In Memoriam: Remembering "Normal"

A picture of the special commemorative cleats and gloves to be worn this weekend by NFL players Lance Briggs and Jamaal Charles. A good start, but make sure to keep the fallen in your heart, as well.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. A variety of reactions are possible depending on who you say "9-11" to (I still find it strange that it's become such a catch phrase; that there is such gravitas now connected with a couple of numbers).

The response you get depends on who they are, where they are from, and how those events did or didn't affect them. In honor of events that changed to world and how we look at it forever, Hustle Belt offers a look at where the MAC was the last time things were "normal"

Follow after the jump to take a look back at the MAC football events of September 8th, 2001 - the last time things were "life as usual" in our little conference.

It's funny to think about historical perspective. Whether it's something as simple as "I haven't done that since..." or as complex as "Do you remember what it was like before...?" 

Before (9-8-11)

Bowling Green was celebrating their second win in what would eventually be an 8-3 season under Urban Meyer. Josh Harris and Andy Sahm split the quarterbacking duties, but Harris' running led the Falcons to a win - one that ultimately meant nothing only a few days later.

Ohio was lulled into thinking that their biggest problem was the defense's inability to stop West Virginia's Avon Cobourne, while Toledo took down a Temple team buried in Big East misery behind the beginning of an impressive senior season from Chester Taylor.

Akron was not embarrassed by Ohio State (28-14), though freshman quarterback Charlie Frye was no match for a running game led by Beanie Wells. Meanwhile, the often-mocked "Directional Michigan" (Eastern and Central) was shown up by T.J. Duckett (MSU) and Bruce Perry (Maryland) respectively.

Joshua Cribbs led the Golden Flashes past a bad Bucknell quad, while Talmadge Hill and Marcus Merriweather almost did the same for Ball State over Kentucky. Miami's freshman quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was made to look terrible in his second start of the season against Iowa, while Thomas Hammock and Michael Turner almost ran Northern Illinois to a win over Regular Illinois.

During (9-15-11)

Many games were cancelled that weekend. Akron was scheduled to play Eastern Michigan, a game that was moved to Thanksgiving weekend and that the Zips wound up winning 65-62 in triple overtime. Ball State had scheduled an easy win against Southern Illinois and instead faced Northern Iowa the following weekend, a loss that ultimately bumped them to a losing record.

Bowling Green had their game against South Carolina (a top-20 Lou Holtz squad that may well have pummeled them) cancelled, and instead played Northwestern the week before Thanksgiving in a 43-42 win that featured 1242 yards of offense, 494 of that from Josh Harris alone.

Buffalo postponed a win on the road over Army, while CMU postponed a loss at Boise State (aka "the inevitable"), while Miami and Kent shifted their game to the end of the season in a win that gave Kent a winning season. Marshall cancelled a game against TCU that may well have sapped their momentum and sent them into conference play at 1-2, but they instead ran the table until the conference championship against Toledo.

Northern Illinois and Ohio both postponed road losses to the ACC (Wake Forest and NC State, respectively), while WMU only had to shift their loss to Michigan by one weekend. Toledo never replaced their cancelled game against Youngstown State in their championship run.

After

It seems so strange to look back at these names now - some shining in the NFL, some mere footnotes in the college football landscape. There were only a few days between all of these events, during which every player on every roster listed above had their world rocked by a couple of multi-ton hunks of flying metal aimed at a couple pillars of metal and glass. Lives were lost, bruised and distorted; career paths were shifted and life goals re-evaluated; very few things would ever be the same again.

In some ways, it's nice now to look at that period in time as a historical artifact; I say that because I am able to do so, since outside of public and political policy the events of that day had no direct bearing on my life as I know it (I'll discuss that in another post). I am fully aware that there are many others for whom that mere moniker ("9/11") is still as paralyzing now as it was ten years ago, and to them I offer what little help my condolences provide.

In honor of anyone reading this who suffered a more direct impact - or knows someone who did - I offer in closing a moment of silence to honor the memory of those who were lost and the struggle of those left in their wake.

*hangs head*

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