Reading this blog, one can get a skewed sense of how (1) more casual Michigan fans, and (2) college football fans, generally, perceive our program. Sure, we all know about the great recruiting classes brought in, the youth of the O-Line, the "empty cupboard" that both RR and Hoke inherited, but sometimes we forget that non-MGoBlog fans don't know any of this. I relate below two recent interactions that I have had in the past 24 hours:
1. The first was at a neighborhood party (live in suburban NY), at which there were a good number of college football fans, including 5-6 who root for other Big Ten teams, as well as one other Michigan fan. When the discussion drifted to college football, the comments about Hoke / Michigan were somewhat eye-opening (paraghrased below despite use of quotation marks):
"you guys got smoked again - have you guys beaten anyone good since Lloyd Carr retired"
"saw your coach on sportscenter - he looked totally lost and confused. What's his deal? Why did they hire that guy?"
"I remember when Michigan was really good - they really have sucked for a while now"
"seems like you guys get worse every year."
"can't you guys find a decent coach? Between Richrod and this buffoon, you guys pick shitty coaches."
2. At a deposition yesterday (I am a lawyer), there were four lawyers. Aside from me, there was a Va Tech fan, an ND fan and a Wisconsin fan. At lunch, we were discussing the demise of the Big Ten and the Va Tech fan was going off about how our coach comes off as clueless and over his head. ND guy, who is actually a decent guy, agreed and was saying how shocked he and his Domer friends were at how poorly Michigan played. He was saying that the consensus amongst ND fans was that given our talent, they expected more. They were particularly shocked at how minimally we used to Funch. Wisco guy agreed about Hoke, but chalked up the Michigan decline to the general decline of the conference and RichRod allowing State to raid to in-state talent in from 2008-2010.
Obviously, we here are way more informed about our team than these more casual / non-Michigan fans. But, sometimes it is easy to lose the forest for the trees. So, while all of us can probably recite the depth chart by heart, and know all of the reasons for optimism / pessimism, perhaps we are missing the 10,000 foot view of these fans, which is that Michigan is in a real decline and our coach is perceived to be way over his head.
Going forward, if we don't start to win, I think that Brandon has to take into account the real decline in the perception of Michigan in the cfb world. Even if Hoke is a great guy and the excuses are valid (I know, strong if w/r/t excuses), if we don't start to win this year, Brandon may have to consider making a change to prevent the slide in public perception of Michigan.