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01/17/2011 - 2:27pm Bo's many national championships

"With a little more luck, Bo could have won three or four national championships."

Ah, youth!  I wish this were true but it ain't so.  Bo's early years were the height of the big-2-little-8 era, when Notre Dame was still good but not on our schedule, and when there were no scholarship limits so that players who would nowadays be starting for Wisc/Iowa/etc were on our sideline waiting.  Forty-year U-M fans like me can testify what it was like then: we would run thru the weak non-conference and equally conference conference schedule, then line up against OSU at either 9-1 or 10-0.  The winner headed to the Rose Bowl and predictable embarrassment.  After 1973 the loser was allowed to go another major bowl and nearly-as-predictable embarrassment.

The losses in New Year's Day bowls during that era were amazingly like the losses to quality opponents during the RichRod era: some early success in the 1st quarter but then the opponent adjusted and it was over.  By halftime or the 3rd quarter it was crushingly obvious that U-M was non-competitive and would need a complete implosion by the opponent in order to win.  Some garbage time scores often made the score and stats seem respectable to those who hadn't watched the game.

The problem back then was lack of coaching innovation. We were then like Army is now: with a run-only offense that we executed very well but with an unsophisticated passing attack.  We could out-talent the talent-less (except for OSU) but once matched up against an equally talented team like USC that had offensive balance and whose defense practiced against a balanced offense, we couldn't compete.  Good teams then would stuff our run (in some bowls we had negative rush yards for the entire game) and on defense we were helpless against the pass (though not as helpless as 2009 & 2010 I admit) since our own passing attack in practice couldn't simulate anything even approaching a USC-like passing attack.

Coaching that always seemed a step behind the leading edge and kept U-M from being serious players in the NC picture frustrated me greatly with Bo and Lloyd -- less so with Moeller who really opened up the offense but who didn't have time to leave his mark.  It's why I was very happy and optimistic about the RichRod hire leading the program in a modern direction.  Obviously I was totally wrong about RichRod.  I hope that I am totally wrong again about Hoke, who strikes me as a return to the Bo/Lloyd days but this time with limits on scholarships and PennSt, Nebraska, Wiscy, and Iowa in the conference.