What is your definition of success for Michigan football?

Submitted by cypress on January 3rd, 2013 at 3:06 PM

In other words, what is "good enough"?

Bo set the gold standard. He had a winning percentage of .789, won or shared 13 Big Ten titles in 21 years, had 16 top 10 finishes, but had a bowl record of 5-11. As much as we revere Bo, we understand that its harder in this day and age to do that considering the Big 10 truly was a 2 team conference back then.

Gary Moeller had a winning percentage of .758, had 3 Big Ten titles in 5 years, 3 top 10 finishes and was 4-1 in bowl games.

Lloyd had a winning percentage of .753, won 5 Big Ten titles in 13 seasons, had 5 top 10 finishes, 1 national title, and was 6-7 in bowl games.

I know during Lloyd's tenure, a lot of fans grumbled that it was not enough. Curious to hear people consider to be good enough to satisfy them. Obviously we all want to be top 10 every year, win Rose Bowls and national titles, but that is easier said than done.

My definition of success is running a clean program that represents the school well, winning 75% or more of our games, competing for the Big 10 title every year, and winning a few as well. I want to win against Ohio State, or at least split games with them, and beat MSU at a 2 out of 3 ratio at least. I didnt have as much of a problem with Lloyd as many did, and during 2008-2010 I wished things were back to how they used to be. So what do you consider to be a success for Michigan and Brady Hoke going forward?



January 3rd, 2013 at 3:10 PM ^

For a single season, win the B1G Championship and go to the Rose Bowl. 

For our overall program, success is being able to do that consistantly, with ups and downs of course. A down year every once in a while is acceptable for a good program, ideally for us that means winning against only one of MSU/OSU and finishing second in the division. And those down years ought to be balanced out with years where we compete for National Titles. In the new format it shouldn't be unreasonable to expect a playoff birth every few years.


January 3rd, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

Annual B1G Title contender, winning it no less than once every 3 years

Competitive, back-and-forth rivalry with OSU, winning more often then not

Semi-dominant rivalry with Notre Dame, winning 2 out of every 3

Completely dominant rivalry with Michigan State, winning 4 out of every 5


January 3rd, 2013 at 4:12 PM ^

This is where I'm at as well. I'd like for Michigan to be a contender at worst, but mostly a favorite for the BIG title every year and a playoff contender in most years. I'm not going to say that I think we should win the national tittle every few years, but I'd like for us to be in the playoffs at a minimum of 1 every 3 to 4 years if it stays at 4 teams.


January 3rd, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

High character players and staff...moral high ground and all that...

Should win majority of ohio games.  MSU shouldn't mean anything.  Beat SEC usually.  In national title hunt in most years.  Winning the B1G 3 of every 5 seasons would be great too.


January 3rd, 2013 at 3:23 PM ^

into being ok with 8 wins a season, going to a mediocre bowl and winning. I thonk thats the difference in Bo's bowl record vs Carrs. Sure, Carr did win a NC, but it seemed either feast or famine. Bo's teams were playing Rose Bowls almost every year. I want to be a perrenial conversation at the end of every season. I have no doubt that we are heading that way, and also that Hoke's record when all is said and done will cast a big shadow over Carrs.


January 3rd, 2013 at 3:23 PM ^

Beat OSU, MSU, ND. Win B1G Championship. Do all of that while trying to run the cleanest and most respectable program in the country.

Wins don't mean anything to me if you have to cheat or bend the rules to get them.


January 3rd, 2013 at 3:32 PM ^

Win the big ten title....sadly this means we haven't been successful in a decade. If you would have told be this would ever happen to Michigan football 20 or 25 years ago I would have laughed in your face.


January 3rd, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

- Jan 1 (or later) bowl game

- 10 or more wins

- At least 2 wins against OSU, ND (or top-tier schedule replacement, when there), MSU

- In control of our own destiny for B1G div title when we play OSU

- Competitive in bowl game

- A minimum of major off-field incidents (such as drunk driving, assaults)

- Doing well in the classroom in terms of graduation

Webber's Pimp

January 3rd, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

Every Fall I tell my football friends the same things (and I quote): "This is Michigan. I expect nothing less than a National Championship." 

Unrealistic as that may sound that is my starting point. While I was at Michigan (90-94) we won or tied for the Big Ten title 3 out of the 4 years I was there. It was probably the golden age of UM football. I suppose that would be a more realistic expectation.

M Fanfare

January 3rd, 2013 at 3:45 PM ^

Running a squeaky clean and morally upright program is assumed.

Major criteria:

  • Beat OSU.
  • Beat MSU.
  • Win the conference.

Minor criteria:

  • Win 10+ games.
  • Win all home games.
  • Win the division.


January 3rd, 2013 at 3:45 PM ^

As a whole the 13 year span is impressive. But most agree that its a tale of two periods with the first through 2001when we won big games (beating OSU and winning Rose, Orange, and Citrus Bowls) vs. the end through 2008 when UM couldn't win the big game (like this season).

Everyone would take Carr's first 6-7 years, fans grumbled at the last 6ish years for not winning the big game and losing 4ish games a year.

To the OP's question. My ideal dream scenario would be:

  • 9-11 win seasons. In the 13 game world we live in now this should be the norm. Esp when you consider how weak the B1G is. Btw a 9-4 record is 69% winning % so accepting 4 losses (or expecting 9 wins) isn't a stretch.
  • At least a split between OSU and the Bowl game most years (3 out of 4 years). This is a tall order, but again this is my ideal. Obviously beating OSU is the priority vs. the bowl game. Losing the last two really just puts a bad taste in the mouth and hurts perception. Esp if the bowl loss is in a Florida bowl against the SEC #3-4 team. Years we lost both and win both offsetting would be nice. I'm assuming most years we split.
  • B1G championship every 3 years. Those who stay will be champions. This sounds like a lot but like you mentioned Moeller and Carr won 8 in 18 seasons for a 44% B1G championship rate.  so its doable. Also, OU has won the Big 12 8x times since 2000...so there is a precedent in other conferences. I think the Big12 vs. B1G are good comps as well.






January 3rd, 2013 at 4:00 PM ^

I think about this question and realize that we have a pretty high bar when it comes to what the program has averaged since 1969. Our average seasonal record would translate to 9-3, we average 2nd in the conference, and when included in the final rankings in the AP and Coaches Poll, we actually average a Top 10 position in both. That's probably something few other programs  could use as a baseline measurement in a nearly 45-year span.

That being said, from a summary standpoint, anything within one standard deviation of those numbers is really a pretty successful season numerically, in this case meaning 8-10 wins, somewhere in the top three in the conference (which means being in the discussion for the BTCG if not in it most years). That would mean a Jan 1st or later bowl most of the time. I could take that as a typical expectation statistically as well as from the standpoint of being a fan - in the new system, the odd playoff appearance would be a great addition as well.


January 3rd, 2013 at 4:08 PM ^

In the modern era, the 90's should be regarded as the gold standard for us. This is what we achieved in the 90's:

94-26-3 Overall (.782)

61-17-2 Big Ten (.783)

7-3 in Bowl Games

3-1 in BCS Bowls

2-1 in Rose Bowls

7-2-1 against Ohio State

4-3-1 against Notre Dame

6-4 against Michigan State

5 Big Ten Championships

1 National Championship

2 Undefeated Seasons

2 Heisman Trophy Winners

If we can duplicate that, I'll be happy. There were other teams that were perhaps more dominant in the 90's (Miami, Nebraska), but we had nine good seasons, one perfect season, won a handful of conference championships, and produced two Heisman Trophy winners, all without any rampant misbehavior or trouble with the NCAA. No other program can claim that. 





January 3rd, 2013 at 4:09 PM ^

I hope we, in the next 5-10 years, become THE rock-solid B1G team. I believe that means:

  • Getting out of the non-conference schedule undefeated (will be interesting once Arkansas is a football team again)
  • Drubbing who the low-end B1G teams
  • Handling the average and above average B1G teams
  • Always being competitive with Ohio
  • Not having "empty cupboard"/ Angel of Death scenarios (2007 to 2008)

So with those bullets I'd be satisfied with 10 wins on the season and playing for the B1G championship. After that, start worrying about the national title.


January 3rd, 2013 at 4:14 PM ^

To me the minimum is an 8 win season and a bowl appearence in "rebuilding" type years (Minimum) ala you're starting a new young QB, you lose a ton of guys to graduation or the NFL, or you have a new coach.  The expectation should be 9 wins, winning 2 of 3 from ND, MSU, and OSU, in the running for the division title, and a New Year's Day bowl (Baseline).  Success is a 10 win season, a B1G title, and a Rose Bowl appearence (Success).  Anything more than 10 wins is gravy with a 1 loss or undefeated season once a decade or so when all the cards fall our way (It Happens).  


This is a process, we've gotten the monkey off our backs with MSU and OSU, we've gone to a BCS bowl and had a 10 win season already, and we haven't had less than 8 wins yet.  So far I'd say we're on track and assuming we break through with a B1G title within the next 3 years and never drop under 8 wins.

Ben from SF

January 3rd, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^


  • 10+ wins
  • BCS / Rose (minimum)


  • Winning Season
  • No active NCAA investigation
  • All recruits qualify and stay through 1st year
  • Competitive vs. Ohio / MSU / ND

Talk about a huge reset in expectations.

King Douche Ornery

January 3rd, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

This gets asked fifty million times on every board as if it's some sort of new idea.

Simple: Win a lot of games. Go 50-50 agianst the Big Boyz and do it enough to keep these stupid redundant threads off  the internet.


January 3rd, 2013 at 4:40 PM ^

I'm pretty realistic about Michigan's spot in the college football universe, and I realize that our chances of being the flagship program in the B1G all but went kaput the second OSU snagged Urban Meyer.  I also think it's reasonably established by now that to be consistently in the hunt for the MNC, a program has to outright cheat or at the very least play fast and loose with moral grey areas (oversigning, abusing medical hardships etc).

Obviously, I'd hate for my school to be engaging in those kinds of activities, so my barometer of success is very simple: have a top ten-ish type season (11-2 with OSU and BCS wins is dandy to me).  Or, absent the quantifiable victories, just be more exciting/entertaining than frustrating/predictable.  Having a ten win season against this year's schedule would have been a really tall order, but the second half against OSU, the Bellomy fiasco and the sheer degree of Bama destruction were enough for me to file '12 under "not successful."

I'd put Hoke at one out of two so far, and my pointless speculation is that this is about what I should expect for the near future.


January 3rd, 2013 at 5:04 PM ^

Why do you so readily concede superiority to Meyer? Granted, he has an outstanding track record, but I don't see any reason why Hoke can't go toe-to-toe with him. Hoke has already won more head-to-head recruiting battles against Meyer than he's lost. The Game was pretty competitive and could easily have gone the other way. Hoke hired the same defensive coordinator who Meyer rode to a national championship in 2006. I think the jury is still out on whether Hoke is of the same caliber as Meyer.  


January 3rd, 2013 at 6:42 PM ^

I just can't see hanging one's hat on head to head recruiting battles. Losing a couple guys to Hoke won't kill Meyer's recruiting classes. OSU will almost certainly have a top ten class, and if Meyer closes like he usually closes while Michigan loses a guy or two they could even finish with a higher ranked class. In any matter, having the # 2 class versus #5 or however it plays out isn't a huge difference in my eyes.

We do have Mattison, but you have to respect Meyer's track record for finding coordinators. On offense, they have Urban, just about the best in the biz. We have Al Borges, the quintessential pro-style retread.

I'm not saying I think Michigan will never beat OSU again, but it may not be soon, and I definitely don't believe it will be frequent.  Sure, you're technically correct about the jury being out, but it's in about the same way the determination has yet to be made whether Raymon Taylor is of the same calibre as Charles Woodson.


January 3rd, 2013 at 4:44 PM ^

These are my goals (under current conditions):

1.  Win the Leaders 5/10 years.

2.  Win the B1G 3-4/10 years

3.  Beat OSU 50%+ of the time.  Bo did it.  Mo did it.  Lloyd was doing it until the wheels fell off the wagon from 2001- 2007.  He should have retired two years earlier and kept the 50%+ streak going.

4.  I'd include Notre Dame but they don't really matter anymore.

5.  Beat MSU 70-80% of the time.  UM only lost once in the 70's, twice in the 80's and three times in the 90's.  Three losses should be the limit for any decade.

6.  Play in NYD bowl games (Gator or better) in 7/10 seasons.

If you throw all of those things together, you're probably looking at primarily 9-3 or 10-2 regular seasons most of the time.  I'll always "take" 11-1 or 12-0.  Four losses are OK for "rebuilding"  years.  It's hard to call five or more losses a "good" season.  2012 was only the third times they've lost five or more games since the Bo era began (excluding the RR years) along with 1984 and 2005.



January 3rd, 2013 at 4:57 PM ^

I agree, but I don't think it's unrealistic to expect one season every 10-15 years (or maybe 15-20 years) where everything comes together and we win the national championship. There were a few seasons where Bo was literally a handful of points away from a perfect season and a probable national championship ('88, '85, '80, '71). 

Darth Wolverine

January 3rd, 2013 at 4:48 PM ^

I know we have not averaged 10 wins a year for a long time, if ever, but that is what I want. I EXPECT them to at least be in contention for the conference title (not be eliminated from it by mid-season) every single year.


January 3rd, 2013 at 5:05 PM ^

I'd love to win X number of games and go to X bowl game X number of times and beat the rivals X number of times, but what I really would like to see is the team manhandle the teams that they should manhandle on a regular basis.  I know "lesser" teams get fired up to play a big name like Michigan but I'd like to not have to stress out about a game against lesser opponents.  (e.g. easily cover spreads)  I don't need the extra stress from something that is supposed to be fun to watch.

Oh, and I'd love to see a player like Denard/Desmond/Woodson on the team on a regular basis - someone that makes you think magic can happen every time they touch the ball.