Michigan's season is not unprecedented among the "elite" of college football

Submitted by oriental andrew on November 12th, 2008 at 11:29 AM

This season stinks. No question about it. However, let's put things into a little perspective. This type of season is not unprecedented among the so-called "elite" of college football (a highly subjective list of my own choosing). Many "brand names" have faltered badly, some worse than our own beloved Wolverines this season. Frankly, it does make me feel a little less bad about the season. Combine that with the fact that RR has had an excellent track record wherever he has been and I have what I feel is justified optimism for the future of Michigan football.

Michigan: projected record of 4-8 (beat NU, lose to osu). First losing season since 1965.

Alabama: 5 losing seasons since 1993, including 1-12 (1993), 3-8 (2000), 4-9 (2003). Edit: it's been pointed out to me that 'Bama forfeited a lot of games in 1993, hence the crappy record. Point still stands, however, given 2000 and 2003.

Florida: Ok, really have to reach back for this one. They haven't had a losing season since 1979, but it was a doozy (0-10-1). They've actually been no worse than mediocre since, with the real upswing in the Spurrier era.

Florida State: After losing 19 games in 14 seasons (1987-2000), they've lost 17 in the past 3 (not counting 2008). Not quite the massive fall from grace witnessed elsewhere, but consecutive 7-6 seasons had a lot of people grumbling.

Georgia: After a national championship in 1980, they suffered 3 losing seasons in 7 years (1990-1996). A couple of beatdowns by top-ranked teams in 2008, but still ranked and miles ahead of the Goff/Donnan years.

LSU: We think of them as upper-echelon now, but there was a time from 1989-1999 where they had more losing seasons (8, including 2-9 and 3-8 campaigns) than winning seasons (3).

Nebraska: Thanks, Mr Bill. Nebraska has had 2 losing seasons in the past 4. Still have work to do in Lincoln.

Notre Dame: I won't dwell, but they've had 4 losing seasons since Michigan won the national championship. Michigan is having a bad season, but at least it's not MULTIPLE crappy seasons. There, I feel better now.

ohio state: Their most recent losing season was 1988 (and yes, Michigan eked out the win, thankfully), the first of the Cooper era. They've been decent since then (bastards), but there was a point where they sucked.

Oklahoma: They're great now, but there was a 4 year stretch from 1995-1998 where they never had more than 5 wins (3 losing seasons, including 3-8 one year).

Penn State: Again, won't dwell, but they've had 4 losing seasons since 2000 (in a 5 year span, I might add). They're all cocky and uppity now, but the 2000-2004 PSU fan would not have bragged so much.

Tennessee: Losing season in 2005. Plus, they're also 3-7 so far this season.

Texas: They've passed their doldrums, having had 6 losing seasons from 1987-1996. But those were some serious doldrums.

USC: Since 1983, only 3 losing seasons. BUT, they've also sprinkled in four .500 seasons and two 6-5 seasons. Number of 10-win seasons from 1980-2001? One. Michigan over that same timespan? Eight.

Losing still sucks, but don't you feel better now? Michigan football can (and, I believe, WILL) be back, as RR put it.



November 12th, 2008 at 11:59 AM ^

....yeah, LSU is not a historical power, but a modern one......they never did anything since the Billy Cannon days until Nicky took over earlier this decade....Texas had a losing season with Ricky Williams and Preist Holmes in the same backfield.

And, you could have included Miami Florida on your list. A couple of losing seasons in the 1990s and the mediocrity of a 7-6 season in 2006 and a 5-7 season in 2007.

And, regarding OSU......i know you're focusing on losing seasons, but in 1999, the Bucks went 6-6, 3-5 in league games.....and that was after a stretch from 1995-1998 when there wasnt a program in the country with as much talent....also, in 2004, they only went 4-4 in league play.

Dips are supposed to happen. We are only now joining the club.

oriental andrew

November 12th, 2008 at 4:39 PM ^

I pulled the data quickly from College Football Data Warehouse. The pages I looked out, which showed the yearly totals, didn't indicate that 1993 consisted of a lot of forfeitures for Bama.

Good point, also, about programs that have stumbled and not recovered. The key factor for said programs is poor coaching - not just average coaching, but flat out bad coaching. I honestly believe Rodriguez is an excellent coach and that Michigan will not consistently struggle. 2009 may not be an excellent year, but will show marked improvement. 2010? Watch out.


November 12th, 2008 at 12:28 PM ^

Yes, we fell into a hole much like many other "elites." That doesn't excuse it or make us look any better for it. Rather, it makes us look as ill prepared as many others and unable to avoid the same "cluster fog" so many have crashed into. Nothing justifies the crash.

The salient issues are how bad is the crash and how long will the recovery period be? We have no clear answer on that today.

Here is what we can reasonably infer:

1. 2009 is going to be tough also. (Frosh QB, no game changer, glaring weaknesses at LB and S. for starters.) Hopefully we get to a bowl but no euphoria is called for.

2. Recruiting is good to meh so far this year. Again, no game changers on the horizon. OL recruiting continues to be a drag. Meanwhile, O$U has the #1 class and will simply reload next year with TP behind the best OL in the Big 10.

3. 2010 looks like the nearest point of relief but how much is far from clear.

MI Expat NY

November 12th, 2008 at 2:17 PM ^

what constitutes a game changer? A stud who simply can't be stopped? A player capable of making a big play seemingly at anytime?

I'm not sure how you can there's no game changers when so many players on offense are freshman and playing behind a young, inexperienced offensive line. What i've seen this year is a lead back (Minor) who is capable of carrying a team's running game, multi-purpose change of pace backs (McGuffie, Shaw) that are capable of breaking big plays, a wide receiver/return man who is great in space (odoms), a young receiver capable of becoming a big play threat (Stronum), and a big bodied TE/WR capable of making playes (Kroger). Add all that to a qb capable of balancing out the offense with both his legs and his arm (Forcier/Beaver) and an offensive line with another year of experience/strength training and greater depth, and I think we're going to have a solid if not spectacular offense next season. Additionally, I think you're overly pessimistic about the recruiting. Our greatest needs have been addressed, and there are potential michigan greats in this class.

I don't think we're going to have one of those seasons where we're a national title contender or anything, there will be legitimate concerns on defense that prevent that. I do, however, think 9-3 is a real possibility and merely being bowl eligible will be a low level expectation for next season.


November 13th, 2008 at 12:08 PM ^

Not only what blueman says, but part of our pride was based on the fact that we had NOT gone through such doldrums/adjustments. It was great that we had been at least pretty good year in and year out and part of our having the most wins of any program was that we never sucked.

So actually I think we lost a lot with this year- the no- losing-record-streak, the bowl streak, and the we-don't-suck-ever-streak.

We could differentiate ourselves from USC, Alabama, and Notre Dame because even though they might be better than us in a given year, we had never experienced the pain that they had. It wasn't inevitable that we would have that pain, and it sucks that we do.

I don't think RR should be fired or anything like that, but that doesn't mean that this year hasn't sucked, and perspective can only get you so far. The fact that we even need perspective makes me sad.


November 12th, 2008 at 12:35 PM ^

Understands that a season like ours is inevitable. What, you thought Michigan would go the next 40 years without a truly shitty season? Joe Paterno himself stated that he hopes to have just one great team every 4-5 years and accepts that attrition will ruin one or two years. That's JoePa. Talking about FIVE YEARS. Extrapolate that over Michigan's run of 40, and you have a logical fallacy Michigan fans adherer to - that we're not one of 'them'. Going into how wrong that is would be a waste of time, judging by the stupidity displayed by many around here.

Every powerhouse falls. Some get up(Oklahoma, USC), some don't(Notre Dame, Nebraska).


November 12th, 2008 at 5:30 PM ^

very nice. we've been defying probability since 1967

Two things i wish to see in the future going forward to ensure another run of non-losing seasons.....

1. coaching stability = prolonged success. lets hope this continues with RRod.

2. Pete Carroll's QB cycle. USC's QBs, no matter how talented, usually never start until their third year. Palmer, Leinart, Booty, Sanchez, all had multiple years to learn the offense. This is not always possible but I think this kind of cycle really helps toward stability. Very few freshmen QB's lead their teams to successful seasons. We aren't USC in terms of recruiting but we get good enough talent to be able to carry this out. Freshmen QBs lead to 4-7 seasons.

3. Mean defense. Easier said than done!

Go Blue


November 13th, 2008 at 2:18 AM ^

I really want to see this. There used to be a time when UM had a really good to great defense year in and year out. Lately though, it seems that the trend is average to pretty good (with 2006 maybe being great - debatable based upon the last two games of the that year).

It obviously isn't going to happen overnight because it's going to take a few years to upgrade the overall talent on the defense (particularly LB and safety).

Really good to great defense year in and year out is a huge part of the reason for OSU's continued success lately.


November 12th, 2008 at 5:33 PM ^

Downturns are bound to happen, and they're tough to experience.

Truthfully, I'd be encouraged and psyched for 2010 if we go 7-5 next year. After this year it'd be frustrating to hear people bitch about the quality of any bowl we'd go to in 2009. This season has definitely provided perspective.