still not over it in South Bend
I never thought I would actually write one of these diaries, but I thought I would get some perspective from some fellow Michigan fans, and better yet some fans that ultimately like to see the Big Ten as a whole succeed. After this bowl season I have finally realized how naive of a Big Ten fan I really am. I can't count how many times I have been in heated discussions with SEC, Big 12, etc. fans in arguing over which conference is better. After this bowl season, I decided to do a little research. I have taken all 6 major BCS conferences and have added up their bowl records and came up with the following (updated through OSU vs TEXAS)
College Football Bowl Records (Through January 6, 2009)
SEC W/L: 1995 2-4, 1996 5-0, 1997 5-1, 1998 4-4, 1999 4-4, 2000 4-5, 2001 5-3, 2002 3-4, 2003 5-2, 2004 3-3, 2005 3-3, 2006 6-3, 2007 7-2, 2008 5-2 TOTALS 61-40 60% Winning Percentage
BIG EAST: 1995 1-0, 1996 2-1, 1997 1-4, 1998 1-3, 1999 2-2, 2000 4-3, 2001 5-2, 2002 3-3, 2003 0-3, 2004 4-4, 2005 2-2, 2006 4-1, 2007 5-1, 2008 4-2 TOTALS 38-31 55%
BIG 12: 1995 6-1, 1996 2-3, 1997 2-3, 1998 3-4, 1999 3-3, 2000 4-3, 2001 3-5, 2002 5-3, 2003 2-6, 2004 4-3, 2005 5-3, 2006 3-5, 2007 5-3, 2008 4-2 TOTALS 51-47 52%
ACC: 1995 4-1, 1996 2-4, 1997 3-2, 1998 4-3, 1999 3-4, 2000 5-3, 2001 5-3, 2002 5-4, 2003 7-2, 2004 3-4, 2005 4-3, 2006 3-4, 2007 1-6, 2008 4-6 TOTALS 51-49 51%
PAC-10: 1995 1-4, 1996 1-4, 1997 5-1, 1998 1-4, 1999 1-4, 2000 3-2, 2001 2-3, 2002 2-4, 2003 4-2, 2004 3-2, 2005 3-2, 2006 2-3, 2007 4-2, 2008 5-0 TOTALS 37-37 50%
BIG TEN: 1995 2-4, 1996 4-3, 1997 2-5, 1998 5-0, 1999 5-2, 2000 2-3, 2001 2-4, 2002 5-2, 2003 3-5, 2004 3-3, 2005 3-4, 2006 2-5, 2007 3-5, 2008 1-6 TOTALS 42-51 45%
Are we the worst conference these days? I like to think that we are atleast fourth, but the gap in my opinion between the top 3(SEC, Big 12, Pac 10) and fourth best conference is substantial. I feel the playing style in the Big Ten is ancient these days. I am tired of hearing the reason we never do good in bowl games is because we have too long of a break before our bowl games or we are such a physical conference that we just beat up on each other, so by the time we get to our bowl games we are too exhausted. What are we doing wrong? Why are we not only the conference with the lowest winning percentage in bowl games since 1995, but also the only conference with a losing record since then, and Michigan has been a large contributor of that losing record in the past 5+ years. Who cares anymore about 20, 30, 40+ years ago when the Big Ten was a powerhouse. What do we need to do to succeed right now? I have been told to not worry about it because it is all cyclical anyways, but the only way it can be cyclical is if changes occur. I thought about what would have happened this year if we had a playoff system. What teams out of the 8 would OSU and Penn State been able to beat? The naive Big Ten fan part of me wanted to say they could have at least beat Utah and maybe Alabama, but the reality is we would have probably gotten beat by every single team.
I am a die hard Michigan fan and feel Michigan is actually moving in the right direction. They have taken a chance on hiring Rich Rodriguez, but it is a chance I feel will pay off in the future.
What does the Big Ten need to do? Why are we consistently losing big games out of conference? What will it take to get our conference and the University of Michigan back on top?
Thanks in advance for your input.
I was fortunate enough to be on the field at the Fiesta Bowl which allowed me to get close enough to the action to understand the game inside the game and to hear the players talking. Here is the critical 3rd quarter TD drive by Texas interspersed with the play by play.
McCoy: Come on girls let’s get moving. Move move. Just go over there and bend over.
Texas OL 1: ?
McCoy: I’ll tell you the play at the line. Just go.
Colt McCoy pass complete to James Kirkendoll for 9 yards to the Texas 31 for a 1ST down.
OSU DL 1: What the hell is going on?
OSU DL 2: no idea.
Chris Ogbonnaya rush for 9 yards to the Texas 40.
McCoy: Keep moving girls. Daddy’s watching!
OSU DL 1: Are we really being beat by that guy?
OSU DL 2: He’s not doing the thing where they group together…
OSU DL 1: Huddle?
OSU DL 2: Yeah, is that legal.
Texas penalty 10 yard holding accepted.
OSU DL 1: guess not.
Colt McCoy pass incomplete to Peter Ullman, broken up by Anderson Russell.
Ohio St penalty 15 yard pass interference accepted.
OSU DB 1: WTF, I’m tired. I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to be in on this play. Ima get paid either way.
Little Animal: You guys want to meet my Dad after the game.
OSU DL 1: Why don’t you put on those stupid, spiky shoulder pads and shut up.
Little Animal: Coach said they weren’t legal. They were just for the pictures.
Foswhitt Whittaker rush for a loss of 3 yards to the Texas 42.
Colt McCoy rush for 12 yards to the OhSt 46.
McCoy: I’m so pretty! Look at me!
Texas: Dude they just showed your girlfriend on TV. Now she’s hot!
McCoy: Girlfriend? Oh yeah, my girlfriend… She has such beautiful hair. Keep moving ladies! Daddy never loved me!
Cody Johnson rush for a loss of 1 yard to the OhSt 47.
Rashad Bobino rush for 2 yards to the OhSt 45 for a 1ST down.
OSU DL 1: weren’t they supposed to punt a second ago?
OSU DL 2: Dude, who has any idea what’s going on?
Colt McCoy pass complete to Chris Ogbonnaya for 5 yards to the OhSt 40.
Chris Ogbonnaya rush for 2 yards to the OhSt 38.
Colt McCoy pass complete to Jordan Shipley for 2 yards to the OhSt 36.
OSU DB 1: I think the line of scrimmage is way back there. And you guys have been off sides for like 3 plays.
OSU DL 1: Fuck off. You see that San Diego game where the DB was all "Reggie Wayne what?" I think that is about to happen to you.
OSU DB 1: Why, did they put in Peyton Manning?
Cody Johnson rush for 2 yards to the OhSt 34 for a 1ST down.
OSU DL 1: Peyton’s no Tom Brady but I’m pretty sure we’re still getting beat by the dude named after a baby horse.
Heacock: Soft zone, soft zone. Works every time.
OSU DB 1: Aren’t they close enough to kick a FG yet?
OSU DL 1: Maybe their kicker guy isn’t any good?
OSU DB 1: They can borrow ours because I’m fucking tired. Is there any way to slow that dude down? Make them do that huddle thing?
Shawn Crable: You could try hitting him the head.
Colt McCoy pass complete to Chris Ogbonnaya for 8 yards to the OhSt 34, Ohio St penalty 12 yard personal foul accepted for a 1ST down.
OSU DL 1: Nope that didn’t work. Weird because it always does on Beanie.
Bike Hart: Beanie and I are bike buddies!
OSU DL 1: Ol’ Man Boeckman told me about this other way to score maybe he’s trying to do that.
OSU DL2: You talk to Ol’Man Boeckman?
OSU DL2: Dude he’s majoring in Molecular Genetics. He’s smart.
OSU DL1: I’m pretty sure that was Mr. Krenzel.
Colt McCoy rush for 14 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.
McCoy: Look at me! I’m the belle of the ball! Do like how my skirt flares when I twirl? I’m prancing just like a little pony!
OSU DL1: The fuck is that dude twirling for?
OSU DL2: They got 6 points for that shit. How many FGs we gonna have to kick to win now?
Tressel: Did you see that young man prance and twirl just like a beautiful little girl? I used to have a pony that pranced. I liked to put a pink bow in her hair and call her my pretty little pony.
dex: Did it look like a unicorn because, boy howdy, I sure like unicorns!
OSU punter: Is it time to punt yet coach?
Heacock: Yeah, Jim, I’m sure that was nice.
Tressel: I miss that pony.
Cool thing about hockey? Far more straight-forward than basketball. So, here's the deal: after winning the GLI, we're still #11 in the USA Today poll. However, the USCHO poll was nice enough to tie us with Colorado College for #10, so, that's good (polls listed below in that order). And, since all but one team we're concerned with plays a series this weekend, I'm doing the "Teams You Want to Lose" and "Schedule" in one place.
But, to start, our schedule.
#11/#10 Michigan has one of the most important series of its entire season this weekend at Yost, against #8/#6 Miami. In hockey, it's totally that Miami. Which is to say, Miami of Ohio may be the team to beat in the CCHA this year. They're a point behind Notre Dame, but, they will certainly make noise at the Joe in March. This game is interesting because Miami would have been on the list below if we weren't playing them, making it even more important. A split here would go a long way in getting us a CCHA-tourney first round bye and NCAA tourney bid, a sweep would be incredible. Games on Friday at 7:35 on FSN Plus, and Saturday at 7:35 on Comcast 900. Also, its at Yost, so, if you're lucky enough to go, BE LOUD.
Teams You Want to Lose, And Schedule
Note: Unless otherwise noted, assume everyone has a Friday/Saturday series in one place with their stated opponent.
Nebraska-Omaha: Ok, so, they're #18 in the USCHO poll and the USA Today doesn't even go that far, but, this is about the CCHA. They play Northern all weekend, and losses from them get us closer to being in a position to get a CCHA tournament first-round bye, and home ice for the second round.
#12/#10 Colorado College: It'd be helpful, as we're tied with them in one poll, but, they're playing Minnesota State at home, and MSU's only .500. I'd bet on CC wins, but, hockey's hockey.
#10/#12 Vermont OR #9 Boston College: They play each other! Whoever loses, it's helpful to us, slightly more so with a BC loss, which is reasonable at Vermont. I'm not entirely sure what a split would do, it would probably only be significant if we swept or it was a really good split.
#6/#8 Cornell: They play Niagara. Probably are safe, maybe a split.
#7/#5 Denver: They're against a shattered Michigan Tech, who's trying to recover from a GLI blowout. Hehe. We'll see how that goes. I automatically root in-state (usually, never for State unless it somehow helps us, always for Northern unless it somehow hurts us) anyways.
#5/#7 Princeton: The one exception to the "playing in series" rule. They get 9-8-1 (2-4-0) Union on Friday at home, then .184 Rensselaer on Saturday afternoon, still on home ice.
So, we'll see how it goes. See you Thursday or Friday with a basketball update.
I know all of us have discussed ad nauseam how Michigan's last couple of years have been, whether here, or with your friends, or at the local crack spot. There were several things that have happened over the last few years that were rationalized at the time but in hindsight were indicators of the decline of the program (e.g. Ball State 2006).
During this barren bowl season I decided to take an objective look at our bitter rival to see if there were any similarities. Please make no mistake, I'm not guaranteeing OSU's imminent demise any more than I guarantee Michigan's next National Championship (while I, of course, hope for both). I assure you the point of this post is not to dissect Michigan's recent shortcomings but to draw some parallels to Ohio State's current state of affairs.
The first similarity is predictable play calling with little to no adjustments. A perfect Michigan example is the 2006 Rose bowl which saw Michigan and USC go into the half tied at 3. USC proceeded to come out throwing and put up 29 points while Michigan continued it's zone left runs until it was too late. On to OSU. While there are enough examples in recent years the thing that sticks out most to me are other teams' postgame comments. Just this year Rey Maualuga and Colt McCoy both gave indications that either a) OSU did exactly what they did on film (Maualuga) or b) their coverage was predictable enough for the WR to call a play (McCoy).
Another similarity is when a great team wins a close one to a lesser opponent they are expected to roll on. Michigan's example is Ball State 2006, which everyone treated as a trap game after the fact and woke up to Appy State the next year. This year OSU played a close game against the vaunted Ohio University Bobcats that they barely escaped at home.
We all know the diluted argument (which will never be settled) that it's better to get to a BCS game and lose than not get there at all. To which I say: bullshit. First of all, as a fan, I would take a victory over Florida in the Capital One Bowl over a BCS beatdown any day. Secondly, ALL of us have to remember how frustrating the annual "showdowns" in Pasadena were getting. Maybe getting to one and getting beat is a moral victory; 3 in a row is just pathetically uncompetitive.
The last example (unless anyone wants to chime in) is the fact that Tressel was hired because of his "big game" experience and abilities. He held up his end of the bargain for the first couple of years, but in recent memory hasn't shown up. The most telling stat is OSU's record against opponents ranked in the Top 10 since "The Game" in 2006, which is 0-5. In the same span Michigan's record against Top 10 opponents is, get this, 3-4. (If you count the 2006 season the records go OSU [2-5] and Michigan [4-5]. Remember one of OSU's wins and one of M's losses were The Game FWIW).
To summarize, in my humble opinion, I honestly believe that as Michigan goes the Big Ten goes (for the most part). Michigan has been sliding for years, but it wasn't truly evident until the Buckeyes were getting exposed. Imagine being in Columbus thinking "How can we beat Michigan every year but not win a bowl game?" (On the other hand how can we beat Florida while they run laps around OSU...?) The truth is Michigan hasn't been very good, plain and simple. And the only time they were was when they were, yep, unpredictable. You know Urban Meyer had the same reaction all of us did when Michigan lined up 5-wide on the first play from scrimmage, which was: WTF?!
This is purely for discussion's sake only. No predictions, merely observations. Please don't get me wrong; I am not insisting or assuming that Tressel is out or doomed, I'm just trying to look at some gradual trends that we didn't notice on Michigan's behalf over the last few years. But I'm also realizing that without Michigan on top, the Big 10 simply cannot support itself. The balance of power has to be restored.
Texas utilized the short passing game vs. OSU and the hurry up offense, and were successful b/c they had 3 very solid WRs. They did not seem to have a talented tight end, and I was not overly impressed with their running game/backs. If Tate Forcier does become a Colt McCoy style QB, I believe this game gives Michigan Nation some serious promise in the Big Ten and against OSU going forward.
Scoreboard aside, Texas gained over 400 yards passing, and they did so without hitting any long plays. I believe that Michigan has the building blocks to run a similar style Offense against OSU with a more dangerous and versatile running attack. The option appeared successful against OSU's overly aggressive D-ends, and in the second half Colt began utilizing his legs.
I'd also like to point out that In bowl games, very often the team with more to play for/wants it more, has a huge advantage. IMO, there is no question that the OSU seniors wanted this game far more than the Texas team as a whole, despite Texas being slighted from the BCS Championship game. I am very optimistic about Michigan's offense and special teams, and now if our defense can play like Michigan Men, we should have a successful 2009 campaign.
Another year another BCS choke! The times have passed Tressel by and Pryor looks less and less like a future star. We were lucky to avoid that cancer for sure.
It has been a rough year but it is going to be worth it. We are the only team in the conference with a progressive outlook and the resources to be a leader in the coming years. Its pretty clear that the Big Ten can't compete on a national level until we do. We have the strength training and spread offense to light it up and the stud d-line recruits coming in to plant trashy-talking QB's with no arm like Pryor for years to come.
Someone here said it best, WE ARE GONNA TEAR IT UP LIKE A MACHINE. No one is going to want to play us starting next year. The Big Ten might be down, but once Michigan is back... we are going to revive this conference. I really think that Rich Rod is our Pete Carrol, or maybe I've just been celebrating this Bucknut loss a little too much.
Eat it, Buckeye fans. You're time has come. You've had your laughs at our expense this year and a cute little run under the sweater vest, but the tables are turning. You will stagnate while we grow stronger every week. Watch out.