at least it's not just us?
There were many things missing this season of Michigan Football in 2008. Maybe not all at once, but they were missing. The details have been drilled upon ad nauseum on this and other sites. From consistency to talent, from speed to fundamentals, from execution to skill. Yes this has been a season of holes and the inability to fill them.
One of the most defining absences of the season has been harped on in many ways, by many factions. The media and fans jumped on the ‘captains for each game’ theory of the coach. No captaincy voting until the season ends. And as a result, or maybe some strange almost concocted by-product, leadership, seemed to be lacking, if not non-existent.
So many times during the season, many of us seemed to be thinking, if only we had a leader in the lockerroom. Someone to call a players-only meeting to right the ship. It never happened. At times the team looked like a rudderless ship being tossed around by the waves of a storm. And make no mistake, this season was a storm, a perfect storm, if you will. It was a perfect storm of transition, inexperience, injuries and lack of leadership. (No, not coaching leadership).
The final crushing wave of that storm hit Saturday in Columbus, as the disciplined, talented, and upperclass-laden Buckeyes did what others had done this season, but with a much more resounding wallup than the Wolverines had faced all year. As the cold winds of November blustered over the boys in blue after the final whistle sounded, and the inevitable questions of what happened and what will happen in the future came again and again. The first piece of the puzzle, one of the most important pieces of a championship building foundation, was laid in the lockerroom of the beaten abd battered Wolverines.
A leader was born. A tough, undaunted leader that leads by example. A leader that has one of the most important qualities that all leaders MUST have. HEART! A leader doesn’t have to bark obscenities or be the loudest in the room. A leader has to have heart and be willing to lay it all on the line every play, every game.
Brandon Minor has been the first to emerge as one of those leaders.
“You can’t really blame Rich Rod because everybody on the team did not buy in like they’re supposed to. We have a couple of guys not going hard,” he said. “We’ll correct that most definitely. That ain’t going to happen on my watch as a senior.”
Someone has finally stepped up and is willing to take responsibility for this team from the inside. This is what Rich Rodriguez has been talking about when he refers to building a program. He wasn’t knocking Lloyd Carr or the Michigan Tradition. He knew in the Spring there was no foundation for this team. He knew there needed to be leadership from the inside that could rally the troops when the inexperience and immaturity of 18 and 19-year old kids showed in the heat of battle. Rodriguez knew he needed a leader on the sideline to keep the players in the game when things went badly, to right the ship.
That lack of leadership was all to often exposed as the team admittedly ‘relaxed’ when it got a lead or didn’t know how to come together when things started to unravel. Maybe, just maybe, Brandon Minor will be the start of that internal leadership. His comments after the game, after the worst loss to OSU since Dr. Strange Hayes put 50 on Michigan, weren’t sadness, or lamenting about what could have been. They were about the future, about what WILL happen in Ann Arbor.
Let 2009 start today. Minor is the first leader and there will be more and with Rich’s first recruiting class, more will come. Let’s look to the bright future with endless possibilities for this team and this storied program. Let it begin today! Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.
No seriously, where are you? RR hating seems to be greatly exaggerated by a lot of posters on message boards who undertake to defend him and the program. I haven't seen a whole lot of RR hating on this site or others outside of a few trolls and misguided Michigan fans who are dismissed with extreme prejudice by the majority, which is as it should be. I think just about everyone is willing to give RR the benefit of the doubt* this year and expects significant improvement next year.
*Admittedly, I don't see the comments rejected from the Live Blog, which I understand include a lot of negativity.
Looking forward, though, I have no idea how good or bad Michigan will be. If this year has taught me anything its that preseason expectations are meaningless (a lesson I should have learned in 1997). 6-6 wouldn't surprise me too much but neither would 10-2. I'm skeptical and hopeful at the same time and I don't see that as a contradiction in this instance.
I think it would be a mistake to turn expectation of future success into an article of faith (see ND fans circa one year ago). All that 3-9 means is that we weren't a very good team this year. It doesn't mean we'll be bad next year but 8-10 wins is far from guaranteed.
For the time being, I'm content to chalk this season up to an unfortunate confluence of attrition, growing pains under a new coach and bad luck. RR has a track record of success and a history of making big leaps between the his first and second years with other programs. His recruiting has been acceptable by Michigan standards, which are extremely high. These factors, combined with the flashes of competitiveness that this year's team showed with so many young players playing significant roles are irrefutable evidence that we could be in store for great things under RR. Unless, of course, we aren't, which would be unfortunate but well within the parameters of possible.
I've been a Michigan fan for over thirty years now. I was originally born and raised in Ohio (2 hrs from dreaded Columbus) but now live in West Virginia (now 20 minutes from Morgantown). So you can imagine all the heckling, jeers, anti-Michigan/Rich Rod jokes, comments or anything negative about my beloved blue that I get. I have to be careful every time I travel to Morgantown in my Michigan hat and shirt. It's funy how people want to blame me or associate me with Rodriguez leaving WVU the way he did.
In saying this, I have never witnessed such a downtrodden team in all the years I've watched Michigan football. I do remember the years when Earl Bruce seemed to own us but not on the consistency that Tressel does now. However, that being said I WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN!!!! This by far has been one of the worst years but that's ok, I believe in the university, I believe in program, I believe in the prestige that is Michigan football. Michigan is bigger than the one man who has come in and radically changed the culture. Am I a big fan of Rich Rod? No, I'm not but I do believe he is a very good coach who has the ability to return Michigan to it's former prominence and dominance. Am I going to bash the current coaching staff and players for this seasons dismal failures? No, a new coaching staff with a radically different mindset and approach to the game will cause bumps in the road. I will admit, I did not expect a 3-9 season. I was one of the more optimistic people thinking Michigan would finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-4 or 7-5 for the season. I thought we had enough returning talent to overcome some of the learning curves his new system would entail. Being a former player and coach, I can definitely see that the defense played well in spurts but not nearly to the potential that they were capable of. I know some of the blame can go to the offensive struggles but not all can be attributed to them. Remember, this is year one in the transition period for Michigan. Next year I will personally set the bar higher because my expectations realize there will be a lot of returning talent especially at the skill positions. Quarterback again will be a concern because I think Forcier will be the eventual starter if he still comes to Michigan.
I will always remain a Michigan Wolverine fan regardless the record, regardless the sport. My love for the University runs much deeper(and I'm not even a student or alum!). I've only been to one football game in my lifetime but that was enough. I got to experience the "Big House" and I loved every minute of it. I got to soak in all the tradition, all the fanfare, for one day I was in awe. I envy those of you who live there and go to games on a regular basis.
I'm just a University of Michigan fan.
As we aall lick our wouds over what might have been in the horseshoe...(was that the closest 42-7 game I have ever seen?) you're killing me Odoms.....I wanted to get swomething off my chest before "this guy" starts to rear his head the next couple of weeks. This guy is "no reasoning non sensical head to head guy" The Big 12 is a mess with
okl blowing out Tech last night. They have a 3 way tie that needs to be broken. Each team has beat the other so each team needs to be examined to make a decision in this idiotic system. Arguments can be submitted for all 3 teams, but if in the end as I think it should be and
okl is selected we are sure to hear from "Tex beat Okl head to head end of story" the same arguments were made in 01 with Miami vs FSU which were incorrect. A football season has many factors that all need to be considered..out of conf schedule, home and away, how they looked, when they played, injuries and yes an important factor is head to head but not the only 1. Tex beating Okl on a neutral field is a huge feather in their argument cap, just please shoot down anyone that uses this simplistic approach.. If they do then this is the perfect season to get them in the unsolvable circular loop that is the Big 12. Ok then Tech beat Texas so they should go........
A friend of mine sent me the following message Saturday: "Hell I would
My response to him:
Rodriguez IS the answer for the team. CARR left him with basically nothing. And when RR instituted his system and work ethic some of the folks didn't buy into it and left, good riddance we don't want quitters around here anyway. That's on them (the quitters). I believe in RR. His track record is good. This season was bad, but Carr left him with basically nothing. Give the man a chance. Abandoning ship now would be even worse than staying with a mediocre guy for a few years, which RR is not mediocre. Are you really worried about the program or your insecurity over defending it like a true fan?
Even Carr would have had a losing season with this rag tag bunch of players and mostly by the doing of his own recruiting strategy. Let RR get a full class through the system, ie: 4 years. Then judge the guy. If there isn't any improvement, then can the guy and search out the next Michigan messiah.
Until then, asking for RR's job now is reactionary at best and ignorant at worst... Feel free to jump back on the bandwagon after RR is a success and tell everyone you "knew he had it in him, he just needed some time." And that "you can't believe that some people were calling for his job after only a few months."
Those of us with faith will be wondering where you were during these dark times, but will welcome you back with no conditions to show you what an ignorant, reactionary, short-sighted, fool you had been all along.
This year was heart-breaking to say the least. I, like many, held the bowl streak in the highest regard. Even though that has now become a part of the past, the streak is still ours. We still have the winningest program in the history of Div I football. We can still claim legends like, Harmon, Schembechler, Yost, Crisler, Oosterban, and Eisenhower, etc. There is plenty to be proud of!
I don't know if RR is the next great, but I have more faith in him than I would have had in Ferentz, Schiano, or Hoke. We all knew there would be some growing pains, however everyone seems to have forgotten what we were realistically left with and their own tempered expectations for the season. This was a real possibility. It was given lip service by some, but disregarded by most. Now everyone seems to be completely surprised that Michigan is this bad and no-one saw it coming.
In closing take your hate-filled, fire RR vitriol and re-channel it into something constructive for the holiday season. We all know that everyone could use some dedicated compassion this holiday season. Join us again late next summer and feel free not to post your hate until we've won three or four of the first five games and it's more ironic than insightful.
Although right now I may be down on our 2009 team's chances, inevitabely between now and August 30th hope will spring eternal and I will believe Michigan is going to some awesome bowl in 2009. What reasons am I going to have for deluding myself?
1. 11 returning starters on offense
2. If a true frosh starts, that will mean he is better than Threet, so the qb play will be improved no matter what.
3. I'll be subjected to another 9 months of EEEE BARWIS talk and all the players talking about how much they've improved physically.
4. The players will work on fielding kicks. That alone probably cost us 2 games this year.
5. We will have even more ninja slot dudes. Although we all like Tay, we have no one else to compare him to, so we don't know how good he is compared to the other electrons Michigan recruited.
6. The offensive line will have a lot more experience, along with some good 2008 recruits contributing and hopefully the return of Zirbel.
7. I believe in Gsimms. Whenever I am down on the defense, I read Gsimms, and somehow he is able to get me to rebelieve in Schafer. Even with the loss of 6/7 starters, In 4 months I will honestly believed we will be improved on Defense.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY...
8. Rivals practice videos. I'll be able to watch Tate and Beav throw the ball around with no defense, Fitz Touissant truck someone in the M drill, and our defense practicing scoop and score drills. Then I will exclaim OMG WE ARE SO GOOD!!!