Monday, January 08, 2007

Ah, so that's why they can't win a bowl game

Watching Michigan end each of their recent seasons, regardless of how stellar they might have been, with a loss to bitter rival Ohio State and then whoever they are playing in whatever bowl game they're invited to has been something of a guily pleasure of late (though I admit that Julie's influence and my enrollment at the school has seen me occasionally rooting for the Skunkrats). Of course, as a Spartan, I can only dream of the day when my team only loses two games in a season, regardless of the games - provided neither are to Michigan. Instead, I find myself voicing the million "If only's" that every Stater does. If only Henne didn't have Braylon Edwards to lob passes to in 2004. If only the rain had continued against Notre Dame. These wishful excuses are part and parcel of wearing the green, and faithfully prompt snorts of derision from every Wolverine, Walmart or otherwise.

So, imagine my glee when I opened today's edition of the University rag to find a letter to the editor by a supportive alumni pointing out what we have all apparently missed. You see, this alumni claims, it's all a matter of statistics. The poor Wolverines have the odds stacked against them apparently, and this fact is manifested in two glaring examples - turf and distance.

As this astute alum notes, only two teams that play on a home field comprised of something other than natural grass have won the national championship in recent years. Power programs such as USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State (and may I add Michigan State) all play on natural grass. As the Big House doesn't contain natural grass, we obviously can't blame the Wolverines for losing to a team whose stadium does. Or something. What our friendly scholar fails to recognize however is a simple rule taught to every high school statistics student - a trend in raw stats is indicative of nothing more than coincidence. All of the programs he mentions are powerhouses packed with tradition regardless of the kind of field they play on. Until I see some research revealing that playing on artificial grass deteriorates a cornerback's speed such that they are left in the dust by USC wide receivers, Michigan fans might want to come up with another excuse.

The other reason given for why Michigan faced an impossible battle in a bowl game was the distance to the location. This is a point I can appreciate, but really only in the regular season. When Michigan State opens their season in Berkley, they won't have spent the previous week sightseeing. Teams forced to travel to Hawaii for the regular season have it even worse. But during the post-season, when most teams arrive to the bowl city early enough to transform their luxury hotel rooms into parodies of their dorm rooms, this just isn't an excuse. Ample opportunity is given to acclimate to the shift in time zone and climate. But by all means Michigan, please stay closer to home during the holidays. The Motor City Bowl and spanking new International Bowl would love to have you as a fixture each year and the Spartans would be more than happy holidaying in Pasadena.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Year, New Resolutions

I know you're supposed to make your New Year's resolutions early enough that you can have stated them and begun ignoring them by January 2nd, but after a splendid few days in Pittsburgh seeing the lovely and talented Julie and the early return to school (seriously, what university starts on the 4th?) I never quite got around to it. So I'll do it now. Now, as someone who once questioned the wisdom of 16 year old girls who laid out their lives in excruciating details on the web, I can understand that you, my non-existant readers, would be curious as to why I'd post this, or why you should care. The reality is that you probably shouldn't, but in compiling this list I've been forced to really consider what issues are pressing and, by putting it out here, I'll hopefully add some tangibility to the obligation. So, my New Year's resolutions are:

1. See Julie lots more. I'm not sure the importance of this need can be properly described but I need to work on ensuring that minor obstacles don't derail us seeing each with increasing regularity. The few days I was in Pittsburgh really reinforced how great a person she is and how much I enjoy the thought of spending the rest of my life with her. I'm truly a luck man.

2. Find a rocking internship. My post-law school job search made crystal clear my error in not seeking out practical experience before graduation. Employers are simply not willing to hire somebody based solely on their academic merits, regardless of the caliber of those merits. As I'll be finishing school just four months after my summer internship ends, finding one that opens potential career paths is another critical facet.

3. Rediscover my creativity. Somewhere along the way during the past six years I seem to have lost it. It could have occurred while slaving away in law school, during the frustrating year that I loaded semi trucks while looking for a job, or even earlier when my friends were displaced by a prima donna and her self-absorbed actor friends, but I'm not sure where it is anymore. Gone is the drive to sit down and write, replaced instead by the drive straight to the couch. And this at a time when Time declares "us" to be the person of the year due to "our" redoubled creative efforts facilitated by the accessability of new technologies of production and distribution.

Those would be the big three that have the potential of causing the greatest sea change in my current condition, though I do have the requisite number of typical goals - get back to the gym at least 3 days a week, drop another 2o lbs., get Muddflek to level 60, etc. Ok, maybe that last one isn't exactly typical outside of the geekosphere, but I think you get the idea.