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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Hero's Journey

It's not supposed to be easy.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell believed that there is a basic structure to any good narrative.  No matter the language, culture or country, he argued that there is a pattern that must be followed.  A series of tests a story's protagonist must overcome to get what he wants.  And the bigger the reward being sought, the more daunting the challenges must be to achieve it.  The more valuable the golden chalice, the harder the quest to grasp it.

He called it the monomyth: The Hero's Journey. 

Michigan fans had hoped for an easy victory over Ohio State.  A blowout.  A cake walk.  But that's not how good stories are told.  Even ones written not on the page, but between the lines of a college gridiron.  For after 7* consecutive losses, the task was too important.  After three years staring into the football abyss, the final push toward the mountain top demanded it be the hardest.

The hero's journey must never be easy.

He must enter the cave and slay the dragon.  Not in the first chapter of the book.  Or the start of the movie.  And certainly not during the first half of college football's most storied rivalry when facing one's fiercest adversary .

Everything Michigan faced yesterday was a test to see just how bad they wanted it.  How much they were willing to fight to get it.  To determine if they would quit in the face of seemingly unending obstacles.

To discover just how far they were willing to go to complete their journey.

When facing the 3rd worst passing offense in the country, what were the Wolverines going to do when the Buckeyes scored on a 50+ yard touchdown bomb on their very first possession?  When a nine point lead disintegrated into a one point deficit at halftime, how would they respond after the intermission?  When the star QB fumbled, the punter gave one away, the rebuilt defense showed cracks and the opponent kept fighting, it was nature's way of asking one burning question:

How bad did the hero want it?

And just when it seemed success was at hand, like any good story, there was one final tribulation.  One last twist.  When the clinching touchdown was unfairly taken away with only moments left, would the hero rise yet one more time to the occasion, or finally give up.  Falling just short of his goal.

Michigan's stirring victory over Ohio State played out just as it was supposed to.  Exactly as it was intended to be written.

Saturday's conquest tastes so sweet today because the barriers blocking Michigan from seizing the crown seemed insurmountable.  But now the demons have been vanquished.  The biggest dragon slain.  The maiden's hand won.  The clock has struck :00.

And the hero's journey is now complete.

(HT: to @jlfelicity for sending us the pic above taken by @laurenleland)


wingedhelmet said...

So then it wasn't a dream?


very subtle 7* -well played

DrCatie said...

More than anything else I wanted this win for the seniors. They truly are heros to me.

ps, LOVE the scoreboard pic! So wish I could have been there, I did get a pic of the fly over, I live that close!

Bigasshammm said...

I can't feel anything but relief that we escaped with one yesterday though. If not for Miller's complete inability to throw a pass M defense would have been decimated. He missed at least 3 wide open touchdowns. The defensive UFR for this game will be horrible if Brian decides to do it. They looked like they had no idea what Ohio was going to do and Ohio sold out and did everything they could to win. Exactly the way they should have. Have to give Fickle credit he went down fighting.

DrCatie said...

Ham, a W is a W. This was a battle and not all battles are pretty. Please don't take ANYTHING away from these kids who STAYED and fought through so much to get THIS win, THIS season......They deserve so much credit, they deserve a ticker tape parade down main street. That is all.

Matt H said...

Well put sir. That was a great read. It was also when hell of a win yesterday. One to be remembered for sure. GO BLUE!

Michigan Sports Girl said...

Great post, Yost! As always, brilliant work!

I, too, want to take my hat off to Luke Fickell for throwing everything but the kitchen sink at our defense and making this game A GAME. They were as competitive while undermatched as I wished that WE would have been the last three seasons.

I also have to tip my imaginary winged helmet to Fickell for having the guts to stand up to one of TSiO's 'questionable' players after a silly personal foul call. This player got right up into his face to complain to him for coming down on him: but, I could clearly read Fickell's lips saying, "Stop it. This is about class! Act like it." Kudos to this coach, who inherited a team in disarray and still continued to do his best and not buy into all of this media speculation about his future by his own fan base prior to the biggest game of the season for he and his team. I gotta say, he earned some respect from me yesterday. And I certainly commend he and his team for their effort.


][V][ GO BLUE!

Ramona said...

Yost! You are famous! I just saw the shout-out you got from the "Support Brady Hoke" page on FB! I'm happy to see you honored since you and your team have the BEST football blog EVER!!

Yost said...


That page is run by our friend on the MZone, Michigan Sports Girl, who does the occasional post here as well!

Ramona said...

And, also, given the comments here, it is kind of sad and unfair OSU won't give Fickell a chance. What, does he have too much class for them??

Ramona said...

Wow Yost I did not know that.. but you may have noticed my general lack of technological anything. :)
While I don't spend much time on FB, I did "like" the Support Brady Hoke page...and have been following the posts... M.S.Girl, you have done a FABULOUS job with it all season!

Michigan Sports Girl said...

Wow, Ramona! Thank you SO MUCH! I just wanted to carve out a fun and positive place on Facebook to celebrate all that is awesome about Michigan football! And, I have truly been blessed with the greatest community of fans that have become a part of it over the course of the last several months! Thanks so much for your support and participation! I'm so happy that enjoy being a part of our community! =)

The MZone is the GREATEST Michigan blog anywhere on the 'net, and I am SO fortunate to be involved with it! A big THANK YOU to Yost for the shoutout and for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of such a fantastic blog!