well that's just, like, your opinion, man
So the Michigan Marching Band won't be playing "The Victors" this New Year. First time in 33 years. It's too bad, because the band sounded alright this season - it was the team that skipped a few beats. And now some records we once held so proudly - our 33 year bowl streak and Penn State/Michigan State/MAC domination - don't sound so sweet anymore.
But I like what Rich Rodriguez said after the Ohio State loss when asked about the five-game losing skid: "I've been here for one of 'em ... they have one in a row against us from what I can see." We have to wipe the slate clean and forget about the past. The streaks start anew. And while we will miss some of 'em, there are plenty more I'd like to see Rodriguez break - namely that five game losing skid to OSU, and maybe another National Championship (Doesn't 1997 seem like just 3 years ago?). And maybe some Big Ten Championships? It's been four years.
The 33 year bowl streak, while impressive, was ultimately pointless in my opinion. The only reason it really lasted was because so many low-level bowls were created, and teams that finished at 6-6 could keep the streak alive. I guess the point of my post is: let's forget about the bowl streak and focus on the big, very attainable stepping stones that lie ahead: beat Ohio State, start some new streaks against Penn State and Michigan State, and finally, win a National Championship.
I know that yet another retrospective/plea for patience with Rich Rodriguez is probably overkill, but after continuing to read comments to the effect that RR is “on notice” if he doesn’t turn this team around by the end of next year or, at the most generous, year 3, I couldn’t help but put these thoughts down. If you’ve had enough with this debate and want to instead focus on recruiting, UM Hoops, or playing more Literati, by all means skip this article.
Notre Dame and Nebraska, two schools that hold special places in UM’s fans spleens (Nebraska because of the MNC, Notre Dame because disliking arrogant, overly-pious Midwesterners never goes out of style). Both used to dominate college football, and yet now both are middling through a near-decade of abject mediocrity and irrelevance. And the one aspect that really stuck out to me was the diminished patience both teams have had with their head coaches, especially when said coaches are trying to install new systems or, at the very least, transition away from an ultra-conservative one currently installed.
First take a look at Nebraska – They won 3 NCs under Tom Osborne, who then retired and ushered in the Frank Solich era. Though he had some notable flameouts (against Miami in 2001, 2003 against, well, everyone at the end of the year), the guy still went 58-19 but was canned for not winning “enough.” So in comes Bill Callahan, a hot-shot NFL OC who tries to drag Nebraska into the 21st century with the introduction of the forward pass on 1st and 2nd down. With virtually no viable receivers on the team, difficult recruiting hurdles (Lincoln is a nice city, but no picnic), and an administration/fan base unaccustomed to such sweeping change, he was let go after going 27-22. Now they have Bo Pelini, who has gone 8-4 this season and, I am sure, will start hearing the cries for his removal if he continues the team’s struggles against OU, Texas, Texas Tech, Missouri, etc.
Now let’s look at Notre Dame – They won a butt load of NCs under Rockne, Leahy, and Parseghian (a butt load defined as 9), then 1 each under Devine and Holtz. Holtz retires, though, and is replaced by Bob Davie, who proceeds to go 35-25 but loses too many games against ranked opponents (even though his seasons were pretty consistent with respect to Holtz’s last few years), and Ty Willingham steps in. Bringing in a West Coast offense that many NFL players have trouble adapting to, he was given all of 3 seasons to implement this system with players previously culled for an option attack, and not surprisingly went 21-15. So then comes Charlie Weis, who is currently 28-21 in 4 seasons but who also tried to implement a completely new pro-style offense (which worked with an NFL-quality QB and at least some players recruited to play a similar style of offense) with a horrendous offensive line and a freshman quarterback who may be one of the more overrated high school “phenoms” in recent memory. In all likelihood, Weis will be gone before you finish reading this article.
Notice a theme here – a new coach comes in for a retired “legend”, and after trying to win using the old system is replaced by someone with a “hot” new system that is strikingly different from past regimes. After some initial success with a veteran team, though, fans become disillusioned and charge that this coach needs to go because his system doesn't work, even though in the most generous of circumstances it would take at least 2 years for the right types of players to be integrated into the new system. Yet, instead of employing well-rationed patience, the coaches are let go, a new coach is entrusted to step in an employ a new, “better” system, and the fan base lines up for another spin on the Carousel of Mediocrity.
So what does all of this mean for UM? I'm deathly afraid that a similar fate will befall the UM program and its faithful. Sure, UM wasn’t running the option under Carr, but the conservative pro-style offense he employed never meshed well with the spread, especially the one run by RR. Next year, this offense will either be run by a second-year player with Exploding Elbow problems or a true freshman, and the defense will suffer losses at its one consistently good area (DL). So miracles probably won’t happen. That brings us to the aforementioned 3rd Year of Judgment, and with it cries that RR's system doesn't “work” in the Big Ten, that the experiment has failed and some new coach, with some new system, should step in. Of course, that new coach, let's call him “Smes Smiles”, will step into a program with a bunch of midget WRs, a scrambling QB, and a bunch of scatter backs and try to run a pro-style offense. You see where I'm going with this? Heck, at least above-named coaches enjoyed some early success because they inherited veterans teams; RR was left with a relatively bare cupboard, especially on offense.
Now, I'm sure there are holes with my argument. Heck, I know one already – Weis never was an HC in either college or the pros, Willingham is a horrible recruiter, Davie couldn't coach himself out of an awkward first date, Solich couldn't recruit or coach like Tom Osborne, and Callahan was an unmitigated disaster both because of the type of offense he was trying to install and his abject failure in maintaining the strength of Nebraska (its defense). And, yes, RR has already proven to be a better coach than all of these men before he even stepped into Schembechler Hall. But my point isn't that RR isn't a good coach; it is that I worry the AD and the fans won't give him the time and support necessary to really transform this program into one that can succeed. As we have seen with Nebraska and Notre Dame, a school and fan base has to be willing to accept a transition fully and without reservations, and give it proper time to take hold. If, after 4 or 5 years UM is still going 7-5, 8-4, or 9-3 and they haven't made The Leap, then by all means look in another direction. But aborting a transition, no matter how painful it may initially be, before it has a chance to occur doesn't end the pain – it just changes the source.
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.
From my observations and what
has been written on this blog and in the MSM, I believe that we have changed our
recruiting focus from one that was more heavily focused on retaining all of the
talent within the State of Michigan and capturing what we can get in the
surrounding states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois) as well as a few athletes
from certain talent hotbeds (Florida, Texas and California) to a greater
emphasis being placed on recruiting from the talent hot beds. What are the ramifications of this philosophical
shift? And how have coaching changes
resulted in shifts in intra-region power?
- It is likely that MSU is going to recruit
better within Michigan
than they have in the past. My reasoning
is that as RR draws greater numbers of recruits from outside of Michigan and the Midwest
than the prior regime, more quality players will be available to the Spartans. In addition, Brian had a post some time back
describing how the change in the type of players we recruit will lead to
certain players that would have been a lock for Michigan, now being a better fit at State. I am not implying that we will not get the
guys we are interested in recruiting. That
will be dependent upon our continued success on the field and fostering relationships
between the program and the high schools within the state.
- MSU will likely become more competitive in
the Big Ten and nationally. The
increased talent level will have the potential to move them up into the second
tier of the Big Ten currently being fought over by Wisconsin,
Penn State, Illinois
- Assuming that RR is able to land better talent
from outside of Michigan than is available
inside of Michigan,
our overall talent level will rise, making us more competitive nationally. Hopefully, the relative talent level between
us and MSU will remain constant. This
should raise the absolute level of talent in the Big Ten at the expense of the
SEC and ACC (assuming our recruiting focus has moved towards Florida and the south east).
The risk is that we chase
windmills and fail to land equal or better talent in the southeast and cede talent
within the State of Michigan
talent to MSU. The Spartans then gain an
ability to win the recruits we want and there is a possible shift in power. As I stated before, the mitigant to this is our
continued success on the field and fostering relationships between the program and
the high schools within the state.
Observations and Parallels:
Is RR’s focus on talent
outside of the home state due to his time at WVU where there was far less
instate talent than in Michigan? I’m not implying that Michigan is OH, PA, FL, TX or CA, but it is
clearly better than WV. One thing that
seems clear, is that the tenures of Bobby Williams and John L. Smith (and the
Spartans refer to us as slappies??) decimated the in-state recruiting at
MSU. While there were not great numbers
of Plaxico’s and Duckett’s at MSU there were some clear examples of players we
wanted but State got. BW and JLS seemed
to have killed this very nicely.
There have been some
interesting changes in balance of power within different regions during the
last 10-15 years that may provide interesting insight.
- The fall of Washington
and the rise of Oregon. How much of the rise of Oregon as a national
power have to do with the influx of Phil Knight / Nike money versus the
missteps and poor coaching hires at UW? Has there been a re-routing of talent from Seattle to Eugene? Did the re-emergence of USC shut down UW’s
access to southern California
- The fall of Notre Dame, Illinois
and Michigan State
and the rise of Iowa and Wisconsin (and Northwestern and Purdue to a
lesser extent?). Did the inconsistency
of ND and Illinois cede some degree of control
over greater Chicago
recruiting to other Big Ten School? A
close analysis of the recruiting records (in particular recruit hometowns) for
each school over the last 15 years would yield some interesting insight. Did the Spartans losing Nick Saban to LSU and
the ensuing coaching chaos provide an opening to NU and Purdue?
- The fall of Nebraska
and the rise of Oklahoma.
- The fall of Alabama
and Tennessee (to a lesser extent) and the rise
of LSU and Auburn.
This post is to generate
discussion, as many of the ideas I have included have not been researched,
rather are observations of mine that seem to fit together with some degree of
Yeah, you guys are gonna love this one:
In a year in which Michigan's Charles Woodson won a controversial Heisman vote over Tennessee's Peyton Manning, the Wolverines were voted No. 1 by the AP Poll over an undefeated Nebraska juggernaut, which won the ESPN/USA Today national title.
In the usually tough Big Ten, Michigan ended up being the only conference member to finish in the top 10 of the final AP rankings. Arguably, their best three wins were against Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin, teams that got beaten handily by SEC teams in their bowl games.
Why does it matter that they got beat by opponents from the SEC? Because co-national champion Nebraska steamrolled SEC champion Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, 42-17. Meanwhile, Michigan was scraping by outmatched Washington State in the Rose, 21-16.
Had Michigan and Nebraska played a game for all the marbles, it is likely that the Cornhuskers would've been favored and, as most experts agreed at the time, the Huskers probably would've won the game handily.
What stands out to me is the SEC thing. Why would an SEC slappy argue against the legitimacy of Michigan's '97 title? Nebraska isn't exactly in SEC country. Not to mention that tUoOS played Florida State, not an SEC team, in their bowl. But that's beside the point.
Do the math:
The Big Ten as a whole was 7-0 against the Big XII that years, with Michigan was 2-0 against Big XII opponents that year; two opponents they shared with Nebraska. In comparing the scores from the games with those common opponents, it would appear that Michigan was pretty easily the more solid team.
The author actually says in the comments, "I don't believe in comparing the scores from games with common opponents."
Yet, it somehow makes more sense to him to say that because the SEC had three, er, uh, two teams that beat Big Ten teams in their bowl games, and Nebraska clownstomped an SEC team in their bowl game, and Michigan happens to be from the Big Ten, it must follow that Nebraska would have clownstomped Michigan.
Oh, and the author actually says something to the effect of "The Northern Media is always biased towards the Big Ten" in the comments.
So I was watching the WVU vs. Louisville game from last year and Owen Schmidt shanks a pooch punt, comes to the sideline, RIIIPS off his helmet, and then slams it into his own forehead repeatedly. And I'm thinking.... uuuuuuuhhhhhh..... uncontrollable aggression - check, walk-on nobody turns into professional athlete - check, serious suspicion of steroids - check and check.
I'm not trying to say anything about RR or Barwis, and I could be totally wrong, but I'm not naive about professional sports and many suspicions have been confirmed before. Barry bond, roids. Sammy Sosa, ROIDS. Mark Mcwhatthefukshisname, roids, roids roids. Nebraska during the 90's, MSU during the 80's, East germany, cornroids, tony mandaroids, and shemale roids. If I'm going to call Brett Favre 'grandparoids' for having his best statistical year in his final year when the rest of his draft class have wheelchairs or walking sticks, I gotta mention schmidt.
He is a beast, great story, he made a bonehead play and maybe he doesn't have much sensitivity left up there from taking hits everyday in practice. So it could all just be explainable, and a brief moment of overreaction. But 2+2+2 adds up to a lot of eyebrow cocking.
Anyway, hope I'm wrong. It just reminded me of lattimer