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2:32 pm EDT        73°F (23°C) in Brenham, TX

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It is an absolutely glorious afternoon here in east-central Texas, along U.S. Route 290 between Austin and Houston. Thank God I’ve been well away from the shitty weather back at home in the Great Lakes area; I understand much of that region is suffering from another major snowstorm today, and could get pounded by a second one by the weekend. I don’t know what the hell is going on, but this makes for two of the last three Aprils now in which the eastern half of the country has seen significant snowfalls beyond the first week of the month.

It greatly pains me to have to say it, but Moo U won the NCAA hockey championship last weekend in St. Louis, MO. This was Moo U’s first hockey championship in 21 years, and the first national title since 1998 (when Michigan won) for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). In many ways, Moo U’s run this year was reminiscent of Michigan’s 1998 title run: neither of them could do any better than third in the CCHA tournament; both of them kinda struggled to win their first-round NCAA tournament game; both of them rode possibly-undeserved “home ice” status to second-round victories over heavily favored opponents; both beat the crap out of a Hockey East opponent in the national semifinals; and both of them beat Boston College for the championship.

I’ve been giving this a bit of thought lately: that the late 1980s and 1990s were truly the days when, as a common fan chant at Michigan sporting events goes, “it [was] great! to be! a Mich-i-gan Wolverine!” — and that by comparison, we’re in the Dark Ages now. The decade of greatness really started with Blue’s unexpected run to the 1989 NCAA basketball championship, and continued through another hoops title game appearance in 1993, to two hockey titles in 1996 and 1998 and the 1997 football national championship. Ever since then, though, Lloyd Carr has been blowing at least one or two critical football games every year, and we’ve had one terrible basketball coach (Brian Ellerbe) followed by a decent one (Tommy Amaker) who we threw into an impossible situation (probation and post-season bans for his first two years — thanks for nothing, Steve Fisher and Chris Webber).

It’s not like Michigan has been having zero athletic success since 1998 — the basketball team won the 2004 NIT championship and got to the NIT title game in 2006; the hockey team has been to at least two Frozen Fours since its last title; and as infuriating as Lloyd’s inability to win big games has been, he has at least made it to some bowl game every year. However, since 1998, Michigan has not been the legitimate player on the national stage that it was for the previous decade. Other Big Ten teams, such as Moo U with its 2000 basketball title, Illinois with its 2005 basketball title-game appearance, and Ohio State with the 2002 football championship and 2006-07 appearances in the football and basketball title games, have been overshadowing Michigan lately — and Michigan must put a stop to that in order to seriously contend for championships again.

I will have until Friday morning to get this load to Kansas City, KS; after that, I have no idea what I’ll be doing. Until then, ciao.