I don't write much about college football. Why would I? I am a University of Michigan fan, and the past three seasons have been akin to a prolonged wake for a proud program. Beginning with an inglorious loss to Appalachian State in a warm up game in 2007, and continuing throughout 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Wolverines show signs of extinction. Fall afternoons are grim at our house these days.
Sustained despair can do things to a man. My need to believe remains constant, however, even as my team whimpers and dies. So somehow, and I count this a miracle, I found myself at the end of the year starting to actually care about the University of Connecticut Huskies. My wife and I watched them beat Notre Dame this year and, pagans that we are, we even started to believe in miracles. And we started to believe in Randy Edsall, the coach of the Huskies.
This morning as I stopped for coffee before heading to the office, I saw the headline of a local paper. Randy Edsall may leave to go to Notre Dame? He might replace the now disgraced Charlie Weiss? Edsall might leave a program he built seemingly from nothing by sheer goodwill, grit and determination? Oh, no! Say it ain't so! Edsall can't go.
But why wouldn't he? I sipped my coffee and glanced at the paper. In a flash, I felt what it must be like to be him. He's transformed UConn's program into a credible Division I team. He is young enough for fresh starts. The college football world is agog over his accomplishment. Like Jesus in the wilderness he is being offered the world.
But Edsall's position is even better than was Jesus'. Satan offered Jesus dominion. And Jesus turned him down. God's university may offer Edsall one of the top perches in college football. There would be fame, fortune, weekly national exposure, better recruiting prospects by atheletes seeking a showcase for NFL scouts. Edsall is being offered a step up on the big three rungs in sociology: class, status and power.
Edsall must be tempted. We all fantasize about making it in the big time. Hell, I'm well on the way to old age and I still harbor the secret hope that I will sometime be given a chance to try the case of the century, whatever that might be.
But I am begging readers to send this column to Edsall. Don't go, Randy. Don't leave a small state with big aspirations. Don't leave the program you built from the ground up. Don't trade us in for Touchdown Jesus and his filthy lucre. The bright lights of weekly media coverage will grow stale. Honest, they will.
The University of Connecticut is not Notre Dame. We have no Knute Rockne in the past. There aren't legendary football traditions treated as ritual. But we are starting something new under the Sun here in the Nutmeg State. Everyman has awakened, flexed his muscles and taken on the ancient gods and goddesses. UConn's program is hopeful, and the people of the state, or, at the very least, my wife and I, have found something new to believe in. Bruce Springstein has found a team.
Don't go, Randy. Please. You're making good money here. You're making history. Your players need you. Your fans need you. And, unless the Wolverines start to kick some serious posterior next year, my wife and I will need you.
Sport is really ritualized combat between good and evil. It is a symbol of all our struggle. We are drawn to it for the relief it yields. Transferring primitive loyalty to the games boys play, we become feral warriors dancing before a war fire the night before we might die. Sport serves the need to believe. It would be unthinkable for Randy Edsall to leave us now, just when we were learning to trust him. Let God take care of Notre Dame; we need Edsall to help us nurture our own secret hopes.