Mike Lantry, 1972
I think we can all pretty much agree that Michigan’s top four rivals are OSU, MSU, ND and PSU. I was thinking about this the other day and trying to decide which ones are the most important to beat in 2009 and 2010? I thought it would be interesting to get everyone’s perspective and see how these four rank overall and for giving them a good beating this year and next. Rank the four teams in order of importance and, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being most important, that we beat them in 2009 and in 2010. Of course, Ohio State is the biggest, but the real question is who is number 2, 3 and 4 and why. Also, of these rivals, which ones are most important to defeat in 2009 and why? Which ones, if not all in 2010? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Some of this may seem trivial, but if one assumes that Michigan will not beat each of its four biggest rivals this season, which ones are most important this year and next? The value of the question can be looked at from many different perspectives. Is a “progression” over the course of the season more important or simply beating the best teams? How would certain victories look to pollsters or bowl selection committees? Are bragging rights a major issue, or is it simply pride that makes one game more important than another.
With the debacles of last season still lingering, is revenge a huge factor or is simply ending a losing streak more important? Does the perception that one team is believed to be so much better this season make the game this year less important, but more important next year because we should be better next year? Does the fact that a game is at home make it more important? How much does recruiting affect your choices? There are many reasons why you might choose one over another.
With the longest off-season I can remember, (Nov.-Sept) the idea of which rivalry games are most important to me this season seemed intriguing. Boredom generates some crazy thoughts and this seemed like an interesting topic. Although I could be wrong I did a lot drinking while kayaking on the Kalamazoo River yesterday and my judgment could be very clouded. Lord knows, my head is.
1) OSU (5) Must end the streak. Respectability and maintaining this as truly a rivalry is huge
2) MSU (5) The first road game, setting a tone for the conference season and truly gauging the defense
3) ND (4) Need this to start the season right, build confidence and destroy Jimmah and the whale
4) PSU (3) Would like to get this, seems doubtful, but its at home and we have dominated them for so long
1) OSU (5) New Years Day bowl at stake, Restablish our place in the conference
2) ND (5) Will solidify that the program is back
3) MSU (5) Recruiting, bragging rights and keep little brother in place
4) PSU (4) Important for rankings and exposure at their place, and simply HATE happy valley
2011: Win ‘em all MNC dominate college football
Dis-claimer: I wrote this as a reponse to all the pessimism that was coming out in the last week or so and finally decided to post it. Well, I also had to wait until I had enough points to post as well. We'll see if I still do later.
Is it possible that we, not all of us, but some of us, are so consumed with what has passed that we cannot see the forest for the trees? Could the incredible, unimaginable, almost unthinkable things that happened last season, in the fading shadows of the beginning of the 2007 season, scar the landscape that is Michigan Football, so much so that we can no longer see what “can be” and only see what is otherwise referred to as “the worst-case scenario”?
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Before the Appalachian State disaster and the Oregon shellacking, to the fanbase, Michigan was a perennial top-5-10 team. After that season, a little hope still flickered as Lloyd Carr’s swan song was a gigantic victory over the mighty SEC. But then came the retirement, coaching search that seemingly went awry. And with it, another thunderous stone fell from the foundation of the greatest program in the country.
A new coach, a new philosophy and a new direction tried to brighten the landscape as they tried to burn off the haze left over from what had gone on for decades. There was hope, enthusiasm and an age-old trust in what had always been there, a defense that could be counted to keep the team in the game, give the offense a chance to learn, grow and hopefully by the end of the season regain some if not all of the respect tarnished by the opening of the previous season.
But, as we all know, football is a game of four quarters, and offense, defense and special teams. In 2008, our Wolverines never gained control over any one of those pieces, much less all of them together. As the season went on, more stones from the foundation seemed to crumble, if not the first quarter, the second quarter was the downfall. If not the first half, it was the second half. If the offense played well, the defense struggled or the defense kept us in the game and the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. And in some cases, the offense shined through the murky waters of repeated special teams disasters only to come up short because the defense never seemed to get off the field.
The cupboard was bare. Make no mistake, it was. Not because no one recruited. Not because “everyone” left. Not because the …………………
In 2007 the unbelievable happened and in 2008 the unthinkable happened. Now as the 2009 season is coming around the corner, we are trying to find reasons to be optimistic, but the damage done over the last two seasons has almost everyone believing that Michigan will have to be lucky to win, rather than making its own luck and controlling its destiny, by doing what Michigan has always done…playing Michigan Football. Yes, we will have a true freshman quarterback playing this season regardless of the name and number he will be a freshman. And yes, the DC is new for the second season in a row. And the defense is not chock full of household names that make you tingle with excitement or salivate over the number of sacks or INTs that they would undoubtedly rack up.
Despite what has happened in the past, and it IS the past, the 2009 version of the Michigan Wolverines has the same opportunity as so many other Michigan squads, to play with the passion, heart and strength that every other great Michigan team had. There will be some disappointments this season I’m sure, but the potential and the possibilities for this season are maybe greater than any in recent memory.
Don’t let the slow, methodical ways of the past cloud your vision. Our coach is the father of the modern spread. If there is anyone who can get these young men ready to execute and unleash the power of this offense on the Big11Ten conference it’s Rich Rodriguez.
Consider these factors in a bubble for just a moment; the entire offensive line is coming back, the running backs are healthy and in their second year under the new system The defense is young, but very hungry led by a proven leader. The defense WILL be faster! We have the greatest punter on the planet, the defensive coordinator actually has many years of experience building championship defenses. And possibly the best news of all, the QB knows how to run the spread AND he can throw. On top of all that, the offense is built and run by the guys who know it better than anyone else and have made it work EVERYWHERE they go.
Now if you take those factors and insert them into the history, tradition and bigger-than-life spectacle that is Michigan Football. Combine that with the largest crowd anywhere that will be MUCH LOUDER than every before, thanks to the new additions and more enthusiasm, with eight home games, three of them against huge rivals, and leave out what has happened in the past, that has no real bearing on the future, and this could be a great season.
Now, I know this all sounds like I have stolen all the kool-aid and downed it like a freshman who has never seen a beer-bong before, but in my 44 years on this planet and season ticket holder, I have seen many incredible things happen inside the hole “that Yost dug, Schembechler filled and Canham paid for”. There is promise, opportunity and an awful lot of desire being crafted by RichRod and company. I for one, think great things will happen and many of us will be very, very surprised this season.
As a footnote, I understand the concern, and even pessimism going into this season, but I just can’t believe that this program will struggle the way Nebraska, Notre Dame and others have.
The offseason is too long and Sept. 5 is too far away.
This program needs some stability and fast! I'm a diehard and true Blue, but there are some chinks beginning to show in the RR armour. Beaver going to TULSA?!?!? RR 'making' a change at DC with no apparent viable prospects?!?!? Isn't this like the old job rule? You don't quit a job without another one to go to. Is deciding to go in a new 'direction' with the DC a good idea if that direction cannot de found quickly so as to solidify the necessary recruits to build it?
I understand completely the 'differences' between RR and SS, but wouldn't RR have talked to some others and gotten a good feel for their interest in the job if it were to come open? In this economy, with so much uncertainty, would you voluntarily leave a high profile position with a top program with NO job to go to?
The turnover so early in the new regime, with no replacement in the sights gives the impression of uncertainty, and possibly a HC that wants to control the defense as well as the offense. We are all fans, some more knowledgeable than others, but the apparent lack of continuity and ever-growing question marks left by the defection of recruits makes this program look a lot less stable than any top 5-10 progam in the country.
Have we fallen that far in one year? Or is all this coincidental serendipity that simply appears related. Maybe this is all concern over nothing, but if the rumors of Hopson thinking of going back to the South are true, and a quality DC is not found at the same time, the appearance of instability creeps in and the possibility of more lost recruits looms larger.
Can all this be just a Wolverine Christmas Carol and we will all wake up tomorrow morning to find we didn't miss the blessed day and all is right with the Program?
I want to wake up and find Hopson the DC, Big Will, a monster LB and another quality QB in the fold and that all is right in AA.
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.