Michigan basketball has really turned the corner.
Thursday night in Illinois the Wolverines beat the Illini 72-61 to improve to 22-8 on the season and 12-5 in the Big Ten. The victory marked Michigan’s first, at Assembly Hall since 1995. Now with a Michigan win at Penn State on Sunday and a Michigan State loss to Ohio State, the Maize and Blue will grab a share of the conference championship; something that even the most optimistic Michigan fan wouldn’t ever think was possible at the beginning of the season.
And now for the controversy…
Just as Michigan is getting things right and rebuilding their program from the horror that was the Ed Martin scandal, one of the key members of that era has decided to speak out. It’s of course Jalen Rose, a guy that is still linked to the university in many ways. Rose was an analyst on ESPN for the Michigan-Illinois game, but it was what he said before the contest that has people talking and me shaking my head.
He wants the banners back! You know the Final Four ones that were taken down from the rafters at Crisler Center due to NCAA sanctions. There was also a 1998 Big Ten Tournament Championship banner as well that was removed and Rose thinks everything should be returned to its rightful place for all to see. With the sanctions also came the disassociation of certain players that were involved in the scandal, one of those players of course being Chris Webber. Well in 2013, ten years after the sanctions were levied, C-Webb and the others are allowed back in the schools good graces and Rose hopes the pictures, videos and, yes, the banners will follow.
But should they?
The answer obviously has to be NO!
The players involved in the scandal were really not affected as far as their careers were concerned. Webber, Maurice Taylor, the late Robert Traylor and even Louis Bullock all went on to play professional basketball somewhere and made a whole lot of money doing it. Even the coach, Steve Fischer during the “dirty times” went on to work at San Diego State where has built a quality program and is an annual NCAA tournament contender. Everybody involved moved on and had success, that is except for the actual program that they tarnished. I don’t need to remind you of what happened to Michigan hoops after the NCAA investigation. The teams were awful, it took 3 try’s to find an actual coach to turn things around and the worst part of it all was the many fans that turned their back on the basketball team because there was no hope and therefore no interest. The people involved in the scandal destroyed Michigan hoops and now Rose wants to be remembered for it?
I loved Rose as a player in Ann Arbor. I remember the first time Michigan came out in the all Maize uniforms and lost to Duke on national TV. The baggy shorts, black socks, shoes and shaved heads changed college basketball forever and Jalen was at the center of it. #5 was also was involved in some amazing moments as a player, but none of it counts or matters anymore! They cheated, they don’t deserve to be honored for it and that is exactly what will be happening if the banners are once again hung up from the rafters.
How can Michigan choose to pay tribute to the times and teams that caused so much obscurity afterwards? They can’t! However people seem to want to. Believe it or not fans are all for the return of the banners. Callers filled the lines of 97.1 “The Ticket” Thursday night and Friday morning to show their support for the disassociated. People claimed that every school cheats and Michigan was just the unlucky university to get caught. Silly, right? Callers also shouted how good the “Fab Five” was and even though the players might have been illegal, they still made the shots they did and beat the teams that they did as well. And, then there was my personal favorite, the fans that feel bad for the other kids on the team at the time that did not take money. It’s because of those players that the banners should be brought back the people claim. Ridiculous! Even if players didn’t cheat, others around them did and that ruined it for everybody.
It’s funny how not one of the callers claimed they felt bad for the players and coaches afterwards! You know the kids that could not play in the tournament because they were not allowed to or because they were nowhere good enough to! What about those kids?
I admit that I am a huge Michigan basketball fan and it is what happened to the program after the scandal is why I feel the way I do. However the general principal doesn’t change and that is re-hanging the banners would be honoring the cheaters, and that is just not acceptable!
So Jalen and everybody else that wants the old Final Four banners back up will just have to wait for Michigan to win a legit one of their own which could happen as soon as Sunday, an achievement by the way that Rose, Webber and company never accomplished on their own. Because the next banner raised to rafters at Crisler will signify the first banner since the last ones that were taken down. And, that is an impressive achievement, telling the world that Michigan has finally gotten over the scandal and is heading back to where they used to be, but doing it the right way this time.