Dusty Wolverines: Burning Man and College Football

Written by :
Published on : September 18, 2016

 

 

For a few short weeks every year, the third largest city in the Nevada springs forth from the nothingness of the Black Rock Desert. This vast expanse of alkali-flats, situated in the northern part of the state, is the home of Burning Man. The festival of art, music and insanity brings all types of crazy things to life, and attendees are constantly bombarded by surprises that keep you in a childlike state of wonderment. Black Rock City is a strange and magical place. A place where anything can happen and the unexpected should be expected. You never quite know what’s next out there in the dust.

 

This was my first time back at “The Burn” in a couple years, and as always there were a million things that I wanted to do and explore. And as always, it was impossible to hit all of the marks I had set for myself over the week long festival of indulgence and adventure. But there was one thing that I refused to miss. College football. That’s right, I said college football. At Burning Man.

 

the man
                                                                The Man that burns

 

Back in 2013, one of my fellow Lab RaTz (a subsect of NuTz Camp) was thumbing through the list of events that the greeters give attendees upon entering the gates of Black Rock City and stumbled upon “College Football Gameday.” As a group of Michigan Wolverines fans, we figured this would be a nice break from the far out world of art and music that we had been living in, and a chance to indulge in a little good old fashioned Saturday morning American fun. We could get our college football fix, something that seemed very un-Burning Man (which really is the most Burning Man-y thing you can do if you think about it), and check the score of the Michigan Game. Good deal!

 

Some people might say, “what are you doing trying to watch football at Burning Man? Save that for the default world!” Some of my less football-enthused campmates gave me that same shit. You know what I said? “Fuck off, it’s my Burn and I’ll go check the Michigan score if I want to!” Burning Man is all about self expression and it just so happens that the Wolverines are a part of my “self.” And it was even more glorious than we had imagined. We unexpectedly walked into a tent filled with 20-30 maize and blue clad U of M fanatics and the chants of “Go Blue” were roaring! We were just thinking we would get to check the score and wound up amongst so many of our own! We stuck around for a couple of quarters and to watch our beloved Wolverines stomp the CMU Chippewas and relish the camaraderie of like-minded college football fans for a while.

 

Dusty Wolverines
                                                                   The Dusty Wolverines

 

When I made the decision to return home to Black Rock City this year, along with a few more Michigan fans who happened to be first-timers at the Burn, I knew we had to find my way back Harmonic Convergence Camp for the Michigan game. It took me all of five minutes on the internet to find out that the college football tailgate and viewing party was once again going down and I made sure to let the crew know we were most certainly going to be in attendance.

 

We peeled ourselves out of bed on that Saturday morning after what you can imagine was a wild Friday night. We made it for the start of the second quarter and were once again met by a tent full of Michigan fans sipping mimosas and watching the Wolverines get after the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii. Greeted by smiles, hugs, chips, dips and alcohol, we settled in for some dusty football. And man, was it a blast. There were Michiganders galore. Plus people from other places who came to pay respect to the winningest team in the history of the sport, and tons of general lovers of the game. Our feast of Doritos and english muffins was more than we could have asked for. After the mimosas, our gracious hosts broke out the red wine and our boys in blue broke the game wide open.

 

Every time Michigan scored (which was often), Puma, the master of ceremonies for this unlikeliest of football viewing parties, would lead the group in a spirited rendition of “Hail to the Victors,” the greatest fight song in all of sports. The atmosphere was electric. People were hanging with old friends and making new ones. All while cheering on the Wolverines. Burning Man is all about that feeling of community that you get between your friends and all those wonderful strangers. This was a prime example of that. We didn’t know most of the people watching the game but for those few hours we were brothers and sisters in arms.

 

 

Before I was lucky enough to stumble on these geniuses with satellite tv at fucking Burning Man, I never imagined I would get that big game, home team high that I know and love so much out in the desert. For that, my entire crew and I owe Harmonic Convergence Camp a debt of gratitude. Between the tasty Brunello and the brotherhood of being Michigan fans, it was the perfect way to kick off the day the Man burns.

 

In addition to the good fortune of knowing there was a Michigan football viewing party, which would be fun either way, the boys looked good. I mean, real good. After a poorly thrown ball that turned into an interception to start the game, QB Wilton Speight, settled in and looked pretty solid for the rest of the day. The running game racked up 306 yards and 4 touchdowns. The real star of the day, however, was the defense led by genetically engineered, football freak, Jabrill Peppers. They held the Rainbow Warriors to just 3 points and 232 total offensive yards.

 

When all was said and done, the Wolverines had a put up an impressive 63-3 victory and we were all riding high. Win or lose, it still would have been a great time. But the fact that we all got to bond over our Michigan roots in a place so far far away and see the Wolverines win big, makes the experience all the more magical. Typical Burning Man.

 

 Jabrill is for real.

 

It’s kind of hard to describe Burning Man as a whole to someone who has never attended. I like to think of it as a series moments that mystify and sometimes confuse you, but ultimately enrich your life by causing you to question your perspective. There’s so many things that surprise you that by the time you finally think you’ve got it totally figure out, something crazy and unexpected happens to show you that you don’t know shit.

 

Some people use events like this as a way to completely escape their reality in the real world, but I think it’s all the more special if you can combine your default world with your Burning Man world. Watching the Michigan Wolverines with a bunch of fellow fans does just that. I love Burning Man and I’ve always loved the Wolverines. Doing both at the same time just makes too much sense. It was the best of both worlds. So for everyone who helped make this event possible, I’d like to say thank you and see you next year!

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 6

Written by :
Published on : October 25, 2015

 

 

 

A little late with my Champ and Chump picks this week but even with the few extra days, there was nothing that could save the Wolverines from finding a less than desirable spot on the charts over here. Spoiler alert, not that you needed it, Michigan finds itself on the wrong side of the Champ and Chump board this week and boy was it ever something special. See what other special performances happened this past week below, and take a scroll through my Champs and Chumps of the week.

 

Champ: Daniel Murphy

Murphy has been a home run machine this post-season.

 

What a post-season for Daniel Murphy thus far. As the New York Mets enter the World Series, they do it with the hottest hitter on the planet right now. In a series sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Murphy hit .529 and has homered in 6 straight post-season games, a Major League record. The Mets are heading to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2000 where they lost to their cross town rival, the New York Yankees. This time they’ll take on the Kansas City Royals, who lost the World Series last year in a 7-game thriller against the San Francisco Giants.

 

 

 

Honorable Mention: 

Landry Jones- The third string quarterback came in for the injured Mike Vick and went 8-12 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Cristiano Ronaldo- Became Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer (324 goals) passing Raul who played in 741 games with Madrid from 1994-2010. Ronaldo accomplished the feat in just 310 games with the team.

Christian McCaffrey- The son of former Denver Bronco’s wide receiver Ed McCaffrey had a school record 243 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns, helping Stanford beat the UCLA Bruins last week. McCaffrey, who also returns kicks, finished with 369 all purpose yards.

 

 

Chump: Tie: Jim Harbaugh and Blake O’Neill

Harbaugh and O’Neill dropped the ball in a big way.

 

On what will likely be the play of the year, Michigan State defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson took a fumbled punt attempt 38 yards to the house as time expired to give the Spartans a win over archrival Michigan. We’ve all seen the play, (as a Spartan fan I can’t watch it enough) with Michigan up 23-21, the Wolverines faced 4th and short with just 10 seconds left. On the other side of the ball, Michigan State figured they had one shot at a miracle and that was to go all out for a block. The snap came in (a bit low) and Michigan punter Blake O’Neill did the unthinkable and dropped the snap. In a panic, O’Neill picked up the ball, turned and tried to get off a kick while getting swarmed by white jerseys. The ball was fumbled up into the air and came right down into Watts-Jackson’s arms. Shocked, speechless, in disbelief, Michigan fans could hardly move. Once they could, and they realized what happened, naturally, the thought was how the hell could you fumble that snap?! Why didn’t you just fall on it?! Both good points, and while O’Neill no doubt is quite the goat for this incredible finish, I think equal blame should fall on the shoulders of their coach. Jim Harbaugh called two timeouts on that drive allowing the clock to dwindle down as much as possible on 2nd and 3rd down before ultimately deciding to punt. I have no problem with the decision to punt, however, how do you not prepare your team to setup in max protect, knowing the Spartans are bringing everyone to block this kick. Again, no Spartans were back to field the kick, yet Michigan sent four gunners down to cover the return? While O’Neill fumbled the ball, I think the Spartans may have got in there to get the block even if O’Neill caught it clean. Four guys had a free release, Harbaugh and company enjoyed their spot as my Champ of the week last week, a complete 180 here as they are big, big Chumps this week.

 

 

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Colts 4th down “fake punt”- Every once in a while a team calls a play or a player does something that leaves you speechless. The Indianapolis Colts provided us with one of these moments last weekend in a highly anticipated game vs the New England Patriots. Down 6 in the 3rd quarter, the Colts faced a 4th and 3, they shifted 9 guys down towards the sideline leaving a wide receiver and safety to act as the quarterback and snapper. Hut, hut, hike…and then 3 unblocked New England Patriots tackled the Colt “QB” for a loss.

David Price- This may be a bit harsh, but for an ace entering free agency one can’t ignore the struggles that Price can’t seem to shake in the post-season. With a career 0-7 post-season record as a starter, and an overall post-season ERA of 5.24, Price was given the ball again for Game 7 in the ALCS vs Kansas City and didn’t pitch well enough, getting a no decision.

 

 

 

 


The Hit That Broke My Heart: Michigan vs Ohio State 2006

Written by :
Published on : August 31, 2015

2006 was a good year to be a fan of the University of Michigan Wolverines. Lloyd Carr was still our coach and he was putting the finishing touches on a very successful career. Our team was strong that year; perhaps the strongest team during my lifetime as a Wolverines fan. We had a shutdown defense led by 1st year coordinator Ron English. Along with an offense that could run the ball and beat you through the air, led by Mike Hart and Chad Henne. Times were good.

  The Wolverines had steamrolled through the season. Very few games that were even close, let alone in doubt. With an 11-0 record and the #2 ranking in the country, we headed into a showdown with our most bitter rival, Ohio State. All we had to do was beat the Buckeyes and we would be headed to the National Championship game. That was all we had to do.

  

Lloyd and the boys back in 2006.

  There was just one problem. The Buckeyes were the #1 team in the nation and a force to be reckoned with. Led by Heisman hopeful Troy Smith, a defense that was just as good as ours and a coach who owned us his entire career, they would not be easy to overcome. That said, if there was a more exciting year for the greatest rivalry in college football, I challenge you to show it to me. We were #2 and they were #1; this had never happened before. What could be better than playing your biggest rival for the chance to go to a national championship? There was belief that this could finally be our year to go all the way.

 

The enemy.

  The day before the biggest game in decades, the unthinkable happened. On November 17, 2006, the University of Michigan lost its heart and soul, the most recognizable figure in the hallowed legacy of the program, Bo Schembechler. The man who cared most about the team and who was loved by everyone who ever loved Michigan, passed away at the age of 77. No one could believe it. For Michigan players, coaches, fans and students it was like losing a family member.

 

Michigan’s heart and soul, Bo Schembechler

  There was little time to mourn. Players had to get on that bus the very same day and head down to Columbus, Ohio for a date with destiny. The passing of Bo was hard, but at the same time it gave us hope and inspiration. The feeling amongst Michigan fans was that the team would overcome the painful loss of their patriarch and win this one for Bo.

  The morning of the game I was as excited as ever and had a good feeling about the whole thing. How could we lose when Bo was looking down on us from above. Sentimental stuff aside, I had watched every single game that season and we were really good. Good enough to win in Columbus that day.

 

The team and the fans wanted this one for Bo.

  On the first drive, the Wolverines offense looked unstoppable. They capped a long scoring drive with a Mike Hart touchdown; things were falling into place. Then reality set in, and the Buckeyes defense handled the Wolverines offense for the rest of the first half. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes offense was firing on all cylinders, and OSU took a 28-14 lead into half time.

  Ron English and the Michigan defense made the necessary adjustments at half time and came out on fire. They looked like the ferocious top ten defense that we had all become accustomed to watching. They did enough to give the Michigan offense some time to put some plays together, and the game was 28-24 OSU with 8 1/2 minutes to play in the third. There was hope.

 

Mike Hart drags a defender as he runs through the tackle.

  Almost immediately that hope began to fade as Antonio Pittman gashed through the middle of the defense on his was to a 54 yard rushing touchdown.  But this game would not end like so many others, with Ohio State beating their opponent into submission; this was Michigan. The defense turned two bad shotgun snaps by the OSU center (who was wearing a cast on his hand) into fumble recoveries. With Mike Hart trucking his way to a touchdown, it was 35-31. There was a real chance the the Wolverines could pull off the upset.

  It was 3rd and 15 in Michigan territory with just under 7 minutes to play and Troy Smith was rolling out of the pocket to his right. As he left the field of play, he rocketed a pass across his body. His receiver dove for it but came up just short. It was incomplete and the Buckeyes would have to punt. Giving a Michigan offense, that was just hitting its stride, a chance to come back and take the lead. This was it. This was our moment.

  That’s when it happened.

  A flag hit the field. How could this be? What happened? There was no obvious pass interference; it didn’t make sense. The announcers said that Michigan linebacker, Shawn Crable, led with his helmet and connected with Smith under the chin as he was heading out of bounds.

  What. The. Fuck.

  A replay from a different angle came on the screen and sure as shit, plain as day, there it was. Shawn Crable had sucked the life out of every living room and sports bar in Southeast Michigan.

 

  A fresh set of downs for the Buckeyes. The Michigan defense got the job done only to be let down by one bonehead play. This is the type of thing they teach you in middle school football; you don’t lead with your helmet. Especially against the quarterback. Especially in the biggest game of your life!

  That’s when my heart broke in two. I was shocked as I sat there on the couch in my friend’s apartment. There was plenty of time left, but in a game where you need to play mistake free football, a mistake like that can be a back breaker. And it was.

  I knew it was over after that, regardless of whatever words of encouragement and hope were said across the State of Michigan. With about 2 minutes to go, Michigan even came back and made it 42-39, but after a poor attempt at an onside kick and an OSU recovery, that was it. There were no time outs left for the Wolverines and all Ohio State had to do was get a single first down to end it quickly. They did, of course, and it was over. The heart of every Michigan Wolverines fan was in tattered pieces. We were so close.

 

Ted Ginn Jr. celebrates the big win over Michigan.

  Since that fateful Saturday in November 2006, Michigan has had years of bad luck, poor play and unfulfilled expectations. That was the last year that they fielded a team that contended for the honor of being the best team in the country. Through the Rich Rod and Brady Hoke eras, fans of the Maize and Blue have taken some serious shots to their ego and had to admit to themselves that we are, at this point, far inferior to Ohio State, and even Michigan State.

  Michigan vs Ohio State is always exciting even when one of the teams isn’t very good. There have been some close games (2013 and 2012) and even a Michigan upset win (2011), but Ohio State has owned the Wolverines for the better part of a decade. But that day, before Shawn Crable broke my heart, we were good enough to win, and damn near did it. We could taste it and then one player lost his focus and gave it one dirty hit. One dirty hit that broke my heart.

 

 


USA Today Publishes Hilariously Bad College Football Pre-Season Rankings

Written by :
Published on : August 24, 2015

 

Here at ScoreBoredSports, we know we’re one of the new kids on the block (Joey McIntyre, if we get to choose) and that it would be wise to withhold judgement of long established sports reporters, but when a piece seems as off-the-mark as this one, we can’t help but take notice. Paul Myerberg is a national college football writer for USA Today, and he recently authored a piece which provides his ranking of all 128 Division 1 football teams. After reading, and re-reading the article, I must assume one of two things to be true: either Paul Myerberg has some Adam Schefter-level inside knowledge of college football, or Paul Myerberg is like that annoying friend on Facebook who makes wildly lofty predictions and considers himself a genius when 1 out of 100 comes to fruition.

 

Below are what I consider to be the most egregious of Myerberg’s Not-stradamus predictions/rankings.

 

#2 Baylor

Gone to the NFL is Baylor’s star QB, Bryce Petty.

 

I didn’t have to read too far into it before my WTF alarm started ringing. Baylor is going to be strong team this year, no doubt, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish in the top 10, or even top 5 if they run the table. However, Myerberg must believe that Baylor is good enough to win the SEC West, as they are ranked ahead of perennial powerhouses Alabama and Auburn (#3 and #4, respectively.) It’s not that I don’t buy the Baylor hype, it’s just that there are programs they haven’t surpassed who are ranked below them, specifically those SEC teams, Oregon, and Michigan State. With tough road games against in state rivals and facing Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks, Baylor could easily lose three games and be destined for the Guns & Ammo Bowl, which I don’t think exists but totally should.

 

#5 Boise State

Boise as a playoff/possible NC contender? What year is it? Their out of conference schedule is still weak, and even if they finish the season with a goose egg in the loss column, I don’t see Boise cracking the top 5, at least until they string a few really strong years together like they did when they rose to prominence earlier in the millennium. Not even the Kellen Moore/Doug Martin/Chris Petersen roster garnered top 5 hype preseason, and this years team hasn’t even named a starting quarterback.

 

#8 Arizona State

Number 8!?!?

 

ASU is getting better, but they are an underdog in their own season opener against your #47, Texas A&M. Makes sense to me.

 

#10 Stanford

Based on, what, exactly? Between ASU, Boise, USC at #17 and this, I assume Myerberg just picked the PAC12 teams out of a hat and put them into vacant spots.

 

#25 Texas

I think he may have meant that Texas will start 2-5. Ranking the Longhorns ahead of LSU (#27), Tennessee (#33), and Texas A&M (#47) reeks of the benefit-of-the-doubt bias often afforded to proud programs like Texas, who have fallen on harder times.

 

#35 Western Kentucky University

Yea, we don’t know how these guys got ranked that high either.

 

Now, being a graduate of a MAC school, I have a lot of love for my Non-AQ conference brethren, but this is a stretch. The Hilltoppers went 8-5 last year, with quality losses to such college football stalwarts as Florida (Atlantic), Louisiana (Tech), and Alabama (Birmingham). Not to mention their heartbreaking loss in a triple-overtime thriller against rival maybe Middle Tennessee State. I assure you that my cynicism has nothing to do with the fact that WKU stole last year’s bowl game win out from under my alumnus, Central Michigan. Fans of programs such as Florida (#69), South Carolina (#40), BYU (#38), Utah (#43), NC State (#44), and Cal (#49) will have to get used to their view of the new NCAA football landscape from behind the mighty Hilltoppers.

 

#48 and #56 Temple

Temple got ranked twice. Who are they, Grover Cleveland? And even on a bad day, the Owls are better than Pitt (#59), Iowa (#60), and Michigan (#64)? C’mon man.

 

#64 Michigan

Harbaugh can’t stomach such an insulting ranking.

 

It is only fair that I preface this by saying that I am a Michigan fan, but WHAT THE HELL MAN? I know the program has been bad, but this is unjust. According to Myerberg, the Wolverines are the third best team in the state, with the Broncos of Western Michigan coming in at #55. At least we are ranked ahead of our bitter B1G rivals, Maryland (#71) and Rutgers (#76).

 

Feel free to peruse the original post for your own favorites, there are so many that I couldn’t possibly include them all. Still. there is a chance that this will all come true, and perhaps at that time I will write an apology to Mr. Myerberg. Or, perhaps pre-season rankings are inherently meaningless and I am putting too much thought into this. You be the judge.

 

edit: The article has been modified, at the very least replacing Temple with San Diego State at the #48 spot.

 

 


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