Has the football program had a more turbulent year?

Submitted by MonkeyMan on November 17th, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Question for you historians/old timers: 

Last year, after Mary Sue's apparently drunk interview during a game, I began to sense that things were starting to come apart at the seams at UM.

This year we have had a concussion news event, student protests, email flaps, president leaves, AD leaves and (probably) the coach is fired. Attendance has been spotty, the team may not make a bowl- and now the Frank Clark thing. Seems we never talk football anymore- one long soap opera. 

So- has there ever been a year like this for UM football before? I am sure there was a lot of drama on the campus in the 60's - but has the football program had this many negative news stories in one year before? I am not good at UM FB history- thanks for any replies



November 17th, 2014 at 5:23 PM ^

2009 would definitely give this year a run for it's money - both on the field and off.  The beginning of 2008 with the player transfers and the end of 2010 with the team cratering and Grobangate coupled with the "will he stay or will he go" saga were no box of chocolates either but top to bottom clusterfuckiness?

2014 wins the gold IMO.


November 18th, 2014 at 12:21 AM ^

When KSU blew us out! That's when I kind of knew the team had major problems and there was no improvement in the OL.

This year looked like we could finish 8-4 and be on track for a recovery season to put us in good position for 2015. But the wheels fell off in the ND game. The defense has slowly been improving (or we have just been playing awful teams) and we should be able to beat Maryland at home on Saturday and finish 6-6. I always thought Hoke would have to win 7 games and the team would have to show improvement. The offense has been really lame and has not actually improved much. Thus, Hoke must go!


November 17th, 2014 at 5:31 PM ^

I'm not sure about that. One of my law school professors who is a friend of MSC but also a straight-shooter was very adament in his belief that she was not intoxicated. He explained that she does not drink very much when dealing with big-wig donors (for obvious reasons), and that was a big fundraising night. Also, apparently it is VERY difficult to speak normally when the stadium speakers are pounding you with the sound of your own voice. Usually they tell people who try to block that out, but apparently nobody gave MSC that warning.

As for the season.....no idea, since I'm only a recent Michigan fan. I WILL say that none of my teams has ever seen anything this bad.

Everyone Murders

November 17th, 2014 at 5:39 PM ^

If you've never dealt with feedback and reverberation in a large space, I can see how you might come to that conclusion.  But it can be tremendously disorienting, and many folks concluded that MSC did not get drunk - including eyewitnesses who interacted with her both before and after the speech.

M Fanfare

November 17th, 2014 at 5:24 PM ^

Football I'm not sure about. The athletic department had some weird years in the late '90s when they churned through three ADs in rapid succession who left the department deep in the red, the basketball scandal, and the university itself had uncharacteristically rapid turnover in the presidency. However, they also took home a national championship in football and two in hockey at the same time.


November 17th, 2014 at 5:28 PM ^

Her: "what is wrong with that woman?"

Me:  "I am so happy to hear that you don't yet immediately recognize someone who is drunk.  By the way, this is what happens when you let someone put a microphone in your hand in front of lots of people when you've had far too many glasses of wine."


November 17th, 2014 at 5:34 PM ^

Yes. It's a mess and only the basketball program has kept us from complete doom. The rich rod ordeal was nothing compared to the complete devastation of the football program Brandon and Hoke displayed. It's sad but things like this can go away in shorter time than you think. One good hire and some wins, namely a big ten title and this begins to be forgotten.


November 17th, 2014 at 5:49 PM ^

I've been very fortunate to have been a BIG FAN since 69 when Bo and the team treated the #1 Buckeyes to a "spanking" in the Big house...  I was hooked...  years rolled on and the biggest disaster was a season when Michigan went 6-6 and I thought the world was coming to an end...  The following year, the team rebounded BIG TIME and back to their winning ways.  I think the Gary Moeller incident years ago has really hung over our heads for the past decade..who knows where we would be in Gary (who I think was a good coach) had used a little more common sense that night at the restaurant...  Hopefully, next year will start a trend back toward what MICHIGAN FOOTBALL is really about...  winning and winning constantly...  as for now, I think the Badgers have stolen OUR identity and if you put that team in winged helmets and maize and blue most old timers like me would swear that was a MICHIGAN TEAM through and through.

Mocha Cub

November 17th, 2014 at 5:57 PM ^

I actually think that Alabama is closer to Michigan's identity in the 90s & 2000s (these are the decades I was actually old enough to remember teams/seasons) than Wisconsin. I always remember Michigan teams with a strong running game, playmakers on the outside and, at the very least, a game manager at QB who didn't necessarily put up huge numbers to win, but was not usually the reason we lost either. Also a pretty vicious defense that put fear in the opposition. Obviously we haven't had the consistent success of only having 1-2 loss teams and national championship births, but style-wise I think Alabama is more applicable. Ahhhh those were the days


November 17th, 2014 at 5:56 PM ^

Fan since '88, definitely don't remember worse. Never thought anything could be shittier than the RR Era, and at the time was in disbelief at how bad that was, but this beats it running away. So relieved it's almost over. I hope. 


November 17th, 2014 at 5:57 PM ^

Mary Sue was dealing with a microphone delay playing loudly back at her over the loudspeakers. It is highly doubtful she was anywhere near drunk. Some folks on this board and elsewhere are just trying to believe she was drunk because it's a better story.

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November 17th, 2014 at 6:10 PM ^

The 1934 team went from undefeated national champions the two preceding years to a record of 1-7.  The team only scored two touchdowns all season and got shut out five times.  Team captain and MVP Gerald Ford almost quit the team over Georgia Tech's refusal to play against Willis Ward on account of his race.  Student organizations campaigned for two weeks prior to the game to have Ward play, but they were met by silence from the Athletic Department.  Ward watched the game from the press box.  The country was in the midst of the Great Depression and attendance was down to around 25,000 per game.  On the bright side, there is no evidence that the Michigan defense had to endure a stuffed beaver puppet.






November 17th, 2014 at 7:07 PM ^



Back in the day when starting QB BJ Dickey was kicked off the team for marijuana use, they received some heat.  Back then of course Michigan's image was pristine, as was much more of college football. 1979 or 80, something like that.  John Wangler had been hurt, Rich Hewlett ended up being QB.


When Bo was offered a lot of money to go to TAM, it raise some alarms.


Rich Rod's first year wasn't exactly great, with having to deal with Justin Faegin and that WR who showed up to court driving on a suspended license, and all the players leaving the program then, and practice gate, which was almost entirely self inflicted.




November 17th, 2014 at 7:35 PM ^

I would say 09 given the NCAA stuff and the overall negative vibes after the transfers and the whole "lack of family values" quote from Boren when hey left. 


Overall though 2014 would be the cream of the crop in terms of awfulness on and off the field. 


November 17th, 2014 at 7:43 PM ^

Except for the 11-2 year these last 7 are just a blur of unwatchable games and disappointment. Have become numb to all the other turmoil off the field because nobody gets anything right at the U anymore. And I've been there since back in the day of '73.


November 17th, 2014 at 7:51 PM ^

I always thought 09' was the low point. Even though things as try stand now are unquestionably bad, I still see enough talent for another coach and AD to come in and try to win during year 1. I didn't feel that way when Hoke came to town. He ended up doing well (in large part due to tough players like Martin and offensive mismatches Denard's ability to run provided) but that has proven to be the exception to the rule. Despite that early success I never felt RR put us in the right direction, not because of scheme, but rather consistent recruiting at all positions across the board. I still feel many of our oline depth issues stemmed directly from his inability to recruit the line.

Although it has been bad these instances have been isolated. The fact that they persist only reveal more about what most of us now know. Hoke is not a tough coach and the teams personal behavior has reflected that personality.

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November 17th, 2014 at 8:56 PM ^

with social media and sports "journalists" reporting everything split seconds after it happens, we see all of the "bad news" instead of more feel good stories. But back in the day, things weren't as prevalent because journalists focused on the product on the field.


November 17th, 2014 at 9:39 PM ^

I would nominate either the events leading to the benching of Willis Ward in the Georgia Tech game of Oct. 20, 1934, or the events leading up to Harry Kipke's resignation as UM HFC sometime after the 1937 season.

The first gave rise to the following:

Smoldering feelings on the question of Willis Ward’s participation in the Georgia Tech game burst into flame last night at what was probably the wildest and strangest Friday night rally in Michigan’s history.

[Quraishi] was the first to obtain a semblance of attention from the entire audience. He branded the audience a “bunch of fools,” unable to learn from the mistakes of others. “You with the advantage of a university education can’t even allow a meeting to be held until you are bawled out.”

Kipke lost his job after two losing seasons after earlier bringing back-to-back MNCs to UM in 1932-3. The official reasons for his demission were given as follows in the 12/12/37 Chicago Herald Tribune:

1. That he engaged in the practice of subsidizing athletes.
2. He failed to organize his coaching staf. [yes, one f.]
3. He was incompetent.
4. The board objected to his private associates.
5. He tolerated summer football practice.