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Viewpoint | In Michigan comedy-drama, laughter is the only answer

With their invincibility on the line, their integrity questioned and their leader banished to a hotel room, the Michigan Wolverines beat back a storm of adversity Saturday afternoon to earn the 1,000th victory in program history. These struggling Wolverines, third in the College Football Playoff standings but first in the hearts and minds of Americans, have spent the last month as victims of the craziest scandal of the season. They saved their fight not for a courtroom but for the gridiron, where they showed Maryland the power of…

Sigh, I’m sorry. I can not stand it anymore. The laughter can probably be heard throughout College Park, because no one should write about this team and this moment without bursting into hysterical laughter.

This whole sign-stealing thing — it’s just college football’s latest comedy-drama. And for the past month, there has been no shortage of unintentional humor, especially because Michigan can’t read the room.

During Saturday’s 31-24 win over Marylandthe Wolverines (11-0) made the young staffs hold on flags to block Fox cameras to take a look in the squad group – because you can never be too careful these days with all the rogue sign stealers. When the university accepted the Big Ten Conference’s three-game suspension of coach Jim Harbaugh, the authors of Thursday’s press release couldn’t help but insert words such as “high standards” and “values”. And I hope they typed these words through a haze of tears after laughing so hard.

And Harbaugh, who also has to sit out the big game against rival Ohio State next Saturday, wears a straight face as he describes his Wolverines as the injured party in this mess — a mess of their creation because the former member of the Staff Connor Stalions was so bad at cheating that he got caught. If that doesn’t make you laugh, then you must be Sherrone Moore.

Serious and loyal, Moore, the offensive coordinator who replaces Harbaugh, once again showed his boss some love during his on-field interview after the game. This time, Moore I didn’t shed tears or drop f-bombs while professing his love. In leading Michigan to a second straight close victory, Moore called the plays, and although his offense scored only one touchdown in the second half, he managed a fourth-and-short running play with less than two minutes left. to play which sealed the victory. Michigan remained undefeated largely due to its special teams and defense.

In the fourth quarter, Maryland trailed by just five, but after a 47-yard punt pinned it on the one-yard line, the Terps had to begin their final drive while facing the hazard. After two plays, senior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa dropped back into the end zone; When the pocket collapsed, he threw a pass in the general direction of wideout Tai Felton. The ball failed to make Felton an eligible receiver, so Tagovailoa was flagged for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety.

“It felt good. It felt good. Maybe we kind of needed that test,” Michigan running back Blake Corum said, crediting Maryland for preparing his Wolverines for their biggest game of the season. “Maybe we needed a close game like this. … (Maryland) gave us a hard time.”

The safety ended any hopes of an upset for Maryland (6-5) as Michigan’s offense got back on the field and ate up the rest of the clock. The Wolverines would also remain on Maryland’s field after the game, as players and staff posed for a team photo around the “1000” signs. And showing that he has a wry sense of humor, Moore said of the photo: “First of all, we have to edit Coach in there.” With the current technology in the world, we can achieve this.

That remark made reporters laugh, and it’s the kind of response the university’s most passionate fans should keep for the rest of the season: Just laugh about it. But I suspect the way Michigan sees things, through Harbaugh’s rectangular-framed lenses, Saturday’s showdown against a Maryland team fresh off a midseason tailspin wasn’t just a victory under duress. Rather, it was the finest act of resilience displayed under winged helmets. An all-time top 10 – no, a top five! – victory for the American team, which will forever be the iron wall against which the middle teams of the Big Ten collide and break. Another triumph over adversity, over the naysayers, over the so-called critics. By the way, these are Harbaugh’s feelings, not mine. But I could add: this victory was a conquest of the whole world because it is “Michigan against everyone”.

I saw that phrase a lot around SECU Stadium on Saturday. It was on hoodies and blue T-shirts, among cliques of loyal fans who flooded the concourse airing and airing their grievances. But thank goodness there are fans who have a sense of humor.

There was a boy holding an elaborate homemade sign, with the kind of precision coloring in the lines and mature quips that one would suspect needed parental help: “Ryan Day Can’t Steal My Sign “. The inside joke was that, according to MichiganOhio State and Rutgers sent the Wolverines’ offensive and defensive signals to Purdue ahead of its meeting with Michigan in the 2022 Big Ten championship game.

College Football Winners and Losers

Then there was Carlos Mora, a forty-year-old who was already drinking a few adult beverages by the time I spotted him. Mora and some friends took a more sarcastic approach, wearing corn-colored shirts with a pair of binoculars under the words “Vast Network.” It’s a smart way to adopt a infamous quote from an unidentified source on Michigan’s sign-stealing methods.

“They’re trying to make this out of proportion,” Mora said, good-naturedly. Jokingly or not, he added: “They’re going for the best team in the world.”

Dustin Lang, another member of the Ann Arbor crowd that invaded College Park, received his funny shirt in the mail just in time for the trip to Maryland. At a recent home game, Lang noticed that opposing fans were wearing jerseys suggesting that “Sign Stealers” should be Michigan’s new team name. So over the weekend, he Googled until he found a witty throwback designed on a blue hoodie. The message gets straight to the point: “I’m just here to steal your signs.”

Like so many fans around him, Lang was leaning into the scandal. Or maybe he was immersed in the scandal, or he was stretching his legs and propping them up just above the scandal, waiting for the next step in the NCAA investigation for more comedic material.

“I think it’s kind of like a huh,” Lang said, shrugging his shoulders while describing how he thinks other Michigan fans feel about the whole thing.

With a college football scandal as ridiculous as this one – based on an antiquated rule, orchestrated by an overzealous staffer disguised as a dollar store spy and moralized by conference leadership. this did more damage to the purity of the game than any stolen sign – the only appropriate reaction is to sit back and shrug. And then laugh.

If the Wolverines can do this, they will see that they are not being persecuted or wrongly targeted. They’re just caught up in the absurdity of their sport as they experience what could become a perfect season that no one can take away from them. Because of this, they should be laughing all the way to the College Football Playoff.

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