I did not make this headline up
As the season comes to a close this Saturday I thought about the last three months and started thinking of some questions.
I thought about how it may have turned out differently if one, two or an untold number of things would have fallen into place or turned out in a different way.
Of course, this serves no practical application other than the pure sport of conjecture and debate, but still, if you're bored at work or just desperate for something else to comment on, have at it.
1. What happens if Terrelle Pryor signs with Michigan? He obviously starts, but how much better does Michigan do?
2. If Lloyd Carr had not retired, what would our record be this year? Would Michigan be better or, given the departures last year, about the same?
3. If Michigan played Utah again at this point in the season, would we win or has Utah progressed that much more throughout the season?
4. If Threet starts from the opener and stays healthy throughout the season, does it get us another win or two?
5. What happens next year?
So, yea, just some things to think about.
This post is, by no means, a declaration of anger about what has transpired this season. I just like to think about how things may have worked out under different circumstances.
Hello, since the internets are burning with flame wars and talks of firings, I don’t want to waste your time. This post is a recap of my Michigan Football experiences in my life and my opinion about being a student the past four years. It contains ideas on what the future holds for our team. It is also long. If you don’t want to read about this, stop now. Therefore no one will waste their time, have to tell everyone they don’t care what I think, or tell everyone that Coach Rodriguez is not the answer. I am fine with the fact that most won’t care what I think and have to say or agree with me.
It started a really long time ago, before I can remember. Fall days in Saturday either meant waking up and driving to Ann Arbor to watch football or watching the Maize and Blue on TV because we were on the road or I couldn’t go that week. Mom and Dad both went to Michigan and had season tickets so it was natural for me to cheer for them. I grew to love the Wolverines and there were some great memories over the years. Some of these included a lifetime hatred for Kordell Stewart, attending the parade after we won the National Championship, getting my picture taken with Woodson, Griese, the Heisman, and the national championship trophy, knowing that Jeff Smoker did not spike the ball in time, burning plastic gators on our January trip to Florida,triple overtime, and the 100th game.
All of that happened and the next year was different. It was senior year of high school and I wasn’t sure if I’d get into Michigan. I had applications to a bunch of schools, but I was specifically hoping for one response. Well on November 20th, 2004 I got a call at about 11 AM that I needed to get home as soon as possible to open a large envelope. Sure enough, I got into Michigan just in time to watch our 7th rankedteam fall to the Buckeyes. I wore that Michigan shirt to school Monday with pride, I got ridiculed of course, but man it felt good, I was going to attend the University of Michigan.
That’s where the article above comes in. It describes the next four years as the most torturous for a fan base of any school in college football. It made me think, have my four years here been the worst four years for a University of Michigan football fan to be a student?
So I had to think back to my memories over the past four years.
- First game against MSU is at MSU, I go to the game, overtime win. Awesome.
- #8 Penn State touchdown with 53 seconds left. Silence. 0 seconds left. Bedlam.
- 5losses. Wisconsin, scores TD with 24 ticks on the clock. Last second tie breaking field goal to Minnesota. 24 seconds left again, this time Ohio State.Nebraska debacle.
- 11 Straight wins, which included a visit to Notre Dame in my favorite away game. Hot Damn!
- Seniors last home game, Balls out for Ball State (3-7), in which was the closest win of the year, unless you look solely at points (Penn State).
- The loss of Bo. Honestly the eeriest feeling I’ve ever experienced was felt on campus that day. Candlelight vigil on the Diag.
- 1 vs. 2
- A plundering in Pasadena
- Watching the remake of the Longest Yard’s most infamous scene for Michigan Fans and Hot! Hot! Hot! several times. The horror. The statue of liberty.
- 8 wins, 2 more losses
- Overcoming all the adversity, beating the speedy gators of the SEC, and watching Lloyd go out the way he deserved to go out.
- The coaching fiasco, and excitement in a good coach, a good offense, a new sponsor, a new stadium, a new quarterback, and the departure of pretty much everything I ever knew about Michigan Football, just in time for senior year.
- We don’t need a breakdown, as we all know what happened so far this year.
Wisconsin was the best game I’ve ever experienced in the Big House, although the win will probably mean nothing by the end of the season. And now with two home games left in my college career, I wonder if this will be the only savior of the season. In my opinion we will win two more games. But the last three years have taught me that anything can happen. We could lose all six or we could win all six. If we don’t make a bowl and all of our streaks and records are broken, it will be a true restart for our team. 2008 will be the ultimate restart of a year. Our team that consists of mostly freshman; they will have a new coach, new offense, new defense, new sponsor, new stadium on the way, new recruiting style, new records to set, and a new outlook on Michigan Football. It is weird to be a senior right now. We could be the first class in 40 years to see a losing season and 33 years to not make it to a bowl. Plus we are the first class of only three that will have experienced the old and the new. A full system reboot will take longer than 6 games, but it will happen so everyone will have to be patient. I believe Coach Rodriguez can take us there, with the raw talent he has this year and with the upcoming recruits Coach Rod is building the kind of foundation that we will grow from. With patience in our coach and our players, Michigan will return. As you may have heard, those who stay will be champions.
So are the past four years the most torturous for any college fan base? Depends on how you look at it. For me, 3 wins over MSU so far, Mario in the Penn State game, winning 11 straight games, being on campus to say goodbye to Bo, the Florida win and what it meant for Lloyd, and watching the beginning of the new era with the Wisconsin win have been plenty of ups to the many number of downs that I have experienced. Am I setting my standards too low, you may think so, I don’t, although beating Ohio State would be nice. Being a part of the University of Michigan and optimistically supporting every aspect of their football team is enough for me. Do the same if you can, support Rich Rodriguez, support Nick Sheridan, support Morgan Trent.
PS. The last four years were not a picnic, so here are few favors (last wishes as a student) I ask,
- Try the best you can to not sell your tickets to MSU fans. Be as loud as possible during this game. Wear maize.
- Don’t be a Negative Nancy. Don’t leave the game early. Don’t ever think like the guy that posted the above article. Asking if it is time to switch to soccer is not a joke, as that is not funny. Never give up on Michigan Football.
- Cut the student section a little slack. We got flamed for the wave last time because somehow a group of kids in the 30th row got it started. I hope we get to do it all the way through one last time for the seniors regardless of the score of the Northwestern game, plus the freshman still need to learn the correct thing all the way through. We will at least do it in the third quarter.
- I’d love to see someone organize something for the seniors. Whether it be the one time return of hot dog man, marshmallows, the 1,2,3 HIT HIM IN THE FACE on the kickoff cheer, etc. or something else. Ideas are appreciated.
Take this for what its worth, but some local (albeit douchebag) radio guy in Toledo was singing songs of Lloyd being in line to coach the Orange next year. Supposedly he has been seen on campus at their last 2 home games. This is the first I have heard of anything along these lines so please go easy on me if this is yesterdays news. Lloyd prowling the sidelines in an orange sweater and getting shitty with reporters at halftime in the carrier dome would be strange to say the least. Do they still play in the carrier dome?
Tell me what you think? I was about to enjoy a nice whipped cream topped Irish Cream & Espresso while lighting up a Gran Habano #1 Broadleaf corona, it doesn't get too much better than that for starting a Sunday. Just before settling into what channel might tell me where Detroit might be playing or at least what spare limb depository I'd need to show up to actually get highlights as I was promptly reminded that you actaully have to win games to be seen.
Alas... I trolled through the assorted psuedo-sportsesque programming to happen upon listening to ESPN chatting it up about Les Miles and LSU's narrow victory, but victory nonetheless over Auburn ending an eight year run on the their home-field advantage. Some unknown putz [whom I've never seen on ESPN before] makes a crack at Michigan for letting Les Miles skip over the Maize and Blue for the Tigers of LSU.
That was a cheap shot... because I was one of the loudest cheering for him coming on board. We needed a Southern Style Kracka Ass Kracka type Bubba Gump option playing coach. That and recruiting was behind him too... another reason why I hate the BCS so much, it is nothing more than Big Collegiate Socialism, you have know-nothing schools transferring the wealth of solid built program successes by the schools who did it right, all in favor of siphoning talent, money, and glory away from the more dynamic schools, all so that Bubba Tech should get an equal but underserved shot at a bowl, not so... or should I further ask, does that sound politically familiar?
Bubba Tech has to do it the old fashioned way, build a program of their own. Well, we have some decent talent, but we have absolutely no frigging depth at all. It'll be two years before we see solid gains from the transition. I don't doubt Rodriguez's abilities, I just don't trust him enough to make it happen so...
I quess this is where faith is supposed to come in...
Chris Burke at Mlive takes a shot at Lloyd for some reason:
Of course he prefaces his criticism with this:
Look, I don't want to rehash all the criticism of the previous coaching
staff. I certainly don't want to take a bunch of cheap shots at a coach
after he retired - especially a coach that did wonderful things at
Michigan while running a clean program.
And then he goes right ahead with the pot shots:
Imagine Carr had stuck around for this season. I can't envision that
things would have been that much better. All those question marks I
pointed out before would still have been around and, if you believe the
Barwis hype, Michigan would have still been underconditioned and slow.
He does point out that Mallett and Boren would still be around. But he mentions that Arrington would have been gone. I disagree with that. I think Arrington would have stuck around for another year. Also, he fails to mention that we lost 2 other O-Linemen because of the coaching change. Not that the guys we lost were great (Mitchell and whoever the other guy was) but they would have been great to keep around due to their experience. In this scenario Michigan has 4 O-Linemen with experience, instead of just one. Plus you have a QB with experience (Mallett - or, you have a QB - Threet - who was highly recruited and tailor made for Carr's offense) and two experienced RB's with plenty of time in Lloyd's running scheme.
OK - in conclusion - if Lloyd had stuck around, I absolutely think this year would be better record wise. I think this dude is just trying to kick Lloyd in the ass on the way out the door. Lloyd would have retired sooner, rather than later, and growing pains were bound to take place, no matter who the successor was. Nor does he mention that Lloyd had great recruiting classes all the way up until this end, the cupboard was hardly bear.
The Michigan Wolverines Football that we've known and (usually) loved for the past 312 years is long gone. Ushering in a new era to Ann Arbor is Rich Rodriguez, Mike Barwis, and a shit-ton of speedy freshman, and a quarterback that has never played football in college before.
But before we're so quick to forget the past, and all the good that came with it, to embrace the future that will smack us in the face in under 48 hours, let's take this time to remember this past season. The final season for so many beloved Wolverines.
Lloyd Carr, Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington, Shawn Crable, Jamar Adams, among others, will never don a Michigan uniform again. They won't run out of the tunnel, touch the banner, or sing with their bretheren during the post-game celebrations in the locker room.
They won't ever be able to play against the Scarlet and Grey with that fiery passion in their hearts that can one can only feel whilst playing in the Michigan-Ohio State game. They won't ever get to beat their little brothers from East Lansing, a rivalry that, although somewhat one-sided during their time in Ann Arbor, is a hell of a rivalry nonetheless.
They won't ever put a rose in their mouth, knowing that Pasadena awaits their arrival.
As the players and coaches put their final season behind them, so in a way does the Michigan faithful. The Michigan team we watch take the field on Saturday isn't going to be like anything we've ever seen in Maize and Blue before. The defense will blitz relentlessly, our running back corps is as quick and deep as we may have ever had. Running backs will pass, quarterbacks will (attempt to) run.
This is a new team, not because of the departed Seniors and the incoming Freshman, but because of something much, much grander.
So let's take a look at not only the last Michigan Football season for many players and coaches, but in the grander scheme of things, the last "Michigan Football Season" for many of us fans.
Because Saturday will be something completely new, and I for one can't wait.
Check out the tribute video below: