WSJ has M at 7th Worst Season for CFB Traditional Elites

Submitted by MBAgoblue on December 19th, 2010 at 8:30 AM

The Wall Street Journal figures that Michigan had the seventh worst year of any traditional college football program using the following categories: program pedigree, humiliating losses, crushed preseason hopes and off-field embarrassments:


7. The Wolverines seem to deserve a worse ranking than this, given their epically overmatched defense (which ranks 108th of 120 teams nationally) and the way their regular season ended, losing five of their last seven. MICHIGAN's saving grace is that all five of its losses were to respected opponents

With the exception of pedigree, It is hard to see how any of these categories really fit Michigan's season. Yes, we lost badly to OSU, again, but win total was in line with general expectations but we had no off-field embarrass...


Michigan's coach spoke emotionally at a team banquet about a Josh Groban song.

Oh yeah, that. And a photo of the estimable Mr. Groban to boot. Sigh.

Your winner? Texas, easily:


1. Other programs had just one jump-off-the-ledge loss, or merely modest reputations and expectations, but TEXAS' 2010 season covered all the bases. Losses to Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas State ranked them No. 1 in our "humiliating" category, and they didn't rank lower than third in any other.


Slippery Rock …

December 19th, 2010 at 8:49 AM ^

I understand that we are tired of hearing this sort of thing, but if you are going to write an article on traditional powerhouses that didn't make the top25, Michigan is hard to leave out of there. 

Mitch Cumstein

December 19th, 2010 at 9:05 AM ^

Damn, I thought they were generally pro Michigan.  Although after reading the rankings, its just a kind of "meh" article.  I mean, 7th isn't that bad.  In front of us is Georgia and behind us is BYU.  While they didn't have good seasons, its not like I was going out of my way to make fun of Georgia and BYU this year.


December 19th, 2010 at 9:10 AM ^

WSJ mentioning Michigan as a "traditional power" rather than a "has-been" like you will hear from opposing fan bases (Sparty? Anyone?) means that WSJ has to have a lot of respect for Michigan's winning tradition. 

Section 1

December 20th, 2010 at 10:15 AM ^

and I saw that story the day it came out.  I wondered if anyone here would notice it.  (I should never have doubted that!)

Here's the thing; the Journal regularly posts quirky stories about unusual stats and offbeat sports stories in its Friday "Weekend Journal" section and its newly-reformulated weekend "WSJ" edition.  They are always bylined, much as opinion-page columnists would do.

As most of the perceptive readers here figured out, this particular story by Darren Everson was long on "quirk," and somewhat short on "metrics."  Nobody mentioned it yet, and I no longer have my print edition in front of me, but if I am not mistaken, one of Everson's highly-subjective criteria for settling on the worst years in college football was "off-field trouble."  And Michigan was blandly lumped into that mix as a result of "NCAA trouble."  Which is of course some laughable bullshit in Michigan's case.  (Again, I question whether the online Journal link to this story was as it appeared in the print edition.  I don't think so.)

Anyway, Everson's bylined piece was intended as sporting/opinion fluff; it was in no way "reporting."

But just leave it to our friends at the Detroit Free Press to announce:

Michigan ranked seventh-worst among the best football programs

Steve Schrader was the Freeper who did that one; I don't think that the Freep is running with this story in any of its own print editions.  It is a kind of a blog-entry only at this point, in the "U-M Wolverines" section of the Freep website.  And it is nothing more than a few sentences, stealing and regurgitating a couple of bits from the Everson story in the Journal. 

Naturally, there's no context provided within Steve Schrader's short blog-entry, and nothing original.  Just stealing crumbs from the Journal, and using them to support an otherwise inexplicable anti-Michigan headline.  The ignorant Free Press reader (a largely redundant term) is likely to think that the Journal did some serious measurement of the "worst" football programs this year and rated Michigan 7th.  There was no mention by the Free Press of Notre Dame as "Number 5," or any other program, apart from "Number 1" Texas. 



December 19th, 2010 at 9:11 AM ^

...if I told you that at the end of the regular season that someone would produce a list of traditional CFB powerhouses that had worse seasons than Michigan and those teams would be Texas, Florida, Miami (YTM), Notre Dame and Georgia, would you be upset by that?

Boy I can't wait for New Year's Day.


December 19th, 2010 at 9:52 AM ^ that concept either.  And you're right, it wasn't what I was saying.  I guess I was too subtle. 

Here's what I meant: Wow, what a strange CFB season it was as evidenced by the fact that six traditional powerhouse teams had arguably worse seasons than Michigan, a team that pretty much everyone expected to have a mediocre or poor season. Boy, if before the season you were told that these teams had worse seasons than Michigan, you'd think that Michigan's season would end pretty well.  Amazingly, it doesn't mean that at all! Crazy!


December 19th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

All's it means is that Florida and Texas had down years. Thinking Miami or ND would have worse seasons than Michigan wouldn't have been all that shocking. And in any year you can find a couple of power programs that implode. Recently, Oklahoma. Penn State in years before. 2008 most of the country could have said "hey, we had a better season than Michigan!", but that wouldn't have been saying much.


December 19th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

I only ask this due to half of the teams you listed not being among the top ten programs in all-time wins.  Hell, all the FL schools were considered nothing more than "Johnny come latelys" prior to establishing themselves as powers during the 70s. 

Along with those schools, GA is not  top ten in wins either, with only Bama and TN being in that group among all the SEC schools. GA, by any measure, imo, is a school with a good program, but has done nothing to elevate itself to "elite status."  They belong, again imo, at the second level with programs such as LSU, AUB, et. al., who bat above .500 normally and occassionally have great years. 


December 19th, 2010 at 9:22 AM ^

If you consider the top 5 percent of any given population "elite" then out of 120 D1 schools there would only be 12 "elite" programs. So we had the 6th best season of "elite" football programs? That doesn't sound so bad.


December 19th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

That is just the thing really isn't spin. If you are going to look at elite teams, how many are you really going to name? I was thinking the same thing when I read this....there are only about 10 or 15 actual traditional elites in all of CFB. Michigan has a chance to be have 8 wins with a bowl win over a ranked SEC opponent to end the season. This list is pretty ridiculous if you ask me because it doesn't take some very important things into account. I'm not sure whether they are saying our preseason hopes of 7 or 8 wins were crushed (huh?) or the practice time we are giving up because of the bullshit investigation counts as off-field embarrassment, but they are reaching.


December 19th, 2010 at 10:22 AM ^

This list is flawed simply by including UCLA as a football "elite". They are 36th in the FBS in all-time winning % behind teams like Southern Miss, Bowling Green and Utah.

UCLA is NOT (and never has been) a traditional power in CFB.


December 19th, 2010 at 5:19 PM ^

In a lot of ways the UCLA basketball/football dynamic is very similar to Michigan's football/basketball dynamic right now. UCLA was, in fact, a solid national football program, just like Michigan has a very good bball tradition. But it's been so long that they're no longer just a "down" program, they've slipped a notch in the historical pecking order.

Now with the flagship sport struggling, it becomes...less enjoyable to be a fan.


December 19th, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

I wasn't so much pointing to how bad we were but how dumb this list is. In 05, we had very high expectations from a good team the year before, we had close losses also close wins against teams we should have beaten handily, and some of the teams ahead of us on the list this year did much better that year. All I was getting at is we would probably have been at the top of this list in 2005 partly because we played badly but partly because this list is dumb.

I would also like to point out that we have no idea if any of RichRod's recruits are NFL caliber unless you are judging them on their sophomore or redshirt freshmen years. I personally don't think with a bunch of NFL caliber players RichRod would go 7-5, but that is my opinion. Lloyd had 13 guys drafted his last 2 classes before he retired with 8 of those going in the 3rd round or higher. Going into this draft, assuming Schilling gets drafted (which is a big if, but I will give him 1 this year), the last 3 Lloyd Carr classes have produced 6 draft picks, 1 of them being in the 3rd round or higher and 1 of them being a punter. I'm not saying RichRod is positively going to recruit a bunch of NFL players, but to judge him on the true sophomores he has recruited while pointing to his 7-5 record as underachieving is a little misleading.


December 19th, 2010 at 3:24 PM ^

He was 19-6. So what does that say about 2005? Beyond the other problems, to have that much drafted 2 years later, the talent was pretty young. Sophomores. The same argument you're making for Rich (fairly). But I'll agree with you. The list is dumb (though there was nothing dumb about the OP posting it; it's fair game).


December 19th, 2010 at 2:52 PM ^

So you are in the mindset that bringing back nearly every defender will make them worse?

Also, I don't understand your thinking (not just yours, but everyone who mentions special teams). So from last year, when we had arguably one of the best special teams units in the B10, to this year, when special teams was less than spectacular, did RichRod just forget to coach them? Or do you think injuries and an overall lack of depth played a part in that? I just don't know how you can say our special teams play won't get better. Any reason, or are you just thinking that it will get worse becasue our coaches forgot to do anything special teams related in practice this year so it has to carry over to next year?


December 19th, 2010 at 3:31 PM ^

But will it get better ENOUGH is the question. As for Special Teams, if they were so great the last couple of years, we wouldn't all wake up in cold sweats from deep sleeps screaming HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL!! Beyond that huge ongoing problem, our bigger problem is not having a kicking recruit work out. Punting, great punter replaced by soon to be great punter. We recruiter an on-paper really good kicker, but he hasn't been able to beat out a barely adequate kicker, and now a pretty awful kicker. And it's not looking like there's any immediate help coming, or any propensity for coaching them up on special teams, since no one really does it.


December 19th, 2010 at 6:47 PM ^

I would love to believe that simply by brining back all the defenders we will be much better. It seems obvious we should be. But with a new DC in the mix at best and another year of GERG (did I just write that?) at worst, I'm not so sure the defense will be enough better to push beyond 7-5 or 8-4. Talk about how far we've fallen; the fact that I can't fantasize about winning the big ten next year tells me there has been a sea change. As frustrating as Lloyd'd underachievers were sometimes, I always had the feeling that next year could be the year. I'm not saying RR can't get them back there, but right now I'm not feeling it because of the D.


December 19th, 2010 at 6:45 PM ^

BigBlue, I sincerely hope you don't think 2005, Carr's worst year, is comparable to 2010, RR's best. Our biggest loss that season was by 7 points. And we lost a hearbreaker to Ohio State (as opposed to waking up the morning of the Game basically knowing you're going to get demolished).