We will never be Bama....

Submitted by BILG on September 2nd, 2012 at 1:14 PM

And I don't want to be. I see a lot of commentary on here about how in a couple years Michigan will be at the level of Bama.  We need to be realistic. There will come a day, hopefully in two or three years where we can compete with a team like Bama or LSU, but we will never be loaded with that much NFL talent. IE, maybe we will have like a 35-40% chance of beating them in a one game setting, but year in and year out, on average, the best SEC team will be better than the best Big Ten team.

As well as Hoke is recruiting, Bama is a football factory that serves as a preparatory school for the NFL. Don't want to sound like a bitter, sore loser cynic, but that is not the "student athlete" model we are going to pursue at Michigan. They oversign, bring in jucos, and pull in a top class of recruits every year with little worry about students having issues in the classroom, or giving out "medical redshirts" and cutting. Once a decade or so there is a team like Bama. There were the 80's Canes, 90's Seminoles, USC of the 2000's. There is something all these teams have in common...They are usually cutting corners in the classroom at best, and involved with a bunch of shadier off fields scandals at worst.

When your 3 deep reads like a future NFL roster, something smells a bit off. Take nothing away from Saban as a brilliant game day coach, motivator, program operator, recruiter, etc. But the man has straight up said he thinks college players should be paid (not a moral indictment in its own right) but there is also a lot of smoke and rumor around the program around that very issue.

OSU tried to go the NFL factory route under Tressel, and will probably do the same under Meyer, and we all saw how that turned out.  Yet even when cheating, OSU was still getting blown up by SEC teams in national title games.

Point being, to those saying give Hoke a few years and we will be like Bama because OMG look at his first two recruiting classes, just realize this is probably an unrealistic hope. I expect us to get significantly better and win the Big 10 repeatedly, and maybe one year pull off an upset in a bowl or playoff for a magical year (like when OSU beat a much better Miami squad in 02). But to expect Michigan football to perennially be what Alabama is now is an unrealistic goal as, IMO, it would require a program character tranformation that Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon would be unwilling to undergo.  As much as I love winning, I wouldn't want to go that route. 

I expect us to get much, much better, more physical, and competitive under Hoke.  Our teams will be bigger and able to compete with offensive and defensive lines like Alabama, LSU, USC.  But the Alabama model is not one I would wish to pursue for my Wolverines.

I have to add this link in as an edit to my post just so all the self-righteous, "just take it on the chin" types understand the concept of smoke can mean fire.  http://larrybrownsports.com/college-football/agent-ralph-cindrich-nick-saban-pay-for-play/148079

Again, my point is not that Alabama didn't kick our ass.  It's also not that we are the greatest non-cheating team in the world, and only if everyone played fair we would win every game.  The point is when teams get this good, as Alabama is now, and there is such a huge disparity between a couple top programs in the country and the rest of college football you would be a moron not to wonder what's up.  And recent history tends to support such skepticism. 



September 2nd, 2012 at 1:21 PM ^

The whole game I was thinking a lot of the same things that you posted. I feelike Michigan is a university forst with a great football tradition. I could not stop thinking about how the commentators were slobbing all over Bama and Saba. Even though there is so much shady activity down there.


September 2nd, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

Our group had to mute our television multiple times because we had grown so very very tired of the heaping of SEC praise that Musberger was throwing around. 

The tipping point for me where I began cussing out my television was when we took a penalty for 12 men in the huddle, and Musberger says, "They should let Michigan keep 12 men on the field so they have a chance against Alabama".  I lost my shit there, thats beyond commentating, thats insulting.  He follows it up with, "Just kidding Michigan fans"!

I dropped a few FU bombs then.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

We got our ass kicked by a better team. Nothing more and nothing less. We will undoubtably do the same to others at some point this year but to claim its because they "cut corners" screams of sour grapes to me. What would our reaction be if U Mass or Minny says that about us when we crush them?

A better team won last night. We Ned to recruit better (and we are) and play better (and we will) to compete with them in the future.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:35 PM ^

We got destroyed by a better team, not denying that.  They are loaded with NFL talent.  But if you are the least bit skeptical and use history as a guide, you would suspect that Bama is doing things a little bit differently than most other programs...and the rumors already were circulating amonst agents and insiders during the offseason.

If something looks too good to be true, it generally is.  When Bonds, McGwuire, Sosa were launching 65+ homers a year, only the koolaid drinkers looked past Mark's biceps and Bond's balloon head.

The post was not meant to be an excuse for the game or an indictment of Saban.  Instead it is a response to all the posts I have seen on here suggesting that Michigan football will be like Alabama is now in a few years.  Just saying, I don't see it happening unless there is a radical change in the culture at Schembechler Hall...one that I would not endorse. 

The change in culture I see from Hoke and Co.  is they type I like to see, even if it doesn't lead to NCAA football dynasty.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

Do you have any backing info regarding Alabama cutting corners in the classroom? Complain all you want about over signing or medical scholarships, but you probably have no idea about the classroom aspects of Alabama football. You sound like an ignorant sheep for much of your post.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:26 PM ^

Their model is awesome for producing wins on the football field. Why do you care whether or not the players actually have to go to class? Do you have some sort of vested interest in them as individuals? I don't see why that concerns you.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:35 PM ^

If you're saying we're not likely to compete for the natl championship at least every other year, or more, then you're probably right. But who in this fan base expects that? By highlighting this, at best, you are stating the obvious, and at worst you sound like a whiny apologist. Notre dame fans talk like this. Let's not go that route.

Go blue


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

This is a response to all the posts on here claiming we will be just like Bama in a few years because we are pulling it back to back top 5 classes.  Scan the site before claiming that most fans are more realistic than that, because it doesn't look that way right now on the board.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:45 PM ^

I think most people are saying we will be able to compete with them, which I agree with. Take our '06 squad as a good example. I bet they make it a game against these guys, but would still likely lose. That doesn't mean they are the equivalent of bama, just competitive... Which we clearly weren't last night. I guess we're reading the comments differently


September 2nd, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

Michigan has won a single national title since the late 1940's.  Our fiercest B1G rival has won only one since the late 1960's.  In the year we won, we split the title with a good team that we didn't have to play, and got to wrap up the crown by beating #8 Washington St. in our bowl game in a system that is no longer in place (now we would have had to beat OSU or PSU again and then played Nebraska, in the future we'll have to win a playoff game too).  The two best teams we beat along the way (OSU and PSU) were beaten handily in their bowl games by Florida State and Florida respectively.  From 1998-2007 we were eliminated from the national title race by early October in every season but one, and that is with a Hall of Fame coach at the helm and lots of good players.

The 1969 team we make such a fuss about lost 40-17 to eventual Big 8 champs Missouri.  Bo's only perfect regular season was spoiled in the Rose Bowl by a 3-loss Stanford team (while #1 Nebraska crushed #2 Alabama).  In fact, Bo lost his first 7 bowl games.  I can't think of a time when we've beaten another national title challenger in a bowl game.  We had a nice season in 1985 but only beat the 2nd place team from the Big 8 in the Fiesta Bowl.  In 1988 we won the Rose Bowl over a good SC team, but lost head to head against both Miami and ND who finished #1 and #2 (ND had also beaten that SC team).  The 2006 version of The Game was a big event, but OSU beat us and were promptly thrashed by Florida (and we lost badly to a 10-2 USC team).

In other words, we're pretty much right where we've always been (which isn't a bad spot to be in the world of college football).  Expecting more after 40+ years of evidence would require the team to do more first.



September 2nd, 2012 at 3:09 PM ^

We've been consistently good over the past 50 years, never had a run of great.  While we were immune to the extreme lows of the cycles within the college football universe for the most part (prior to the last years of Lloyd and the RR years), we never really had a high.  The closest was probably the late 90's run where it could be argued we had the talent to win more that 1/2 a national title.  We were owning some really good OSU teams, a couple of undefeated ones, but were always dropping a head scratcher to a Purdue, Iowa, or Northwestern, or suffering the unbearable out of conference Sept losses against good but not great teams.


September 2nd, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

I think we became more of a national program at that point and started to come out of the dark ages offensively.  '85 we won the Fiesta Bowl and finished #2.  Lost the Rose Bowl in '86.  Won it in '88 and finished #4 behind Miami and ND teams that we played down to the wire.  Lost it in '89.  Won a bowl game in '90 and finished in the top-10.  Went back to Pasadena in '91 but lost to a national title Washington team, then went undefeated and beat them a year later (damn ties).  Add in the role Moeller's guys played in '97 and '99 major bowl wins and that looks like the peak run in its entirety.

3 major bowl wins in 8 years, 6 appearances, seven top-10 finishes and three in the top-5. 


September 2nd, 2012 at 6:07 PM ^

As a Michigan alum, this is the best response too sum up our football history I have seen on this site in years. extremely accurate. In order to play on a national stage we needed to change the culture of football here. I always felt that "Michigan Man" stuff is nonsense. We are going back to the way we used to play, which really won nothing on the national stage. Winning the big10 was great, but now football is more than just a regional game, it is national and we cannot compete.


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:01 AM ^

We cannot compete right now. Let's not gloss over the fact that the '97 team had a fuckload of nfl talent and a heisman trophy winner. That team would have beaten that bama team we played on saturday. Some of the other late Bo teams would have too. In a few years, Michigan is probably good enough to beat this Bama team, just not today. It's likely that no one beats that Alabama team this year.

Gorgeous Borges

September 2nd, 2012 at 1:37 PM ^

Yeah, this is rationalization at its finest. Bama won. They had a way better team. That's pretty much it. They have oversigning issues, but there's no proof at all that anything else shady is going on. Stop making excuses.


September 2nd, 2012 at 5:02 PM ^

Fact stating =/= excuse making.

First of all, read the OP again. Well, not so much "again" since you probably didn't read it entirely in the first place, but you get my point. Nowhere does it state that Michigan lost to Alabama because they're a bunch of cheating cheaters who couldn't get out of a paper bag without cheating. In fact, quite the opposite, it says exactly what you did - Alabama won because they're the better team. The stuff about Alabama playing fast and loose with the rules was simply stating that Michigan will not be Alabama because they're not going to do that.

And secondly, Alabama pushes every boundary and tests every rule that the NCAA has. There's plenty of proof of that. And the fact is that every school/team/coach/player/person in the world - college sports, pro sports, and every day life - who pushes every boundary and tests every rule...is also breaking rules left and right without yet getting caught. Alabama has been caught several times in the past, and they will again. To say it's not happening because "there's no proof" is just naive.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

I agree on some of the things you've posted - Michigan has morals.  Michigan does require some "student" in the contract still.

But then why schedule this game?  For the money?  For the brand?  So... we're willing to get beaten by a team we know has an unfair advantage just for a paycheck?  What does that make Dave Brandon - a willingly abused performer? 

WE NEED TO EITHER TAKE THE HIGH ROAD OR NO ROAD.  No more gray stuff.  You want to have some academic standards, then that is fine - but then don't schedule stupid Alabama in the opener for a few million dollars.  Win games, get into a top bowl or the National Championship and then get exploded on national TV.  At least us, the fan base, will be happy with the come-up and the National Championship appearance.

I'm sick of being happy with second-tier status.  Not interested in that or rather, not interested in pretending to be first class then and not going all out to be first class.  You don't want to be like SEC cheats and football factories?  Fine - but then don't schedule them until the bowl or playoff season.  Schedule pansies, win the four non-conference match-ups, and then go through the season and win the B10.  Then have a party when we go to the National Championship.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:45 PM ^

What I find fascinating is how much of a "Big Ten" team Alabama is in their playing style.  They line it up and come right at you.  And they are devastatingly effective at it.  They don't spread you out or go five-wide.  

The big advantage the SEC has over the Big Ten is not scheme.  That's a myth.  The elite SEC teams look more like Wisconsin or Lloyd's Michigan teams than they do Oregon or WVU or Boise State.  

What the SEC does have that the Big Ten does not have, is NFL talent.  Both in the coaches and in the players.

Michigan is catching up in the coaching department.  Due to reasons of geography, demographics, and yes basic ethics, it will be difficult to catch up in recruiting.  We will never be able to recriuit like Alabama or USC.

We will have to settle for getting in the general neighborhood and then hope lightning strikes once in a while like the 1997 team. 



September 2nd, 2012 at 8:18 PM ^

Coach Hoke's first recruiting class just arrived on campus.  We have no idea how well he's been recruiting.  Shane Morris might be awesome and he might not be any good.  Plenty of 5-star QBs have not panned out.  Same goes for everybody else.  There's reason for optimism but just saying "We're there" is very premature. 

Also, I'm not sure you're aware how Bama has been recruiting.  In 2008 (5th year Seniors) their 32!!!! man class was ranked #1 in the country.  In 2009 (Seniors/RS Juniors) their 27!!!! man class was ranked #1 in the country.  In 2010 (Juniors/RS Sophomores) their 26 man class was ranked #5.  Those are the classes that usually determine if you're going to be a good team or not.  That's 85 guys in three classes (I think we all know what the overall scholarship limit is),  56 rated 4-star or better on Rivals.  That just isn't something we can replicate here at Michigan.  They again had the #1 ranked class in 2011, so the young guys are probably pretty good too (though this time they took only a pedestrian 22 players).  The new freshmen were also rated the #1 class in the country (that makes 4 of 5 for this year's team).  It had 26 guys in it.

Just for a comparison, Michigan from 2002-07 signed classes of 21, 17, 22, 23, 19, and 20.  The most we got in any three class run was 64.  That was 21 fewer bites at the apple than Saban is getting just for the upperclassmen on this current team of his.  Over a five year period, they signed 133 guys who would have had a shot to be on this year's team.  Michigan got 105 from 2002-06 and 104 from 2003-07.

You think getting a look at 28 extra recruits might have pushed us over the top in 2006?  Think The Horror happens with so many more guys competing for PT?  Yes and No.


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:36 PM ^

Very compelling analysis.  I'm going to save it off somewhere and come back to it when I start to feel we are getting in Alabama's league in terms of recruiting . . . to see if we really are.

It will be interesting to see if Alabama themselves ever make a run like that again with the new focus on Oversigning and the new rules put in place to limit classes and sign players to 4-year scholarships.

The SEC and Saban in particular will try to skirt these token rules, but I don't think they will be completely successful.  CFB may never see a recruiting run again like Alabama ovef the last 5 years.



September 3rd, 2012 at 8:47 PM ^

Do 4 year scholarships matter when someone that doesn't produce can be removed for a violation of team rules? Do 4 year scholarships matter when people that don't produce are "strongly encouraged" by the other 100 men on the team that they should consider having a run with an FCS school? Would a hard limit not simply move more borderline players to the AAA minors, I mean MIssissippi JuCo system?

Recruiting is like investment banking, people will find a way to get the big bucks no matter what rules you put in place.


Naked Bootlegger

September 2nd, 2012 at 2:23 PM ^

I was saying the same thing yesterday to my captive family crowd.   'Bama has a fantastic o-line, goes 3-4 deep at RB, runs the ball down your throat effectiviely, and has a QB who is efficient but nothing flashy.  They also happen to play phenomenal defense.   Sounds like a recipe to win the Big 10 in the 70's!    Or how Wisconsin has risen to Big 10 elite levels over the past 10-15 years.   'Bama is basically Wisconsin on steroids.

I strongly dislike Saban.   But the football display they put on yesterday was nothing short of impressive.  



September 2nd, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

I agree we don't want to become a football factory like Bama, with its oversigning and splendid academic standards. But, if you think about it, the worse-case scenario is OSU, a football factory that would nevertheless get its ass kicked by Bama. 


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:52 PM ^

I have a lot of faith in Hoke's recruiting and coaching.  I don't think it is a stretch to think we could get to Bama's current level.  Remember that Saban lost to ULM in his first season and went 7-6.  We just don't have the depth right now.  Rich Rod really recruited poorly on the offensive and defensive lines.  Hoke has done a great job of getting big, strong linemen for the future.   


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:52 PM ^

with Brian's cats, and assumed a lot of people would downvote it. But it's generally true. It could be that people more deeply invested in the U as a whole are likely to resonate with what you're saying. 


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

The OP is absolutely correct. It's not whining or making excuses, but Michigan does not and should not run its program like Alabama does. We will be extremely good under Hoke, but we will never be more loaded with talent than the Jacksonville Jaguars. That's perfectly fine, because we will still win Big Ten titles and Rose Bowls, and do it with our heads held high.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

Up until 2007 bama was pretty irrelevent in the national scope. They only had 5 winning seasons between '97 and '07, 3 of those 5 years they were 7-5. You could look at them and say "they'll never be USC or Florida or Texas" but now they are and the other schools are on the outside looking in. The players they recruit aren't predestined to be NFL first round pics, either. Saban is taking top talent, then developing it to an NFL level. Hoke and Mattison and Borges are doing the same thing, now. We weren't even that bad for the first game of the season. Our makeshift Dline and smattering of true freshmen forced quite a few 3 and outs and 50 yard fg attempts, and sacks. Our scary thin OLine and makeshift receiver corps and backup running game did better than any SEC school did last year against an "NFL talent factory." They jumped all over us in the 1st quarter when Countess went out, but we did better than I expected, all things considered. Michigan's gonna put all this anger, frustration, and embarrasment into practice and annihilate every team we see from here to January. Book it. We're trending up.


September 2nd, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

For example, when Countess went down, no one in the country outside of Musberger and Saban thought about testing his replacement. How can we ever even hope to get to that level?

We are still paying the price of a couple of recruiting classes that were a bit light on linemen, not to mention the attrition. I'm hoping that the AMHGs don't extract payment in the form of cartilage.


September 2nd, 2012 at 1:58 PM ^

If we continue to recruit well and keep our coaching staff in place we could easily become a dominant football program like Alabama is now. Alabama hasn’t always been on top and they haven’t always got the top recruits. What they have now is a great coach (and staff) that has been there since 2007 and they have been successful which makes it easier to recruit etc. In fact, I see us being very similar in the near future - two talented well coached teams built around a strong defense. Say what you want about how they got there but you have to respect that team we played yesterday - they were tough, aggressive and well coached.


September 2nd, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Look I get that Michigan values the student-athlete, but please don't start down the road of the Michigan Moral High Ground (MMHG).


September 2nd, 2012 at 2:14 PM ^

doom and gloom is disappointing. "SEC dominance" is a ten year old concept. Before 2000, the SEC was mortal, average even. Michigan is recruiting as well as ever and is certainly competing with the SEC in that regard. Just give it a few years.


September 2nd, 2012 at 2:14 PM ^

With the level of talent in the 2012 and 2013 classes......plus the potential for 2014 and beyond. We are in uncharted territory for a roster laden with talent. Give it time and be patient. It was one game that gave our players a realistic look at where they are, we're they need to go, and how good they cold be. Chill out. Dream of the 2015 and 2016 teams.