I am not a lifer Michigan fan. I did not grow up a Michigan fan, despite my mother being an alumni and living in the greater Detroit area. I guess I was fairly disinterested in sports until midway thru my teens.
My memory of Michigan football dates back to about 2004. The first games I remember watching adamantly were the 2004 OSU loss and the 2005 Rose Bowl against Texas when I was awaiting my Michigan acceptance letter, both of which were letdowns at the hands of mobile quarterbacks Troy Smith and Vince Young. I suppose I knew of such events as the undefeated 1997 season under Lloyd, but when I enrolled, Michigan was mediocre at best in the fall of 2005. People were extremely unpleased; I recall the "fire Carr" talk then.
2006 was incredible. I consider this to be the year where I became a real Michigan fan with the success we had. I experienced how good it felt to be on top (TWSS), and how good it felt to win. Even with the slight stumbles and uncertainty with Ball State, we were still 11-0 going into Columbus, the Game of the Century. However, since the death of Bo (which I never truly grasped or understood), this team has been a shining star of mediocrity.
"Those who stay will be champions" is no longer an axiom we can honor. The only champions I recall being was Capital One Bowl champions. I have never witnessed a Big 10 championship. I have never witnessed a victory over Ohio State. I've witnessed the HORROR. I've witnessed the pains of a new coach and walk-on quarterbacks. I've witnessed one of the worst seasons that any living Michigan fan can recall. I've witnessed true freshmen quarterbacks trying to be heroes. And I am currently witnessing the levee-during-Hurricane-Katrina caliber secondary. But I'm still here hoping for a brighter future or return to glory.
So, wise, knowing Michigan populace, I entreat you, what are realistic expectations for this team? Do you feel it is even possible to remain dominant atop a major conference with the sheer flooding of skill into college football these days? Are these past 5 seasons just part of the natural ebb and flow to (sports) franchises and success? Or are we careening our way off the path of dominance? Did Bo take the secret recipe for winning Big 10 titles with him to the grave?