On Monday, Michigan brass -- including president Mary Sue Coleman -- made it clear there was no intention to circle the wagons around the Fab Five, Michigan's legendary-in-its-own-way team that went to back-to-back Final Fours during its run in the early 1990s.
The coming year would be the time to do so, as the 10-year NCAA penalties stemming from the Ed Martin booster scandal will be officially lifted. Some wondered whether Michigan would embrace the Fab Five (as well as the Robert Traylor-led 1998 team implicated in the scandal) by re-hanging the Final Four banners it removed from the Crisler Center rafters in 2002.
But Coleman was clear on the matter. Odds of those banners being re-raised are slim.
How does former Michigan star Jalen Rose, who has spearheaded the Fab Five recognition campaign in more ways than one, feel about all this? He's not entirely happy, but he's not flipping out, either. From the Detroit News:
"I think it was unnecessary. Flagrant. Defiant," Rose told The News during the Griese-Hutchinson-Woodson golf fundraiser for Mott Hospital last weekend. "But it was honest, and I respect that. If they choose not to embrace the Fab Five era, if they choose not to embrace us individually or as a team or the things we brought to the table, I really have no bitterness. I'm not mad at it.
"What's going to happen, though? … When you turn your back directly or indirectly on something that was so good to you, you're never going to get the true foundation of a program to build upon."
All of which is reasonable. Michigan doesn't want to formally tip its cap toward an era that cratered a proud program for nearly a decade, and is perfectly within its rights to do so. Maybe something is lost in the familial sense; Rose is probably right about that. But the Wolverines are fully back under John Beilein, so we're really just talking about fuzzy stuff here anyway.
The good news for Rose, and for any other member of the teams Michigan has chosen (or been forced) to forget, is that NCAA sanctions and university propriety don't do anything to erase the memory of the team. The Fab Five was unique that way. It never won a national title, but it made a more lasting impact on the culture of the college game -- and on basketball in general -- than most teams could ever hope. That's what people remember about Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and the rest. Banners or no banners, reunion or no reunion, catharsis or repression, that impact isn't going away.