As another search for a Michigan football coach is surely not far away from its beginning stages, the term “Michigan man” is going to be tossed around left and right by people who still insist that the only man capable of coaching this team is someone who went through the program as a player and (preferably) spent some time on Bo Schembechler’s staff. It is most definitely time for that crap to come to an end.
First of all, “Michigan man” was coined by Schembechler when he fired basketball coach Bill Frieder in 1989. Frieder accepted a coaching job at Arizona State and was set to start at the beginning of the next season. His intentions were to continue coaching Michigan through the NCAA Tournament. However, Schembechler responded by firing Frieder, saying “[a] Michigan man will coach Michigan, not an Arizona State man.”
The whole idea of being a Michigan man is that Ann Arbor is your dream destination, not a stepping stone to something else. No matter your stance on that notion, that is what it means to be a Michigan man. And so in 1989, the term was born. (You can argue that Fielding H. Yost coined the term as we know it today, but in either case, it stands for the same thing.)
And while we’re at it, Bo himself was not what many users of the term would consider to be a Michigan man. He played his college football at Miami (OH) and was an assistant coach at Ohio State on two separate occasions. He was practically a sinner by today’s standards.
But enough of that. Here is why you shouldn’t use “Michigan man” during a coaching search that is sure to come.
When you hop on your Facebook or Twitter and declare that Michigan is need of a Michigan man, and shouldn’t settle for anything less, you are placing this program on a pedestal it does not deserve.
Shouldn’t we be past the point of thinking Michigan is this invincible entity that can’t be shaken? Has that not become evident during the last seven seasons? We’re talking about a stretch of time in which Michigan has been to only four bowl games and claims only one postseason victory (2011 Sugar Bowl).
After the Rich Rodriguez debacle, the fix was very simple: “We need a Michigan man!” fans would yell. Rodriguez didn’t understand what was expected of him at Michigan, and the only coach who can is someone who has been decorated by the program already. At least that became the general consensus.
I can imagine what fans of other teams must think when they see “Michigan man” come across their Twitter feeds. “Who do these people think they are?” they must ask themselves. I think that’s an excellent question.
We are not entitled. We are no more special than any other fan base in the country. Let’s get that straight going forward.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of TheBigHouseReport.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.