Michigan football's place in the universe. I'm glad we've been recruiting well of late because we're going to need it.
Whole 'nother level: Alabama
Higher level: LSU, Oregon
Probably higher level: Ohio
'Old school programs that should be on the higher level; won't take much for them to return: USC, Texas, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame
Plethora of other 'new school' programs that have sniffed the higher level: Texas A&M, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Stanford, South Carolina
Other stuff/who knows/recently good (in BCS): Virginia Tech, Georgia, Arkansas, Auburn, Wisconsin, Louisville, Clemson, West Virginia
And I haven't even mentioned Penn State and Nebraska.
...where does Michigan land in all of this? Where are we headed?
We BELONG alongside Ohio. We should at least be lumped in with the Old School programs that are always "there." But unfortunately we're probably in the "other stuff" category thanks to the 2011 BCS win (so it could be worse). But there are over a dozen programs with comparable recent recruiting histories standing between us and being top-five elite.
I love the direction Hoke has the program headed in. I believe our coaching and recruiting will leapfrog us over everyone, into the "higher level." I envision Michigan, Ohio, ND, LSU, Stanford and Oregon being the "group of five" challengers to Alabama. I wouldn't be surprised to see this group occupy the BCS' new "Football Four" for the foreseeable future.