My Michigan Football Experience and Future Expectations

Submitted by UMGooch on October 14th, 2010 at 2:26 PM

I am not a lifer Michigan fan. I did not grow up a Michigan fan, despite my mother being an alumni and living in the greater Detroit area. I guess I was fairly disinterested in sports until midway thru my teens.

My memory of Michigan football dates back to about 2004. The first games I remember watching adamantly were the 2004 OSU loss and the 2005 Rose Bowl against Texas when I was awaiting my Michigan acceptance letter, both of which were letdowns at the hands of mobile quarterbacks Troy Smith and Vince Young. I suppose I knew of such events as the undefeated 1997 season under Lloyd, but when I enrolled, Michigan was mediocre at best in the fall of 2005. People were extremely unpleased; I recall the "fire Carr" talk then.

2006 was incredible. I consider this to be the year where I became a real Michigan fan with the success we had. I experienced how good it felt to be on top (TWSS), and how good it felt to win. Even with the slight stumbles and uncertainty with Ball State, we were still 11-0 going into Columbus, the Game of the Century. However, since the death of Bo (which I never truly grasped or understood), this team has been a shining star of mediocrity.

"Those who stay will be champions" is no longer an axiom we can honor. The only champions I recall being was Capital One Bowl champions. I have never witnessed a Big 10 championship. I have never witnessed a victory over Ohio State. I've witnessed the HORROR. I've witnessed the pains of a new coach and walk-on quarterbacks. I've witnessed one of the worst seasons that any living Michigan fan can recall. I've witnessed true freshmen quarterbacks trying to be heroes. And I am currently witnessing the levee-during-Hurricane-Katrina caliber secondary. But I'm still here hoping for a brighter future or return to glory.

So, wise, knowing Michigan populace, I entreat you, what are realistic expectations for this team? Do you feel it is even possible to remain dominant atop a major conference with the sheer flooding of skill into college football these days? Are these past 5 seasons just part of the natural ebb and flow to (sports) franchises and success? Or are we careening our way off the path of dominance? Did Bo take the secret recipe for winning Big 10 titles with him to the grave?

Comments

jrt336

October 14th, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

Hopefully we win 9 next year. That'd be awesome. I don't know if that's possible though. Our D will still be pretty darn bad. We need to be true contenders for the B10 championship in 2012. As in going into the OSU game with the possibility of being B10 champs.

Hail-Storm

October 14th, 2010 at 3:09 PM ^

9 wins this year. I had to read his post 5 times to make sure he was saying next year and not this year.

Actually I am optimistic that we still have a chance at the Big 10 this year.

To the OP, what you should expect as a Michigan fan is that we can win any game and have a chance at a Big ten title every year, with a chance at a MNC run every 4 years.

M-Wolverine

October 14th, 2010 at 4:55 PM ^

OMG DISASTER!!!  I'm just saying, if we can beat ONE team that might be better than us, 9 is still possible. And hoping for 9 in year 4 seems like really low standards. Particular if we win 8 or 9 this year.  I'm not saying National Championship 2011 (Defense will make sure that doesn't happen), but by that time, I hope we're at least in the race for Big Ten Title.  Otherwise we're pretty much wasting Denard's career.

tasnyder01

October 14th, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

I might be the opposite of you, but that's ok.  I grew up a Michigan fan.  My parents met there in the NROTC program in the early 80s.  (Special props to anyone who can guess who my dad was.  Hint: He's the first USN SEAL officer to quit the SEALS to go SWO.)

Anyways, my dad preached to me about how UM was awesome.  I was 6 when we won the NC in 97.  I grew up knowing that UM would always win the BT.  Alas, as I enter college in the tiny school of UC Davis in the same class as Tate and Denard, my hopes have become....abashed.

Still, in case you do not know the michigan stuff that I lifer knows, here are somethings to make you proud of UM: We are the winningest program in CF, we have the highest winning percentage in CF, we have (I believe) the 3rd largest stadium IN THE WORLD.  We had Bo, who brought the OSU rivalry to where it is at now, we had Yost, who had a point-a-minute team in the early parts of last century, we had Lloyd, who was possibly one of the best recruiters.  We have never had a major NCAA infringement (unless you call extra streching time a "major" infringement).  We are: MICHIGAN!

But, on to the predictions:most people had the linear expectation of "last season's win total +2" for the past two years.  Then, we went 5-0.  At that time people were clamoring for a possible 9-10 win season, although I think most logical people were expecting 8-9.  Then, we lost.  At this point illogical people said "WE ARE DOOOOMED" and they propmtly got their heads cut off and indeed were doomed.  Then, a UFR came out along with logic and people said this:

Our team will win 7-8 games (+.5 of preseason expectations).  With 5 wins already we only need 3 more to get to 8.  Those three, in order of easiest to hardest are: Purdont, Illinois, and Penn State.  We might lose to IU or PSU, which would give us a 7 game season.

However, I believe we'll win 8 because even given the loss to PSU or IU, I bet we win one of Iowa or Wisconsin.

This is long, so I'm sorry.  Have a nice day.  Please don't neg.  Etc, etc.

bdneely4

October 14th, 2010 at 2:57 PM ^

you should expect this team to improve.  If this team does not show improvement, then we have very important issues to deal with.  Whatever win total that is, I have no idea, but improvement should be the scale on which this team is judged for as young as the majority of our players that we put on the field are.

Y0ST

October 14th, 2010 at 3:16 PM ^

You missed Bo, Carter, Elvis, Desmond, Wheatly, Woodson, Greise, A-train, Henson, Brady, and a bunch of other greats that I grew up with. It never occured to me that younger M fans have so very few good memories. How very depressing that is.

MDave

October 14th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

I really became a Michigan fan in the late 80's, so my first memories were tons of Big 10 championships, the 9-2-1 against OSU, a MNC, 2 Heisman winners, tons of greats, and Northwestern being the most annoying team Michigan played.

Those Michigan teams got me through a lot of tough times in my life and nobody would want to be anywhere near me if Michigan lost, because I would be so emotionally invested in those games.  The past few years have been a real wake up call. 

Tater

October 14th, 2010 at 5:00 PM ^

I went through the mediocre period in the 60's, and watched the game where Woody ran up the score.  Michigan will be back on top soon.  This is an unprecedented down period, but it is a tougher era in which to rebuild.  Look at what Nebraska went through when trying to modernize, and look at what they are doing now.  Miami and FSU have gone through a lot of crap, too.

 Just because it is tougher, though, doesn't mean it is impossible.  Michigan won't take nearly as long as Nebraska did to make it back.  They are only a year away from being a possible "surprise" team and two away from being a possible juggernaut. 

And I haven't written off this season yet.  I think they could make it down here to Florida for New Year's.

EZMIKEP

October 14th, 2010 at 6:50 PM ^

down period. We had a small blip in the 60's before most on here remember. Now we are going through another. The suck ass part of it all is that OSU has been kicking our ass through it and there haven't been many bright spots to dull the pain throughout the decline outside of the tease that was 2006.

My thoughts are that we will get the ship righted and back on course, just not as fast as everyone would like. If we hadn't had the worst fucking luck ever we might actually have a defense, and I think it would be close(not quite/but almost) to game over this very season if we fielded a competent D. Next year and the year after the offense is going to get even better. I would say with our schedule next year we would be a serious BCS Championship threat if we had a middle of the pack D. I think the Offense will be that special the next 2 years. 

I keep looking at Oregon's progression & I think as juniors & seniors Michigan has better athletes running the same offense which is lighting people up right now. Example is when Stanford puts 31 on them & they punch back with 52. Sky is the limit for Michigan's O. 

Be patient. Its going to get there. You are just going to have to take the bullshit that keeps getting dished out in the process.

Search4Meaning

October 14th, 2010 at 10:20 PM ^

Michigan 24 - OSU 12  1969.

Mom and Dad were Spartans.  They got a call from another Spartan (apparently they weren't on TV, something they have been used to) that there was something happening and my Dad switched the channels (three channels were all we got at the time).

Next thing I know my Dad is shouting at the TV and I came down to check it out.  My Dad was cheering for Michigan!  I had never seem him so excited.  I fed off that.  We had watched MSU games, but he was NEVER that excited.

All three of their sons went to Michigan.  They both became passionate Michigan fans for the rest of their lives.

So many incredible memories!  I know we have many more to come.  Patience.  It will be worth it!

lilpenny1316

October 14th, 2010 at 10:38 PM ^

...Bo's last victory, a win over Ohio State at the Big House.  I was a fan for a few years before that. 

I was 9 when I left the television and Michigan up big on Miami to go to Sign of the Beefcarver and turned on the radio after the game and got the final score.  Arrrgh.

I was 10 when Reggie Ho went from unknown to hero. 

But I was at UofM when we won the national title in '97.

Being a UofM fan means that you have to be ready each week because you'll get each team's best shot.  As much as OSU has owned the conference the last few years, we are still looked at as a signature win for a program.  Do you know Wisky has lost only 4 home games since 1994?  Three of them were to Michigan.

For this team, 7-5 or 8-4 were and still are realistic expectations.

The last four or five years are definitely a rough patch for us. Even though the 50s were some lean years, 3-9 seasons were still not part of the equation.  But we did have a 7-5 season in 2005 and we had some 4 loss seasons that could have been 5 loss seasons if those Cooper teams knocked us off, especially those 1995 and 1996 teams.  So really, we've had really average teams before. 

But Bo didn't take anything to the grave.  When Moeller was here, we actually experienced a winning record in bowl games and some dynamic offenses to go with it.  With Carr, we got consistent seasons and a nice New Years Day bowl game. 

So I think that next year, you will starting seeing us enjoying New Years Day bowl games and more 9-10 win seasons.  We may get there this year, but starting next year it will be more of an expectation.

Syyk

October 14th, 2010 at 10:57 PM ^

I was nine in 1997 for the championship.  The first game I really remember vividly was the Rose Bowl against WSU, especially the field goal to win it.  I also remember Woodson pretty well.  Before that, it's pretty fuzzy.  I vaguely remember Virginia in 1995... not so much anything about the game, but that we played it.  I know I watched Tim Biakabutuka (mostly because I remember loving the name), but have little recollection of his actual playing.  I also remember discussing Dreisbach vs. Greise with a friend of mine. 

I'm not even really sure how my obsession with Michigan really happened.  My dad was a huge fan, but not someone that absolutely had to watch every week.  Yet, I always felt that it was a much more weighty matter than the Tigers, Red Wings or Lions... it was vital that Michigan won in a way that wasn't true for the other sports.  Maybe that was a reflection of the short schedule, where one loss and you were pretty much out of the MNC debate or maybe it was something deeper than that.  I don't know. 

It's odd to reflect back on it now, because I can't pinpoint the moment when it became so damn important to me, but it did.  Probably the most important thing in my life that isn't directly related to me.  I haven't missed a game since The Horror (I was in Boston and even then I was starting at the ESPN gametracker the whole time) and before that I had watched every single game at least since 2002 or so. 

UMGooch

October 15th, 2010 at 11:16 AM ^

All of those other sports have playoffs. A loss is not nearly as devastating.

Typically, you can still be Big 10 champs with a loss or two. With how many good CFB teams there are, you can't make a NC game with more than 1 loss (depending on the season; 2007 upset party comes to mind).

This is a big reason why college football completely controls my mood in autumn.

Humen

October 14th, 2010 at 11:13 PM ^

1997. I remember the day. Sitting in my grandparent's living room, I was surrounded by Ohio State fans. For whatever reason, I had never grown attached to OSU and was that day hoping they would lose. I still remember #2 streaking down that sideline, running into the endzone and posing. HELLOOOOOO HEISMAN. That is where it all began.

M-Dog

October 15th, 2010 at 2:16 AM ^

stock market in 2001.  You are a victim of bad timing, nothing else.

These things go in cycles.  USC, Nebraska, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, OSU, etc. all had their half-decades in the wilderness.  It was usually triggered by the end of a long-term stable coaching regime. But they all came back.

Michigan will too.  This year will not be last year.  Look for 8 wins, maybe nine.  If the defense can get even a pulse, Michigan will be legit B10 title contenders, or at least "Bo" Division contenders, in 2011 and 2012.  That will be enough to get the recruiting snowballing to the point where we are consistently back on top.