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Thursday, August 11, 2011

25 Things We Love About Michigan Football Saturdays: #23 Homecoming

Continuing our countdown of the 25 Things We Love About Michigan Football Saturdays.  Today...

#23: Homecoming

Definite crush
Homecoming only #23, you say?

Yes, for one simple reason: it comes but once a year.  Add a couple homecomings each fall and this would surely move up the list.

There's nothing like walking around Ann Arbor on Homecoming, seeing all the old alums strolling across the campus only to suddenly stop in front of a new structure, turn to their spouse and say, "Where the fuck did this building come from?  This wasn't here when I was in school."  Then said spouse (if not also a U-M alum) proceeds to listen politely as the old alum regales her with oft-told (exaggerated) tales of his college days, while the Bruce Springsteen song Glory Days plays somewhere if life truly has a soundtrack.

I also love seeing the old cheerleaders down on the field for the game.  Each, dressed in the cheerleading outfits of their era, staking out a spot along the sidelines as their own.  Leading that section in cheers, both new and old.  For a lot of the guys, it's a chance to see "that one cheerleader" you had a crush on from your student days.  You remember the one.  No, she's still not interested.  But - holy crap! - she still looks amazing in that skirt!  Ah, the crush lingers.  And for the cheerleaders themselves, one can't help but notice the smiles and warm embraces between each of them as they reconnect with old friends, this one day probably the only time they get see people they used to hang out with every day.  Their college friendships now separated by time, distance and that crazy thing we each experience as college disappears in the rearview mirror: life.

Welcome back! Please don't try to flip!
I do however get worried by some of the older male cheerleaders.  There's always that guy who looks like he graduated during the Truman Administration who seems to think he still has the same flexibility and young knees of both his own youth and those of the current crop of male cheerleaders.  Each time they jump or - even scarier - try to flip, I hold my breath, hoping the next thing I hear isn't the Stadium Announcer asking if there is a doctor in Section 17.

And how can you not love the alumni band?  Seeing them high-step it (or any-step it depending on their year of graduation) across the field gives me chills.  Of course, some of those are a different breed of chill, caused by music played by folks who haven't touched an instrument in decades.  But that's just being picky.

Oh, and there's also a game that day, too.

Until recently, homecoming at U-M wasn't about the football.  That's because, until recently, homecoming used to mean an almost guaranteed victory, and usually a blowout "W" to boot.  A relaxing day in The Big House enjoying all the sights and sounds not associated with football.

Unfortunately, those certain victories haven't been so certain lately.  But we trust - nay, know - that's about to change back to the ways of yore.  And maybe, just maybe, it'll help "Homecoming" nudge its way higher in our next MZone poll.

No, of course we didn't forget the Mud Bowl!
Seriously.  Did you really think we'd forget this?!


Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

As a mostly objective outside observor, methinks the Mud Bowl looks like it needs it own ranking and more pictures.

616goblue said...


I agree with Dennis, while Greg at MVictors covers the Mud Bowl (doesn't the Lion sit at the front of the Mud Bowl--or is it Minerva, not sure) his photojournalistic skills are not as keen as yours.

You have a better eye for this kind of thing, just sayin'

Mikoyan said...

Maybe our roving photographer will have to go investigate this....

This is one of the things that I regret not transferring to Michigan for. To say football is not a big deal at Eastern is an understatement. I mean, we have a cadre of fans but not in the numbers as Michigan. Plus the team hasn't been relevant since World War II at least. Yes, there was the year we made the Cal Bowl but that seemed to be more of a fluke than anything.

But it is pretty cool to go to a Michigan game on homecoming.

Yost said...

It's a gift, 616. I'm just blessed like that.