Thoughts and Questions
This is my first blog entry ever. I feel strongly enough about things this year that I had to put some of this down. If you do make it all the way through, thanks for reading. It starts with general thoughts, many of which have been in other posts on this site. It ends with questions for the future. As a fan, I hope they all have positive answers. As a realist, I just don’t know.
It’s been mentioned on several other posts, but is this season the burning that must occur before the Phoenix can rise from the ashes?
Got a fortune cookie on Friday that said “You must taste the bitter to appreciate the sweet.” (or something like that) Is that what’s happening now? Is this Angry Michigan Hating God’s way of showing us how spoiled we’ve been? A lot of fan’s think we’re entitled to 8-10 wins per season just because we’re Michigan. They get pissed when we don’t win the Big 10, or the national championship, or go undefeated. Maybe they needed to be shown that it takes a LOT to have the kind of success Michigan has had over the last 30 (or even 129) years. I know that seeing how the other half lives really does make you appreciate what you have. I joined the army after college (enlisted infantry early 2001, I was in basic during 9/11) and spent some time in Afghanistan and Iraq. And being there did more to make me appreciate life here in the USA than anything that I could have possibly experienced here. So, yeah, maybe you do have to be down before you can truly appreciate how great it is to be up.
On a related note, this season has made me a better fan. During the previous years, I’d casually watch games, and not know much more about the team than whatever ESPN or the News or Free Press would tell me. But ever since about mid way through 2007 I’ve been listening to sports talk radio (not necessarily a good source of info, but they sometimes get good stuff, plus hearing what other “fans” have to say is always interesting), reading any scrap of news I can about Michigan online (Rivals (whatever they have for free), newspapers, ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, MLive, and my new favorite MGoBlog). I think I’m doing this mostly because things are changing so much, and I want to know whatever I can. The knowledge that Michigan may take a while to return to glory helps temper my expectations, and dull some of the pain of losing.
Typical Michigan fans – I know a few people that are what most people would call a “typical” Michigan fan. They expect to win, no excuses. They have said that they expect RR to be fired after this year. They said he’s brought the program down. After the OSU game, they said “there’s another bad record he just achieved.” They think recruiting is going to fall apart because of 1 bad year. They don’t know enough about the program and the players to understand that this year was going to be bad no matter who the coach was. I try to explain it to them, but they just won’t listen. If Michigan is less than 8-4 next year, they’re going to be a pain to deal with (even more so than now). Hell, even if RR wins multiple national championships, they may never forget or forgive this year.
On a related note, those “typical” Michigan fans are kind of delusional anyway. Yes, Michigan has been THE model of consistency for any college football program. 33 straight bowl games, etc. However, we’ve won only 1 national championship in the last 50 years. We’ve always been on the cusp, but never (except once) reached the peak (and had to share that, so sparty and bucknuts won’t give us credit for it). Over 50 years. And over the past 10 years, we’ve only been close once (2006). Did we want to continue that trend? (be really good-great, but only occasionally elite, and never “the best”) Or did we want to do what it takes to get over the hump? Do what it takes to win it all? Finally get the “living in the past” monkey off our backs?
Expecting the loss – (I know jfs52 did a whole diary entry on this, but it’s been on my mind, so I’m putting my own thought on it here)This is another thing I’m hoping will be in the past soon. Even when Michigan was good-great, I (any many/most fans) expected the loss. To anyone, especially the underdogs. Michigan favored by 20? Yeah, they’ll blow it. Michigan ranked #2 in the preseason? They’ll probably lose to Northwestern. Or Indiana. Or Illinois. Or anybody else that they have no business losing to. I was a freshman at Michigan in 1997. As great as we were that year, I was expecting something to happen every game. I was waiting for the collapse. Thankfully it never came (at least until the first 2 games of the 1998 season). But I’ve lived with that fear every game that Michigan was favored. I hope to let go of that soon.
What could realistically be called “success” next year? (6-6 may be realistic, but nobody would consider that “success”. 12-0 would be success, but nobody would call that “realistic”)
How good will the offense be next year? (Debated ad nauseum, I know.)
How much can you rely on a coach’s history when he goes from a mid level conference to a big time conference? (Remember the offensive genius of John L. Smith at Louisville?)
How good will the defense be next year? (Losing the best part of the defense. The returning players are mostly “meh”)
Does this team have the mental toughness necessary to win big? Have they been damaged by this year, and will there always be some doubt in their minds? (I ask because they’ve been up in most games, but blew it most of the time. They looked good in the 1st half against the top teams, but got blown away at the end.)
Is EEEEE Barwis not as good as advertised? If they’ve been up and blown it, is it because they’re not as conditioned as we thought? (For the record, my hope is that he tore them down so much at the beginning of the year that they never fully recovered, and next year they’re going to be fully recovered and blow the doors off the place)
Is RR still an “innovator?” (He invented the spread years ago, and he’s taught it to every coach willing to listen. Does he have something new in the pipe? His play calling has been even more predictable that Lloyd. Hopefully just because the team was learning a new system.)
What recruits step in and play next year?
How much does not having the extra bowl game practices hurt?
How does the rest of the Big 10 shake out next year? (MSU=overrated, look good because conference is down. They’ll drop some next year. OSU=??? When they’re supposed to be up, they fall (08) when they’re supposed to be down, they go to BCS title games (07). Illinois = supposed to be on the rise, but they stumbled this year, does it continue. NW and Minn = ?? lucky this year? Improving?)