"Stormtrooper Gate" - One Last History Lesson (For Now...)

"Stormtrooper Gate" - One Last History Lesson (For Now...)

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"Stormtrooper Gate" - One Last History Lesson (For Now...)

After a tumultuous week of analyzing “Stormtrooper Gate,” SpartansWire must make it clear to our readers – Michigan Men have been Michigan Men forever. Jim Harbaugh’s behavior is learned behavior – it’s not happening is an October, 2018 vacuum.

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There were unsubstantiated rumors over the last 48-hours that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh were readying to hold a press conference announcing that Michigan State’s game against Purdue at Spartan Stadium on Saturday would be canceled and that the University of Michigan football squad would be granted access to Spartan Stadium to stage a scrimmage game against Slippery Rock since Michigan has a bye-week.

Jim Harbaugh continues to be apoplectic over what he saw and still sees as “unfair” and “intimidating” actions taken by the Michigan State team when the Spartans…..walked across their home field last Saturday.

Nobody has yet to officially say publicly that Jim Harbaugh’s use of the words “orchestrated stormtrooper march” was so misguided and, obviously, ignorantly referred to something that shouldn’t ever be said about a college football team that is……..walking across its home field.

We’ve pointed it out – and we will point it out forever since Michigan Men need to be told when they are acting like…….Michigan Men –

This is an “orchestrated stormtrooper march” –

But none of the condescending attempts to drive the narrative, none of the clueless lack of self-awareness, none of the sanctimonious perspectives that have manifested themselves this week are happening in a vacuum.

Michigan Men have been this way forever.

Even when Michigan has been victorious – as the Wolverines were last Saturday in their well-earned 21-7 win over Michigan State at Spartan Stadium – Michigan Men behave like Michigan Men.

And, to use the words that Jim Harbaugh quoted since they’re Mark Dantonio’s words and the words are, indeed, spot on, “It’s not necessarily the team – it all comes from the program.”

Jim Harbaugh grew up in the Michigan environment and he’s learned how to be a Michigan Man.

There are countless examples of how Michigan Men flout their supposed superiority.

One of the better examples of Michigan Men being Michigan Men is from 1973 when Bo Schembechler demonstrated, perhaps, the finest Michigan Man behavior on record.

In 1973, Michigan managed to tie Ohio State 10-10 in the final game for each team that season – the tie created a kerfuffle across the Big Ten (and the nation) since the Big Ten needed to stage a vote among the conference athletic directors.

I think John U. Bacon might have written three or four books on the game.

Prior to the vote, the Michigan Men cranked up their machine and did everything they could to get their way.

The vote by the Big Ten ADs determined that the conference had selected the Buckeyes as the conference representative in the Rose Bowl.

That guy who played quarterback for Michigan in 1973 was seen just last week yelling at a stop sign for organizing the “unfair collusion” that unfairly kept Michigan out of that Rose Bowl after the Wolverines………..tied……..the Buckeyes in the final game of that season.

Michigan Men think – to this day – that Michigan “deserved” to go to that Rose Bowl.

Some of the thinking goes like this:

“We came back in that game and tied Ohio State after being down and that showed that we were the better team.”

That’s unusual logic – to put it mildly (words that Jim Harbaugh is using quite a bit these days).

Another perspective from the Michigan Men goes like this:

“We had chances to win that game with late field goals and we missed the kicks – if we would have made the kicks, we would have won.”

Again, this is unusual logic – to put it mildly – since, well, Michigan did not make the kicks.

This is the way Michigan Men think, however.

Michigan’s head coach at the time behaved like a petulant child in the aftermath of the announcement that Ohio State would go to the Rose Bowl.

He called out Michigan’s “sister school” with what was a somewhat indirect – although, rather direct – accusation that Michigan State’s vote for Ohio State (from Spartan athletic director, Burt Smith) was somehow a betrayal and unfair and bad and mean and bad and not at all fair.

This is how Bo Schembechler handled the situation at the time –

Below is a cute interview conducted in 1993 by a Detroit sports guy – who is not worth naming since this basement dwelling typist knows all about what a small man he is – that takes a wistful trip down memory lane.

Bo Schembechler and former Michigan athletic director Don Canham talk about the great conspiracy to keep Michigan out of the Rose Bowl after they tied Ohio State 10-10 in that 1973 season finale.

Give credit to Canham for dispelling the narrative that Schembechler drove all the way up until his death that Michigan State was, for some reason, responsible for Michigan being screwed out of that Rose Bowl.

Schembechler remains silent, notably, as the question is asked about whether or not Michigan State was to blame for Michigan being unfairly screwed out of going to the Rose Bowl after it tied Ohio State 10-10.

Here are some very revealing Schembechler quotes from this interview –

“The greatest injustice to a football team that I had ever seen because every reason in the book that you could pick, Michigan should have gone that year.”

The greatest injustice to a football team ever?

Why?

How?

Michigan should have gone that year?

Why?

Had Michigan actually won the football game, then Schembechler wouldn’t have had to have spent the rest of his life whining, bitching, moaning, holding grudges, stomping his feet, whining, whining, and complaining that his team didn’t get to to the Rose Bowl after tying Ohio State in 1973.

Win the football game and then you go.

It’s as simple as that.

Small Detroit sports anchor – “How did you tell the kids?”

Schembechler, “That was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do in my life.”

THAT was the hardest thing you had to do in your life?

That kind of gives credibility to the notion that the person who said that was a glorified and vastly overrated gym teacher who wore a whistle around his neck for his entire adult life and cried and whined and stomped and yelled and complained any time something didn’t go according to how he thought he “deserved” things to go.

If that was the hardest thing you ever had to do in your life, you should have shut up and popped a piece of bubble gum into your mouth and you should have enjoyed chomping and blowing some cool bubbles.

Schembechler, “They did everything a team needed to do to win the championship and go to the Rose Bowl.  They did it.”

No, they did not.

If the team had won the game rather than tying it, then they would have done everything a team needed to do to win the championship and go to the Rose Bowl.

Michigan Men often times fail to realize that being a Michigan Man doesn’t mean that you “deserve” anything other than being able to say that you’re a Michigan Man which, when combined with a few coins, can get you a ticket to ride on the 6 Train to get you home from Greenwich Village to the Upper West Side.

Schembechler, “We had outplayed Ohio State.”

No, you had not.

If you had outplayed Ohio State, you would have defeated Ohio State.

Schembechler, “That was an absolute crime that we didn’t get that opportunity.”

I recognize that hyperbole is often a useful tool and can be effective when trying to make a point.

But what about the “screw job” that kept Michigan out of the Rose Bowl after its 10-10 tie against Ohio State was a “crime?”

The Michigan radio announcers said it was “criminal” when Michigan State won on Jeff Smoker’s last second touchdown toss to TJ Duckett in 2001.

The whining and crying and whining here is prolific –

It was not a “crime” that Michigan didn’t get the opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl in 1973.

It was not “criminal” when Jeff Smoker completed the toss to TJ Duckett in 2001.

As we’ve noted – and will forever note – Lloyd Carr famously said after the 2001 game, “We deserved better.”

No, you didn’t “deserve” anything at all.

Play defense.

Make the plays in the previous 59:59 of the football game.

When Michigan Men lose or don’t get their way, it’s not “criminal,” it’s not “an injustice” and it’s not something that should be cause for Michigan Men to act like six year old children who can’t play with their toys because they scribbled with magic marker all over the living room walls.

What does all of this 1973 and 2001 stuff have to do with right now?

It shows, very clearly, that this is the type of behavior, rhetoric, complaining, and narrative-driving that Michigan Men have demonstrated for decades – particularly when it comes to the way they approach the relationship with Michigan State University.

Jim Harbaugh’s comments last Saturday and this week, his ridiculous tone, his accusations, his buffoonish characterizations, his ignorance – it is all part of the environment he grew up in and it’s what he’s learned from the entire community of Michigan Men.

The Big Ten’s $10,000 fine levied against Michigan State is a real mystery – but it’s also indicative of how the Michigan Man Way works.

Stomp feet.

Whine.

Complain.

Fire off accusations that have zero credibility and are completely ignorant and unfounded.

Continue to do all of this until the babysitter finally says, “Okay – if you stop your crying, I’ll let you watch ‘Toy Story’ again – but you have to sit still and you have to stop all of this whining….”

Michigan Men can – and are – all pointing to the $10,000 fine and saying, “See?”

Yeah, we do see.

You stomped your feet, you whined, you complained, and you screamed loudly enough – all after a game that you actually won, by the way.

For some reason, despite the Big Ten’s “reprimand,” the Michigan Men think that Devin Bush’s behavior was justified or normal or not insane.

That perspective continues to be a total mystery to me.

Forget, for a moment, that he “defamed” a logo (we all get too riled up over someone planting a flag or “disrespecting” a logo).

Stop and think if your son behaved like that.

Would you be proud of your son if he did all of…….that?

It was – and will probably always be – one of the most petulant, stupid, babyish, awful displays by an athlete that all was “motivated” by the fact that the home team did what it’s done before every home game for twelve years without a single incident of any kind – it walked across its home field.

And, somehow, Bush’s behavior is being celebrated by Michigan Men.

Okay.

If it takes losing a game to Michigan (a rare occurrence over the last decade, as everyone knows) to reveal the true colors of Michigan Men, Spartans will take that loss.

Finally…

As we’ve said many times during this intense week, Michigan beat Michigan State on the field last Saturday with a toughness and an intensity that Michigan has never shown against Michigan State in my lifetime.

Jim Harbaugh, Shea Patterson, Karan Higdon, yes, Devin Bush, and the entire Michigan team earned that victory and earned respect from everyone for the way they fought hard all afternoon.

But if anyone thinks – as I’ve seen written and said – that the win somehow means that “Big Brother Is Back” or that the hierarchy has been put back into the “right” order or that Michigan has “reclaimed ownership of the rivalry,” that’s all nonsense, “to put it mildly.”

Michigan has a great team and it certainly looks like Jim Harbaugh has finally gotten his machine cranking.

But let’s just see how things go for the next few seasons before we just assume or accept that Michigan State is going to revert back to the Bobby Williams or Muddy Waters days of being patronizingly pushed around by the self righteous Michigan Men.

The two teams play again next season.

Michigan State is going to show up for the game.

Michigan State is always going to show up for the game.

And while Michigan certainly has woken up and finally realized it has an adversary in East Lansing, Michigan State isn’t going into hiding.

Mark Dantonio has dominated Michigan for his entire tenure.

He and his Spartans lost this one.

If anyone thinks Dantonio and the entire Spartan program are not already geared up for next year’s game, those people probably think that Bo Schembechler was a good sport, that Devin Bush behaved like a Michigan Man, that Michigan “deserved better” when Jeff Smoker found TJ Duckett in the endzone, that last year’s 14-10 Spartan victory was only earned because it rained, and that the 1973 Michigan Men were screwed by the “crime” of not being sent to the Rose Bowl after tying Ohio State.

See you folks on November 16th of next Autumn….

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