Brian,While the season has not been a "success", so to speak, I guess I'm a bit surprised at the pessimism about our future seasons. The bowl streak is over and the 2005 season sounds like a dream at this point, however, I think that there may be some hope for the future.Other than the Notre Dame fumble fest, we've held a lead in every game thus far this season. Also, other than the Utah and Toledo games, we've held substantial leads in the rest of the games (substantial = Lloyd's insurmountable 10 point margin). It seems like after we get out to a quick start, teams adjust and we lose steam. Ignoring any future gains in personnel and the growth of young players, it seems as if, given more time to install a few more wrinkles in the offense, this team, as it is, could be significantly improved next year. As in, the biggest thing we lack is an ability to adjust to the other team's adjustment.Am I blinded by optimism? Is this all crazy talk? I just find it hard to believe that we've put a scare into two top ten teams this year (Utah and PSU) and are realistically that far away from being "back". While we're losing more games than I thought we would, I do see some reason for optimism ... in other words, while our final records may be the same, this is a better season than ND had in 2007.Thanks,Sam
I actually plan to tackle the "which season was worse, M 2008 or ND 2007?" question in shocking, horrific detail once Michigan's season clatters to a halt on November 22nd. I don't think you're totally off base with your optimism, but you are somewhat.
Let's definite "optimism," first. It's totally reasonable to expect significant improvement. Michigan returns 11 starters on offense and 5 on defense. The new coaching staff will have a year of experience with the players and the players will have a year of experience with the systems. There will be three reasonable quarterback options on campus instead of half of one. Michigan won't accidentally schedule a top ten team like Utah in the nonconference. A repeat of 3-9 or 4-8 would be a disaster. Even a pessimist has to expect 6-6. Optimism in this case is 9-3.
Is that reasonable? Maybe it is, for all the reasons mentioned above, and one more: the number 104. That's Michigan's ranking in turnover margin this season. TO margin is not entirely random but there is very little year-to-year correlation; Michigan is likely to improve radically next year. This argues for 7-5, 8-4, maybe even 9-3. Flukes have conspired to make Michigan look worse than it really is this year.
However, this is another number that is no fluke: –71. That's Michigan's deficit in total yards this year (ie, Michigan is averaging 71 fewer yards on offense than they give up on defense). That's a much harder statistic to improve, especially when Michigan probably won't have the luxury of playing a quarterback with a year's worth of hard knocks behind him. It's not like Jimmah(!) is ripping the world a new orifice, but Notre Dame's passing efficiency has gone from 113th to 54th largely because he's not the worst quarterback in the universe anymore.
At this point I think 2009 is going to be a pretty bleah year that ends in some December bowl game.
As someone who’s in the tank for your perspective on the Rodriguez Administration, I’ve been trying not to get too worked up about this season; being out of state (NYC) that’s not too hard, since I don’t have any contact with local columnists and talk-radio, and the fellow fans I talk to here are relatively sane. The only nightmare I actually have about this season is that somehow Rodriguez will get forced out, and we’ll have to start over from scratch and hire someone named “Bowden.” I would consider that scenario incredibly far-fetched, except that you keep mentioning these anti-RR knuckleheads, which is making me paranoid that they actually are making some headway. Can you disabuse me of my paranoia? You’re not actually hearing rumblings from anyone who counts, right?
Also, I keep being frustrated by the feeling that RR and the athletic department are not getting to hear my/our side of the argument. Partly this is kind of a ludicrous fan daydreaming like, “I bet me and Mike Hart would be friends if we knew each other! Rich Rodriguez would shake my hand and thank me for my support if I ran into him in an airport and told him how I feel!” But there’s also a logical reason to worry about it, which is that it seems to me like the naysayers control the instruments of public-sentiment-conveyance that RR or Bill Martin would hear about. My sense is that younger fans and the students (based purely on my observation of the student section at the MSU game) are behind the new team—how can this be gotten across? Pro-Rodriguez chants at the last home game? Letter-writing campaigns? Sending “Hang in There” kitten posters to Bill Martin’s office?
For the very official record: no mention of discontent in the athletic department, credible or not, has reached my inbox. This is because the people in the athletic department are not complete idiots even if local sportswriters want them to be. I have heard that certain people high up fully understand how far behind the eight ball Rodriguez is because of the decision to pursue just Ryan Mallett over the course of two recruiting years. That led to a 2007 quarterback recruiting class of the Coner and drove Jason Forcier to Stanford. When Mallett transferred the instant Rodriguez was named head coach, it immediately subtracted three wins from this year's record and maybe a few more in 2009. That sequence of events more than any other is responsible for the dismal year we're enduring, and they know that inside the AD.
I'm torn between bemusement and white-hot rage at the way these things get constructed. Look at the amazing coverage of Rodriguez's buyout lawsuit, which was mentioned every week as an "embarrassment" and a "stain on the university" by columnists. Why was it "embarrassing"? Because columnists kept writing about it! They wrote columns citing some sort of furor over this meaningless lawsuit between one insanely rich party and another insanely rich party when that furor was entirely contained in stupid columns with lots of one-sentence paragraphs and West Virginia message boards.
You can see the Detroit columnists doing this again, by speaking darkly about the Impatient Michigan Fan and his horrible cruelty to Lloyd Carr, who voluntarily retired and could have kept his job and everyone still likes and respects even after losing to Ohio State six of seven years. Find another fanbase out there that would react like that. No doubt this vicious monster will turn on proven collegiate head coach because he had a terrible first year with 600 first year starters. But if they say it enough, it will seem true. See the "Rich Rodriguez is the devil" meme, which got started with one flatly dishonest "news" report about Rodriguez shredding WVU's Sacred Single Hard Copies and leaving the Mountaineers no idea who was even on the team. Columns started, then more columns got written because there were columns out there, and it turned into this enormous recursive circle jerk of stupidity.
All Rodriguez could say was a befuddled "I just changed jobs," because what else can you say to people who would abandon their current jobs in a nanosecond if you offered them a 60% pay raise and a spot at the New York Times but criticize you for doing the same thing? Other than "are you idiots serious about this?"
This is by way of warning you: yeah, I am probably going to write an angry fisk or three over the summer.
Anyway, as far as Action Items you can undertake: if you send an email to Bill Martin, someone will read it and it will probably be compiled into a report of general fan sentiment. This might be marginally helpful. Writing huge checks and promising more as long as Rodriguez is given a fair shake will probably do it, if you're Scrooge McDuck.
But these things are of marginal impact or expensive. I advise making the style of your fandom public. You know that PSA from a couple years ago where some businessmen are sitting at a table and Businessman A says something like "You know what about black people rabble rabble racist implication!" and Businessman B says something like "No, sir, I don't approve of your racist claptrap and give you this disappointed glare"?
Yeah, I think the way you change the culture of a place is by providing social disapproval of people who are acting poorly. Apparently I do this by chucking empty water bottles at booers and bitching them out; there are probably more elegant ways of doing this. Everyone has some group of fans they can influence. I advise telling people to chill out, and doing this as stridently as you have to when the person in question has lost his mind.
I've noticed that the internets are void of Bo's "The Team" speech. Are you aware of any video copies floating around? I know of audio copies via youtube, but the speech goes from great to legendary with Bo's expressions. Any help would be appreciated.
Does anyone out there have this? And can you put it on the tubes if you do?