What if? Michigan football version

Submitted by mGrowOld on August 11th, 2012 at 12:34 PM

One of the more interesting books I've read recently was called "What If".  The premise of the book was simple.  Take a significant event from history, say the Battle of Midway, and change the outcome.  Then ask experts and historians to project what likely would've happened (in the case of Midway it was projected the Japanese would've successfully invaded Hawaii and prolonged WWII into the early 50's).

It's a slow day on the board and rainy day here in Cleveland so I started to think about what the Michigan version of "What If" would look like.  Here are a few of mine but I'm sure there are a TON more:

1. What if Bo didn't have a heart attack the night before his first Rose Bowl game?

2. What would the outcome of the 1979 Rose Bowl have been if Charles White's phantom TD had been called correctly?

3. Does Michigan win the National Championship in 88 if Miami doesn't recover not one but TWO onside kicks in the final 5 minutes of the game?

4. What if Moeller doesn't get "Moellered" that night and remains the HC?

5. What if the original Les Miles hire had gone through and he, instead of RR, replaced Lloyd?

6. What if Casteel had come with RR as originally planned?




August 11th, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

We may not have.  The NCAA has a curious reluctance about stripping national champions of their title.  UNLV's 1990 championship was as ill-gotten as anything, but they found a way to rationalize that one while still punishing UNLV pretty severely.

You could actually make a case that for Webber (as opposed to the other three that took money), Ed Martin qualified as a "family friend," because he befriended Webber when he was pretty young - before high school, IIRC.  If we had won the '93 title, I think the NCAA would have accepted that and only punished us for Taylor/Traylor/Bullock.  The NCAA really doesn't like having vacated titles - they think it hurts their reputation, I guess.  




August 11th, 2012 at 4:34 PM ^

but I'll add to the first one.  I find it hard to believe that even then that news doesn't leak somehow, but let's roll with it and say he keeps it quiet till after.  I agree we don't win. But what then happens is Fisher isn't coach, and we probably get whoever Bobby Knight's first recommendation was. Because he was tight with Bo, and ran a clean program. There was even talk of him coming to Michigan, but he'd have never left Indiana. Considering Bobby's more recent assistants haven't exactly done wonders anywhere, I wonder if we do much better than we have.


August 11th, 2012 at 1:19 PM ^

That 1988 season is fairly unique in my mind for how strong the major national powers were and how many times they played each other. 

Miami, ND, and Michigan all played each other early in the season and none of them lost to anybody else the rest of the year.  USC was undefeated for most of the year, beat one-loss UCLA (with Davey O'Brien winner Troy Aikman) in a top-10 match-up, then played undefeated ND in a 1 vs. 2 matchup (they lost that and then lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl).  That UCLA team then beat SWC champ Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, a team whose only regular season loss came at season's end against Miami.  FSU won the Sugar Bowl over SEC champ Auburn, and their only loss came against Miami as well. 

Can't remember another year close to that where the season really turned out to be a super competitive playoff from September to January.

Wolverine Devotee

August 11th, 2012 at 1:09 PM ^

You are forgetting about the loss to ND week 1 and the tie with iowa.

Here is a what if for you. What if Bo offered Barry Sanders, and Barry came to Michigan? Does Michigan win the national championship?

What if Mike Lantry made the kick in 1973?


August 11th, 2012 at 4:36 PM ^

"What if the B1G allowed more than one team to go to Bowl games prior to 1975?"

What if the "no-repeat" rule which accompanied this one had been in effect still rather than abolished two years before?

Michigan would have gone to the Rose Bowl in 1973 despite losing to Ohio in November, I believe. I really never understood what their rationale for the "Rose Bowl or No Bowl" rule was in the first place, and in any event, Michigan was actually the first beneficiary of the change in 1975 with the Orange Bowl appearance, I think. 


August 11th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

Everybody else would have had a loss.  We also would have had wins over the next closest competitors in Miami and ND.  Assuming the bowl matchups are the same (as they probably would have been that year) and WVU still loses, Michigan is still the only undefeated team, even with the tie and ends up with the title after the Rose Bowl win.

True Blue Grit

August 11th, 2012 at 1:09 PM ^

would have ended up the head guy.  Lloyd probably ends up like Fred Jackson in that scenario.

In other What If's, how about if Slick Rick Pitino's wife thought AA was cool and he decided to coach here?  So, instead of 6 more years of Michigan basketball's continued fall into irrelevance, he turns the program around and prevents Izzo from completely taking over the state's recruiting. 


August 11th, 2012 at 1:12 PM ^

If any of those events had turned out differently, it would have caused a disruption in the space-time continuum and Biff Tannen would be our coach. 

In all seriousness, the phantom TD in the '79 Rose Bowl burns me the most. If they had gotten that call right, we might have pulled out the win and gotten the vote for the UPI National Championship instead of USC.

The Miami game burns me too, though we can't blame that one on bad officiating. All we needed was an inch here or there somewhere in the last 7 minutes to stop Miami's rally and preserve the win. We didn't get it. But to answer your question, we still wouldn't have won the NC that year because we lost to the team that did win the NC (Notre Dame), and they went undefeated. 

Perhaps the most interesting "what if?" is if Moeller hadn't had his meltdown that fateful night at the Excalibur. His offense relied more on the pass than Bo's and even Lloyd's did, so it's interesting tho think about what he would have done with Griese, Brady, Henson, etc. He's also a good five years older than Lloyd and probably would have retired around 2003 or so. Hard to speculate on who we would have hired back then.


August 11th, 2012 at 1:24 PM ^

To this day I am convinced that Coach Moeller would have won a national title or two. He seemed to be ahead of the curve on where football was heading because he was recruiting a lot of speed to the table.

Oh well though, it is what it is and as far as who would have coached after Moeller is a darn tricky question. I guess it depends on how Moeller's staff would have played out over the years.


August 11th, 2012 at 4:42 PM ^

Moeller was a good coach, and a great guy, but he wasn't exactly Mr. Popular when he left. Otherwise that never would have been able to push him out. He was coming off two 4 loss seasons (back when that was unthinkable) and if sites like this existed they would have been roasting him and giving '93 and '94 nicknames.  And then the next two years after he left were 4 loss seasons too, so if all four had been under one coach, he probably would have been out. (Remember when 4 loss seasons were horrible for Michigan?) For how often people like to bring up "Lloyd did it with Moeller's players" Mo's three best seasons were his first three, with Bo's players.  People remember the more aggressive offense, but forget they still lost games. The sidelines always seems a bit more confused when things hit the fan those years too. 

Now, he was a good man, a good leader, and I have little doubt if he continued we probably would have had similar success on average to what Michigan has done before and after.  I don't think he was going to tank the program. I just don't buy the idea that we were ready to turn the corner to some new level of greatness.  After two "mediocre" seasons, a lot of fans were ready to run him out of town (as they are all Michigan coaches). If he had been 11-1 and 10-2 in the Rose Bowl those two previous seasons, he probably would have survived even the tapes coming out. 


August 11th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

Oh, I havent forgotten.  Mo was a great guy, supported Rich through the hard times.  I will always respect that from Mo.  He had a great mind for offense.  At times his defense lacked a bit.   I also remember the Colorado Hail Mary fiasco.  We were up by 2 scores late in the game and we lost.  He got very conservative.  I was hammered that afternoon, and dont remember everything and refuse to look at any replays of the game.  I do remember the conservative play calling.

snarling wolverine

August 11th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

I wouldn't exactly say that Mo's teams relied on the pass.  They always had a great running game.  Mo, however, combined that with some innovative playcalling.  

With Carr, the frustrating thing was that our running game started to become more inconsistent, while our passing game got better and better, yet our playcalling didn't evolve to reflect this.  He was more conservative than Mo yet his personnel was less suited for it.


August 11th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

If Bass is healthy...RR gets one year with him and 2009 probably goes no differently with a Freshman QB at the helm.

Also, the D still is terrible. But if anything the bowl streak possibly survives through 2008 instead of 2007.


August 11th, 2012 at 1:34 PM ^

I say that getting rid of Mallet was the downfall of RR. If not for that, they stood a chance of a decent 1st year for him, & perhaps things would not have spiraled out of control????

Love the fact that Hoke & Borges have recognized that Denard gives them a shot at greatness! They have adapted to him. Once he's gone, they implement their offense.


August 11th, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

that Mallet was iffy to start with, and the simple act of hiring Rodriguez was the last straw, only to be confirmed by subsequent interaction or lack thereof with Rich.

Furthermore, Mallet made the right choice, he is a prototypical pocket passer with three playing years of eligibility left, and needed to be in pro-style offence to make it to the next level.

By comparison, Denard had two seasons of playing eligibility left, and needed to move more towards a pro-style offense to make it to the next level.

i.e., the shift to a spread coach early in his career made leaving the best career choice for Mallet, and the shift to a West Coast (we'll call it pro-style) coaching staff with two years to go made staying the best career choice for Denard.

And while we're at it, Borges had the dial too far to the West Coast side until after the Iowa game. Only then did they fully adapt to Denard's abilities.


August 11th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

I say no! He left unappreciated. Yes, he may have been a Diva, but had he not been forced out, they could have had 1 decent year with him.

I know they were salivating over DR, but the shake up cost them many games.

& Yes, his leaving for Arkansas was a good move for him, no question!

Can you imagine him playing for John L.?????


August 11th, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

No one forced Ryan Mallett to leave.  He headed to Arkansas two weeks after his last game of the season at Michigan (up until which point Lloyd Carr was still the head coach).  He didn't attend a single practice or even look at a playbook with the new coaching staff, and left at a time when the ability to even meet with players is extremely limited.  Rodriguez also repeatedly talked about the ability to adapt his WVU offense to be more pass happy depending on the talent available (something he had done with great success at Tulane with Shaun King). 

Mallett wanted to be at Arkansas in the first place (only came to Michigan because they landed Mitch Mustain, who then bailed after Malzahn got fired) and left the second his first season ended.  Assuming a hypotethetical world where he could have been persuaded to stay in that two week window (after already having countless run-ins with the previous staff) is a pretty silly exercise.  Acting like he was booted out the door is completely ridiculous.

snarling wolverine

August 11th, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

I don't want to get into a Rodriguez debate here and hijack the thread, but I'm not sure why people are so quick to assume Mallett didn't want to be here.  He committed as a high school junior and helped recruit many of his classmates.  Also, even after transferring, he actually came back to participate in Mock Rock.   That doesn't seem to jibe with the whole "Mallett had no friends on the team" narrative people are advancing.  I don't think he was either forced out or definitely leaving, regardless of the coach.  But again, this is a debate for another place.




August 11th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

There's a big difference between being driven out, and made to feel unwanted. I should have clarified.

Does anyone want to tell me that RR welcomed Mallet with open arms??? Hell no, he had DR.

I'm sure there is mutual dispute about the outcome, but can you disagree that keeping Mallet would have been a plus????


August 11th, 2012 at 3:45 PM ^

Denard Robinson verbally committed to Michigan more than a year after Mallett left.  He arrived on campus another six months after that, and didn't win the starting job for yet another year.  We were attempting to recruit Pryor and presumably other quarterbacks at the time, but I don't know of any coach who would stop trying to fill future recruiting classes simply to make a player feel "welcome" at the school he is already enrolled at.

Obviously a sophomore Ryan Mallett would have been a better player than a freshman Steve Threet.  But what should have been done to keep Mallett at Michigan (mind you, it would have to be done in a two week window)?  Throw him a parade?  Seek Mallett approval for all future formations and playcalls?  Excuse him from future practices?  Guarantee the starting position for the next three years without question before ever conducting a single practice?

If you have any actual evidence of how Rich Rodriguez drove Mallett away I would love to hear it.  You would be the first person to provide any such evidence, though.


August 11th, 2012 at 3:53 PM ^


Hell yes!

Both RR and everyone around the situation have stated that he tried numerous times to get Mallet to stay.  If it was half-hearted, the evidence may point to Lloyd's animosity to Mallet due to his drug use, immaturity and general bad attitude.  But anyway, show me your evidence that RR "ran off" or "unwelcomed" Mallet . . . I'm waiting.  Is it the similar to the way he "ran off" Justin Boren?  No new coach is going to try and run off/alienate players, regardless of what system they run.  And by the way, RR didn't have DR, he was still chasing Pryor.

I swear this has been rehashed 5000 times on this blog since the actual events were unfolding (now 5 years ago!) and I'm getting pretty damn sick of it.  I might have been interested in your viewpoint way back then, but now not so much

Maybe it's all the new MGomembers that have joined within the past year, because we have had nothing but bitter rehashing of the RR era, PSU apologists, and generally clueless redundant posts for the past two weeks.  

EDIT:  Crap, Purple Stuff totally stole my shit! (and typed it faster)


August 11th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

And even I must say you've gone too far! It is clearly stated in the State of Ohio laws that marriage dissolution shall have no impact on your biological relationship.

that being said, don't ever mention it to an Ohio Trooper!!!! That'll surely cost you an extra $100!


August 11th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

These posts always make me sad and bad memories surface, therefore what if Justin King was opposite Leon Hall in 2006? Did I mention these posts make me sad.


August 11th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

Oh jesus this is going to blow up quickly, but I'm reading that book too curently. Small world. ESPN did a segment similar to this a couple of summer agos to fill during the off season. I kid you not when I say one of them ended with Nick Saban winning a championship at Michigan.

Craze for Maize

August 11th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

1. Crable late hit in 06
2. Forcier int in OT at MSU
3. We score from the 1 yd line at ILL in 09 instead of being stuffed 4 times. Bowl eligble instead of losing 6(?) in a row.
4. What if that kick in the game that must not be named in 07 wasn't blocked?
I haz sads now.


August 11th, 2012 at 2:19 PM ^

History will be made. Oh wait a minute...

Here's mine. What if we won all 3 rose bowls in the 2000s. What if we never lost against that team in our opener in 2007. What if we beat MSU in OT in 2009. What if we upset Ohio in 2006.


August 11th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

It hurts to dwell on the past...


What if Chad Henne's shoulder had taken a cortisone shot correctly against Wisconsin in 07, instead of hitting a nerve, messing it up for a week, and still causing him to suffer painful effects against OSU the following week?


August 11th, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

I have consistently said that DR cannot get better if he doesn't pass the ball!!! I was laughed off CGD for suggesting that one of the best QB's in history had the highest interception rating, and one of the top completion ratings. Of course I mean Brett Farve.

What if we didn't put so much pressure on DR?

We might allow him to achieve greatness without fear!!!


August 11th, 2012 at 4:40 PM ^

Brett can throw the ball, and completed passes. Denard's throwing is terrible and off target. He can't afford to throw jump balls and be inaccurate. Brett threw jump balls and was accurate, which is a huge difference. Every ball Denard throws has a chance to be picked. Brett knew when his had a chance to be picked, but he made the choice.


August 11th, 2012 at 5:30 PM ^

Just ask GB fans how they feel about your comment!!!

Bottom line, DR knows he can struggle by throwing off of his back foot, he's too short, and he's a questionable leader, but I'll take him @ his age over Farve any day!!! One of a kind!!!!