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Dedicated to the leader and best of the leaders and best, Brady Hoke!

Bruised and Blue after Bama: Putting the Cowboys Classic in Perspective

I might as well confess, aside from being the only actual Wolverine in Michigan, and maybe the entire U.S.  I am also the only wolverine who is a human doctor and my specialty is the human brain.  Please don’t judge me for being a doctor, but I had to have a job, cause the off-season hunting is not as good as it could be around here.  You see, I have to buy food during the summer when there are no rival mascots to eat.  That being said, I look at things from a neuroscience perspective, so let’s start there.

Dopamine.  That’s the brain’s feel good drug.  It encodes (gives you a squirt of feel good) in a place in the brain called the nucleus encumbers (the reward center of the brain). Dopamine encodes on the anticipation of reward, not the actual reward itself.  So like me, Michigan football fans were getting lots of dopamine leading up to the Cowboys Classic.

When we lost the game, as badly as we did, our dopamine took a huge dive.  It was very depressing.  Now the human brain is a lot like a series of highways that are interconnected.  When something happens on one highway, it can affect the others.  There is a major connection between the Prefrontal Cortex (the thinking part of the brain) and the nucleus accumbens (the reward center).  When we took that dopamine dive from game in the reward center of our brain it affected the thinking part of our brain because that’s just how the brain works.  Hence, many people have not been able to truly put the game in perspective.  So I’m going to try and do that here.

1: Fitzgerald Toussaint: why did Brady Hoke suspend him for this huge game?  He suspended him for the game because he made a very bad mistake.  He was driving under the influence of alcohol. There is a responsibility that comes with being a student athlete at Michigan, and no player, no game, and no coach is more important than the obligation to uphold that responsibility.  We are a Michigan.  Those who stay will be champions.  And to be a champion, you must be a champion on and off the field.  It’s a 24/7/365 gig, end of story.

While emotionally Hoke’s decision may have been hard to accept, if we think about it.  We should applaud that decision.  What that says is we have a coach and an athletic administration in place that is a) concerned about the student athlete, and b) devoted to maintaining the integrity of the program.  That’s vital, because that mindset is what will prevent Michigan from ever experiencing a situation that is commensurate with what happened at Penn State.  Toussaint is a young kid, he will learn from this, and more importantly the young recruits will learn an important life lesson that only few athletes get, “There is no such thing as being so talented that you are above the rules.”   As a parent of a highly sought after recruit, who is comparing opportunities for their son, this will weigh heavily in Michigan’s favor, because parenthood, like being a champion is a 24/7/365 gig.

2: Why didn’t we play better?  Well there’s a harsh reality.  Alabama had better athletes and their regime is in place.  Our athletes are very good, but on a field of play someone is always better than someone else.  Alabama was better than Michigan on September 1, 2012 in Arlington Texas.  However, Alabama is not better than Michigan.  We’re still the winningest program in College Football, etc. etc. Our accolades and accomplishments are too numerous to list here.

So nothing has changed in that regard.  We’re still the best.  Ultimately, college football is about legacy.  Legacy is a climate, not weather conditions.  We’ll play Alabama another day, and on that day the best team will win, and if history has taught us anything, that team will likely be the Michigan Wolverines.  Brady Hoke had an amazing first year.  He created an incredible turn around from the previous regime.  However, this is just his second year at the helm, and he has yet to get his horses in the stall.  Nick Saban has had 6 years to build Alabama.  Currently we are out recruiting everyone in the country, including Alabama.  The future is bright.  We’ll meet Alabama, or a like SEC opponent again, and when we do, you will see the outcome will be much different.

3: Coaching Decisions.  Why didn’t Borges open the offense up more?  Why didn’t Denard run more?  Physically Alabama was bigger, stronger and more lethal.  Ray Charles could see that and he’s dead and blind.  I suspect the reason was focus. People do not understand how focus occurs in the human brain.   Focus utilizes two different parts of the brain.  Immediately, focus engages the amygdala and hippocampus—in the R-Complex of the old mammal brain—where the mantra is, “survive now ask questions later”.  Focus also includes the frontal lobe in the neocortex—the new thinking part of the brain, which plans for the future.   Thus when focus is working correctly, we see what is immediately before us while keeping the big picture in mind.

If Borges had opened up the offense he ran the risk of having several players injured and out for the season, particularly Denard Robinson and Roy Roundtree, who just had arthroscopic knee surgery.   Our coaching staff was truly focused.  They were looking at the immediate circumstance within the context of the big picture.  In other words they were using their brains.  Having a really smart coaching staff, with vision is what sustains legacy.  So our coaching decisions are more laudable than questionable when examined closely.  Having a thinking coaching staff is really good news for Michigan fans and terrible news for Michigan’s future opponents.

4: The lopsided score:  41-14, does NOT sound good.  However, we outscored Alabama in the last 35 minutes of the game.  What does that tell you?  It tells you our team never gave up, and that they were able to score on the nation’s best defense.  It also tells you that for more than half of the game, Michigan’s defensive was able to hold a formidable opponent to fewer points than Michigan’s offense scored. That offensive/defensive performance ratio is a fail-safe formula for victory.  So the reality is, reading between the lines of the score, the future is bright, in terms of the remainder of this season and in terms of subsequent seasons.

Additionally, we all know that football is an emotional game and momentum driven.  Losing Countess early in the game and having the Alabama receiver run past Courtney Avery had an adverse psychological impact on Michigan and adversely impacted Michigan emotionally and contributed to the quick numbers that Alabama put up on the board set the tone for an uphill battle.  It was a battle that we did not forsake, but one that we could not win, ultimately.

5: Where do we go from here?  We have lost Blake Countess, who is one of our best players, and key in a defense that is ever evolving. Is that going to affect our season?

Denard sustained some injuries, which hopefully are slight, but even so, his passing still has a great deal of room for improvement.  These are legitimate concerns.  The answers will unfold, one game at a time.  So the answer to this question is, we go into the Big House on Saturday and put a beat down on Air Force.  Alabama is history, and history, recent or long past, is still history.

6: What does the Michigan faithful do now?  We do what the nomenclature suggests.  We remain faithful.  We are Michigan.  We don’t drink the Kool-aid that the Kirk Herbstreit’s are peddling.  Kirk Herbstreit is a hater.  Fact: he never beat Michigan when he was Ohio State.   He has clearly never gotten over that, and probably never will.

When asked if he hated the Chinese for taking over Tibet, the Dali Lami said, “They took my country, why would I give them my mind by hating them?”  Clearly the Dali Lama is much smarter than Herbstreit, who has given Michigan a permanent rent-free summer home in his head after we took the gold pants from him.  There’s a lot of Herbstreit’s out there who will try to make this worse than it was, or mean something that is does not.  Why? Because when you are the best you are the most scrutinized, and we are “the leaders and best.”

Most importantly, we cannot do what LSU has done.  We cannot give The Crimson Tide our heads by hating them and wishing them bad luck.  The game is over, they won, we move on until we meet again.  Anxiety can only exist in the past and in the future, and the past and the future are only valid when they are the present. So our job is easy, stay in the now, because that’s where we are, and the present is all we ever have.  Understanding that and negotiating that will author a successful past and bright future.

In facing the challenges of the upcoming season there is a tremendous opportunity for growth.  If you don’t know that Michigan will seize that opportunity, then you don’t know Michigan.  HAIL!

  • Fred Gleason

    Let us stay continue to be true to The Maize and Blue, and stay above the tide.  And NO – even though I am a Caddyshack fan I will not make jokes about The Dalai Lama.

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.


      • Hokeamaniac

        Think Fred just means not to reference the Dalai Lama in humorist context. As was done in Caddyshack by Carl Spangler…no worries though Wilbert!

  • Mark

    Well said! I will never lose faith in our team. Excited to see how they progress through out the season.

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.

      Thanks, and ditto my friend!

  • Tonē Smith

    I don’t hate the Tide. In fact, I am a fan of theirs. What i am NOT a fan of is Hoke trying to force a Pro Style offense on an option QB. I hope we don’t get schooled by that triple option this weekend. Denard would probably salivate looking at it.

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.

      I trust Brady Hoke as a coach, and not being sufficiently versed in football to question these decisions I reserve judgment on this. A lot of people agree with you. I too, am not an Alabama hater. Personally, I hope they shut out everybody else for the rest of the season.

  • Michael Smith

    Let’s clear the air and move forward!!! “Next Saturday is looming in the headlights and one win does not make a repeat National Champion nor does one loss make a loosing season! We are working on #12 one game at a time!” (I said it!! I believe it!!) Furthermore all this is sooo last week, we have Falcons to pluck bread and fry this week!!! HAIL ][V][ GO BLUE!!!!!

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.


  • Mark Hoge

    Welllllll, I think Hoke decided to send a message to the CFB Nation, that this isn’t the SEC, where you seem to get away with all sorts of nonsense, etc. Fitz has to stay home. (This isn’t Ohio FerGodSakes). He knew going in this was going to be a physical, demanding, grind it out football game. I DON’T think he knew how massive these ‘Bama boys really were. Sweet Gravy, that O-Line simply did the Polka with Matti’s front four. Team133 basically got man-handled up and down the roster. The gut-wrenching turning-point for me personally was when my Man, Kenny Demens got ear-holed by a ‘Bama RECEIVER from a Denard interception. Holy Hotsauce was that a lickin’!! As far as Big Al’s play-calling, I’m not really 100% certain that he wanted to show the B1G his full bag of tricks, per say. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe I am. The decision to keep Denard “Grounded” I’m still unsure what that was all about. Perhaps it was his best interest to keep Shoelace still in one piece?? I’d have to say yes, on that note. My favorite player on Team133 Mr. Blake Countess, yeah that knee-injury certainly left us “limping” the rest of this loooong season. The kids got nothing but mad-skills, and all of us Blue Bellies know that, spot-on. What to do from here on out?? 1)Keep our eyes on the prize, which never changes from year to year. The B1G Championship. 2)Bring your A-Game to practice, each and every day. Work to get not only better, but better than the next guy. OWN your position. This position is mine, and the only way you’re going to get it, is to come knock me on my a**, out-hustle me, and prove to this team, that you deserve it. 3)Come out of South Bend with more points on the scoreboard than Tomato Face Kelly’s Angels. 4)Knock that cocky smirk off of Dantonio’s arrogant mug on Oct. 20th., with and epic win. Here, Tweet this!!! 5)Win THE GAME. And most of all, stay healthy, no more injuries please!!! GoBlue4Life Thank you!

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.

      Tell us what you really think….hahaha… GREAT POINTS! Thanks for the friday boost in the arm and the smile. Hail Bro!

  • Patty Gross

    I enjoyed reading the above article.  After living through the Rich Rod.  era, I have adopted a new attitude.  After a loss like last weekend I thought about what could have been for 24 hours, then moved on.  Last week was just one game.  We are still in the hunt for the Big 10 Championship.  As far as I am concerned “Wolverine Nation” needs to move on.  We need to have the attitude saying ” So what we lost to Alabama”  That was then, this is now.  To use parts of a phrase from a song, “A loss doesn’t kill you it only makes you stronger.”

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.

      I totally agree, the past is only valid when it’s the present.

  • Mygabriel

    Thank you Wilbert for putting all in perspective for those who didn’t understand.  Even for those of us Wolverines who do understand your presentation of what is what and how is how is refreshing. HAIL

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.

      Thank you! It’s nice to be appreciated, and even nicer to be a wolverine!

  • leepinlizards

    It’s like body building: the muscle needs to be torn down in order to become stronger

    • Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr.

      Very well and succinctly put. - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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