Monday, September 3, 2018

Michigan Monday: This isn't Your Father's Wolverines

I love this program, always have and always will.  It has great tradition and one of the best fan bases in college football.

We all know that, what most of (including myself) are troubled with is; What the hell happened to our program?  Did App State take all the magic from it?  Did we lose the program when Rich Rod got hired?  When Bo died, did he take all the history and tradition to his grave?

We thought we had the answers:

Rich Rod wasn't ready for the Michigan job
Brady Hoke was a good defensive line coach, but not a head coach
We just need to recruit better, we need 4 and 5 star guys on both lines
We need a great coach that loves Michigan
We need a QB that can run and throw

There are a hundred more of those answers out there.  

The real answer is college football has a ton more parity then it ever has.   Programs like Oregon have been great recently and Northwestern has the longest win streak in division 1.   Growing up, playing Northwestern was the easiest W on the schedule.

Everything has changed except our thinking as Michigan fans.  We expect to dominate every opponent no matter where or when.   Those days are long gone.  There is only one team that does that in today's college football and that is the machine called Alabama.   Many people forget how bad Alabama was before Saban got there.  Or how Saban struggled at Michigan State.   Another example is Texas, they used to have an event every year where they would invite the top players in the state to come in for the weekend.   They would pick the top 15-20 guys and then thank the rest for coming.   It was like a 4 and 5 star buffet.  They lost to Maryland on Saturday without DJ Durkin.

It's not just the head coach, it's not just recruiting.  It's everything coming together at one time.  Remember when Chip Kelly was a "college football genius"?  He lost to Cincinnati this weekend in his first game at UCLA.   (I hope Wilton is ok)  I'm sure genius isn't the word UCLA fans are using to describe their head coach today.

If we are going to get through this football season or any other season from here on out, we need to start thinking differently about our program and what to expect.

For example:

  • Michigan doesn't need to go looking for punishment.  Like traveling to ND, Dallas,  or Washington to start a season. 
  • Michigan could win or lose any game they play.  Against anyone. 
  • Michigan isn't going 12-0 anytime soon 
  • Finding athletes that are good kids, good students, can qualify at Michigan, is going to be a much smaller sample size then other schools have available. 
  • Jim Harbaugh is not a coaching wizard
  • College kids are going to make stupid plays that cost Michigan a game sometimes 
  • Michigan has to play to it's strength as much as possible - meaning games at home and no later then 3:30.   TV can adjust, Michigan shouldn't have to. 
Those are just a few examples off the top of my head, but we are going to have to start thinking about Michigan Football like we think of Michigan Basketball.   We expect competitive play but know we won't be a Kentucky. 

We expect Michigan not to "cheat" on the recruiting trail, play by the rules, and be morally better then our rivals.   We have won the morality battle to date.  Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State and even ND have had their share of off field issues lately.   Which alone should make you proud putting on a Maize Blue T-Shirt.  The problem is, there isn't a national championship trophy for a undefeated morality season.  On a side note, do you know one of the reasons Hoke's no visits policy after you commit was such an issue?   Players were missing out on thousands of dollars when they took their official visits to other places.  

If Michigan had converted the two fields goals they should have, ND was whistled for a delay of game on their field goal, and Winovich didn't rough the passer.   Michigan could have won the game and we would all have been making playoff plans.   Which is wrong, we are not there yet.  

I'm not giving up on the season or telling the kids they don't have anything to play for, because they do.   What I'm saying is, this isn't the Michigan program we grew up watching and things haven't come together like we thought they would.   Our expectations are not realistic and there isn't a silver bullet or magic potion out there to fix it.   I'm not happy with Harbaugh or what I saw on the field on Saturday night, but I know I don't want to go through another coaching search and the days of RR or Hoke again.   That was a disaster.   If Bo was alive, I think he would be happy Harbaugh is coaching the team and would preach some patience.   Though he would want to see a few more wins over MSU and OSU that is for sure.  

Michigan Football needs to stay the course, play smarter football, recruit the offense line better, and maybe call Mrs. Cleo to cleanse whatever is haunting this team and program. 


David LaFleur said...

If you can't win on the road you are not a good team. Michigan is beyond bad 5-6 losses this yr.

Tommertoffo said...

I really like this blog. However, we are grossly over-reacting.

Remember 1997. We won the National Championship. Well, we looked terrible against Notre Dame at home. We turned the ball over 3 times in the 4th Q alone. Our vitory required a critical interception by our safety in the endzone and two 4th and 1 stops in ND's red zone to beat a 5-6 Notre Dame team led by Bob Davie....who later that year was fired.

Notre Dame could have EASILY beat Michigan that game in 1997. Michigan played sloppier against ND, with more turn-overs, and we played against a vastly inferior Irish squad than we played last Saturday.

And that was our National Championship team that we celebrate even today. Our performance/general team "look" last Saturday was MUCH better than our performance against ND in 1997.

If Hawkins makes that interception on the 43 yard Wimbush TD pass, Michigan likely would have won last Saturday. In 1997, Tommy Hendricks made the interception, we won. If he didn't, we would have lost. This time, we didn't make the interception we needed.

Relax. Yes football has changed....but it's changed for Dabo Sweeny and Nick Saban too.....and it took them time. How much, I don't know. But, Harbaugh knows what he's doing. That's already established.

Tommertoffo said...

Oh, and BTW: "Road games", "under the lights", "rival games", "the Big Ones"....that's all TV hype and fan folly.

Football is a tough sport played by serious athletes. As Mitch McGary wrote down on a small white board, "Win the Game!" I don't care what game....Michigan's goal is to win it....every one.

Stop listening to ESPN, Pete Finebaum, and MSU blogging trolls.
Go Blue ! Go Harbaugh ! WIN THE GAME.

We'll get there folks. If Michigan were a stock, I'd buy heavily.

Scott K said...

Right? We lost to a higher ranked team on Saturday. Guess what, ND would have mopped the field with MSU and PSU on Saturday... they went to the wire and even needed OT, respectively, to beat a couple very bad teams.

It is definitely disappointing to see our Oline preform so poorly in game 1. Play some point you have to call plays that limit the damage caused by your weakest unit (the o line).

onward, get better....
Go Blue

African Mango said...

The only unrealistic expectation I am seeing is from those who think it will take less than a full five-year rebuild to turn Michigan back into a team that will contend for championships again.

Michigan has had horrible luck with their OT's. They need to be four deep in competent, uppperclassman OT's, but right now they don't even have two. Michigan will be back and will be a contender again. I do agree, however, that they don't need to stuff their OOC schedule with elite teams. They should do what Bama and OSU do: play three Group of Five teams every year.