The title is simple, this is for Michigan & the entire Wolverine fanbase.
“It’s ok”. It’s ok to be upset. It’s ok to question the play-calling that had the Maize & Blue trying to throw the ball in the middle of a monsoon Saturday night. It’s ok if you’re mad, really it is. Many times throughout the sports seasons, fans get enraged based on their team’s performance. That’s natural, fans care. The word “fan” is short for “fanatic”, that’s what fans are, they’re fanatical. They follow their team constantly; searching the web for recruiting news, reading their local paper’s column on the game, watching local & national TV coverage about their team. Fans get upset when their team isn’t talked about enough, “they don't respect us!”. Fans also get upset when their team is talked about too much, because fans worry about their team living up to expectations.
Expectations, what did you expect for the Michigan Wolverines 2017 season? My gut told me 10-2 (although I told Buckeye homer Busted Coverage on the radio they’d be 11-0 going into The Game). Replacing a plethora of starters? Yes, they are. But it’s not as if they’re bringing in a bunch of kids from the golf team. The kids playing now have all had practice time & reps against the 1s from last season’s team, or were top recruits under the direction of a great staff.
Well, here we are. Michigan fans are angry with a 4-1 start, highlighted by a primetime loss to the instate rival Spartans on Saturday night, who have owned this matchup under Head Coach Mark Dantonio. Some in the Mitten have even called for Jim Harbaugh’s job & that’s where I want to go with this piece…
People have brought up the comparison of records through the first 31 games for former coach Brady Hoke vs current coach Jim Harbaugh, guess what, they’re identical at 24-7. “But Hoke was 4-3 vs our rivals & Harbaugh is 1-4!”. Look, anyone who believes that Michigan hiring Jim Harbaugh was a mistake, is insane. Anyone who believes Michigan should part ways with Jim Harbaugh, you’re insane too. And if you truly think that “Jim Harbaugh isn’t any better than Brady Hoke” (I saw that as a headline on SB Nation), I can’t help you.
The issue is & always has been “keeping up with the Jones’”. When Ohio State was led by Jim Tressel, they became the modern machine OSU is. There were only 2 seasons under Jim Tressel that OSU did not win double-digit games (2001-his 1st season, 2004). Tressel’s exit at OSU led to Luke Fickell, who went 6-7 in his only season at the helm. Folks, the cupboards weren’t bare for Fickell, Tressel’s recruits were on that team, & that’s why Fickell isn’t the head coach in Columbus. Exit Fickell & enter Urban Meyer, a college football nightmare. Urban went to Columbus with 2 BCS National Titles in his pocket. Coach Meyer took those same 6-7 Buckeyes & did the following:
2013: 12-2, L Orange Bowl
2014: 14-1, W Sugar Bowl, W College Football Championship
2015: 12-1, W Fiesta Bowl
2016: 11-2, L Fiesta Bowl
2017: 5-1… To be determined
Total in 1st 5 seasons: 61-6.
That was the expectation for Michigan, by their fans, based on their rival neighbor. People may not admit it, but that’s what the Michigan fan wanted, immediate success. Immediate national recognition. “Michigan is BACK!”. Well folks, Michigan is back. Let’s look at the numbers:
Rich Rodriguez- 3 seasons, 15-22 record. Brady Hoke- 4 seasons, 31-20. Jim Harbaugh- 2 seasons + 5 games, 24-7.
Hoke’s record trended backwards:
2011: 11-2, W Sugar Bowl
2012: 8-5, L Outback Bowl
2013: 7-6, L Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
What Urban Meyer was able to accomplish at Ohio State is literally unheard of. Nick Saban went 7-6 in his first year at Alabama. SIX loses for Saban in his first year at Bama, let that sink in while I remind you Urban Meyer had SIX loses in hist first FIVE seasons.
Jim Harbaugh is currently 24-7, with hopefully many more wins & years to come. The BIG 10 use to be laughed at & the conference garnered very little respect nationally. It’s a new conference now. The BIG 10 East is one of the toughest divisions in all of College football. Every aspect of BIG 10 football is better today than it was a decade ago, when the SEC ran wild over the country. It’s not an easy challenge to undertake. That’s not an excuse, that’s the reality. The loss against Michigan State was tough to stomach, as we watched an offense that can’t play to par with their own defense, who kept them in the game despite the 5 turnovers. But it’s year #3 for Coach Harbaugh & he hasn’t even started his own recruit at the most important position on the field, quarterback.
Give it some time.
Everyone take a breath.
For you, Michigan fan, “it’s ok”.