ANN ARBOR -- Thousands of devoted University of Michigan football fans have heeded the call of their enlightened new coach, Rich Rodriguez, and placed their pigskin passion in the proper perspective. Wolverines fans are dumping their season tickets, skipping their booster donations and spending their time and limited resources on more important things.
“I’m so glad that Coach Rodriguez opened up my eyes that we have bigger problems in this state than a crappy football team, like the economy,” said George Barnes, 52, of Livonia. “Until this week, for instance, I thought the U.S. auto industry was doing just fine. I figured all those foreign cars were just a ‘70s trend that would never last, like disco. Now I realize that my perk-laden job as a GM executive might not be entirely secure. How can I justify dropping thousands of dollars a year to follow an eight-loss college football team? At least I’ll still have the Lions.”
Many other UM backers are joining Barnes in cutting back on their maize-and-blue expenses. There is already speculation that the Wolverines will downsize from the famed “Big House,” which seats 106,201, to the “Little Shack,” an Ann Arbor high school field with wooden bleachers that fit 13,623.
“I think that would send just the right message about the role that sports should play at our great university,” said a Michigan professor who asked that we not use his name. “UM needs to focus on its world-class faculty and outstanding research facilities, not a team that can’t run the spread offense half as well as Troy.”
Rather than working themselves into a lather for this week’s annual showdown game against archrival Ohio State, Wolverines fans across the state have instead planned a full day of family-themed events this Saturday. There’s the Family Fun Run in Ypsilanti, Jackson’s Apple Cider Festival, and Detroit’s highly anticipated Let’s Beg The Feds For a Bailout rally.
“I have to admit that I once used rooting for the Wolverines as a way to take my mind off my real-world concerns,” says Hank Grayson, a UM alum from Flint. “Coach Rod has shown me the error of my ways. Besides, it’s not much of an escape to watch UM get skulldragged by the damn Buckeyes.”
Sources in the UM athletic department indicate that Rodriguez’s sober plea to de-emphasize football might have far-reaching consequences. For instance, the university might not choose to pay $15 million over six years -- not counting an extra $2.5 million payment to his last employer for inducing him to break his contract -- to someone who coaches what is only, after all, a silly little game.
“Coach Rod has already made clear that he understands how big a problem the economy is,” says one assistant AD. “If our revenues go down, we have to cut costs. If the CEO of Goldman Sachs can get by on $600,000, surely a football coach can as well. We trust that Rich will want to take the same kind of moral leadership. Or at least teach his team how to make a first down.”
[Editor's Note: OK, Pete made this whole thing up.]