September 5, 2007

Sanford Explains Why Michigan Was Supposed to Lose

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As I sit here and twiddle my thumbs thinking about how I will wonder you kiddies with my inaugural column … I am officially stumped. Furthermore, this piece is already running late and my roommate is challenging me to a game of Madden as I type, sorry Lance (tonight’s sports desker) — yeah, I am that guy.
Moving on, I was always told to write about things I am passionate about. So, right about now, I could give you readers something close to five pages dedicated to freshmen girls but I won’t. Sorry fellas, maybe next time.
So what will it be? Mike Vick? No, the topic has been exhausted. Team U.S.A.? Who cares what they do until Beijing in 2008. MLB playoff race? Lance Williams, The Sun’s resident baseball maniac, covered that yesterday. With that in mind, I have to talk about Appalachian State football, a team you didn’t care about until they dropped Michigan from the top-25 this past Saturday. Yeah, I know it is not as good a topic as freshmen girls, but it will have to suffice.
The question is how in the world did Appalachian State defeat Michigan, one of college football’s most elite programs? I spent my Saturday trying to catch up on schoolwork, but my roommate informed me of the score, 34-32, in favor of the Mountaineers. Suddenly, the most puzzling questions weren’t the ones found in my damned textbook (I have never been a fan of schoolwork anyways) but the score appearing on the television screen. A team with such a distinguished history and many potential All-American players choked to a team that’s not even in Division I-A. Sports fans went crazy when Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, but this easily has to take the cake. Mountaineers quarterback Armanti Edwards, looked Mike Vick-esque — circa ’03 — at times and the Wolverines’ man behind center, Chad Henne, couldn’t hook up enough times with Mario Manningham to keep pace. Mike Hart did his part with 188 yards — but that just wasn’t enough.
If you watch ESPN, read Sports Illustrated or look at any of those publications that have you ignoring your lecturer during a 10:10 class, you will hear a gazilion reasons why Michigan should have won. But, I on the other hand, am one of those people that just believed Michigan was supposed to lose. Here is why:

1. Departure to the NFL
The Wolverines lost six, count them, six defensive players to the NFL draft from last year. Leon Hall was the second cornerback taken in the first round of the draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. By the way a jail appearance is probably scheduled for him after a week 1 win over the Ravens. Lamar Woodley, David Harris, Allan Branch and Prescott Burgess also left Ann Arbor after last season’s disappointing loss to USC in the Rose Bowl, which brings me to my next point.
2. Playing down to its opponent
If you know anything about sports, you know that teams struggle with concentrating on the lesser-known opponents after big losses. Entering last year’s Rose Bowl, many critics felt Michigan was cheated out of an appearance in the national championship game and proceeded to lose to USC, 32-18. Enter the Mountaineers from Appalachian State.
3. Third time is the charm
To end the season last year, Michigan lost Ohio State and then USC in consecutive games, the famous phrase required that the Mountaineers finish the trifecta. Plus, Dwayne Wade has the No. 3 — yeah, random D. Wade shout out.
4. Too many fans
Now, not that Appalachian State is not talented but things come a lot easier when you have no pressure on you. On the other hand, the Wolverines had to fight off a controversial loss in front of the Big House, all 110,000 of them; you saw how that worked out.
5. Special teams
Any team that allows the opposition to block two straight field goals in the last minute of the game, deserves to lose. Simple.
6. Running out of ideas
Finally, thanks to my lack of creativity at this point I will say this: I declare this year, the year of the upset. After Boise State, everybody thinks they can do it. Appalachian State was the first of many.
You heard it here first, USC’s next … and I probably just lost all of my journalistic integrity with that statement. Ah well.