attachment of working class Catholics to ND is an affair of the heart, not one of the mind.

    Growing up in the 70’s, my Big Bruddah attended ND for 2 years before “tuning in, turning on, and dropping out”. Long enough for me as a child of 9 years old to spend a night in his room in Zahm Hall, listening to him tell ghost stories about the ghost of Rockne who supposedly roamed campus, and to take in a game at ND stadium where some skinny kid named Montana led the Irish to victory that day. But my love of ND football is not linked to Montana, Dan Devine, Gerry Faust, Lou Holtz, or Charlie Weiss. No, they are all just players in a drama much bigger than their particular personalities. I look on them like I look on an alcholic uncle, or a bone headed brother who walked away from ND for a flop house in SF. Dysfunctional family, but family all the same. (Well, maybe not Joe. He’s more of the dashing older cousin)

    As for SU, in the 70’s I was only vaguely aware that they had a football program. I did however, cheer quite heartily for Coach MacPherson in the late 80’s. But I was cheering for the coach, and the program, not necessarily any SU “ideal”. The fact that I’ve never been an SU “fan” probably has as much to do with the fact that they wear the color of the “wrong” end of the Irish Flag. That always bugged my Mom.

    I do hope SU can rebuild their program. WNY needs SU, and anything other positive thing they can find. As a good Catholic I’m praying for you. My advice to long suffering SU fans is no different than my advice to Damers, “Offer it up.”


  14. Tom,
    We (Catholics) have just got to get over Notre Dame. After Obamazation, we may as well root for BYU. Your ‘Cuse memory doesn’t go back to Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, or even Floyd Little (all #44, the last of whom I had in class for a few weeks), glory days of a dysfunctional football program that would make your family normal.
    Yes, Peace,

  15. I will tell my wife that there is now an explanation for her being a big fan of the MSU Spartans. Consider yourself fortunate that you will not be present to hear it.

    BTW, I too am entirely opposed to this mania to have a national football championship. A national championship makes a lot of sense for basketball — a game in which the individual game does not mean quite as much because there are so many more of them. But it will ruin college football. Not only will the conference championship come to mean nothing, but the national championship idea is diminishing the value and meaning of the game. At MSU, beating UofM is more important than anything else, even if it doesn’t have the same importance the other way around. And that’s the way it should be. And there are other rivalries with similar meanings. The national championship is a concept to argue about over a beer during the off-season; it should not be allowed to substitute for the game itself.

  16. I make it a matter of principle to never ever say anything nice about the Mormons if I can help it…unless I’m well into the realm of irony….. but this past weekend, BYU beat Oklahoma and so I promise to listen to some Osmonds while having a Coke and a Donut. However, when they go up against the Utes on Tequila Day, well…I hope the current fans of the old Man’s alma mater have good aim with the empties.
    College Traditions are important you know.

    As to Notre Dame, I have yet to forgive them for beating the Utes on the back of some suspect officiating at the NIT many moons ago. The only good that came out of that game is the shock and horror of some cheeky Utahns and their underdog local supporters starting a bad form chant of “The Pope is a Dope” during the third quarter and I am only relieved the NIT does not take place in Boston.

    My own alma mater produced Merlin Olsen but damned if they can ever get out of their own way even when talent is in hand. The fans used to have really good aim during Tequila Day against BYU though…don’t know if they still do because Out of State Tuition went up some time ago, thus letting a lot of air out of the Tequila Day supporters. To a resident of Happy Valley, where drunken trappers and their inebriated Indian cohorts once traded their cache, well…a big city slicker from Salt Lake might just as well been some damnable New Yorker .

    But, all this college boy talk can’t hold a candle to a High School Football Game I once enjoyed on a bright September evening after one of the best steak dinners I ever had……. in Sydney, Nebraska, a few hours east of Cheyenne. This, my friends……is world class football and there aint no commercial interruptions. Raw Talent and an entire Town OUT FOR BLOOD! One could spend a couple months traveling the back roads of the plains states and watching local high school football…the game in its purest form….and die a happy, accomplished man.

  17. I am not sure exactly what your standard is for determing which program is the “most storied program in college football” but I submit to you that the correct answer lies to the South – namely the University of Alabama. Roll Tide!

    • 42 Big Ten Championships.
      57-42-6 against Ohio State.
      11 National Championships.
      Most victories in the history of college football.
      Best all-time winning percentage in the history of college football.
      Most winning seasons in college football history.
      Most undefeated seasons in college football history.
      Has a winning record against every conference.
      Best uniforms in college football.
      Best fight song in college football.

      Case closed.

  18. 12 National Championships and 21 SEC Championships. Michigan is in the Big 10 – so aside from Ohio State and Penn State – you aren’t looking at really tough in conference schedule so winning percentage, most victories, etc. aren’t as impressive as you make them out to be. As far as the fight song and uniforms go, you lose that one as well. “Yea Alabama” and the Crimson and White are far superior.

  19. As someone who has been away from Minnesota (where I grew up) for now some 21 years, I still find it hard to cheer for any team except the Gophers. Minnesota blood (glycol) still runs in my veins, whether the Gophers are winning or losing. And this is after have one son graduate from the University of Iowa, and a daughter attending UIowa now. I’m too far away to get Minnesota games on the radio, which makes me thankful I can get games now on the Big Ten Network (BTN) on television. And while it is nice that football has once again returned to the Minneapolis campus, it is a travesty that the stadium is called “TCF Bank Stadium” – who ever heard of a university stadium being named for anyone but a famous player or just good ol’ “Memorial Stadium.” But then again, to me the Rose Bowl will never be anything in my mind except the big playoff match between the top Big 10 and PAC 10 teams.

    Kevin in Dubuque, Iowa, who watched his first football games of the season last Saturday, so guesses that means fall is here and all leaves are turning maroon and gold in my mind’s eye, even if they are still green in color

  20. That hurt!
    That Forcier kid is all heart, and we gotta overrated, S. Calif. sore-armed hero QB who chokes with a certain regularity.
    However, Forcier or no Forcier you’ve got to beat Trussel and I don’t think so. I’ll be thinking of you in Nov.
    Bring back Lou Holtz!

  21. A Lou Holtz story for those interested. About ten years ago, after Holtz had left ND, I was attending Mass on a holy day of obligation at the cathedral in Cleveland. I saw someone sitting by himself who looked like Lou Holtz. Sure enough, it was Lou. After Mass, I went up to him, and told him my Dad was a huge fan. Unfortunately, I had neither paper nor pen, so there was no easy way to get an autograph of Lou for my Dad. So Holtz told me where he was staying, and asked me to call. I did, and gave him my Dad’s name and address. A few weeks later, my Dad received a letter from Holtz, on Notre Dame stationery. I will never say anything bad about Lou Holtz.

  22. Nice one, Tom!

    Here’s one from my brother: He ran into Lou at the airport last year, and went right up to him, “Hi, Lou, I’m X., ND class of ’93. My senior year, you brought us coffee and doughnuts while we were waiting in line all night to buy student season tickets.”

    Lou looked at him and said, “No, I didn’t. I brought you doughnuts and juice.”

    “You’re right,” remarked my chastened brother.

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