30 at 30 Lists #28: Memories and Moments from Michigan’s CFP National Championship Season

In honor of me turning 30, I’m compiling 30 different top-30 lists on a wide variety of topics ranging from trivial interests of mine to meaningful life moments. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for these lists. They were composed by a panel of one—me.

30. Everything that came before this season
#TueFact: Michigan football has more devastating losses on my personal list than any of my other favorite teams. Ten of the top 30 spots on that infamous list belong to Michigan football. The joy of this moment of Michigan winning the CFP national championship cannot be fully appreciated without first recalling the anguish the Michigan fanbase has endured since they last won a national championship in 1997.

That was the last year before the BCS. Head coach Lloyd Carr and Heisman trophy winning cornerback Charles Woodson led the Wolverines to a 21-16 Rose Bowl win against Washington State, and the 12-0 Wolverines were voted number one by the Associated Press. However, Michigan was voted number two behind undefeated Nebraska in the Coaches Poll, leaving them with a split national championship. Carr would go on to coach Michigan for 10 more seasons. The team finished ranked in the top 20 in nine of those 10 seasons, but they never finished higher than 5th and lost four games in a row against Ohio State to close out Carr’s career, including the number-four-ranked game on my list of most devastating losses.

After Carr retired, Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez as the new head coach. Rodriguez tried to bring the spread offense to Ann Arbor, but the experiment was an infamous flop. The team went 3-9 in his first season, becoming the first Michigan team that failed to qualify for a bowl game in 33 years. They failed to do so again the following year after a 5-7 season. The next year they went 7-6, finishing with a 52-14 loss in the Gator Bowl against Mississippi State. Rodriguez was subsequently fired.

Enter Brady Hoke. Hoke inherited the electric Denard Robinson at quarterback, and led Michigan to an 11-2 record in his first season as head coach, which was capped off by a 23-20 win over Virginia Tech. The team finished the season ranked 12th in the nation. However, it was all downhill from there. The 2012 team went 8-5 and lost in the Outback Bowl to South Carolina. The 2013 team went 7-6 and lost in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to Kansas State. The 2014 team went 5-7 and missed out on bowl season altogether. Hoke was fired after the season.

On Dec. 30, 2014, Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh as the school’s new football coach. Optimism was high in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh arrived on the heels of having success turning losers into winners at San Diego State and Stanford as well as in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. Moreover, Harbaugh was a beloved Michigan man who had played quarterback for the Wolverines in the 1980s.

Although he lost his first game as Michigan coach against Utah, Harbaugh quickly got Michigan back to its winning ways. In his first five seasons at the helm, his teams went 10-3, 10-3, 8-5, 10-3, and 9-4, a far cry from the low water marks of his predecessors Rodriguez and Hoke. Yet there remained a lot of questions from the Michigan faithful because while he was winning games, he was losing the big ones, often in painful fashion. He started 3-2 against Michigan State but lost the infamous “trouble with the snap” game. He started 1-4 in bowl games with the lone win coming at the end of his first season. The most damning stat though was undoubtably his 0-5 start against Ohio State, including a double-OT loss in 2016 (aka the “JT Was Short” Game) and four other losses by an average of 23 points per game.

The COVID-shortened 2020 season marked the low point in the Harbaugh era, and arguably, in the history of the Michigan football program. The team went 2-4, winless at home, and canceled The Game against Ohio State citing “an increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases and student-athletes in quarantine over the past week.”

That offseason was marked by a lot of reflection and change within the Michigan football program. Heading into the 2021 season, Coach Harbaugh made it clear what the goals were. “Well, I’m here before you, enthusiastic and excited as I ever am, always am, even more to have at it, to win the championship, to beat Ohio and our rival Michigan State,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we want to do, and we’re going to do it or die trying.”

Although they did lose 37-33 on the road against Michigan State, Michigan made good on the other two promises. On Nov. 27, 2021, on the strength of five rushing touchdowns from Hassan Haskins on offense and three sacks from Aidan Hutchinson on defense, Michigan defeated Ohio State 42-27, snapping the program’s 8-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and giving Harbaugh his long-awaited first win as a coach in the rivalry. A week later they beat Iowa 42-3 to win their first Big Ten championship since 2004 and earned themselves a number two ranking in the College Football Playoff. They were beaten soundly 34-11 by Georgia in the CFP semifinal at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, 2021.

In 2022, Michigan rolled through the regular season 12-0, including a 45-23 road win against Ohio State, marking the first time the Wolverines had beaten the Buckeyes in Columbus in 23 years. They beat Purdue 43-22 in the Big Ten championship game, and Michigan once again earned a number two ranking in the CFP. Unfortunately, the season ended in the semifinals for a second consecutive season. Despite being favored, Michigan lost 51-45 to TCU. The loss left Michigan fans disappointed after a great season. After the game, quarterback J.J. McCarthy vowed the Wolverines would be back.

29. High preseason expectations
Michigan was ranked number two entering the 2023 season. The team was fresh off back-to-back Big Ten championships and CFP appearances. QB J.J. McCarthy and star running back Blake Corum highlighted the list of key starters returning with unfinished business after losing in the CFP semifinals in each of the previous two seasons.

28. The first suspension of Coach Harbaugh
On August 23, 2023, Michigan announced that it was self-imposing a three-game suspension on Harbaugh for violating recruiting regulations. With East Carolina, UNLV, and Bowling Green on the schedule, there was not a lot to worry about. However, the season beginning with some adversity may have prepared the team for what was yet to come.

27. Season opener vs. East Carolina 
With defensive coordinator Jesse Minter serving as acting head coach in place of the suspended Jim Harbaugh, Michigan opened its season with a dominant 30-3 victory. J.J. McCarthy was 26-30 passing, including three three touchdowns to Roman Wilson. Michigan’s bid for a shutout fell short on the final play when the Panthers elected to kick a 33-yard field goal as time expired.

26. Week 2 vs. UNLV
Special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh served as acting head coach in the first half. Running backs coach Mike Hart took over that role in the second half. For the second straight week, it was a wire-to-wire win that saw the Wolverines blank the opposition for the first three quarters. UNLV scored in the final 3 minutes to avoid the shutout. McCarthy had another nearly perfect day passing, going 22-25 for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Roman Wilson. Meanwhile Blake Corum rushed 15 times for 80 yards and 3 touchdowns.

25. McCarthy struggles in win vs. Bowling Green
With offensive coordinator serving as acting head coach, J.J. McCarthy threw two of his three interceptions in the first half, which allowed Bowling Green to hang around. Michigan controlled the second half though and ultimately rolled to a 31-6 victory. Blake Corum ran for 101 yards and 2 TD on just 12 carries. The Michigan defense also forced three turnovers to offset McCarthy’s three picks. Most impressively, McCarthy learned from his mistakes and threw just one interception the rest of the season.

24. Big Ten opener against Rutgers 
Rutgers connected on a 69-yard touchdown pass in the first minute of this game to give Michigan its first deficit of the season. The Rutgers upset bid didn’t last long though. Michigan answered with a Blake Corum touchdown later in the first quarter and added a Semaj Morgan touchdown reception before halftime to lead 14-7. The defense shut Rutgers out after that initial drive and added a 71-yard pick-6 from Mike Sainristil in the third quarter. Michigan tacked on another Corum TD in the fourth quarter to win 31-7.

23. First road game at Nebraska
Michigan’s first road game of the season was a breeze, as they crushed the Cornhuskers 45-7. J.J. McCarthy had a light day, throwing only 16 passes, but he made the most of his attempts, going 12-16 for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns, both caught by Roman Wilson. McCarthy also had 2 carries for 30 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Blake Corum and Kalel Mullings also scored rushing touchdowns. A late 4th quarter score once again prevented a Michigan shut out, but the defense played another solid all-around game.

22. Week 6: defense gives up double digits for the first time (in 52-10 win) against Minnesota
On the second snap of the game, Will Johnson intercepted Athan Kaliakmanis’ pass and returned it 36-yards for a touchdown. Minnesota kicked a field goal to make it 10-3 in the first quarter and added a touchdown right before half to make it 24-10. The Wolverines’ defense shut them out in the second half though, adding a second pick-six, this time from Keon Sabb. McCarthy threw for one touchdown and ran for another in the win.

21. Dominance vs. Indiana 
Michigan got off to a slow start against the Hoosiers and trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Then the Wolverines outscored the Hoosiers 52-0 in the final three quarters. McCarthy had another efficient day passing, throwing 14-17 for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Wolverine rushing attack amassed 163 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a pair of scores from Blake Corum. Michigan also won the turnover battle 4-0 with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in the big win.

20. Connor Stalions 
In October, Connor Stalions, who was an off-field analyst on the Wolverines staff, became the face of an alleged sign-stealing scandal at Michigan. “Who is Connor Stalions?” became a common question among both fans and foes of Michigan. According to USA Today, “Stalions was accused of buying tickets to games against Michigan’s Big Ten Conference and possible future College Football Playoff opponents, scouting and recording video that would be used to decode their in-game signals so the Wolverines could have an advantage in games.”

Sign stealing is not technically against NCAA rules. In-person scouting is against NCAA rules. There was also a lot of varying opinions on the benefits of sign stealing and in-person scouting.

On Oct. 20, Michigan announced that Stalions had been suspended with pay. On Nov. 3, Stallions resigned from his position at Michigan.

“As he informed the school earlier today, Connor chose to resign because recent stories regarding his time with the University of Michigan have created a distraction for the team,” Brad Beckworth, Stalions’ attorney, told The Athletic. “He hopes his resignation will help the team and coaching staff focus on (Saturday’s) game and the remainder of the season. Connor also wants to make it clear that, to his knowledge, neither Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, nor any other coach or staff member, told anyone to break any rules or were aware of improper conduct regarding the recent allegations of advanced scouting.”

19. Michigan vs. Everybody 
With Michigan football enjoying its most successful stretch since the 90s, the allegations against Stalions and the program made them an easy target for rivals looking to discredit their success since 2021, which included two convincing wins over Ohio State and back-to-back Big Ten titles as well as an impressive 6-0 start to the 2023 season. The team vowed to rise above the distractions, and the Michigan fans rallied around the team with the phrase “Michigan vs. Everybody” becoming a common refrain.

18. Shutout against the Spartans
In the first game after news of the investigation broke and after Stalions was suspended by Michigan, the Wolverines traveled to East Lansing for a road night game against in-state rival Michigan State. Michigan led 28-0 at halftime on the strength of three J.J. McCarthy touchdown passes, including a pair of 22-yarders to tight end Colston Loveland in the second quarter. Mike Sainristil added a 72-yard interception return for touchdown to make it 35-0 early in the third quarter. McCarthy threw his fourth touchdown pass, this time to backup tight end A.J. Barner, in the third quarter. And the Wolverines scored once more in the fourth to win the Paul Bunyan Trophy in dominant fashion, 49-0, the first shutout of the season for Michigan.

17. Mikey Sainristil
On a defense that was one of the best units in college football all season long, perhaps no one is more indicative of what it means to be a team captain than Mike Sainristil. After playing as a wide receiver from 2019-2021, Sainristil was converted into a defensive back heading into the 2022 season. He started 11 games and was named as an Honorable Mention for the All-Big Ten team. This year, he took his game to another level. The pick-6 against Michigan State was one of his team-leading six interceptions this year, and it was one of two he returned for TDs. He also recorded 2 sacks and forced 2 fumbles. There are other players on the defense who may have more of an NFL pedigree, but Sainristil was arguably the heart and soul of the defense. Wearing jersey number 0 after switching from offense to defense, he had one of the most unique Michigan careers ever and was a key component of this national championship squad.

16. Back after a bye, big win over Purdue 
Blake Corum scored two first half touchdowns and the teams exchanged a pair of field goals to make it a 20-6 game in favor of Michigan at halftime. In the second half, Michigan continued to use their run game to great success. Semaj Morgan ripped off a 44-yard score late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 27-6. Corum scored his third TD of the game in the fourth quarter, and Donovan Edwards added one of his own, giving Michigan five rushing touchdowns for the game, which they won 41-13. Although all the TDs came on the ground, J.J. McCarthy had a big day passing, going 24-37 for a season high 335 yards. Roman Wilson led the receiving corps with 9 catches for 143 yards.

15. Halloween 
Back in 2015, in the midst of Jim Harbaugh’s first season as Michigan head coach, I dressed as Harbaugh for Halloween. My first son was born two weeks later on Nov. 13, 2015. The next day in the hospital, I watched Michigan beat Indiana 48-41 in double overtime, holding Ben for part of his first Michigan victory. Fast forward to 2023, Ben dressed as Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and I brought back the Coach Harbaugh costume. It was a really cool full circle father-son moment.

Me dressed as Coach Harbaugh for Halloween in 2015
Me dressed as Coach Harbaugh and Ben dressed as J.J. McCarthy for Halloween in 2023

14. The second suspension of Coach Harbaugh 
Unfortunately, it was a controversy-laden season for Coach Harbaugh. Prior to the team’s biggest road test of the season in Happy Valley against the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for the final three regular season games because the conference said Michigan “violated the Sportsmanship Policy because a University football staff member engaged in an organized, extensive, years-long in-person advance scouting scheme that was impermissible.” Although Harbaugh faced the consequences, there has never been any proof that he knew any wrongdoing was occurring. A statement from Big Ten Commissioner  Tony Petitti said, “This is not a sanction of Coach Harbaugh. It is a sanction against the University that, under the extraordinary circumstances presented by this offensive conduct, best fits the violation because: (1) it preserves the ability of the University’s football student-athletes to continue competing; and (2) it recognizes that the Head Coach embodies the University for purposes of its football program.”

13. Run game passes test on the road vs. Penn State
With Harbaugh serving the first of his three-game suspension, Sherrone Moore once again stepped in as acting head coach for Michigan. Going against one of the better defenses in the country, Michigan won this game in the trenches. They ran the ball 32 straight times from the end of the first half until the final two kneel downs. J.J. McCarthy’s final stat line was a meager 7-8 passing for 60 yards, yet it didn’t matter because Michigan’s ground attack rushed 46 times for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Blake Corum’s 30-yard TD run in the final 5 minutes essentially put the game away. Penn State added a late score to make it 24-15 that would be the game’s final score.

12. Surviving a scare vs. Maryland to earn 1,000th win
In between games against top-10 opponents to conclude the Big Ten schedule, Michigan had to play on the road at Maryland. This game had all the makings of a trap game. Maryland scored an early field goal, but then Michigan bounced back with 23 unanswered points to make it 23-3 early in the second half. Just when it looked like the Wolverines could turn their attention to the season finale against Ohio State, the Terrapins came roaring back. Billy Edwards Jr. scored three second half touchdowns, the last of which cut the Michigan lead to 29-24. Maryland’s final attempt at a comeback was thwarted, however, when they got called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. Michigan held on to win 31-24 and earned the program’s 1,000th win, making them the first college to reach that milestone.

11. Winning The Game for the third consecutive year 
In 2021, Michigan broke through in the rivalry against Ohio State, winning The Game for the first time since 2011 by a score of 42-27. In 2022, they did it again, winning 45-23 to earn their first victory in Columbus since 2000. In 2023, Michigan made it three in a row with a 30-24 win over the Buckeyes. It’s the first time the maize and blue have won three straight against Ohio State since they completed the feat in 1997, which was also the last time they won a national championship. Michigan never trailed in The Game, but Ohio State tied it at 17-17 in the third quarter. After James Turner made his third field goal of the game to make it 30-24, Ohio State had one last chance to drive for the win. But Rod Moore intercepted Kyle McCord’s pass with 25 seconds left to seal the deal for Michigan.

10. Sherrone Moore
When Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the final three regular season games, Sherrone Moore stepped in and stepped up as acting head coach. He led the team to a huge road win over Penn State, held steady in a trap game on the road at Maryland, and stood tall against Ohio State’s Ryan Day in the Big Ten regular season finale. Moore wears his emotion on his sleeve as evidenced by his tearful post-game interview after beating Penn State. Moore played key role he played in helping to guide this team to a national championship. Most recently, Moore was named the successor to Jim Harbaugh as the next head coach of the Wolverines.

9. Blake Corum 
Neither Corum’s rushing style nor his stats ever jump off the page, but he is a gritty, smart runner who is both shifty enough to elude would-be tacklers and tough enough to fight for short yardage conversions. Whether it’s converting a 3rd- or 4th-and-1 into a first down or punching in a touchdown drive from inside the 5-yard line, Corum almost always came through. This season, Corum finished with 258 carries for 1,245 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns. He finished his career with more touchdowns than any Wolverine in history (58). After getting injured at the end of last season, which cost him the opportunity to play in the CFP against TCU, Corum vowed to come back and deal with unfinished business. In the championship, he paid it all off as he ran 21 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns. He also had four of the biggest touchdowns of the season:

  • a 30-yarder against Penn State to put Michigan up 24-9 with 4:15 left in the game
  • a 22-yarder against Ohio State to put Michigan ahead for good 24-17 moments after star offensive lineman Zak Zinter went down with a broken leg
  • a 17-yarder in overtime against Alabama to put Michigan ahead 27-20
  • a 12-yarder against Washington to extend Michigan’s lead to 27-13 with 7:09 remaining

Blake the Great will be missed in a big way for his leadership on and off the field.

8. Out-defensing Iowa for third straight Big Ten title
In a game featuring two of the Big Ten’s best defenses, Michigan’s unit won the day. Meanwhile the Michigan offense did just enough to get the win. Michigan won the turnover battle 3-0, and Michigan kicker James Turner was a perfect 4-4 on field goal attempts. Blake Corum added two touchdowns on the ground to lead Michigan to a 26-0 win and a third straight Big Ten title. The Wolverines held Iowa to 155 total yards of offense. In addition to forcing and recovering three fumbles, Michigan also limited Iowa to 4-15 converting on third downs.

7. Jesse Minter and the defense
Time and time again the Michigan defense rose to the occasion. Most notably, they made the game-clinching interception against Ohio State when the Buckeyes had a chance to drive for a late comeback, trailing 30-24 in the final minute. Then, in the Rose Bowl against Alabama, they made the game-clinching stop on 4th-and-goal in overtime. Finally, in the national championship game, they flummoxed Michael Penix Jr., causing him to have one of his worst stat lines of the season, including two costly interceptions. Credit Jesse Minter and the Michigan defense for their complex scheme and execution. It was one thing to dominate the early part of the schedule or shut out poor offenses like Michigan State and Iowa. But then to come through in big games down the stretch against Ohio State, Alabama, and Washington, that was championship caliber defense.

6. Overtime Rose Bowl win over Alabama
In the Rose Bowl against Alabama, which would turn out to be Nick Saban’s final game as head coach of the Crimson Tide, Michigan found themselves in unfamiliar territory: trailing in the fourth quarter. Will Reichard’s 52-yard field goal gave Alabama a 20-13 lead with 4:41 left in the game. J.J. McCarthy proceeded to lead an 8-play, 75-yard, season-saving drive. The drive included a huge 4th-and-2 conversion when McCarthy found Corum out of the backfield for 27 yards, a McCarthy run for 16 yards, a Roman Wilson reception for 29 yards, and finally a 4-yard McCarthy-to-Wilson connection for the touchdown. In overtime, it took only two plays, both Corum carries, for Michigan to reach the end zone. The defense then held Alabama on 4th and goal to seal the victory.

5. J.J. McCarthy
Back in 2020 when Michigan football was arguably at its lowest point in its storied history and certainly its lowest during the Jim Harbaugh era, McCarthy sent out a tweet that read, “I want all Michigan fans to do this. Take 3 deep breaths… And have faith. Faith that every single Coach, player, employee in that building is doing everything they possibly can to be great.”

A little over three years later, McCarthy began his announcement that he was declaring for the NFL Draft with a nod to his 2020 tweet and the three breaths.


McCarthy’s numbers at Michigan were never eye-popping. He was never asked to sling the ball like some of the other top QBs in the nation. However, he is rumored to be a first-round prospect, and I know I would love to see him in the silver and black with my favorite NFL team, the Raiders. He is athletic and smart. He is poised under pressure and rarely makes mistakes. When his back was against the wall against Alabama, he made the plays to win. He’s a winner, and now he’s a champion, too.

4. Jim Harbaugh 
After all the challenges and disappointments in his early years, from “trouble with the snap” against Michigan State, the 0-5 start against Ohio State, 1-6 start in bowl games, the 2-4 COVID-shortened season, this season had to feel like such a relief. After the suspensions to start and end the regular season, the championship had to feel like such validation for Harbaugh, a Michigan man who came back to his alma mater to restore a program that had lost its way. For a while it looked like he may not achieve that goal. There was always trouble finding the right quarterback. But the McCarthy-Harbaugh combination will go down in Michigan football lore as one of, if not the, greatest in the school’s illustrious history.

I would have loved to see Harbaugh stay in Michigan for the long haul, but he decided to return to the NFL, signing a deal to become the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. The news is a double whammy for me: losing Harbaugh at Michigan and gaining him as a divisional rival as a Raiders fan. Still, I can’t blame him for wanting to move on from the NCAA ranks to take on a new challenge in the NFL.

3. CFP National Championship win against Washington 
Michigan hit first when Donovan Edwards broke off a 41-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the game. After Washington responded with a field goal, Edwards scored again on a 46-yard run to make it 14-3. Just when it seemed like Michigan might turn it into a blowout, a failed 4th-down conversion gave life to the Huskies. Michael Penix Jr. found Jalen McMillan for a 3-yard touchdown in the final minute of the half to make it 14-10, much closer than it felt like it should have been. The teams exchanged field goals in a grind-it-out third quarter, leaving Michigan ahead 20-13 entering the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until midway through the fourth that Blake Corum scampered 12 yards to pay-dirt to extend the Wolverines’ lead to 27-13. On the ensuing drive, Washington drove into Michigan territory but faced a 4th and 13 to keep their fading hopes alive. Mike Sainristil interceped Penix’s pass and returned it 81 yards to set up Michigan 1st and Goal. Two Corum carries later the Wolverines were in the end zone and leading 34-13, which would be the game’s final score.

2. Hail to the Victors! Basking in the post-game celebration after winning the CFP national championship 
Once the game went final, I exchanged texts with friends and family and basically every Michigan fan I know. Then it was a mix of watching the postgame television coverage and scrolling through my X (Twitter) feed to read all of the commentary. I think I was up until about 1 a.m. reveling in it all. What a wonderful feeling it was!

1. Watching the games with my kids 
The best part of the Michigan football season did not take place on the field. It was not a pass by J.J. McCarthy or a run by Blake Corum. It wasn’t the game-clinching interception against Ohio State or the game-ending 4th-down stop against Alabama. It wasn’t even beating Washington to win the national championship. The best part of the Michigan football season was watching the games with my kids.

My oldest son Benjamin is 8. My middle child, my son Maxwell, is 5. My youngest child, my daughter Rosemary, is 3. Ever since Ben was born, I started a tradition of wearing team colors and taking family photo shoots at the start of the season and before every big game.

The past few years, Ben especially has gotten into watching the games with me when he can. And when the games are in primetime too late for him to stay up, he watches highlights on YouTube the next morning.

This season, we were able to watch all of the biggest wins together up until the national championship. We watched them beat Penn State on the day of Ben and Rosie’s joint birthday party. We watched them beat Ohio State at my parents’ house. We watched them win the Rose Bowl over Alabama.

With the national championship game not starting until 7:30 p.m. (the boys’ bedtime), I was left to balance out the joy of watching the championship together and letting them stay up late against the reality of them having school the next day. I initially said they could stay up until the end of the first quarter but later extended that to halftime, and I am so glad I did.

Watching the first half with the boys (Rosie went to bed at normal time) was one of the most joyful moments I have experienced in 8+ years as a dad. It reminded me of why I love sports so much in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but the joy of sports is the way it can bring people together. Whether it’s a crowd of 100,000+ packing The Big House in Ann Arbor or a dad and his two boys in Erie, Pa., shared sports experiences are special.

As Donovan Edwards gave Michigan a 7-0 lead, I was elated—not only for my Wolverines but also for my boys. They spent the first half overjoyed, bouncing off the walls with excitement and re-enacting every big Michigan play in our living room. It reminded me of watching the Lakers during the Shaq and Kobe days with my dad and my brother Mike.

Earlier this season, the boys called me out for yelling at the TV too much. It really caught me off guard and left me shook. I did a lot of reflecting and soul-searching on the type of fan I was and the type of fan I wanted to teach them to be. I’m not perfect. Sports brings out big emotions in me in ways that few other things do in life. And as an Enneagram 9, I often struggle with expressing anger. While there is something to be said for sports being a healthy, safe outlet for expressing those big emotions, I didn’t want to be doing it in a way that caused my kids distress or made watching games with dad feel like a negative experience. So I worked really hard this season to yell less at the TV (easier to do when Michigan went 15-0 compared to the Raiders going 8-9, but that’s a post for another day!) and model better viewing habits for my kids.

As the Michigan-Washington game progressed, I was delighted by how present to my kids I was able to feel. I was able to celebrate the big plays with them and share in the joy of the moment with them. It didn’t feel like dad’s thing the boys were privileged to witness; it felt like our thing that we were experiencing together. There was a small part of me that wanted to push the envelope and allow them to stay up for the entire game, but as the first half ended, it was evident they were tired and ready for bed. They didn’t even put up a fight.

The next morning we watched the highlights together, and I got to relive the championship victory all over again through their eyes. It was such a cool moment to watch them watch it as they started to realize what the outcome was going to be. Michigan winning the national championship was an incredible ending to an unbelievable season; however, it is the love I felt for my kids sharing in the journey that I will remember most of all.

Leave a Reply