Great post, but I don't think Michigan ever lost to Toledo. You must mean Alabama.
With all due respect to Brian's "Worst Plays of the Decade List", I disagree with number one and believe either the 100-yd interception return or the missed chip-shot field goal from the Toledo game in 2008 is the worst play of the decade. It's long-winded and more negative than I usually let myself get with Michigan football, but here's my explanation:
There is no disputing that the 2008 version of the Michigan Wolverines was bad. Awful. Under certain metrics, the worst ever. Undebatably the worst of my lifetime. Bad.
Nonetheless, going into the season, with a new coach and a relatively solid defense (especially along the defensive line and at corner), we didn't know what we had. Regardless of what it was, we knew it would be a Michigan football team. A different team, to be sure, but still a Michigan team.
In fact, as bad as the team may have been, from a talent perspective, in 2008, they didn't cease to be a "Michigan" football team, as we understood it, until the Toledo loss. As strange as it may sound, through all the 8-4 years, Michigan was a program very used to winning (some would say expecting). Regardless of the circumstances, there was always a belief that Michigan could win. The last sentence speaks to both the fans and the players.
Its this belief that brought Drew Henson's team back against Illinois, John Navarre's team back against Minnesota, and Chad Henne's team back against Michigan State. While the listed games are drastic examples, they characterize a mindset throughout the program that this team would not lose. Or, at the very least, they would not quit. Michigan always had a chance to win a game, could (not would) always find enough plays to pull the game out (or, too often, just a couple plays too few).
I'm certainly not suggesting Michigan always won. Simply that Michigan was always a tough out. Other than otherwise "flukey" games (Iowa in 2002, Oregon in 2007) where some (spread offense) team would go nuts against Michigan, there were close loses. And Rose Bowls with USC. But, mostly just a lot of close losses. (I realize there were a ton of wins, those obviously count in the "Michigan was very good" category)
Michigan had been outmatched before. They had clearly walked into situations with the lesser team in tow. Or, at the very least, the team that looked worse on that given day. But, always, even in loss, the team fought. Someone would make a play, someone would do something. The defense would hang on just enough, the offense would show just enough sign of life, that we could always believe Michigan would win.
Some of those close losses were embarrassing. Appalachian State comes to mind. As does Northwestern. But, at the very least, those embarrassing losses were upsets! Big ones, in fact.
And so the 2007 season [my bad ... 2008] began. The first game of the year was a 2-point loss to a Utah team that went on to finish undefeated and beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. In that game our offense was just not working. I remember sitting in my seat in the Big House and wondering if this was really what we'd become. But then the defense awoke, the special teams made a play, Steven Threet entered, and Junior Hemmingway showed a flash. While we lost, we did what Michigan has always done when overmatched. They perservered. They found some way to compete.
The Utah game was followed by a close win against Miami (NTM). An uninspired, closer than it should be win against a MAC team? Not usually after a loss, but sure. Why not, this time.
How about a flukey turnover fest, in South Bend (where else?), during a monsoon? The monsoon's a nice added touch ... hmm, did we outgain them? We did. Ok, good then. I've seen that game before too. Nothing new.
Wisconsin game heroics inspire hope. One of the Bowden's writes a column about how "Michigan is BACK". We're 2-2, and we've been here before. We all know this Michigan team.
The following week was a disheartening loss to Illinois. Michigan blew a lead against a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Juice Williams. Though a strong sign the house was on fire, the smoked Wolverines had been turning every mobile quarterback they faced into a Heisman candidate. This was nothing new.
The Toledo loss, caused significantly by the 100-yd interception returned for a touchdown and a missed field goal at the end of the game by Michigan, was the nail. It was at that point where Michigan ceased being Michigan, and suddenly became a team that might actually lose to Toledo. Everyone's gut reaction was to liken the Toledo loss to Appalachian State, but that was being far too kind.
Appalachian State was an epic upset. Toledo got lucky and beat Michigan? This was plausible. I didn't field a thousand text messages that said "SRSLY?", "WHAT IS GOING ON! FIRE LOYD NOWW!!", and "dont wry, youll win". I didn't stare at a wall in disbelief. I was fine. Resigned. The world had changed, not just then, but had been changed, and the realization wasn't sudden or explosive. It was resigned. I disconnected. I, at that moment, realized that getting too upset about a Michigan loss was no longer an option. My defense mechanism, to ensure I kept my sanity, was to emotionally distance myself. Michigan football, as we all had known it, changed at its core following that loss.
By the next week, Brian had stopped honestly previewing our opponents, The now-infamous PSU Preview begs us to reconsider our existential relationship with the Michigan football universe.
My vote for number 1? Anything that contributed to that Toledo loss.
Sorry to be a downer.
Great post, but I don't think Michigan ever lost to Toledo. You must mean Alabama.
"from a talent perspective, in 2008, they didn't cease to be a "Michigan" football team, as we understood it, until the Toledo loss."
Nick. Sheridan. Starting. QB.
We are all masochists.
....but there's no way this can be #1. The top two are beyond dispute. I would have flip flopped them in order, but either way those top two are locked in place.
I like your arguments for the Toledo game, however. I probably would maybe switch the Toledo bad plays for the Sheridan interception against Utah that Brian mentioned. I still held out hope after the Utah game that a mediocre season was possible. The Toledo game sapped all hope from me and replaced it with misery.
But that's it, you can't argue against the two Crable plays.
As others have said, I think the plays in this game could easily rate above the Utah game. At 2-3 we'd seen both sides of the equation. Reasons for optimism - the fairly solid offensive performance against ND in terms of moving the ball which was negated by all the turnovers, the comeback against Wisky for the W and the close but no cigar comeback against a good Utah team. Reasons for worry - the UM offense being almost non-existent for long periods of time.
This is a game where one could say UM literally snapped defeat from the jaws of victory. The Toledo offense didn't do much (2 FG's all day). The interception return for a TD was at least a 10 pt swing if not 14. It's not like a victory here would have propelled UM to an 8-4/7-5 season but like you said, I look at this loss as almost worse then the App St loss.
While UM will probably always have to live with the stigma of being the highest ranked team to lose to a 1-AA squad, there were a decent amount of people who were saying that App St. was not going to be a pushover. I could be wrong but I don't think to many people were thinking Toledo might be a lot tougher then what most people were expecting - a fairly solid win by UM.
Obviously, there is no "right" answer, but the Toledo debacle was relatively unimportant. However that game turned out, the season was going to be terrible. And as you've noted, there wasn't just one play on which that game turned.
Yes, it was Michigan's first loss to a MAC team, but Appalachian State was an even more epic first. And in that game, just as in the Toledo game, Michigan came within a whisker of winning. But the consequences of losing to Appalachian State were much more serious. It was a national embarrassment, with Michigan going overnight from the top 5 to unranked (the first time that had ever happened to anybody). That game will be remembered long after Toledo is forgotten.
Appy State would have killed Toledo if they played them. Thats why I also felt much worse after the Toledo game despite the fact that it was painfully obvious our season was already doomed.
Why do we all revel in our own misery? Is it because he want to remember how bad things have been the past few years (or parts of the decade) so we can REALLY appreciate how good things are going to be (hopefully this year)? I can't say that I agree with the Toledo play being number 1 but it was certainly the moment that I also realized, "I do not recognize this football team at all!" It was a sad moment and somehow I still held out hope for another win (or two). Last year we had some big steps in my opinion. I think the stage is set for a better-than-the-experts-say season this year.
I think that, as fans, we've beaten ourselves up enough talking about all the bad plays/games/seasons from the past decade. It's time to move forward into this new and potentially exciting decade of Michigan football.
That said, it would be awesome (and I expect it will happen regardless of my prompting) to have a list of the TOP 10 greatest plays of the decade. We've been in the doldrums for far too long. It's time to climb the peak and get pumped for some exciting, well-played Michigan football!
40 years as a Michigan fan.....I came in with Bo.
Was seated in the end zone such that the pick 6 came at me.......and it took forever. A terrible throw into lots of traffic, and then a slow, plodding pursuit.
But for all the BS, we were driving at the end, looking as if we could win it outright, or kick a short field goal and force overtime.......had never been to a college OT game, thought it might be fun.
But when the kick missed, the entire place was SILENT. Even with the Toledo people jumping around and freaking, it was silent up in row 57. We just got up and walked out in total, stunned silence. We lost to Toledo.
but then I went home, took a shower, fell down at the side of the pool and turned gay.....but when I woke up, none of the Toledo game ever happened.. just like on TV.
all by myself in my office.
Although I might agree with others about the Crable placements; what you wrote on how you felt going into those Toledo moments and the aftermath was exactly the same things I felt during those moments. Nicely done.
"I didn't stare at a wall in disbelief. I was fine. Resigned. The world had changed, not just then, but had been changed, and the realization wasn't sudden or explosive. It was resigned. I disconnected. I, at that moment, realized that getting too upset about a Michigan loss was no longer an option. My defense mechanism, to ensure I kept my sanity, was to emotionally distance myself. Michigan football, as we all had known it, changed at its core following that loss."
This is exactly the shitty funk I got in midway through that season, which is not how ANYONE should have to spend their freshman year at UMich. It sucked ass.
After the Toledo loss, I went for a walk to try and process what happened. I went to Logan Circle (in Philly), where I saw a homeless dude who looked like death sift through garbage to find his next meal. Then I realized that pouting over a football game, especially one that was as meaningless as Toledo, was a little extreme.
It wasn't any one worst play of the decade. And that was his category. If Brian (NO, BRIAN, NOOOOO!!!!) comes up with worst games of the decade...hell, all time...and that one isn't #1, you have an argument. But any metric, that was our worst loss, ever. For all the National hubbub and embarrassment, App St was like a Top 50 team that could have taken out all sorts of teams in 1-A. We were just ranked high at the time. Toledo wasn't even a good Toledo squad (yes, they have existed). It was a horrible losing team that was so bad even with beating Michigan it got their coach fired.
But I do like that description and acknowledgement you have that there was at least a feeling, no matter how overmatched, that Michigan could (and should?) at least win every game they played. And often made mismatches closer, and came back when down against lesser opponents. Now, it really seems like we just hope for every win. And that's a far different Michigan than I remember.
I think there are two kinds of bad going on here. Bad in the context of expectations, and just plain bad. For example, the App State loss was of course awful, but so much worse based on expectations going into that season. Toledo was more in the just plain bad category. The performance in the Toledo game was almost certainly worse than that against App State but the latter will of course live longer in infamy. Which is worse is up to the individual.
This fall the long awaited upswing will commence and the run of bad memories will all begin to fade.
I was on the 20 yard line on the side the field goal was being kicked. Way before he even kicks I think to myself "He's gonna miss". Sure enough he did. I was in so much shock I wasn't even angry until way later in the day.
all sting , but I think the worst one had to be the Toldeo one because we were like 24-0 all time agaisnt the MAC and their schools. I can talke losing to App St, because from a pure talent standpoint alone they probably had more than say over half the Big East teams at the time. They definately would have won the MAC and probably competed with teams in the ACC. The signifigance lies in the fact that it was UM football, the winningest program in Division 1a history, and when you pause for a moment and think about it became relative to you because every other school in the country has had one of those" are u phukking serious games" where you went oh hell naw! It sunk in form me when I was watching Georgia play Tennessee and their studnet section had a girl wearing a shirt that had the score of the game(Toledo) and at the bottom said upset of the century. I guess you can look at it like at least we know we're on everyone's mind.
I agree, the toledo loss was the first and only time i was embarrassed to be a michigan fan! A MAC school should NEVER, EVER score 3 offensive points and win any game aganist ANY TEAM in FBS, let alone UofM. I understand the transition, but c'mon maannn!!
I remember the Toledo game vividly because I accidently bought the tickets on StubHub. Somehow I thought I was buying tickets to Michigan State at a good price and pulled the trigger on Toledo seats in the endzone. StubHub refused to cancel the sale, even 5 minutes after coming to the conclusion that I was a dumbass that didn't know how to pay attention to detail. That day was downright awful. I was coming off the high of the Wisconsin game, which was my first time visiting the Big House. At least the weather was nice that day.
... moving on quickly after a loss. Losses hurt, but I do (reluctantly) tell myself that "it is just a game" and that "there are greater tragedies in the world".
But the loss to Toledo was hard to take, man. I mean, I knew we would be going through growing pains with the new system, but I never expected it to be that painful. And yes, to me it was the Toledo and not the Utah game that really brought me down to Earth in regards to how far we had sunk. Maybe I had been in a state of denial after the Utah loss...
And to make matters worse, I drove all the way from Ottawa to Ann Arbor to attend that game. I chose the Toledo game because that was a game that in spite of the growing pains "we would surely win". I had not been to a game in Ann Arbor since 1979 (the last game being a 54-0 beatdown of Wisconsin). As I left the stadium, I felt like I had wasted my time and my trip.
But it wasn't so bad later, as I got to reconnect with Ann Arbor.
This was one of my once in every three to four year journey's to Ann Arbor to watch my team play at home! I thought this game would be a relatively easy victory for UM. Threet was doing a good job early, until the 100 yard interception. I think our defense should have mauled Toledo. The defense should have scored or gotten the offense the ball at least a dozen times well inside the Toledo 50!
I'm still deciding if either the Appst or Toledo game was the worse loss! After the Appst loss I was attending the KU vs CMU game in Lawrence, since I got a free ticket and went with some KU friends. KU was blowing out CMU, then the stadium announcer announced the final of the UM vs Appst game and the whole stadium let out a big cheer. A guy right behind me just started laughing! Wow, I was truly embarrassed but upset that UM had lost to a div II team. I was dressed up in my UM jersey and wearing my block M ball cap and got a lot of ribbing through out the entire second half of the KU game. I felt like taking on the entire stadium to defend my team. But fans of smaller programs like KU just love it when one of the big name programs get a surprise loss!
All of this is now water under the bridge! Time to start a clean slate and start up another 20 + years of winning seasons and may be even several national championships!