The Triumph of Mediocrity

The Triumph of Mediocrity

Submitted by JDM on January 15th, 2011 at 2:44 AM

The University of Michigan claims to be the leaders and best. Whether it be in the classroom or on the football field the U of M strives for excellence. From the most wins all time, to the hightest winning percentage, to the largest stadium in the country the University of Michigan has staked its claim in the college football world. The football program, however, has failed to evolve with the ever changing college football climate, and nothing proves this more than the hiring of Brady Hoke. This hiring is more a triumph of mediocrity than the pursuit of excellence.

The Bowl Championship Series has forever changed the college football landscape. No longer is it good enough to win the Big Ten and defeat a good team in the Rose Bowl. Now, in order to be called the champions, you must defeat another excellent team - the best of the best if you will. Does this mean that every championship prior to the BCS is worthless? Certainly not, but the method to be considered the champion has changed. In the 13 years of the BCS, Michigan has failed to recognize this change of culture. Sure, Michigan has won their share of Big Ten titles in the BCS era, but they have consistently failed to compete when going up against elite competition in BCS bowl games.

Three years ago, it seemed like the Michigan fanbase had come to recognize that a paradigm shift was necessary with regards to our football program. In other words, we were ready to stop throwing rock on first, second and third down. The fanbase clammored for change and a change was made. We dipped our toe in waters of chage, and many found that it was to cold or to uncomfortable. Instead of being the leaders and best, we have opted for the saftey of the past and the comfort of what was familiar.

Winning the Big Ten championship isn't enough anymore. Or at least it shouldn't be if we consider ourselves the "leaders and best". That is the old way of thinking, and it clearly has not been working in the BCS era. I have no doubt that the current coaching staff can stabilize the program and bring it back to where it was under Lloyd Carr. I am confident they can lead the program to Big Ten championships and even win a bowl game every now and then. But I want more. I expect more. This university and its fans should demand more.

Please don't misinterpret the point I am trying to make here. I don't believe that we should play in the BCS championship game every season. Programs have good years and bad years, injuries take their toll on every team, and sometimes you just aren't lucky. But, there is no reason why the Universy of Michigan cannot compete with the best teams in the country on a consistent basis.

Where's the money, Dave Brandon?

Where's the money, Dave Brandon?

Submitted by marlon on January 15th, 2011 at 12:47 AM

At the press conference announcing RR's termination, Dave Brandon talked about how Michigan has historically paid its coaches "in the middle of the pack" (quoting and stated that that was "not appropriate" (quoting Dave Brandon).  Well, what happened?  What happened to paying big bucks for a coach?  Dave Brandon certainly can't be considering paying Brady Hoke top-of-the-market money.  And while I had my hopes that a shitty head coach hire like Brady Hoke would mean Michigan was sure to shell out the moolah to bring in some top notch coordinators, we're now staring down the barrel of Al fucking Borges at OC and Vance Bedford/Jon Hoke/Some Other Crappy McCrapperson at DC.  These people can't command the kind of money real football schools are paying their coaches.  So was Dave Brandon just talking out his ass?   Is the man completely full of hot air?  Slimier than a used car salesman?  Dave Brandon set the bar for himself by saying that Michigan's failure to pay its coaches above middle of the pack was "not appropriate," but then he hired coaches for whom compensation above middle of the pack would be "not appropriate."  Is Dave Brandon off his retarded rocker?  Where are the big-time coaches we looked forward to following Dave Brandon's talk about opening the coffers?

Should Fred Jackson get a pay raise?

Should Fred Jackson get a pay raise?

Submitted by lilpenny1316 on January 15th, 2011 at 12:16 AM

I mean, my man did get fired with no assurances of a job in the new regime...I assume. At least in 2007 he was still being paid until RR cleaned house.  So I thought he got a pretty raw deal for being all Michigan Man to the bone.

This isn't really a question of his recruiting/coaching performance.  It's been my experience that when people are given then boot, then rehired that quickly, there's usually a bump in pay or perks.  Was I witness to the exception or the rule?  I don't know.

OT- Betty #1 fan

OT- Betty #1 fan

Submitted by BornInAA on January 14th, 2011 at 10:47 PM

My Grandmother, Betty, passed away at 8:00am today.

She was a dedicated Michigan fan. She lived on Kingsley Street in Ann Arbor nearly all of her life. Married at St. Thomas before WWII to an great man going off to war.

Her only greater passion than Michigan football was Michigan Hockey (and the Red Wings) and her family and God.


On being a fan

On being a fan

Submitted by OregonWolverine on January 14th, 2011 at 9:53 PM

------- Originally posted to board, comments suggested diary. Hope they're right -----------


I first learned what it really meant to be a football fan when I was 13. Mike Lantry missed a field goal, by inches. Then he missed another - by inches. And a group of unaccountable, brutally unfair adults got together and decided that 10-10 meant that Ohio State won, and should go to Rose Bowl, while Michigan stayed home for the holidays.

I wasn't quite the same for weeks. Every morning, there was a brief interval between waking up and remembering that Michigan hadn't won - and then the slightly nauseating feeling hit again. I was old enough already to realize that this was irrational, but not old enough to stop it. I'm still not old enough, really.

More thrills, more heartbreak. Lantry missed again the next year. Ricky the Peach Leach put the HEI in Heisman before Michigan got knocked off by one of the Little 8. Ohio State overcome, but USC not. By the time I actually got degrees from Michigan, my Michigan football fandom was not an allegiance, not a choice. It was a permanent condition, an extra lobe in my brain connected to a fifth chamber in my heart.

Those extra vital organs experienced plenty of euphoria through the years. Lots of scars, too. Every year, the hope was that this year was the year - the year we'd break through, and prove ourselves to the world. Decades of starting that Fall climb of Everest, only to be turned back hundreds of feet from the summit while smarter or better prepared or more ambitious climbers went to plant the flag at the top. And then the disappointment, upon finally reaching the pinnacle, of finding that someone else had climbed the other side to share the credit. Decades of screaming "throw the f--king football" at the future hall of fame coach, and wondering how other great  teams always seemed to get it just a little more. Decades of believing that we just needed a little bit more, that this might be the year ...

And the question - sometimes the outright conviction - that we might not have the right leader to do it. The awful symmetry of reading the gently mocking assessment of a USC coach after the '77 Rose Bowl, that they knew when Michigan would pass because "the receivers turn cartwheels when they break the huddle", and hearing the faint echoes 30 years later from a USC defender after shutting down the most talented Michigan offense ever: "they didn't do anything we didn't expect".

Along the way, in '05, I found this blog. Written by someone who could mix intense passions for writing, humor, analysis, and M football into a remarkably addictive cocktail. It worked for the Engineer in me, and the football fan in me, and I was not alone. I became a more educated, more involved, more insightful fan, able to understand and look for outcomes besides just final scores and records. And I shared Brian's hope  that Rich Rodriguez was, at last, the kind of leader that might begin to redeem decades of dearly purchased hopes.

It didn't happen. About 12:00 PM PST Jan. 1, the M fan organs went into temporary shutdown. And I have to tell you, they aren't exactly healthy yet. A January hire of a lifetime 47-50 coach just didn't provide enough voltage to jolt them fully back into rhythm.

This is not fair, you say. I must give the new leader a chance before passing judgement, and anyway, who can really project? And I respond that projection is what being a fan is all about. Whether it's "We're gonna kick their ass", or a multi-thousand word analytical piece from Mathlete or Misopogon, trying to figure out what might happen next, and putting your hope and conviction behind it, is what constitutes this crazy affliction. And if skeptically projecting that you are not likely to achieve full success while fervently hoping you are wrong is unfair, it is an unfairness which can't and shouldn't be eradicated. Bo Schembechler and his kids never lost a game because of my screaming conviction that he should pass more, and Bo wouldn't have had a job at all but for millions of people like me.

It is true that there are no closed-form solutions to predicting the future. Two star recruits sometimes become All Americans. A sixth round draft pick becomes an NFL and Super Bowl MVP winning quarterback. A guy with no experience running anything bigger than a tailor shop becomes an iconic U.S. President. But there are reasons why such stories are so inspirational: they're exceptional. Much more often, past is prologue.

So if you'll forgive me, and those like me, I'll not subject myself just yet to the enthusiastic belief that we've found football Harry Truman. I'll leave it to those of you who are younger or less cynical or maybe more naive or maybe just happier. And I won't judge you for being what I once was, and you won't judge me for what I've become. We'll all root for Michigan and Brady Hoke, and we won't mistake apparently undue optimism or pessimism for moral failure. Maybe it's a deal we all could make.