National Championships?

Submitted by UM4ME on January 13th, 2011 at 9:37 AM

This kind of goes along with WindyCityBlue’s earlier point about being an elite program – do we, as a program, as a fan base, care about national championships?

As annoying as Drew Sharp is, I actually understand his line of questioning yesterday. Shouldn’t our goal every year be to win a national championship, not just the Big Ten? I realize that winning the Big Ten is, most likely, a step along the way but there were many times over the years when we lost in September and all hopes of a national championship were dashed. Then, as a fan base, we all said, well at least we can still win the Big Ten.

I was at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1998 and I got a taste of what it was like to be the very best and I want that back! I don’t want to settle for just GOING to Pasadena every few years. But, the more I hear other people talk, they seem just fine with that. Is it me? Is it wrong to want more? I’m honestly really struggling with this so I need feedback.

Please don’t negbang me to Bolivian - I don't have enough MGoPoints to sustain it!



January 13th, 2011 at 9:39 AM ^

Yes we care about NC's. But Hoke understands what Bo said:


"If there are any Big Ten teams that shoot for a national championship, they're damn fools...You play to win the Big Ten championship, and if you win it and go to the Rose Bowl and win it, then you've had a great season. If they choose to vote you number one, then you're the national champion. But a national champion is a mythical national champion, and I think you guys ought to know that. It's mythical." — Bo Schembechler of Michigan, July 1989[1]


January 13th, 2011 at 9:47 AM ^

Prospector, it's not mythical any more.  Have you heard of the BCS?

I think Brady understands the big picture, but I think he could have answered that question better.  Maybe "Of course, the national championship would be the ultimate goal.  But, that's not fully in our control.  What we can control is our position in the Big Ten."


January 13th, 2011 at 10:06 AM ^

I feel like this is the Reason UofM didn't win many Rose Bowls back in the day (when they actually made it to them). Your goal is to win your conference. You win it. YAY!!!1!!. Now you are in the Rose Bow, you have attained your goals for the season. Letdown. Rose Bowl defeat. Nooo!!!1!!!


January 13th, 2011 at 10:36 AM ^

we could continue to recruit players that will kick ass in any other conference and shoot for the National Title like the last few years, or we could make winning the conference the goal and see how the NC peices fall... Personally I'd rather consistantly win the Big Ten and be in the NC hunt than not be in either picture.

This isn't the old days of Woody and Bo, look who is consistantly winning the Big Ten title, Ohio State, and look how their doing in their bowl games... If we make winning our conference the goal, there is no reason to believe we won't win our bowl games.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:22 AM ^

When Brady Hoke was at Ball State was his immediate goal to coach in the Mountain West Conference for San Diego State? No. His goal has always been to coach at Michigan. San Diego State was a stepping stone on the way to his ultimate goal, just like a Big Ten Championship should be a stepping stone on our way to the national championship. Being a national champion is no longer a "mythical" thing. Just look at the difference in the amount of money Auburn brought home for winning it, compared to what Wisconsin got for winning the B1G. A national championship is a very tangible thing that should be every team in the BCS conferences goal.

Hardware Sushi

January 13th, 2011 at 11:10 AM ^

A. It's still mythical. The teams get there through voting. Plus, if you didn't notice, people still voted for TCU as national champion so Auburn isn't even unanimous (and I don't have a problem with this because the national title isn't my ultimate goal for Michigan).

B. I don't really understand this money point... What exactly did Auburn bring home that Wisconsin didn't? I'm looking for the money but it looks like the Big Ten teams each brought home relatively the same amount whether we had Wisconsin in the NC or Rose Bowl....

C. Big Ten Championships are a stepping stone for the national title, but it doesn't guarantee anything, and it's an apples to oranges comparison to say SDSU is the equivalent of the B1G Championship. There has only been one team to make it to the national title game without winning their conference: 2003 Oklahoma. They happened to pimp-slapped every team by like 40 points leading into the Big 12 Championship game and were ultimately blown out in the national title by LSU, effectively ending any chance a team besides a conference champion will ever be voted into the NC game again.

Hoke touched on controlling things you can control; If Oregon, LSU, and Michigan go undefeated next year and Oregon and LSU go to the national title over us, did the team fail? No, they achieved the ultimate goal they set out to win that they could control. I don't see how you can worry about national titles before worrying about winning the Big Ten.

A more correct comparison would be worrying about traffic being heavy if your car won't start. Why the hell would you worry about traffic if your car is dead? Apples - Apples.


January 13th, 2011 at 11:41 AM ^

A.  It is not mythical.  True, there is voting.  Despite a few media types voted for TCU, Auburn still won the NC, held the trophy and celebrated as they.  Recruits, fans, donors, media etc see this.  There is nothing mythical about this. 

B. Donor money is what drives this.  An NC means much more donor money.


Just my 2 cents 


January 13th, 2011 at 11:43 AM ^

Why not make the ultimate goal the highest peak there is to climb , and then take it one step at a time, one game at a time?

Winning the B1G championship doesn't earn you the big money unless you win the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin won the B1G but didn't win the Rose Bowl. Auburn won the national championship and as a result made themselves $17,000,000.


January 13th, 2011 at 9:42 AM ^

At this point we as a program just need to worry about winning the Big Ten Title.  As Bo and Brady have said, if you win the Big Ten Title, you are going to put yourself in a position to win the National Title.


January 13th, 2011 at 9:44 AM ^

warm, fuzzy, cookie and milk, dictionary-reading program that we had under Lloyd. And that is what we will have now. For those that say we should fall in line and support the coach, I fully reserve the right to judge after year 3. The same time Coach Rod got.


January 13th, 2011 at 9:46 AM ^


That is something Bo use to talk about over and over and over again.  It's all about winning a Big Ten Championship every year, and he's completely right.  You can't win a National Championship if you don't win your conference.   So the goal each year is to win the Big Ten.  If they accomplish that goal the next goal would be the National Championship if they have the opportunity to get into it.   BUT winning the Big Ten always must be the first goal.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:05 AM ^

Simply because you must win your conference to win a National Championship it does not follow that pursuing one goal means you are doing what you need to do in order to achieve the other.    Winning a National Championship requires more than just winning your conference. 

To win the Big Ten, we need to have the best in-conference record in our division, and then win the title game.   

To win the NC, you pretty much have to shoot for undefeated.  

It is a different goal.  Granted, on some level you are are  always trying to win every game. But the rhetoric that we should not focus on a NC because the Big Ten title is part of that is disingenuous.  This is a value judgement that Michigan always made under Bo/Gary/Lloyd:  the Big Ten title is the most important thing. 

I think its worth examining whether that still should be our value hierarchy.  The invention of the BCS changes things quite a bit, as the NC is somewhat more "real" now than it was in Bo's day.  I, for one, would prefer we shoot for the higher goal. 


January 13th, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

"Simply because you must win your conference to win a National Championship it does not follow that pursuing one goal means you are doing what you need to do in order to achieve the other."


 And just because you're pursuing one goal doesn't mean you AREN'T doing what you need to do in order to achieve the other.


 Putting the focus on the Big Ten Championship, something that is completely in control of the team and the players, is the FIRST goal a team must have.   Not the last goal, not the only goal... but the first goal.  Win the Big Ten, then win the NC.   

Maximinus Thrax

January 13th, 2011 at 10:24 AM ^

Winning the B1G would almost seem to be a prerequisite to winning a National Championship.  Basically, winning an NC means ascending to the number 1 or 2 ranking, and not falling from there.  Now, it is very likely that a team could win the B1G and not play in the MNC game, but it is next to impossible that we could not win the B1G and still play in the MNC game (witness 2006).  Basically, the only strategy that would differentiate these two goals would be style points.  I.E. should we engage in routs of our opponents if given the chance in order to favorably affect our ranking, or should we not?   


January 13th, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

Hoke would not even acknowledge that NC was the ultimate goal. 

If our goal is to win the NC, and we believe the best way to do that is to focus ourselves on the BT, then fine.  But like I said, I think that's disingenuous.  I think our program does not really have as its goal to win the NC. 

Hardware Sushi

January 13th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

I don't blame him. Drew Sharp was being an asshat. He was just posing a ridiculous question that countered Hoke's identification of a B1G Ten championship as the main goal.

Hoke never denied national championships as goals. Sharp was just being an ass. Hoke even said "I get what you're saying but THIS is my goal."

I was upset by the hire of Hoke due to lack of a proven track record. After his press conference, I'm pretty excited to see what he has to add to the team. This "we don't have the national title as our ultimate goal WTFOMGFML" stuff is ridiculous. .

I don't even see an issue with this other than why are we still letting Drew Sharp into press conferences. Good God that guy is a classless panderer. If you're an MGoBlog follower and you care what he thinks after the display he put on at Crisler with Denard, you're a lost cause...

st barth

January 13th, 2011 at 9:47 AM ^

There is no "national championship."  The NCAA does not award one at the FBS level.  It is a mythical beast that is the result of a weird mix of popular opinion, media propaganda and (often, but not always) undefeated seasons.

At Michigan we care about Big Ten Championships, Rose Bowls and winning every game that we can.  Those are tangible goals.  If we achieve them and the AP (or whoever) votes the Wolverines as "national champion" then so be it...but we don't really care.

Also note that the only people that really do care about "national championships" are Notre Dame, the SEC, division II programs and other insecure, pathetic souls like sports reporters.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:17 AM ^

...a NC is also a very very tangible goal.  It brings more money, greater fanfare, better recruits, etc etc.  Also, the BCS makes the process of getting a NC more tangible than it ever was before.  I can probably say that an NC is more tangible than a Big Ten Championships.  Tangible! 

Hardware Sushi

January 13th, 2011 at 11:22 AM ^

I don't get this:

I can probably say that an NC is more tangible than a Big Ten Championships.  Tangible! 

What does that mean? The Big Ten Championship is pretty clear: best record in conference play. If there is a tie, there are co-Champions. Next year ends co-Champions with a Championship Game.

Have I missed something, WindyCity? Am I feeding trolls right now (no offense, if not)? Whenever this topic comes up, I feel like people that complain about this are taking crazy pills...


January 13th, 2011 at 11:52 AM ^

And you're right, next year eliminate's the co-championship thing.  I like that.  But it does not necessarily mean the best record in the conference wins the championship.  I think we will find that many times in the future that a team with an inferior overall record win the B10 title...just because they won the championship game.  Also, you might find that a team in Leaders loses in a team in Legends during the regular season, meet in the title game and the vise versa happens.  To me, the B10 championship can be construed as mythical. 


January 13th, 2011 at 9:47 AM ^

It's a false dilemma and a ridiculous one at that. Every team is trying to win as many of their games as possible. Win more than anyone else, especially if you're the Big Ten champion, and you get a shot at the national title.


January 13th, 2011 at 9:47 AM ^

I agree with Hoke, and not simply because Derp Sharp is a moron.

If there were playoffs, I could understand the logic. But without playoffs, your destiny is in the hands of voters/computers, which you obviously can't control. So stating that your goal is the national championship is kind of empty, because you can do everything in your power (i.e. win all your games) and still be left out in the cold. Does that mean you fell short of your goal, even though were as successful as you possibly could have been?


January 13th, 2011 at 9:50 AM ^

... that winning the Big Ten HELPS the cause but it doesn't always put you in a position to win the NC. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

As for Bo's thoughts on the Rose Bowl, I love Bo, but it's just not that way anymore. There's a system, albeit flawed, in place to win an NC. It's not just a vote anymore. That is such an antiquated way to think about all this. But, I might have my answer, maybe just going to the Rose Bowl is all that matters. Maybe there is no more if you're a Michigan man or Michigan fan. That makes me sad. 

Yay Tony Boles

January 13th, 2011 at 9:59 AM ^

The B1G is undisputedly (at worst) the second best football conference, especially with the addition of Nebraska. 

If you win the B1G title, you are in the hunt for the national championship.  And if you lose a game, you can still win the B1G, and the rest of the games mean something. 


January 13th, 2011 at 10:00 AM ^

The new cross-divisional game will probably help ensure that the B1G TEN champion will be more likely to make the BCS title game... of course, that's assuming that a 9-3 team from the Leaders division doesn't upset undefeated Michigan each year.

Laser Wolf

January 13th, 2011 at 10:05 AM ^

You're treating the Big Ten championship and the national championship like they're mutually exclusive. You can't say "well it would be nice to win the Big Ten, but what I really want is national titles." It starts with the Big Ten championship. Always. If you don't win your conference, you're not making the national title game. Now it could get dicey if there's a tie atop the conference like there was this year, but the point still stands that you're not getting to a national championship without a conference championship.

That is, unless you're Oklahoma and decide to get stomped by Kansas State in your conference championship game.


January 13th, 2011 at 9:56 AM ^

Its all kinda silly to think about, especially given Michigan's current situation. At this point, just win every game you possibly can. That's all you gotta do. The rest will take care of itself.

Maize and Blue…

January 13th, 2011 at 11:25 AM ^

I teach my kids, students, and players that they should strive to be the best no matter what they do in life. Whether it be in the classroom, on the field of play, at work, or just being a human being you should shoot for the top otherwise you're not doing yourself justice. Therefore, the ultimate goal would be a national championship which would be a possible result from a Big Ten championship.  If that's not the way our AD or coach feels I'm a little disappointed, but they probably see things as why set yourself up for failure (not reaching your goal).

1329 S. University

January 13th, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

but that isn't the case with the Big Ten Championship. You have to set the bar high of course, but you can't rest the entire season on something that you could lose in week four. If you lose one Big Ten game early you still have a shot at the title, and you have to give the guys something to shoot for all year. That way when we are undefeated going into the Ohio State or Big Ten Championship game you are still setting your eyes on your goal, the Big Ten Championship, and then the National Championship is a bonus you'd get to play for upon winning.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:05 AM ^

I think NC's should be our goal. It should be every programs goal. A team should never stop trying to be the best, and saying 2nd place is ridiculous. However Hoke was right in saying Big Ten championships should be our goal. That is actually in the team's control. So much about an NC is out of the team's control, it's silly to focus on that. Go for the conference and try and be the best. The rest will take care of its self.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:07 AM ^

Wouldn't it have come across as a bit silly if Hoke would have sat up there talking about winning national titles? He is taking over a team that went 3-9, 5-7, 6-7 and wasn't remotely competitive anytime they played a decent team. Ya we would all like Michigan to get to that point but you have to start with your own conference first.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:33 AM ^

There won't be a backlash.  Everyone who caused backlash the last three years is squarely in Hoke's corner and will give him the benefit of the doubt.  If anything, they will use every Hoke loss as a "justification" for firing RR. 


January 13th, 2011 at 10:26 AM ^

As much as I hate to do this OSU sets a nice example of Big Ten and National Championships over the last decade:  They have won 7 Big Ten Championships (including ties).  Out of those seven times they have subsequently gained the oppurtunity to play for the National Championhsip three times.  Once winning and twice getting blown out of the water.  In the D-1 landscape of today I think it is completely reasonable for the Big Ten Champion to expect to play for the National Championship at least 1/3 of the time (OSU getting it slightly more).  With the Big Ten Championship game coming next year we might see a slight uptick due to being relevant even later in the season.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

And thanks for shoutout.  Winning the National Championship should be our goal.  And the fact that the BCS makes it more easily defined (albeit still flawed) than the days of Bo should make our goal more palpable.

While I agree, for the most part, getting into that game is still somewhat out of our hands, making it a goal helps facilitate several things:

1. Formulating a team that can compete not just in the big ten, but also nationally

2. Scheduling kick ass non conference games that not only give us greater nationally exposure (which helps BCS voting), but also help the SOS aspect of the BCS formula.

3.  Recuits want NCs!  We need to tell them that is our goal.

In the end, winning the NC does a lot more positive to the school than winning the B10, especially when at best we are the second best conference in the nation.  An NC brings more positive noteriety and better recruits. Plain and simple.  And if we want to be elite, than we should aim for this.

I must say, I'm a bit worried that BH doesn't realize this.  Also, he is set on recruiting in the midwest primarily, which is a good place for recruits, but certainly not as good as the south or the west.  It seems that we are setting ourselves up to be a Wisconsin or Iowa.  Good, not great, squads that can't compete out of the big ten.  


January 13th, 2011 at 10:39 AM ^

We may do better against MSU & OSU, but I'm not convinced we'll be in the hunt for National Championships. Never read Sharp, but think he may be on to something here.