Yes, the title of this post deserves a single word.
There are no positives to what occurred in East Lansing last night, only proverbial wounds. Large, gaping wounds. What we saw yesterday was a Michigan team that was exposed, outsmarted, out-coached and dominated in every single facet of the game. If you thought Penn State was the lowest of the low, Michigan State introduced us to a brand new low for this season. Michigan did not stand a chance.
This one will hurt for awhile.
This spreads far more than what Michigan State did to the Wolverines yesterday. But, it forces fans to think , “What’s next for this team?” With four games left and a ticket to a conference championship looking more unlikely with every passing minute, it is another failed season for the Wolverines. Considering Michigan has not won a conference title since 2004, which was shared with Iowa, has every season since then been a failure? What is it going to take the right the ship?
However, by some dumb stroke of luck, Michigan could find its way to a conference championship birth if it wins out and Michigan State completely bottoms out. Though highly unlikely, Michigan State has placed themselves in the drivers seat and control their destiny in the Legends division.
Now, back to regularly scheduled programming.
The offense is atrocious right now. Scoring big against weaker opponents in the B1G is not something to thump your chest over. Michigan is not built to be that way, the foundation laid before Team 134 suggests bigger things. But, to no-show against the better teams of the conference, and yes Michigan State is the better team, is inexcusable. It’s the same old song with the same old dance on repeat.
Do I think heads should roll after the season? Possibly. Would it happen? Highly unlikely. In a perfect world Al Borges would be sent on his merry way. The offensive play calling this season has been absolutely atrocious. Michigan is not a pro-style team, at least not right now. The aftershock of Rich Rodriguez is still very much apparent and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. After Borges, who is next? Someone with Michigan ties or someone with a history of winning? You can probably see where this one is headed.
Granted, Michigan is in a much better state compared to what it was before Brady Hoke came to Ann Arbor. But, when does the program leave this era of ineptitude and not living up to expectations? It’s always one baby-step forward, two giant steps backwards. To say Michigan has regressed since 2011 is a fair statement to make, but it is possible it was never there to begin with. Conceivably the Sugar Bowl victory and victory over Ohio State that fans hang their hat on is a product of overachievement and taking advantage of a program who had a down year. Considering what Ohio State is now, that might be the case.
If heads should indeed roll, Hoke should not be one of them. At least not for another season. Perhaps a 11-2 start to a Michigan career sky-rocketed fan expectations to astronomical heights, but the honeymoon phase of his Michigan coaching career is definitely over. Hoke’s seat is not hot yet but lukewarm might be a safe temperature to use. Talking and preaching the “Michigan football gospel” is one thing, but fans and the higher-ups in the university need to see results. These results just aren’t happening like they were two seasons ago. Some fans aren’t sure they will ever happen with him, I say that’s a reach. Hoke is capable of bringing Michigan to the top-of-the-pack, but it might take longer than some hoped for. Patience might not be a virtue in this case, but help is on the way. The problem with that, though, is how you develop that help.
Signing talent is one thing, but developing your players after getting them onboard is another. If Michigan is destroying the recruiting game right now, then how come walk-ons are seemingly waltzing into starting positions? For example, instead of developing core talent on the offensive line, they insert the next four-star recruit or former walk-on turned scholarship player hoping it sticks. Granted, there isn’t much that can be done to fix that line this season, but in-game experience is far more valuable than being a practice All-American.
Above all, 2014 is the measuring stick. The system will be in its fourth season and the team will be challenged with a difficult road schedule, if there are no significant improvements or success, it’s time to take an inward look at leadership. No excuses.
Michigan still has a current season to finish before it gets into any of the specifics. Michigan could somewhat salvage a respectable season and could hypothetically be a two-loss team when it faces off against Ohio State the last week of the season. But Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern are bigger priorities. With all three teams having down years, it still doesn’t make these games easier for Michigan. It needs to put this week behind them and focus on what worked before.
Michigan is a wounded program right now, it’s been kicked around and abused by their rival schools (save for Minnesota and arguably Notre Dame). Something fans and the university have not experienced much before. Michigan just needs to lick their wounds and focus on salvaging whatever is left of this season, that’s it. The drop-off from years past is certainly frustrating and Michigan is losing considerable ground from the “glory days.” But it’s not impossible to get back to. Something will click one day. Whether it’s a brand new staff or a brand new mentality, Michigan will be back. But, right now I believe this is fair:
“This Is Not Michigan.”
Yes, the title of this post deserves a single word.