Denial's a bitch and i've been sleeping with her for the last couple of weeks. I honestly thought Michigan was going to beat the Spartans. They didn't seem to have much of a passing game before then, i guess i was wrong. I thought the wolverines might beat Purdue because they were desperate to keep their bowl hopes alive, but i was wrong there too, because i didn't account on the defense not showing up.
To say that this football season has been a disappointment would be a gross understatement, it is an unprecedented (i'll explain later) catastrophe that could (fingers crossed that it won't) have very bad long term consequences for the program i loved as a boy and taught me what it felt like to win in a world where i always felt like i was going to lose.
I grew up with two truly great loves as far as sports were concerned, Detroit Tigers baseball and Michigan football, i loved the Red Wings but there was a lull in that love due to the strike. I never stopped loving Michigan or the Tigers. With all of the turmoil the Tigers went through under Randy Smith as general manager i got used to the feeling of the Tigers being a perennial losing team. The Wolverines however create something different for me, one of the first memories for me as far as football is concerned was the Remy Hamilton game, which i watched at my grandma's house just over a month after my grandfather had died.
For some reason the winged helmets that Michigan had just spoke to me in a way that Notre Dame's plain golden domes didn't. Secondly i liked the sound of a name like Biakabatuka. But they kept winning after that game and Frank Beckman was consistently the voice of both the Tigers on TV and the Wolverines on the radio, so as a kid with aspirations to be an announcer i felt very close to both. And the way i felt about both was understandable, the Wolverines were the rock pillars of winning and consistency and all that was good in the world, the Tigers were the lovable losers whom i knew.
But now that has all changed and it may not get better. What is happening at Michigan, an outsider taking over at head coach and having a losing season right out of the get go, after a good coach steps down, is unprecedented in the 129 years of Michigan football. However i can think of a relevant comparison that makes me shudder to think it might be true, but unfortunately it may be. John Cooper.
Cooper was hired one year after both the death of Woody Hayes and the firing of Earle Bruce. Michigan fans are all familiar with his record of futility against them. On top of that he also was part although he did not start or finish the downfall of academics in the college football program, something Michigan has prided themselves on in the past.
On the latter part i don't think there is too much to be worried about, but on the former, i am deeply troubled. If he doesn't beat Ohio State in a season this bad it would be the greatest failure of a season in the living memory since before Bo came to town.
It's not the problem of the spread not working anymore, the wolverines have the skill players what they don't have is the tools to defend it. Not enough emphasis is put on defense in the current system right now, if HRG had put an emphasis on the defensive backs and getting them to do better in defending against the pass Michigan would not be in this position. If anybody is on the chopping block right now it's either him or defensive backs coach Tony Gibson.
stay tuned for happy days when i write about Michigan hockey.