Is this U of M Football or Friday Night Lights

I am going to start with a spoiler alert: don’t read this article if you plan on watching the television series Friday Night Lights. Also, please don’t message me and spoil any of Season 4 or 5 as I am still making my way through it. With that said, I dislike JD McCoy. Matt Saracen is a normal guy that we can get behind. He is a little known person that gets a chance at stardom when an unforeseen incident opens up the opportunity of his dreams (being the starting quarterback for his high school team). Matt has a boss that is demanding and distant (relatable), has less than stellar support from the community around him (relatable), and is plagued by self-doubt (relatable). Yet, Matt Saracen somehow succeeds and is a vital part in winning a state championship (Season 1 spoiler). Despite his success, people continue to doubt him, and by Season 3, the same people that slapped him on the back after the title are calling for him to be demoted for some punk, upstart, snot-nosed, dirty blankity-blank freshman named JD McCoy.

At this point, the article appears to be more of a TV review than a sport’s column, but if you bear with me, this is setting a metaphor for a real life showdown of accomplishment by an unsung hero and new potential. The scene of the real life drama is the University of Michigan football team as Cade McNamara and JJ McCarthy are in a battle for the starting quarterback position. Cade McNamara was a huge part of the Wolverine’s magical season as they beat Ohio State for the first time since the 19th Century (figuratively), won a Big Ten title, and made it to the College Football Playoff for the first time ever. Sure, Michigan relied heavily on a run game and did not open up the passing game until late in the season, but Cade’s leadership and grit was always central to the team. Cade might not be the best athlete or have the strongest arm, but he has been there and done that. In essence, Cade is the Matt Saracen archetype. Last year, JJ McCarthy came into the program with a big arm and crazy athleticism. The play against Iowa where he caught up to speedster Blake Corram and became the lead blocker on a touchdown run was mind blowing. McCarthy is the future and possibly the present of the program but is stuck behind a “less talented” older teammate. JJ is the JD McCoy archetype.

First let me say, the Cade McNamara condemnations of him lacking skill and talent is something that needs to be taken with a mountain of salt. A person has to be uber talented to make it to a Big Ten program. Cade has had more success in sports than 99% of the country will have in ten lifetimes. This is not going to be a condemnation of Cade McNamara in any way. I have never met him, nor will I ever meet him, but I like the guy and root for him. Second, I am not saying that I think JJ McCarthy is all the negative things that I said about JD McCoy. Everything that I hear is that JJ is a good dude and that him and Cade get along and help each other. I really just wanted to release my ire on a TV character that I really despise and give love to another character that is treated the way that so many of us get treated at work.

Still, the similarities between FNL and Michigan are uncanny. I am going to go straight JFK-Abraham Lincoln conspiracy theory on you at times, but it will make sense. The quarterback controversy for both situations came from a ballyhooed freshman QB with a ton of potential and an incumbent without the hype. The freshman comparison gets even wonkier when we look at the names: JD and JJ and, wait for it, MCCoy and MCCarthy. Okay that is a lot like the “Lincoln was shot at a theater and the killer ran to a warehouse where JFK was shot from a warehouse and the killer ran to a theater”. I’ll grant this, but let’s look at the coaches. Jim Harbaugh was on the hot seat and had just renegotiated his contract and wage despite coming to the Wolverines with high expectations. Eric Taylor of FNL ended up on the hot seat in Season 1 as well. Despite the potential for failure, both coaches made deep runs into the playoffs, were led by quarterbacks that lacked respect, and both coaches became heroes in the community. Well, both were heroes until Harbaugh and Taylor flirted with jobs at the next level. Eric Taylor was put under constant pressure to continue to win after a disappointing season, just like Jim Harbaugh is under a ton of pressure this year to keep the ball rolling. It is hard to not see the two coaches as almost one.

Metaphor aside, it is going to be interesting to see what Jim Harbaugh does with this decision. For a time, Eric Taylor played both Saracen and McCoy together. We saw Jim Harbaugh do the same last year. The answer to this question was made murkier when McCarthy was unable to throw in Spring Ball. This could end up delaying a final decision. Still, U of M did not stack up on difficult opponents this year and could be up big in the beginning of the season. This could lead to both McNamara and McCarthy splitting time. In the end, we will have to wait for season to get out answer. Until then, we get to enjoy speculation to see how it will unfold. Then, we will get to watch another program go through the same turmoil when Arch Manning enrolls at Texas and pushes Quinn Ewers for the starting spot.

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3 thoughts on “Is this U of M Football or Friday Night Lights

  1. Have you been watching how bad their recruiting is right now? Overall #13 in the big ten and #55 in the country after their top recruit decommitted today.

    1. Yes I have. It is something that I might cover if things don’t change. They should still be good this year, but they need bring in new talent.

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