Big 10

Bob Van Cleave was a close friend of mine and he spent more time with my family and me after he lost his wife Mitsy to cancer. Bob loved golf and he loved to cheat but none of us cared because he was such a good guy and besides who didn’t kick the golf ball to improve ones position once in a while. He was notorious for being cheap but always generous to his close friends. He once offered to lend me several thousand dollars to improve a small business I owned. He loved his Southern Comfort Manhattan’s and often wreaked of the unique smell this drink creates. He loved his children and they were most important to him even though they had all gone their separate ways. His second great love was the University of Michigan and in particular the football team. While two of his children did graduate from U of M Bob was like the infamous subway alumni for Notre Dame. I only think we went to one game at U of M together but we watched many games together at my home but I must admit we preferred an Irish bar called Brady’s on Southfield. What I found interesting was on game day I would usually get to the bar before Bob. He would roll up in his Lincoln with U of M paraphernalia, bunting, flags stickers {removable] and of course he had the U of M hat, jacket, muffler, well you get the idea he was proud to be a U of M football supporter. I should make the point that I was a big supporter of the U of M football program and relished their victories and lamented their losses [though they were infrequent.] Now one day we had decided to meet at Brady’s after the game, Bob was attending in person and I watched at home but we wanted to meet and critic our anticipated victory. I got to Brady’s first and watched as Bob pulled up in his Lincoln but I immediately noticed the usual bunting, flags, etc. celebrating U of M was missing. When he stepped out of the car his hat, jacket, muffler, etc were all missing and I was anxious to find out why. He said “ we lost and we looked terrible, we weren’t Michigan ready.” That is what I felt this weekend when Michigan lost to Utah and it is the way I’ve felt for the last five years. What has happened to Michigan and what has happened to the Big 10? It is something deeper than one bad play or a bad call by the referees or even good competition. Something has happened to Big 10 football and to Bob’s beloved U of M. I’m happy he passed away before he had to see the demise of a once great team and a once great conference.

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