There are certain things that should not be allowed. You should not be allowed to cudgel your donkey, pull wings off butterflies, poison bird baths.
And you should not be allowed to put Michigan in a Rose Bowl.
Terrible things happen to Michigan in the Rose Bowl of late. It's a haunted house for the Wolverines. They remind you of the guy who unwittingly walks into Dracula's castle and doesn't notice that the eyes move on the portraits on the wall and that the howling he hears outside the castle walls isn't dogs and the host has pointed teeth.
They won the first four Rose Bowls they were in--49-0, 49-0, 14-6, 34-7. But that's the good news. Since then, they are 2-9.
They shouldn't answer the phone when the Tournament of Roses Committee calls. They should say they are allergic to smog, they broke their sunglasses or they got a headache. They should say they like Florida better this time of the year.
They lost again New Year's Day. To Washington, 34-14. It wasn't that close.
Michigan sent the wrong team. It should have sent the Detroit Lions. In fact, why don't the Wolverines only send the band? And a note from the doctor saying, "Please excuse the team"?
Incidentally, has anybody seen Desmond Howard? If you find him, will you please notify Michigan's quarterback, Elvis Grbac? Elvis was looking for him all Wednesday afternoon. He seemed to keep telling himself Desmond was out there some place. But before he could draw a bead on him, he kept finding himself going down under a pile of purple-and-white jerseys.
When last seen, Desmond was doing Heisman poses in the end zone. To do that, first you need the football. Desmond didn't have the football much on New Year's. He caught exactly one pass. That put him even with Washington's Walter Bailey, who also caught one of Grbac's passes.
Actually, Michigan did very well during the first half Wednesday, which is to say they had a minus-44 yards in rushing yardage. All things considered, that was a moral victory.
You see, the University of Washington showed up with a defense that resembled nothing so much as a school of piranhas. You know how a cow enters one of those rivers fat and happy, gets into the piranha pool--and comes out on the other side a skeleton?
Well, the University of Washington's school didn't eat anybody. But ball-carriers kept disappearing in a pile of snapping bones.
There have been famous football lines before. There were the Seven Blocks of Granite at Fordham in the 1930s. There were the Purple People Eaters of the Minnesota Vikings in the 1970s. The Rams' Fearsome Foursome.
Well, Washington had a Fearsome Onesome. I don't know where they found this specimen, Steve Emtman, but my guess would be wandering around the slopes of the Himalayas--or leaving huge footprints in the snow of the Pacific Northwest. This might be Sasquatch himself. He was all seven blocks of granite Wednesday. On wheels.
Don't be fooled by the score. This game was not decided by anybody with the ball. It was decided by crowd of tacklers and pass rushers who must have made the guy with the ball think he had stepped on a roller skate in the dark at the top of a stair or felt a piano wire tightening around his neck from someone in the back seat.
They tried to block Emtman with people, clear him out of the way. For that, they would have needed more than a blocker. They would have needed a bulldozer with a large blade.
Steve goes 6 feet 4 and weighs between 280 and 300. His arms weigh 200. They look more like pythons who have swallowed a live meal.
If you're a quarterback and you look over the line and see Emtman grinning at you, the first thing you should do is call time. The second thing you should do is call 911. You should check to see if he is wearing a napkin or bringing toothpicks when he bears down on you. You should tell the referee you don't snap the ball until you hear it talk.
You have to wonder how Washington was able to recruit this mountain of menace and muscle. Doubtless with a rope. Or a whip and a chair. Bears would run from this apparition. You wonder how he got that helmet on over the antlers.
Actually, Michigan should give him a letter. He spent more time in the Wolverines' backfield Wednesday than Grbac.
Grbac got sacked six times Wednesday. One more and Emtman would get to take him home and put him on his den wall. On almost all the sacks, Emtman's fingerprints were all over Elvis' neck. Scotland Yard would have no trouble tracing the guilty party.
Emtman's performance was so awesome that I wondered if the postgame interview would have to be conducted through a wire-mesh screen and whether we would be warned not to stick a hand through by mistake.
Emtman saves his violence for the five-yard line. He is a big farm kid who could probably carry a dove without hurting it. Actually, it's hard to believe, but he thought his performance Wednesday was not quite up to par--I guess because he didn't eat anybody.
He was actually being fed intravenously as late as Sunday. He was so debilitated by flu that he could probably lift only one Volkswagen at a time.
He so dominated the line of scrimmage that he was co-player of the game, a rare honor for a defensive player.
He was asked after the game what he planned to do next, join the pros? Emtman allowed as how he wasn't sure what he would do.
Maybe climb the Empire State Building and swat airplanes.