A Thank You Letter To John Beilein

With the departure of John Beilein to the NBA, my thoughts to the man who changed Michigan basketball forever.

Dear Coach,

Thanks, for all of it.

Every last bit of the past 12 years. Thank you for the two Final Four runs, the nine NCAA Tournament appearances, the four Big Ten titles, the 278 victories.

Thank you for making March a month in which the season begins not ends.

Thank you for doing it the right way, and proving that winning doesn't have to come at all costs.

Thank you for evolving with the program, for showing us your lighthearted side, for being a coach we could cherish, laugh with, lament with. And thank you for teaching us lessons about integrity, leadership and perspective, reminding all of us that while championships may define our perceived legacy of a program and a man, they do not define you, Michigan or your players - the process does.

Thank you to John Beilein for making Michigan basketball relevant, for standing eye to eye with Michigan State, for pushing U-M back to the top of the podium, never needing to apologize for how we got there. For doing it the right way in an era where doing it the wrong way comes without consequence.

Thank you for giving all of us a reason to stick our chests out, with the Block M proudly on our heart.

Thank you for Trey Burke, and Nik Stauskas. Thank you for Jordan Morgan, and Derrick Walton. Zak Irvin and Duncan Robinson. Thank you for MAAR. Thank you for Mo Wagner, for Zavier Simpson and Iggy. Thank you for seeing potential where another sees an impossible project. Thank you for recruiting the way you recruit, for your keen eye and commitment to developing fierce competitors that would not accept their 'place' in the college basketball landscape.

Thank you for teaching them there are no limits to their success, and for teaching us to believe in every single athlete that wore the maize and blue.

Thank you for the unexpected 2013 run, the perfect coming together of fractional parts, that united, put a scare into the college basketball word, announcing Michigan had arrived.

Thank you for 2013 not being the last time. Thank you for overcoming adversity on the recruiting trail and on the court, for reminding us not to give up on you or your team. To realize that a career should not be judged by one bad month or even one bad season. That there are second chances, and thirds, and fourths. And that through your constant coaching and your confidence, any player can become his best.

We saw it time and time again, we, as fans, writing someone off. You as their mentor and trusted ally never giving up on them. And who was rewarded? Michigan. Morgan. Irvin. Robinson. Abdur-Rahkman. Simpson. Teske.

Thank you for staying power. Thank you for telling the college basketball world Michigan belongs front and center, on that stage. That competing for Big Ten titles and Sweet 16s is who we are now, and tomorrow, and the season after that, and after that. That we're not going anywhere. That we are Michigan. Leaders and Best.

Thank you John for everything. For every win. Every elation. Every heartbreak. Every quote. Every smirk. Every player. Every game. Thank you for every memory these past 12 years. We have celebrated. We have cried. We have triumphed. We have stumbled. But through every up and down, you led the way, pushing Michigan forward to the next great opportunity.

We owe you our fandom. More than a decade of good times, with the highest of highs. We were not Michigan before you. We were just like everyone else, wandering in the abyss, talking about what we once were and only hoping we'd one day return. Other coaches tried. They failed. We began to accept our fate. Throw our support elsewhere. We didn't want to believe. Couldn't believe we'd ever be back. That Michigan would stand tall again.

You did that. You gave us reason to buy in, reason to believe. You rewarded our hope with wins and titles, and our hope grew, our expectations grew, and you kept rewarding us with results. You restored our pride. Restored our conviction. You restored the Block M. You restored Michigan.

And for that, we will forever be thankful.


Michael Spath