Ryan Van Bergen
Dec. 29, 2011
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
For the student-athletes playing football at the University of Michigan, a bowl trip is a wonderful reward for the work and hours they have given to this sport.
The Michigan team has landed in New Orleans to play Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. More importantly, this Michigan team is playing one more game -- one more football game.
Football is also one of those unique team sports in which the amount of practice time dwarfs the actual amount of game time. This season, U-M will play 13 games. In a four-year college career, a football player -- if he's lucky -- might get the opportunity to play in 40-50 games.
For many of the seniors who are playing in one of the 35 bowl games this season, this is going to be the last time they lace up the cleats and take the field. It will be a bittersweet feeling when they take off their pads for the last time and walk out the locker room door. This is going to be it. This is going to be the end of their collegiate football career.
However, it is not just about the seniors. All Michigan players want to make a statement and show everyone our program is back on the national stage where it belongs. This is not a trip or a game our team takes lightly. For them, it is all business.
The legacy created by these major bowl games creates the traditions and pride coveted by players and fans alike.
"It's huge! It's huge!" said fifth-year senior Ryan Van Bergen about U-M's opportunity to play in the Sugar Bowl. "It kind of establishes national relevance for Michigan as a program. It puts us back on the map, so to speak, as a national powerhouse. ... It will be great for recruiting, it will be great for the alumni and the fans."
The rest of Ryan's quote is probably more telling, and it speaks to the primary reason why the bowl system works.
"But the biggest thing for us -- Team 132 wants to play again," says Van Bergen. "We've really grown close. We have great team chemistry, and the opportunity to play one more game on a stage as big as the Sugar Bowl is huge for us."
This is why the bowls are truly special. It is one more opportunity to play the game they love. It is system that works for the people that play the game.
One more game for Team 132, and the kickoff can't come soon enough!