ROME — Who didn’t love Field Trip Day? The bus rides. The tour guides. The shuffling from whatsit to whatsit like a rookery of penguins.
The things you couldn’t touch. The dudes who touched them anyway.
The change of pace. The feeling of being uncaged. Even if you despised where you were going, you were mildly thrilled to be going anywhere. Museum of Lint? Hell yes, my mom’ll sign that permission slip!
“For me, I got to see a lot of different cultures, a lot of different buildings, got to see a lot of different people,” Michigan Wolverines S Tyree Kinnel reflected during a conversation with Land of 10 this week, the sun setting behind us from half a world away. “It was great.”
Our minds are like our stomachs — they are whetted by the change of their food, and variety supplies both with fresh appetites.
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus said that. He was Roman.
So, yes, there were beaches. And paintball wars. The kid stuff you never outgrow. If you’re lucky.
But they’ve also talked about popping into a cooking school and stirring the pot.
Or the opera.
Or Gladiator school. Perhaps.
Special guest star: Pope Francis.
Who wouldn’t sign that permission slip?
Quintilian would’ve freaking loved what Jim Harbaugh is doing, dragging these kids away from the usual and busing — well, flying first, then busing — everyone the hell out of their comfort zones.
On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss Michigan’s Rome junket as PR fluff, what with an ESPN camera crew joined to Harbaugh’s hip, barking orders at players to repeat spontaneous moments in order to make sure they’ve got the footage; or offering up the occasional stage direction to help it sing better in Bristol.
‘It co-relates at the highest level.’
— Michigan DE Lawrence Marshall
And yet it’s the subtleties that come out in quieter moments, away from the microphones, that also stick. After Kinnel and DE Lawrence Marshall left the ruins of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum late Monday, they cracked that they were going to form a killer gladiator tag-team partnership. That they would scare the crap out of the untamed lions and get the tens of thousands of people in the stands above to rise as one.
Because what was true in Roma’s La Grande Casa then is more or less true in Ann Arbor’s Big House now.
OK, minus the blood, the decapitations, the wild animals, the religious persecution. Oh, and, you know, death.
“It’s not killing each other,” Marshall noted, “but it co-relates at the highest level.”
Here is a field open for talent; and here, merit will have certain favor, and industry is graced with its due reward.
The words of Claudius. Another Roman.
“It’s not killing each other, but it’s still very highly competitive, like it was in the Colosseum, when a lot of people came to see a show, and they were entertained by it,” Kinnel continued. “They come out and watch us play football. They’re very entertained by what we can do and the skills that we have and all the money that we bring in.”
John Wall hit the “are you not entertained?!” pic.twitter.com/80grt4Arlz
— Future Kappa ♦️?? (@steelo_marley) April 16, 2017
117 AD: Are you not entertained?
2017 AD: How ya like me now?
New paint job.
“It was the big topic of the (day) with them,” Kinnel continued, “and now it’s with us in football.”
That’s thinking critically. Drawing a line through history.
We must form our minds by reading deep rather than wide.
It’s perspective. Which is the point of this exercise, too.
Well, that and pizza.
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) April 25, 2017
Kinnel got a kick out of buying a slice off a street vendor in Rome — the real deal, as they say. Beer in Germany, chocolate in Belgium, pie in Italia.
“Which was really, really good,” Kinnel said. “I was glad I did that.”
Best. Permission. Slip. Ever. Best field trip, too. And we’re not even to the guest star yet.