Rather than engaging in the bouts of Hokemania running wild all over this site, or joining the numerous posters who seem to have forsaken Michigan for a love of RichRod forever-more (similar to my childhood fandom of "whoever Warren Moon plays for" after playing Tecmo Super Bowl as the Oilers), I decided to examine the rich and voluminous history of Michigan football to find some historical perspective.
While I bought in at the beginning of each of the last three years and convinced myself we were "just around the corner," I was disillusioned each year as the losses mounted and the victories failed to do so. I don't think the wins/losses did RichRod in, though - my sense from talking to other alums (and trying to track my emotional path through all of this) was that the sense of "time for a change" came less from the losses, and more from the MAGNITUDE of the losses. With that in mind, I first sought out a list of all seasons in which Michigan has been outscored by its opponents. There were twelve, which was actually more than I expected to find. The seasons (with coaches in parenthesis) were:
This list tells me a few things. First, having a season in which you were outscored by your opponent does not create a supportable assumption that you are a bad coach; if you remove the coaches on this list, Michigan's national championships decrease from 11 to 2. Second, having such a season does make it likely that you will be removed from your duties of coaching football at Michigan at some point; while Yost largely retired on his own terms, there was a movement to get the old man to move on by the time he stepped down. Wieman was gone after his bad season; while Kipke got a bit more rope because of his two national championships, his fourth led to his ouster as well. Oosterbaan's one season being outscored coincided with his last, and then Bump got a bit more rope...because he was cleaning up Bennie's mess? Either way, two for RichRod in three years didn't indicate a future of much success if you look at the historical numbers.
Next, I sought a way to quantify HOW MANY bad losses there had been; the three at the end of this year definitely wore on me, and so I looked at (a) how many games each head coach had lost by 10+ points each year, and (b) how many they did so on average. The numbers are as follows:
|Coach||10-pt losses||10-pt losses per season|
This chart was pretty striking to me; RichRod had more double-digit losses in three seasons than Lloyd had in his 13 seasons!! Also, while the likelihood of these events increased in the Mo/Lloyd years vis-a-vis Bo, they were still well below the Bump/Bennie/Kipke mark, and not far from Crisler and Yost's marks. Five per year more than doubled Bump Elliott, Michigan's 2nd worst coach (with regard to big losses).
Finally, I noticed that RichRod had 5, 4 and 6 double-digit losses in years 1, 2 and 3, respectively. I sought to put those in historical context; of the 110 seasons examined, there were only seven seasons of at least four double-digit losses in a season:
When viewed through this prism, it's much tougher to make the argument that the team was "competitive" and "just around the corner" the last few years - 2010 featured the 2nd-worst set of losses we've ever seen, eclipsed only by 1962. While improving from 3 to 5 to 7 wins seemed on its face to be "progress," the margins of victory and loss indicated otherwise - Michigan was soundly defeated in more games this year than in 2008. Three of the worst seven seasons (by this measure) don't point in the direction of a guy that should have been kept.
While we don't know what direction the team'll take under HOKEMANIA, we do know, at least, that our new coach has a love and appreciation for the history that is Michigan Football. Here's hoping we get fewer of these seasons and more that finish in Pasadena!
So here it is, the highlight of my 6th grade winter vacation. Michigan recovered two fumbles and blocked a punt to set up three scores and spark an improbable 3rd quarter comeback. Jamie Morris (22 carries, 156 yards) and Mark Messner were named co-MVPs. Michigan was voted #2 in both final polls, Schembechler's highest finish in his career. It was almost enough to make me forget the 2 point loss at then #1 Iowa on a last second field goal that knocked Michigan out of MNC contention.
Since the ability to read David Brandon's mind is not one of my superpowers, I figured I better start dumping my Harbaugh porn now. Michigan came into this game with the #2 scoring defense (6.8ppg) and Harbaugh leading the nation in passing efficiency. The first half was a complete disaster and it seemed inevitable that Bo was going to lose yet another bowl game. Tune in tomorrow to see if he can rally his troops in the 2nd half.
The Detroit News had little to add to the the fire, but Harbaugh made an interesting little comment regarding not signing his extension yet.
Lost in the crapola being written by Terry Foster, Drew Sharp, and others regarding the Football Bust, missing were ANY stories whatsoever about one of Bo's BEST and FAVORITE teams, namely the 1985 Michigan Wolverines. After all, they were the guest of honor at the frigging banquet, weren't they?!?!?
Well, because those dirty rotten bastards DIDN'T talk about the 1985 Team like they SHOULD HAVE, sit back and enjoy the story of one of Bo's finest teams (the TEAM, the TEAM, the TEAM!!!!).
This team, along with the 1976, 1980, and 1997 teams, rank among my favorite UM teams. I don't count the '69 team (although a wonderful one at that), simply because I was too young to remember them.
The 1985 season was my senior year at UM. The team was coming off the ignominy of a 6-6 season and was not ranked in the Top 20 rankings (Top 25 ranking didn't come into vogue until later on). That was a 2nd for a Bo team (the '69 team didn't enter the Top 20 until week 2). Call me foolishly optimistic, but I had an inkling that this team would NOT disappoint the Michigan faithful!
Some defensive minded coach at MSU had beaten UM the year before in Ann Arbor and was the talk of the state. Old Bo was washed up, or so it seemed.
1985 Michigan Football season (as through my eyes and ears)
|9/14||Notre Dame, W 20-12, Ann Arbor||
|9/21||South Carolina, 34-3, Columbia||
|9/28||Maryland, 20-0, Ann Arbor||
|10/5||Wisconsin, 33-6, Ann Arbor||
|10/12||MSU, 31-0, Least Lansing||
|10/19||Iowa, 12-10 LOSS, Iowa City||
|10/26||Indiana, 42-15, Ann Arbor||
|11/2||Illinois, 3-3, Champaign||
|11/9||Purdue, 47-0, Ann Arbor||
|11/16||Minnesota, 48-7, Minny||
|11/23||Ohio State, 27-17, Ann Arbor||
|1/1||Nebraska, 27-23, Fiesta Bowl||
We all view the past in Rose Bowl colored glasses. Why don't we honestly reflect on the past, while we debate our current coaching situation.
My first memory of Michigan football: watching Raghib Ismail run up and down the field at will. My first memory of Bo was the following joke: "Why can't Bo eat Cheerios? Because he always chokes at the bowl."
Bo's national championships: 0
Bo's bowl record: 5-12
Bo's Rose bowl record: 2-8
Lloyd Carr national championships: 1 (4th & 5th-yr players were Moeller recruits)
Lloyd Carr's Bowl record: 6-7
Lloyd's Rose Bowl record: 1-3
Lloyd Carr record vs FCS (I-AA) opponents: 0-1
In 2005, we went 7-5 with a team full of seniors in a program that was virtually unchanged for 35 years.
This is not to disparage anything in the past, it's just to point out that all those who think that anything less than national championship contention is a failure, apparently have never been happy being Michigan fans. We have been pretty good for a long time, but rarely great.
For those who are up in arms because we have lost 3 straight to Jim Tressel, how about the following facts:
Jim Tressel Big Ten losses since RR took over: 3
Jim Tressel Big Ten losses in last 6 years: 5
Big Teams to beat Tressel in consecutive seasons: 1
Michigan record versus OSU in 4 years prior to RR: 0-4
How can people be upset that RR has lost three in a row to OSU, when the great Lloyd Carr lost four straight, with the likes of LaMarr Woodley, Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long, just to name a few? It is preposterous.
JT has had an amazing tenure at OSU. This level of success is unmatched by anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line. Even when we beat OSU on an annual basis, in the modern era, they have been a more important figure in the national picture. They have consistently out recruited us. This year's OSU team had 24 seniors and three more potential seniors left early to play in the NFL as juniors. We only had three drafted last year, and one was a punter. They have more seniors than they can even start.
Our program was going to be in a major rebuilding process before RR took the job, combine that with a massive exodus of players who didn't want to work, couldn't make the grade, didn't really attend high school, or were criminals, and you have what we've seen for the past three seasons. How much better would our secondary have been with Donovan Warren, Boubacar Cissoko, and Troy Woolfolk?
What has RR done that's so terrible aside from 1. practice too much (and trivially so), 2. lose games against good opponents with an inexperienced skeleton crew, 3. had the number 2 kicking prospect unable to make a 30-yd chip shot, and 4. invite the media into the program only to be stabbed in the back by that self-hating POS Rosenberg.
RR has done a lot to turn this program around. Our D has stuck together and made improvement each game this season. Our offense is awesome, with a kicker and a slightly better defense, yesterday would have been a low scoring slug fest like those we all remember. The team had a winning record. The team is in excellent physical shape and can maintain their speed right down to the last snap.
This season Michigan has beaten the teams they were expected to beat and lost to the teams they were expected to lose to. We all would have loved an upset or two but it simply wasn't in the cards. Michigan caught no breaks from the football gods. Did anyone honestly think we'd beat OSU back in August? Did anyone think we'd beat anyone when we found out about T-woolf's ankle?
A coach can only do so much. He can prepare the people to be in the position to make a play, but he can't do it for them. He can't take back a fumble, ha can't make a catch, can't even make a tackle anymore. RR can take this program to places it has rarely been. He himself is a walk-on type who has forged his success with his own blood, sweat and tears. He didn't come from a pedigree. Daddy didn't get him a spot on the roster. He has excelled because he understands the game and because he has busted his nuts. The man turns 3 star recruits into 1st round picks. He needs time. Most of all he needs your support.
Support your coach.