In case you are just coming out from the rock you live under and haven't heard, Michigan beat UCLA last night in basketball. By no means does this automatically put them in the NCAA tourny, or make them a top-25 team for that matter, but it certainly puts a hypothetical light at the end of the hypothetical tunnel that is John Beilein's unhypothetical transitional period.
Loyal readers of this blog may think back to August or possibly July, when Brian posted an email that pointed out the similarities between Beilein's situation and RichRod's, (new, 'wacky' offensive system, history of success with low-rated recruits, a bunch of young players not recruited to play his system, both from WVU etc.) and how this could be a foreshadow into the upcoming football season. And it would seem that the 2008 Michigan football season turned out to be very comparable to '07-'08 Michigan basketball campaign.
So, now that the '08-'09 basketball season has begun, only three games in the improvements have already become apparent. This isn't even close to an established Beilein team, and he already has an upset over a top-5 team.
What does it mean for '09 Michigan football? Well, statistically speaking, the two are unrelated. However, it does give us M-faithful hope. Clearly Beilein was a good coach before he came to Michigan despite a 9-win first season. And RichRod was an equally-clear good coach before he came to Michigan, despite a likely 3-win (worst in program history- DAMN!) first season. Will Michigan be a 10-win team next year? Doubtful, and I know this is premature, but it would seem Michigan will have a successful basketball season (by success I mean relative to last year), and if they do, it means that football has just as good a chance of having a good 2009 football season (And at this point, 'good' means 8-wins).
On a side note, when you consider that Alabama has 5 more wins already than last year (they could end the season with 7 or 8 more) that means Michigan is also capable of an improvement like that. Even if they win 8 next year, I'll take it.
I have never been a big believer in sports "curses," but I can't help but notice a particular trend that has occurred in the last couple of years. Let me lay out the scenario first:
It was Novemeber 17th, 2006, about thirty hours prior to Michigan facing The Nameless Terror in arguably the biggest game in the rivalry's history: both teams undefeated, ranked #1 and #2. Michigan had defeated all odds by coming off an extremely disappointing 2005 season to get to this point, and while pressure was building on Lloyd Carr as he had only one win against The Demon of the Ancient World, there was still a feeling of confidence for the Maize & Blue faithful.
And it was at this time that our beloved leader passed.
And somewhere in a different dimension, all the Angry michigan-football-hating-gods had a wild party to celebrate. The party got out of hand, the police were called, and this manifested itself in the form of a giant black hole eating up an entire galaxy, trillions of extra-terrestrial lives were lost...
...and This happened:
yet another loss to DOTAW and Nameless Terror, another loss in the Rose Bowl. Then, in a chance for redemption, one of the most hyped Michigan teams in recent memory with a bonified Heisman candidate RB, a future first overall pick at LT, a 4th year starter at QB, and a couple of future NFL receivers, Michigan lost to arguably the lowest rated team they have ever faced.
Then Oregon finished off a four game losing streak for the first time in... how long?
Then BAM! Wisconsin and Nameless Terror again.
And my point is, Michigan is now 12-13 since Bo's passing, so I ask: when was the last time Michigan had this bad a record over a 25-game stretch? Maybe I'm crazy, but I just want to throw it out there.