In the battle of the new Jim’s, all the feel good exists
Jimmy’s got it wired, law’s for hire
Got it make in the shade
Got a little hideaway, does business all day
But at night he’ll always be found
Selling sugar to the sweet
People on the street
Call this Jimmy’s town
– Dr. Feelgood, Motley Crue
It’s safe to say that bowl games take on their own lives, narratives, and degrees of interest* based on which ones they are, who is in them, and what the expectation was back in August.
*Interest is referred to: if my team loses, they “weren’t interested in being here,” and if they had been, they’d have won by 20.
Perhaps no bowl game has as much “Dr. Feelgood” romping around as the Citrus, Michigan and Florida, as they close out their season probably ahead of their own schedules and loving their own versions of their new, shiny Jims.
For Michigan, it was fait accompli that they’d be better when hiring native son Jim Harbaugh after the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL orchestrated one of the true modern day staffing blunders by not wanting him back.
The man that has professed to eat cereal with Gatorade when there was no milk in the house and attacks every day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind has left a predictable, immediate impact on a Wolverines program barren of positivity and starved for success since they pushed Lloyd Carr out the door for not meeting whatever bloated expectations existed at the time.
It wasn’t all candy canes and fairy dust, though. There was the once-in-a-lifetime loss to Michigan State when anything other than a touchdown when snapping a punt to put the game away would have won. Then there was the debacle against ornery Ohio State, when Michigan figured to have closed the gap.
Overall, though, if you’d have told Michigan fans they were getting 9-3 in the regular season, they’d have said, “give me some, now, no questions asked.” Michigan is significantly better than they were, especially fundamentally, with little things like receivers holding their blocks and the offensive line providing a real pocket for the quarterback.
Win or lose, the positive feels will still exist.
Then you move onto Florida, who has had a little more of a tumultuous season, but has no less the feels and the warm fuzzies than Michigan. Their Jim … the McElwain version … didn’t come in with near the fanfare or “he’s one of us” love an adoration from Colorado State.
No one knew what to expect from Florida, beaten down by the brutal Will Muschamp era that followed the sudden and harsh departure of Urban Meyer. Certainly, they didn’t necessarily “expect” an SEC East title.
The arc of the season went from potential title contender to “simply pretty damn good football team” when improving quarterback Will Grier was suspended for the season for using some stuff he shouldn’t have, and that followed McElwain’s introduction into our hyper-sensitive sports media society when everyone came crashing down on him for yelling at a player on national television for doing something selfish and stupid in a big moment.
From there, Florida’s offense resembled a guy with a stiff rum buzz trying to look through a ring of 40 keys in the dark for the one to his apartment at 3 a.m. It was enough to get them into the SEC East title game as they increasingly relied on a still salty defense and even made it competitive for a stint against Alabama, but the passing game was just too flaccid to hold up.
Regardless, the turnarounds at both major powers after periods of frustrating stink have been abrupt. The fan bases no longer have to have answers like, “what happened to your program”when going to get a 12-pack from the grocery store wearing the colors.
There is no more positive feeling bowl game this season than Michigan vs. Florida, both happy to be back where they belong, trolling the top 25 and letting next season’s expectations continue to get out of hand.
Indeed, these are Jimmy’s towns.
Follow TSS on Twitter @TheStudentSect