Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When new coaches come in, historically speaking

The first game of a Michigan coach can set the tone for his time here in Ann Arbor. Most coaches start off with a win and then go on to much greater success here.

Who can forget Lloyd Carr's first game against Virginia. After two less than stellar seasons he lead a team to a national championship and then two yrs after that guided the maize and blue to five comeback victories and a win in a BCS bowl game. Although later in his career he would slip as we all know but the fact that he got off to a great start like that made the team known for their ability to stay in games and never give up.

His predecessor Gary Moeller was considerably less lucky, and ended up being on the short end of a 14 point Notre Dame comeback in which The Bus ran over the winged helmets in the fourth quarter. The problem with giving up comebacks to other teams would culminate in that play with Kordell Stewart and Bryant Westbrook that nobody needs to be reminded about.

Bo's first game was against Vanderbilt, a then mediocre southern team which had still not integrated. Ol General Patton led his troops out in his first game and kept the infantry on the field until they had racked up 367 yards rushing as a team, largely behind the legs of their newcomer sophomore running back, and their junior quarterback!!!! Patton's troops would walk out of the Big House with a 42-14 victory that was quickly overshadowed by the embarrassing 40-17 loss we would endure to then fifth ranked Mizzou and two weeks after that when we lost to the Duff beer company of East Lansing in Bo's first intra state classic.

By this point the Michigan fans, who had never heard of Bo before 1969, were starting to grumble considerably, they probably weren't happy when the winged helmets went down 9-7 at halftime to Minnesota in Minneapolis. At halftime of that game the old general called on his troops to save the season that day, and by golly they did scoring 28 points to win the ball game and set the tone for the rest of the season to set up the stage for the funeral of the 1969 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Now with this in mind does this mean that if Rich Rod wins his first game will we be great again and triumph over Ohio State at the end of the season and return to the pantheon of the college football gods, or that if we lose we will return to being over hyped and disappointing. Well, first games are always hard to tell, and here in Ann Arbor there seems to be a pattern at Michigan for the coaches and their success on the football field. Which is an easy explanation for why Rich Rod's only the tenth coach here at Meeechigan since 1901. And there's a good chance that he will continue that if he gets a win at Utah on saturday.

The only two Michigan coaches since Yost who have lost their first games were Moeller in 1990 and Bump Elliot in 1959. The last Michigan coach to lose his first Ohio State game was Harry Kipke in 1929, and then won two national championships a few years later. The last Michigan coach to BEAT Michigan State in his first attempt was Bennie Oosterbaan in 1948. That's right Bo, Mo, and Lloyd all got bested by Little Brother in their first attempt one way or another.

But nevermind all of you in the land of the winged helmets, for you should hang onto your maize and blue kilocycles, because it's going to be one interesting ride.



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