Best feeling about U-M football and hoops together since...?

Submitted by NoVaWolverine on November 22nd, 2011 at 10:45 AM

Yesterday the hoops team outclassed a very athletic Memphis squad -- a win due in no small part to John Beilein's superior coaching and preparation.  Meanwhile, the football team has put together two solid November wins for the first time in forever, including a thrashing of Nebraska. Going into The Game, this is the best we've felt about our chances to beat the damn Buckeyes in five years.

Which leads me to ask: When was the last time we felt this good about the current and future state of both revenue sports programs at U-M?

I was a Rich Rodriguez fan; I believed he was the breath of fresh air U-M football needed after The Horror and the general decline of the late-Carr era. It didn't work out -- no reason to rehash all that here. But after seeing:

  • the way the football team has grown this year; 
  • the great incoming recruiting class;
  • the unbelievable job Hoke and Mattison have done w/the defense; and 
  • the overall performance against Nebraska

I think few would deny U-M football is on the right path again.

Meanwhile, Beilein has just landed arguably the biggest U-M basketball recruit since Webber in Mitch McGary (plus GRobIII and Nick Stauskas -- not a bad way to round out a recruiting class!). He's answered the one question people had about him coming from W. Virginia -- whether he could recruit on an elite level. And if the current team performs up to expectations, Beilein will have gotten Michigan to the Big Dance in 3 of the past 4 seasons. 

Best of all, neither Hoke nor Beilein is a flight risk the way, say, Harbaugh would've been.

I honestly can't remember the last time I felt so good about both the present and future of both programs at the same time. My only thought is fall of 2006, when Carr was having his last great season and the hoops team seemed to be heading at least vaguely in the right direction. (But by that point it was clear Amaker could not put together a coherent offense; meanwhile, Carr was certain to retire soon and the identity of his successor was unclear.)

But as of November 22, 2011, it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine -- and looks to be so well into the future!

p.s. - a sad aside -- I just read the news about Leon Hall tearing his Achilles last week. Damn. He might never be the same player again. But as Ross Tucker at ESPN writes, Hall's decision to sign his big contract extension before the season (rather than risk waiting to cash in after becoming a free agent) was a hell of a smart move in hindsight.

Comments

M-Wolverine

November 22nd, 2011 at 10:48 AM ^

Michigan Basketball beat Duke the same day Woodson won the Heisman.

I hear the football team was pretty good then too.

(Now, the B-Ball program was built on a house of cards...but we didn't KNOW it at the time. So yeah, then).

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

November 22nd, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

Yeah, I was thinking about that time too.  '97-'98 ish.  Football team was on its way to a national title and the hoops team had just won the NIT the year before, and Tractor Traylor and Maceo Baston were seniors. Plus, LaVell Blanchard was hooping it up at Pioneer and I think he was either already committed by then or it was assumed he eventually would.

jmblue

November 22nd, 2011 at 12:08 PM ^

The NCAA had already ruled on the case.  It was closed at that point.  Because they did not have evidence of payments made to the four players, they could only hit us with a few minor sanctions.  However, we decided that there was enough suspicion of guilt to let Fisher go.

A few years later, the FBI raided Ed Martin's home and produced the evidence the NCAA had been missing.

oriental andrew

November 22nd, 2011 at 10:53 AM ^

as M-Wolverine said, 1997-1998.  Off the top of my head, I want to say it Dec 7, 1997 that Michigan beat Duke and Woodson won the Heisman.  A few of my friends were on TV several times holding up a Woodson for Heisman sign at the game. 

The entire 1997-1998 season was incredible.  Football won the national championship; hockey won the national championship; and basketball won the inaugural Big Ten Tournament.   Banner year. 

NoVaWolverine

November 22nd, 2011 at 11:08 AM ^

... seeing as how I was still a UM student at the time! :-)  I remember the excitement on campus when Woodson won the Heisman and knowing we'd be playing for the national championship in the Rose Bowl, but I'd forgotten all about the win over Duke the same day. And that was a Duke team with f----n' Wojo, which made the win doubly sweet. (Maybe my efforts to forget everything about the Brian Ellerbe era have been *too* successful...) But U-M hoops was a house of cards, as M-Wolverine notes.  

justingoblue

November 22nd, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

Not quite an answer, but my uncle graduated in '89. I've always thought that must have been one hell of a way to go out, seeing the Wolverines win some fooseball game and a shooty-hoops tournament.

Yost Ghost

November 22nd, 2011 at 11:40 AM ^

Rumeal sank those free throws with 3 seconds left to lift UM over Seton Hall my roomate and I decided to go down to South U to see what was happening. When we got there it was bedlam. The whole of South U was packed with people. People hanging off traffic signals, standing on cars, drinking in the streets, rocking cars and creating a ruckus. What a blast.

Mr. Rager

November 22nd, 2011 at 11:04 AM ^

I think this is a little premature, no?

While I'm as excited as anyone after Nebraska and Memphis, why don't we see how the Ohio State and Duke games play out before calling this the peak of the last 15 years?  While it most likely is (thank you Tommy Amaker and Rich Rodriguez), I am going to wait a few more months to call it.  

M-Wolverine

November 22nd, 2011 at 11:28 AM ^

It's about feelings, and direction for the future.  And in any regard, it's an open ended question? When HAVE you felt this good about the combined programs?

You could answer "2010" if you don't really feel any better about it.  So, yeah, if losing to Duke means you don't think our basketball program has a bright future, that's your right. But then you must think it didn't have a very great past, because it's not like we've ever regularly beat Duke. (And the high points of Michigan Basketball recently are few and far between to pick...)

IGTBAMW22

November 22nd, 2011 at 11:05 AM ^

It's a great feeling, but a fleeting one. With Duke tonight and most importantly The Game on Saturday, I know I won't feel exactly the same (good or bad, though I've got a high ceiling and a low floor on the basketball side) about either program by the end of the week.

That being said, you're right on. From a structural standpoint, the baselines of both programs have been raised dramatically. The recruiting has been phenomenal, and we're seeing strong production on the court and on the gridiron. The future looks bright, and I'm proud to see Beilein and Hoke (and Mattison) at their respective helms.

GO BLUE

NoVaWolverine

November 22nd, 2011 at 11:17 AM ^

Obviously, we all won't feel so great if Duke stomps us tonight and we lay an egg against osu on Saturday. But the long term trends are what really make me excited -- as you put it, from a "structural standpoint, the baselines of both programs have been raised dramatically." That even extends to the facilities, another item I should have mentioned; there's no doubt the upgrades to Crisler, the new BB practice facility (or "Player Development Center" or whatever the hell they call it), and the Big House expansion/renovation are playing a big factor in the great recruiting.

But most of all, it's the coaching. Win or lose against Duke and osu, I just feel like with Beilein and Hoke we finally have two guys leading these programs who have their shit together.  

WolverineHistorian

November 22nd, 2011 at 11:56 AM ^

I agree with M-Wolverine.  The night Woodson won the Heisman trophy, the football team was 11-0 and heading into the Rose Bowl as the #1 team in the nation.  That same day, the basketball team beat #1 Duke for the third straight year.  The hockey team beat Boston College that day too and they, like the football team, went on to win the national title that year.

Unfortunately, the excitement over beating Duke didn't last long.  A couple days later, my dad and I went to Crisler and watched the team fall in overtime to Eastern Michigan.  That sucked. 

M-Dog

November 22nd, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

1997.  Had just beaten OSU to go undefeated, then two weeks later beat Duke after being down by 20, then Woodson won the unexpected Hiesman that same afternoon.

It's great . . . to be . . . a Michigan Wolverine.