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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Devil Speaks: CURSED?

Unlike the rest of us, BaggyPantsDevil must have a job. That's the only reason we can think of for the March posting below of him accepting responsibility for Michigan's 2005 Alamo Bowl loss in the latest edition of The Devil Speaks.

I have a confession to make. The loss at the Alamo Bowl was all my fault. Yep, me. First, I was there and that just tempted fate a little too much. Second, I wore The Jersey to the game. I questioned whether or not I should, but finally gave in and wore it. What was the result? Another blown lead in the fourth quarter. The worst officiating in all of human history. Jason Avant fumbles. Tyler Ecker is unable to see that Steve Breaston is just a few steps behind him. It's all because of The Jersey. What is The Jersey? Let me explain. You see, The Jersey is cursed.

I'm hesitant to show it here. Maybe you folks will turn to stone or maybe the curse will somehow rub off on you. But, it should be shown; it's the REAL reason behind Michigan's recent struggles. Maybe some of you have similar items of apparell that are similarly cursed. Anyway, here it is:

It's a little old. The silk-screening for the numbers is all cracked and I have no idea whose jersey it was supposed to be. The ubiquitous Nike logo is in a spot from jerseys several styles ago. Its oldness and uniqueness are what I like about. I've even played actual football in it, in freezing rain that would have led to hypothermia had I not downed several pitchers of Killian's Red with my teammates immediately after the game was finished.

Still, this damned thing is cursed. I'm not really sure why or how, but The Jersey is indeed a damned thing.

The Curse goes back to the 2000 season. This was the year Drew Henson was finally going to be the starting quarterback. Until he broke a bone in his foot just before the start of the season. In comes backup John Navarre and Michigan easily crushes its first--admittedly cupcake--opponents. Then, it was time to head to Los Angeles with a number three ranking to play UCLA.

Since the game wasn't one of the regional games shown on ABC in ACC basketball loving North Carolina, I headed to a local sports bar to watch it on satellite. I wore The Jersey and we all know what happened. It was the first glimpse of what would become the John Navarre Experience. It was not his fault though, it was The Jersey's fault.

After that, I noticed that whenever I was really psyched up for a game and wanted to be a total dork about it and wear The Jersey around the house on a Saturday, Michigan lost. Each season I'd vow not to wear it any more and Michigan would improve. Then the next year, I'd bring The Jersey out again and again, Michigan would lose. Of course, big games for me are against Notre Dame and Ohio State. Do you now see why Michigan keeps losing those games?

This year, I fell into the trap again and wore The Jersey for the Notre Dame game. Again, we all know what happened. Chad Henne had the worst game of his career--and let's hope it stays that way--Mike Hart is hurt--please God, heal those indomitable little legs of his--and Michigan loses.

Again, I vowed not to wear The Jersey again. Michigan continued to struggle into the season. When the Penn State game came--a game I believed Michigan could actually win due to Michigan's ownage of Joe Paterno--I refused to wear The Jersey. I didn't dare risk it. And Michigan actually won. The pattern was clear, wear The Jersey, Michigan will lose; don't wear The Jersey, Michigan can win.

Still, The Curse isn't foolproof. I wore The Jersey during the 2005 Indiana game and Michigan won. Apparently, Indiana is so bad not even The Curse can help them. I suspected this before the game and figured I could safely wear The Jersey. Still, Indiana did score fairly easily on their opening drive; maybe that was from The Curse?

Now, the Ohio State game's not my fault. I still didn't trust The Jersey and refused to wear it that day. That one was all on the coaches and players.

So along comes the Alamo Bowl. I brought The Jersey with me to San Antonio, although I was unsure about wearing it to the game. I also brought The Hat. The Hat is definitely NOT cursed; I wore it in Afghanistan and left there with ten fingers and ten toes. For added luck, The Hat still has Afghanistan's talcum-fine dust embedded in the fabric. But, to me, hats are for outside and daylight. And, a hat just doesn't make the same statement as a jersey. Hats are too subtle and I wanted to make a statement.

The afternoon of the Alamo Bowl, I debated the pros and cons of wearing The Jersey. I'm sure I looked a bit like Cameron Frye in "Ferris Beuller's Day Off" sitting in his piece of shit car arguing with himself. The Curse filled me with anxiety, but it just seemed lame to go to a game and NOT loudly display where my allegiance is. Like Cameron, I gave in and went with The Jersey. Besides, this was a Nebraska team that went 7-4 against a weak schedule that included a Division IAA opponent. And, Bill Callahan's the coach. I had a good feeling about this game--no, really, I actually did; never underestimate the power of denial--and it seemed like the Indiana Corollary to The Curse might apply here.

Wrong. Wrong.

No point in going over the horror again. The only news here is that the result of that game was because of The Jersey and The Curse. So, once again, I'm vowing never to wear The Jersey for another Michigan game.

But...

The great thing about sports is that there's always a fresh start next season. There's been changes to the coaching staff, there appears to be a new focus on defense, players will have matured, injuries will have healed, and there will be lessons learned all the way around. There are reasons for hope.

Maybe The Curse will be lifted? Maybe Michigan can win those games that have bedeviled Lloyd Carr these last few years? Maybe the defense will hold firm in the fourth quarter? Oh, to see a goal line stand or an interception returned for a touchdown! Maybe I'll be able to swagger around in The Jersey AFTER a game for once?

Who knows?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey... you can't expect a jersey to just show up on gameday and be able to pull out the victory without warming up...

if you're serious about putting the jersey in the game, you've got to get him some reps in spring ball... keep him fresh all summer, and then start him all season long so he gels with the rest of the team.

I know some people claim college football is a game played on saturdays, but the reality is the outcome of the game depends on how you practice all week long.

You may not be able to wear your jersey to work, and that's understandable, but after work, you should slip on the jersey for a couple rounds of the victors before retiring it for the evening, to keep it loose and prepared for when it will be called upon.

If you follow my advice, I have no doubt the jersey can turn around this string of bad luck, and lead us to a national championship. I might even go so far as to say the jersey could have a shot at the coveted heisman trophy.

Theri Maa, Bhanchod! said...

you and your jersey are the bane of my 2005 existence, do not attempt to sabotage next season w/ your jersey. I can live w/ the hat. If you must proclaim loudly w/ a jersey, please do me a favor and go buy a new one and start a new trend. Perhaps the curse can be lifted if you wear a #2 jersey and invoke the spirit of Woodson, and to a lesser extent, Cato June.

A2saint said...

Holy crap, and all this time I thought it was MY fault!

BaggyPantsDevil said...

Anon,
You’re on to something there. I’ve been too focused on the game and not enough on all the preparation and practice that leads up to it. Sun Tzu did say, “a victorious army first obtains conditions for victory, then seeks to do battle.” I need to start setting The Jersey up for success by actually playing some football in it.

TMB,
As much as I cherish the memory of Charles Woodson, a #2 Michigan jersey strikes me as a little too obvious. Kind of like all the #5 USC jerseys that are probably balled up on the floor in closets across the country whose owners are no longer USC fans. I did once see a #98 Throwback jersey once, but it looked like it was made of wool and more suitable for wear while ice fishing than playing football.

A2saint,
I have a feeling many fans feel we've somehow done something that's responsible for the current state of affairs.

Yost said...

"I have a feeling many fans feel we've somehow done something that's responsible for the current state of affairs."

Yeah, like not kidnap Jim Herrmann years ago.

IC said...

Baggy:

Typically, I find curse theories to be a big bag of crap. However, clearly we can't take a chance on another 7-5 season and I assume you are unwilling to simply burn The Jersey.

So what should be done? I think one way to go might be to understand more about The Jersey itself. Realize that it's not simply an article of clothing. It has a background, a history.

I thought you buried the lede a bit when you noted: "...and I have no idea whose jersey it was supposed to be." I did a little research on your #33 game day top. Based on the Nike swoosh, it's too new to be a Russell Davis jersey (fullback 76-78). 90s-era running backs Che Foster and Clarence "Housecat" Williams fit the time period, but they were not significant enough contributors to have their replica jersey sold in stores. Therefore, I'm pretty sure The Jersey is from the "Leroy Hoard Collection."

As you'll recall Hoard was a pretty good ball player. He was the MVP in Michigan's 1989 Rose Bowl victory over USC and he later enjoyed a solid NFL career with the Browns and Vikings.

Unfortunately, his career quickly petered out following an arrest in Miami for possession of Ecstasy during the Vikings 1999 bye week (Hoard claimed the pills were painkillers and charges were later dropped.)

It seems there are two things that can learned from all this:
1) Don't do drugs.
2) Don't even think about pulling that Goddamn #33 jersey over your head anytime from September through January ever again.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

IC,

Good research, I never bothered to go back that far looking for someone notable.

I'm not familiar enough with the sports apparel industry to know exactly when the great leaps forward occurred in the evolution of the replica football jersey, but the sequence seems to go something like this: first there was the “generic team in blue that doesn’t look like any particular team” jersey, then the “totally unauthentic looking kiddie” jersey, followed by the “authentic looking but randomly numbered” jersey, and finally the “we sure hope this guy can avoid the sophomore slump” jersey. I may have just gotten a ranomly numbered one.

As for not wearing The Jersey, I’ll need lots of support and possibly soothing music, tomato and mushroom soup, ice cream, vitamins, mouthwash, pornography, and several buckets to accomplish it.

Not wearing The Jersey may indeed be a lot like not doing drugs.

surrounded in columbus said...

BPD,
never under estimate the soothing power of getting rid of a cursed object. you should consider exorcising yourself of the "33"/rolling rock jersey before this season starts. fire pits are nice (important to really see it die, just to make sure) or a cliff, if convenient.

in '93, a long time friend of mine wore his new hat to the ND game- we lost. next time back in town- the Illinois game (Ricky Powers' fumble while running out the clock) and we lost. road game to madison (stampede game)- we lost (another fumble by powers).

in a well earned snit, he burned his hat on the grill before we drove home. we won out the season, thus scientifically proving this works.

so, do us all a favor, burn this one and get a new jersey. if replacement costs are a problem, maybe we could contact the onepeat crowd and set up a fundraiser, something like "www.buybpdanuncursedjerseyorjustfirelloyd.com"?

couldn't hurt!

Kirbdaddy said...

SIC's right, burn that sucker and let's start a collection to get you a new, untainted jersey. How about a nice 86 for Super Mario (or 1 if they give it to him)?

Brad said...

ic,

I respectfully disagree on who you attest The Jersey "honors". Looking at the picture, that is almost certainly a circa-1996 Clarence Williams #33. Clarence was annoited to become UM's feature back following the early departure of Tim Biakabituka after the 1995 season. #33 was sold in all the A2 stores heading into 1996 and into 1997 (before the emergence of Chris Howard and Anthony Thomas pushed Williams down the depth chart).

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

IC said...

Brad:

I think we're going to need to appeal to Baggy on this one (though the more I think about it you may be right; I'm not sure we had the Nike swoosh in the 80s...)

Baggy: do you remember when you got The Jersey? Was it late 80's (Hoard) or mid 90s (Williams.)

BaggyPantsDevil said...

Brad, IC,

It's definitely from the 90's. I bought it at a PX in Korea in 1997. At the time, the whole reason I got it was to PLAY football in it with friends (I had to wear a buddy's Mark Rypien Redskins jersey the first time). Since PX's don't have the greatest selection, I was super happy to see a Michigan jersey. It could have been a leftover from the previous year considering it's the PX and it's an overseas.

For the un-cursed 1997 season, I wore The Jersey on Saturdays to play football, but it was still Friday in Ann Arbor when we played. By the time the games were shown in Korea--and they were live, amazingly enough--it was actually very early Sunday morning local time and I had showered, changed, and drank large quantities of vile Korean soju. By then, The Jersey was a rank, wet ball on my friends floor.

I did some checeking, and that's definitely a 96-97 era jersey, based on the Nike logo. In 1998, the the jersey was changed and the Swoosh became smaller and was centered on the collar.

clemsontiger said...

Does the BaggyPantsDevil live in ACC country now? If so welcome to the self-proclaimed home of college hoops, North Carolina. Besing a Clemson guy I hate Carolina (North and South) but it's better than having to go to say, I don't know, Free Shoes University (FSU).

BaggyPantsDevil said...

clemsontiger

Nope, not anymore. I spent the nearly the entire 90's in North Carolina, but have been in Arizona--kind of, sort of PAC-10 country--since the end of 2003.

Although college football is the only sport I have a sustained interest in, I seem to be always near college basketball powerhouses.

Jeremie said...

BPD

Soju is the devil, you know. I once spilled some soju on my dashboard and it ate a chemical hole straight through the dash, the floor, the undercarraige of the car and then went into the ground. When I went back to that spot a week later you could see clear through the ground to the other side of the planet.

I concluded that soju can only be safely contained by two substances: glass (the bottle) and the human digestive system (those fools silly enough to drink that crap). I tried it once and thought I was going to die.

The devil I tell you, the devil.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

CapBuck,

It is most definitely one of the most evil drinks ever concocted. Even worse is that we generally drank it in "kettle" form. So, in addition to all the toxic impurities already existing in the soju, there's the syrupy sweet cherry or grape or orange flavored mixer in there, too. I've done my fair share of drinking in my life and nothing has ever given me a more painful hangover than soju.

You're probably familiar with the place we played football at, the baseball diamond on Yongsan South at the T intersection.

Theri Maa, Bhanchod! said...

i think i have the solution for bpd's jersey curse. you need to go out and get a tosu jersey and put it on either someone you don't like or a mannequin. Wear the 33 jersey and proceed to tackle and beat the piss out of tosu jersey. Then urinate on the evil tosu jersey and stand on it w/ one foot and proclaim loudly "I AM THE LAW!" while driving a spear thru the jersey. then, only then will you be free.


or just buy a new one.

Aram said...

The Jersey is indeed a #33 Clarence Williams jersey, most likely from 1996. I remember fondly wanting to buy one because I was sure he was going to be the next Great One. I remember my uncle and I running after him in the tunnel of Michigan Stadium after the Victors Club luncheon prior to that season to make sure I got his autograph, which he inked next to Charles Woodson's sig on the front page of my 1996 Media Guide.

Needless to say, he never really panned out. Nor did Scott Dreisbach, whose #12 jersey I purchased instead of the #33...

The Nike sponsorship started in, what, 1995?

Jeremie said...

BPD,

I don't know Yongsan all that well, I only spent a combined six weeks there visiting my parents for two Christmas's and one summer. I was there long enough to learn a few things though:

soju is the devil

those cheap ass oakley knock-offs bought in itae-won break real easy

i look like a stud in my custom-tailored suits from "New York Tailor"