I think most would agree one of the most difficult aspects of the last few years is the fact that Michigan really hasn't had this sort of rebuilding experience. Struggling at UM meant 3-4 losses or a bad bowl game. The last two years are uncharted waters.
Someone else posted on the comparison with Dave Wandstedt having three rough seasons before finding success at Pitt. And it struck me that I was drawing on some other PA based teams to try and deal with this rebuilding process.
I happen to be a lifelong Steelers fans despite having been born in Michigan and never having lived in Pennsylvania. Obviously, the Steelers dominated the 70s winning four Super Bowl with an amazing collection of Hall of Fame players.
But when I was in high school in the later eighties they hit a rough patch where it was very tough to be a Steelers fan. They missed the playoffs four straight years and had a losing record for three of those years.
As football fans know, they got back on track and again became a consistent playoff team. They had a number of heartbreaking playoff losses - and a SB loss - before breaking through and winning another Super Bowl in Detroit.
I now live in Columbus and this makes watching football difficult as you might imagine. A friend of mine is a Penn State fan so we watch college football (all except one week a year) and hate Ohio State together.
Watching him deal with the Penn State struggles was also a useful reference for me. During the 2000-2004 seasons Joe Pa had a losing record four out of five years. And Penn State was the one team Michigan seemed to beat no matter what. Even their breakout year when they went 11-1 Michigan was that one loss. Joe Pa's record since? Nothing less than 9 wins with three bowl wins and two straight against Michigan.
I bring all this up not to pretend their is some neat connection - or to note PSU wins of late - but rather just to point out that teams and fan bases go through this and get over it. Good things can follow very ugly years.
This year frustrated me a great deal and it ended on a very ugly note. But I have come to accept that the hole was deeper and the transition was a bigger challenge than I had thought. But I am confident that commitment and patience will pay off.