Submitted by 909Dewey on November 8th, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Let's look back.  This was our preseason rank from CFN as of January 17 2008:

21. Michigan  2007 Record: 9-4
Expect a step back to take a big leap forward, at least offensively. There could've been one of the nation's best passing games with Ryan Mallett throwing to Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington, but they all took off. Who's the quarterback? Georgia Tech transfer Steven Threet? He's a passer, but Rich Rodriguez will want a dual-threat playmaker meaning Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top recruit, could be coming to Ann Arbor, or Carlos Brown could step in from the running back corps. The defense takes a big hit, but DT Terrance Taylor should be a strong anchor to build around.

This didn't exactly pan out.  What it shows is that after we beat FL (using a spread offense), after Mallett and MM and AA were already gone, before the destination of TP was known, it wasn't unreasonable to guess that we would have success in 2008.  In the months that followed it became apparent that UM would not be a top 25 team.  Even so, expectations remained high, Alex Wang from June 2008:

Though the question marks are there—and they are numerous—I believe this team will be better than what most the prognosticators have projected.  Most rumblings have Michigan as either a six or seven-win team, some even stating that the streak of 33 consecutive bowl games is at risk.

While that situation is a distinct possibility, I envision a minimum of seven victories, and if everything goes Michigan’s way next fall, I see this team with the potential to win eight, maybe even nine games, and make a return trip to the Capital One Bowl come New Year's Day.

This didn't exactly pan out.  But again we see a willingness to project UM with a fair amount of wins.  And why not?  You have a team that has enjoyed 40 years of success who just got what is supposed to be an upgrade to coaching and to the S&C program.

Let's assume the default projection from 2008 was 6-6.  We all know how 2008 turned out - a good win at Minnesota, and two almost accidental wins against Miami OH and Wisconsin.  Of our losses, the four closest losses were Utah, Purdue, Toledo, and Northwestern in that order.  Three of these were home games.  Assuming we win any three of these four games we end the season 6-6, go bowling and there is less gnashing of teeth.  The losses against Purdue (4-8 in 2008) and Toledo (3-9), were losses against teams that RR should have beat.

At the beginning of this season, based on what we saw last year 6-6 seemed to be the default preseason estimate.  Then we went 4-0, showed signs of competence, and even were a ranked team at some point.  The two losses that followed were close games where we still looked like a servicable team.  Delaware State doesn't count.  PSU showed it is again a much better team than we are.  So far nothing really unexpected.  

Then Illinois and Purdue happen.

Both Illinois and Purdue currently have losing records and will probably end the season with losing records.  In both games Michigan had the halftime lead.  Again, two losses against teams we should have beat.

Assuming we beat Wisc in Madison and beat tUoOS at home (this confluence hasn't happened since 1999) then RR will have proven something.  For the first time in his tenure, he will have given us results that we can point to as proof of our hope for the future.  I will agree that even if we come away with one win RR will have demonstrated that he can overcome adversity.  However, the more likely outcome will result in the second year of two where RR couldn't get his team to overachieve or even meet expectations.

The argument in favor of RR is that in time he will make us a consistent top 5 team.  That may be so.  The trouble I am having accepting that argument is that so far RR hasn't demonstrated he can live up to any expectations.



November 8th, 2009 at 1:05 PM ^

His own comments would suggest that once he got here and evaluated the talent, he knew that it was going to take awhile to get UM to where he and the rest of us want and expect it to be.
As for next year, how can you even begin to make predictions or lay expectations? How much can a bad team improve in one year? How much difference will one more year of game experience make? How much can you expect freshmen (true or red shirt) to make a difference? For our own mental and emotional health, we would probably be better off not being too optimistic.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:07 PM ^

I agree for the most part, but two things:

How much can a bad team improve in one year? How much difference will one more year of game experience make?

I don't remember where so I can't link to it, but there was a post on the site recently that showed that players make the biggest gains in skill between their freshmen and sophomore years.

How much can you expect freshmen (true or red shirt) to make a difference?

Remember the ends of the Notre Dame, Indiana, and (regulation) MSU games? Our true freshman quarterback made a big difference then.


November 8th, 2009 at 1:17 PM ^

Good points. Unfortunately, as a Post-Toledo/The Horror Michigan fanbase, we have also learned to curb expectations accordingly. Before last night's loss to Navy, the ND victory seemed to be RR's signature win. Now, RR will need to pull out a win against WI or Ohio to "exceed" our expectations. Let's hope a win against Ohio will allay any further diaries of how much our expectations have dropped. (Not that it was poorly written, I'd just rather be bitching about how Tate was snubbed on his second Heisman and we're still stuck with the Rose Bowl instead of the NC game.)

The Bugle

November 9th, 2009 at 1:37 AM ^

That is also a good point. However, I don't think you can take away ND as a signature win. I understand that ND look very good right now, but seeing our team operating on all cylinders for a rivalry game was key. That compounded with fantastic offensive play and marginal, but passable defense proved that Michigan could play. After Illinois/Purdue/ etc. its obvious that the consistency is lacking. Rambling aside, I totally agree with your assessment of the next two weeks, I just don't think you can completely hate on the win against ND.


November 8th, 2009 at 2:25 PM ^

Let's all remember that Oklahoma, they of BCS hope and 5* legend, are 5-4 at this time. USC is also not exactly dominating this year with their ridiculous 5* talent pool with a freshman quarterback. There are tough times that even the best programs can struggle through. Not saying it's apples-to-apples, not saying they have the same schedule difficulty, not saying they have the same injuries, not saying they have the same coach: just sayin'.


November 8th, 2009 at 7:11 PM ^

College football doesn't always go as planned. Exceptionally talented and coached teams can still lose games. Experience is key, and we're still so young. The USC and Oklahoma comparisons are excellent. Anyone poo-pooing Rodriguez because he hasn't turned a MAC-level denfense into a Big Ten contender should be ignored. I pray the new Athletic Director has the wearwithall to give this coaching regime its full four years.


November 8th, 2009 at 2:33 PM ^

BEFORE he took the job, would he have taken the job? As has been stated and he himself has said many times, he had no idea how little talent was here, once he took over.

If Mike DeBord and co. had run that spread thing all season like they did in the Cap1 bowl, may be Debord, Loeffler and some others would still be here. But remember, the defense gave up a ton of yards and points in that game as well.

We're not seeing much difference between the defense in the Cap1 game to now. RR came in thinking he would have all the horses that ran wild against UF. Did he end up being "sold a bill of goods"?


November 8th, 2009 at 7:31 PM ^

Alex Wang himself in your citing says...
"Most rumblings have Michigan as either a six or seven-win team, some even stating that the streak of 33 consecutive bowl games is at risk."

The key term is most rumblings.... some even stating the bowl streak is at risk. 6-6 is a stab in the dark. It's sorta like saying we don't really know but that sounds likely.

The salient point is that people didn't know what to expect in reality. Our 2007 season was absolutely strange, albeit with a happy ending at the Cap One bowl. Given Hart, Henne, Long et all moved onto the NFL, we faced a new era with some uncertainty.

I think it's clear that the 2008 team was entering uncharted waters. Our brand name, Michigan, had won 40 years in a row. Few of us would imagine that streak would stop. We're Michigan after all, we don't rebuild, we reload. So, naturally we expected to win or at worst start winning again in '09. Impatient fan base? Ha! We never even expected to have to be patient.

We wanted to believe that our safeties getting smoked against Appy St. and Oregon were just us not being prepared or aberrations. We paid little attention to the thinning depth chart on defense. Why would we? We're Michigan and anyone can recruit 4+ stars to Ann Arbor, right?

The counter to disappointment is that our expectations may have been unreasonable and/or unrealistic. We were so filled up with our past, that we didn't realistically believe we were like other schools who have to endure rebuilding and struggle to regain success.

In economics, market correction brings an adjustment to expectations. I am disappointed that we are losing, but I also think we took for granted the 40 years of success. It's not a birthright, it has to be earned.

Having said that, can't wait until we're winning again but I will.


November 9th, 2009 at 9:52 AM ^

I hear a lot of talk about how we only expected 6 wins and 7 wins would have been a great season. Then the 4-0 start and the expectations got higher even though it was still the same team with the same problems. I don't think any of us moaning and groaning week in and week out right now at mad because we didn't make 8-4 or 9-3 like we thought could happen when we started 4-0. It's more how we lost and the fact that we're losing games the SAME way we did under the last regime. And a lot of us, myself included thought going outside the staff and getting an offensive minded coach would cure us from losing games with 14 point leads at the half to Purdue. My biggest issue with RR to this point is that they don't adjust the game plan enough throughout the game to keep the gas pedal down and not let up. I watched Cincinati give up 40 points to UConn and still win. Because they never let up on offense. The only game this season that I remember RR adjusting at the half was Notre Dame and we kept scoring enough in that game to win.


November 9th, 2009 at 12:07 PM ^

Are that we would have had smarter and more knowledgeable fans.

Instead, we quote CFN as if its some kind of gospel.

Your point boils down to CFN thought we should win 7-8 games last year and we didnt so fire rodriguez?

Frankly, considering how 'knowledgeable' you proved in that thread you started--you know the one where you claim Minor was never injured, even though he went to the hospital in the exact game you bitched about his lack of carries--speaks more volumes about the quality of this diary than anything else I could say.

Personally: I think you should cheer for a new team for a couple of years.