I agree with your stance. With the steep tradition that is Michigan football, the facilities, etc... UM should be a top ten contender damn near every year. The only thing going against UM is the cold weather, but that hasn't stopped all recruits in the past and shouldn't in the future. I think UM became complacent and with respect to Lloyd, the game passed him by years ago. I'm glad UM has an "innovator" at the helm, with a renewed S&C program that will bring this team back to where it deserves to be.
Is there a Michigan Football "Standard?"
As we are past one of the worst experiences ever for the Michigan football team, and looking forward to a renewed season of hope, albeit warily (freshman QB, lack of experience on Defense, etc.), I thought it would be interesting to get people's takes on an issue that periodically comes up between my friends and I, namely: is there a standard of excellence or achievement that our football program should consistently meet?
Speaking for myself, this has come up in the recent past, not with the new coaching staff (changing the program fairly radically requires patience) but very often in the last few years of the Carr administration, most often after a disappointing loss to a team we "should" have beaten IMO. We used to have debates over what constituted a consistent standard of excellence. Some would say that maintaining a clean program, adhering to our standards, graduating players, and maintaining a winning program (e.g. 8 wins and above) meets that standard. Others would say that with our resources, recruiting, facilities, and tradition, that only a consistent BCS presence---not necessarily national title games, but being consistently in the BCS mix, which typically identifies the top 8-10 teams on the country, is the true standard. Lastly, others might say that with the changing landscape of college football, the diffusion of talent more evenly distributed throughout the country, etc., that expectations are a fool's game, and that we should be grateful to compete for Big Ten titles periodically, and accept that things are so different from the Bo era, and that that time will not return again.
You know the drill: Michigan should "never" lose to Toledo, App. State, blah blah. "We are Michigan" and so on. For me, that sentiment is mistaken given the changes in the landscape mentioned above. My greatest frustrations in the past were not necessarily those losses, but rather the one game seemingly every/most years of Carr that we had in the bag but blew (you can all name the particular game). The year's of Capital One or Outback Bowls, where we thought we had the talent to go to the BCS, but didn't.
So, what do you think? Is there a standard that the program should meet? For purposes of the argument I'll define "meeting" as 4 out of every 5 years--there will always be an outlier year, where injuries and other things contribute to not meeting the standard--if there is one.
I will start by saying where I come out on the issue. I am in the camp that says we have advantages that should add up to consistent excellence on the field. My definition of excellence is simple: consistent Top Ten finishes in end of year polls. No looking for the title game, or even necessarily the BCS --though I think we should be in that mix consistently-- but rather after all the games are played, M is considered a top ten team that season.
So, your thoughts: unrealistic? About right? Don't even have the conversation because it appeals to yahoo sentiments that say we should never lose a game?
Remember that this definition allows for a weird year that does not meet this. I'm also, for the purposes of the argument, exempting last year and this one due to RR and the great amount of change the program is in.
I'm very interested in the discussion if you have time. Let's hear it..
With the level of talent Michigan can bring in, a truly successful season is a New Year's bowl and top 3 finish in the Big 10 or better. Anything less and the season is a failure.
with the talent we have according to recruiting class ranking we should be near the BCS mix every year i.e. at least 2nd in the big10. though it's hard to get really upset about going 8-4 or 9-3 when a lot of other schools would kill for that consistancy
I think that our location (rust belt) is a clear detriment to recruiting. This can partially be overcome by facilities, quality of coaching, and the caliber of the team. However, all things being equal, I can believe that many players would rather be at USC (think song girls), Texas (close to home, somewhat warmer), Florida, Florida State, Miami, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolina area (close to home, warmer.) A couple months ago, I talked to someone close to the program at ND, who mentioned how hard it was to compete against some of the FL teams, and the easier prospects for getting laid in the south. Even tUOS and Penn State are in areas with more football players close to home.
For this reason, I believe this coming year is critical. Athletes want to go to a winning program. If we have a minimum of a 7 - 5 season, 8 - 4 or 9 - 3 being much better, athletes can be wooed, with the facilities and promised of an up and coming program overcoming the location. Actually, Barwis and the weight program have become a unique advantage. The fact that several pros are choosing to do off season weight training is an indicator that he is doing something right, and is a plus. However, if we tank again, we are in danger of going the way of Nebraska, a former powerhouse that's fallen on hard times given it's location. There are too many Michigan homer fasns who don't grasp how the State of Michigan (and hence UofM) has become an unattractive destination/location.
As regards the OP, I want a top 10 finish, and can live with a top 15 finish. The stadium, the weight training, the coaching, and somewhat the winning tradition, are all positives in our favor.
First, run a clean program. Don't cheat. Represent the university well.
Second, annual contention for the Big Ten title. We should always be at the top in our conference-- a middle of the pack year is a poor one.
Third, national prominence. Michigan should be consistently in the top 10-15 of the national rankings, should go to BCS games most years, and should have a national presence on the recruiting scene.
A top finish at the bottom of the top 25 should be a bad year or rebuilding. It may be too much to expect top 5 every year, but should be within occasional reach with a gifted or lucky team. I would almost put the bar at 7-15 since we should be cusp Top 10 due to our facilities, pull, base, etc.
Martin has said more than once that UM should contend for Ntional Championships most years, and win one every few. I will go with his goals as a fair standard. After all, that's why RR was hired.
I really think they shouldn't lose more than one game going into the OSU game most years. And, of course, they should at least go .500 with OSU. We don't want OSU decreasing the all-time series lead too many more games.
Personnel-wise, UM should stack up to PSU and OSU evenly, and all three should have a huge edge over the rest of the conference. As long as Charlie Weis is at ND, they should have an edge over them, too.
As long as the current system is in place, the Big Ten is really the path of least resistance to the NC game. They should play three patsies and ND for their noncon schedule, and beat up on the Big Ten most years. One loss going into the OSU game followed by a victory over their most hated rival should be enough to get them a chance to play in the NC game.
The biggest improvement I look for with RR is that they need to be able to play USC in the Rose Bowl without looking like a MAC team against them.
The comment about the quality and, uh, motivation of women on campus is a pretty valid one. Florida used to win Playboy's "best college towns to get laid" poll or at least finish high a lot. I can't really figure out a better way to say it, and I'm sorry if I offend anyone, but my experience has been in line with what I have heard from a lot of different cources: Southern women are just a lot nicer and a lot more likely to "put out" than Northern women are.
In addition, they seem to be a lot better looking in the towns mentioned by the above poster than they are in Ann Arbor and a lot more humble about it.
The weather is also a huge factor. Basically, UM has to offer more than other schools to offset their advantage in the weather and female companionship departments.
Luckily, their tradition, facilities, and community allows them to do that for many kids. One thing I think RR is doing that is great is that he seems to be discouraging the cliques that often happen on football teams. Contrary to the Human Twinkie's opinion, RR is doing a great job of creating an "family atmosphere" at UM, and that might be the factor that sways a lot of kids.
It may sound stupid, but I fully believe that the helmet makes a difference, too. Everyone in football knows what a UM helmet looks like.
Anyway, they are doing a great job so far, and I think the influx of southern players is the addition that will tip the scales in Michigan's favor in future bowl games.
"Basically, UM has to offer more than other schools to offset their advantage in the weather and female companionship departments."
way to look at this, right? i think that's part of the problem, in fact. the mumbling and grumbling of a fan base very often exists in blatant disregard of the context (hence the eternal love for the backup QB).
our historical winning percentage and the best of the best for the last twenty years has been around .750, iirc. so that's my baseline. the individual games themselves won or lost matter less than trends that develop across a number of years. rich is hardly to the point where we can even judge him on something like that, though i'm sure his particular style will yield some disadvantages. at some point, there are trade-offs that create a relative strength-weakness profile. as long as his doesn't lead to losing to OSU and bowl games more than half the time, i'll be satisfied.
For me, a 10 win season is the "minimum" baseline. 10 wins in a 13 game season = .769 winning percentage = roughly in line with our historical average. I obviously would like to sprinkle 11, 12, or even 13 win seasons into this equation on a regular basis. But, 10 win seasons mean we are routinely playing in bowls on, or after, Jan. 1st.
The big thing is being competitive with the best teams in the country. Losing to OSU should not be a forgone conclusion every year. It should be a 50/50 game at worst.
Obviously, we should never lose to Ap. State or Toledo. I don't care what amount of parity is involved. It's inexcusable. Hopefully, the days of losing after being up 28-10 or 27-7 are gone as well.
We should not lose by more than maybe 14-17 points in any game against any opponent. No Iowas, Tennessees, or Oregons where we look like a high school team out there. Obviously, the games we get blown out in are the result of horrid defense. I don't want to see a simple slant get busted for an 80-yard TD. Learn to tackle. Another thing about that Iowa game; it was competitive until the muffed punt, and then the whole team just folded up like a cheap suit. I don't want to see the team quit, ever.
With these things in mind, 8-4 really should be the worst record any given year. I don't expect NCs and BCSs, because it takes a certain (small) amount of luck for that to happen. The team is going to have off days no matter how well coached they are. But it shouldn't take luck to get to 8-4.
IMO, college football success is largely based on the talent level of players on your team. Thus, any discussion of Michigan's "standard" of play should be evaluated in terms of the talent UM can draw.
Michigan is a decent, but not great, state for football talent. I can think of about 15 good BCS programs that have access to much more local talent than UM. Therefore, I believe UM's standard should be about 9 wins (in a 13 game season) and finish in the Top 25 after the bowls are over.
My list of BCS schools with good tradition (at least in the last 15 years or so) and plenty of available talent: Florida, Georgia, LSU, PSU, OSU, Notre Dame (Catholic HS monopoly), USC or UCLA, Miami, Florida State, Va Tech, Texas and Oklahoma. Throw in a few other good programs like Cal, Oregon, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Nebraska (great tradition, not much local talent), Tennessee, Bama, Auburn and you can see that UM has plenty of competition for talent.
Personally, I think the days of UM being a dominant program are probably over(sigh). Just think, though, we could be Baylor fans.
that with the talent we get on a yearly basis, as well as the tremendous resources, we should be in the mix for the NC late in the season every couple years, and should seriously threaten every 3 or 4 years.
That may sound like the same thing, so let me clarify. "In the mix/hunt" means that we don't lose early season games and we are in the top 10 into late November. "Seriously threaten" means that we are in the top 2/3/4 at the end of the regular season.
I had no problem with Lloyd, but it was always frustrating to lose games in Sept. and early Oct. and not even be in the NC picture (outside of 1997 and 2006).
I would submit that in the 1978 Rose Bowl Michigan had no business losing to a 7-4-0 Washington Husky team on national television. But they did.
I don't think Michigan should have lost to BYU in the 1984 Holiday Bowl either. But they did.
What about getting their butts handed to them by Tennessee 17-45 in a bowl game?
How about tying Illinois 3-3 in 1985 or losing to Minnesota 17-14 in 1986?
Michigan's standard use to be crushing 9 or 10 teams, losing inexplicably to an inferior Big Ten opponent, and then getting their butts whacked once more in a bowl game. 10-2 seasons were pretty much Michigan football currency for many years during the 1970s. I would be pleased if UM ever returned to that "standard".
The more recent standard was 9-3-0 under Lloyd Carr, which included 1 non-conf. loss, two conf. losses and then a horrific bowl loss.
But man, the college game has changed so much that even strong football programs like Florida, OU, LSU, USC and Ohio State can't escape the impact of increased team parity.
My theory is that Michigan's wheels are just starting to roll under Rodriguez's plan, and that the program will make a come back over the next 3 to 4 years. Once it does turn around, UM will be better positioned and have so much more momentum than the competition has.
I question whether UM football fans have such patience. From the comments online, I think UM is at serious risk of getting "Baylored" as Phil Steele likes to call it.
Every year -
Top 15 in the nation at the end of the season.
Top 5 in the Big Ten at the end of the season
Compete in a BCS or top tier bowl
8 or more wins
Every other year to every 2 years -
Win the Big Ten Championship
Compete in and win a BCS bowl
2-3 times in any 10-year span -
Win the BCS National Championship
That's what I think any true Blue fan should expect from Michigan Football. All things being equal of course. This assumes the rest of the Big Ten stops sucking, and Michigan stays on course.
2-3 NC's in any ten year span? That is asking a lot of any team.
Alright, I guess I may be expecting a bit too much given the parity (forgive the use of a now cliche term) in college football.
How about 1 to 2?
I think that's fair, assuming recruiting will become even easier if we get back to our winning (and then some) ways.
If Florida can do it...
I agree with mad magician - this is paramount. Don't cheat, make sure kids attend class and graduate. The quality of a Michigan education should be a differentiator for many kids and parents.
After that, of course the most important thing is to beat OSU (and ND) regularly.
Next, have a winning record EVERY year with no exceptions. While I still support RR and the new regime, last year was inexcusable.
Fourth, play a real schedule. I will never again fly across the country to watch UM play a MAC/div II team. Isn't it more interesting to win some/lose some against top teams than to beat up on some grossly inferior small school? Yes, I know we lost to a MAC team last year, but it was the exception that proves the rule.
Fifth and last, be in the BCS mix every year. If all the other goals are met, then this one should follow fairly easily.
As for recruiting disadvantages - if Norman, Oklahoma can still be a recruiting hotbed, then UM has nothing to worry about. I'll take a crisp fall day in A2 over anyplace else in the country.
that Michigan always look like it at least belongs on the same field with every opponent, whether we win or lose. That did not always happen in Lloyd's last six years. Also, Michigan should learn from past mistakes. How frustrating was it that everyone could see in the Jan. 1, 2004 Rose Bowl against USC that short passes with quick releases were necessary given the poor play of our offensive line, and then have it happen all over again two years ago. Some things have to change. yes, we should challenge for a MNC from time to time. But we don't have to be USC this decade good, or FSU in the 90s good, for many of us to be satisfied.
be like bo. and then win bowl games.
10 wins and a Rose Bowl loss. That's the fucking standard.