Historical Context

Historical Context

Submitted by Brady2Terrell on January 17th, 2011 at 1:39 PM

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:

1919 (Yost)
1928 (Wieman)
1934 (Kipke)
1935 (Kipke)
1936 (Kipke)
1937 (Kipke)
1958 (Oosterbaan)
1959 (Elliott)
1962 (Elliott)
1967 (Elliott)
2008 (Rodriguez)
2010 (Rodriguez)

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


16 0.64
Little 1 1.00
Wieman 3 1.50
Kipke 18 2.00
Fritz 7 0.70
Bennie 18 1.64
Bump 23 2.30
Bo 11 0.52
Mo 5 1
Lloyd 13 1
RichRod 15 5

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:

Season 10-pt losses Coach
1919 4 Yost
1934 5 Kipke
1936 5 Kipke
1962 7 Elliott
2008 5 Rodriguez
2009 4 Rodriguez
2010 6 Rodriguez

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!

Go Blue.