How Bad Are We?

As the prognosticators stake their claim on the 2005 football season, Michigan again gets the dubious honor of being highly touted and highly doubted. It's tough not to rank us in the upper echelon of this year's teams, because you don't want to be the guy caught leaving Michigan out of your top 10 when they make a play for a Big Ten three peat. But it seems you need also to take shots at them to cover yourself if they fold. This is definitely a deja vu moment for Michigan followers, who see similar reports every year. A bridesmaid since 1997, the Michigan Wolverines have done nothing to impress the national media, who live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-today world.

Forgotten is our nation leading run of 30 straight bowl games, the longest in the nation. By the way, in the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd years we had a combined record of 30-2, screwed by the Big Ten on several levels including keeping us from the Rose Bowl by way of a shady vote, and not letting any team go to any other bowl game other than the Rose.

Forgotten is our run in the national polls, not falling out of the top 25 since October of 1998, by far the longest run in the nation.

Forgotten is our history, our tradition, and the way we have usurped Notre Dame as the greatest college football team of all-time.

Forgotten is coach Lloyd Carr, who is 5th among active coaches in winning percentage, just barely behind Bobby Bowden, and ahead of Joe Paterno, Lou Holtz, and Mack Brown.

More recently, forgotten is that last year we replaced a senior quarterback and Heisman trophy runner-up running back with two true freshman in what could only be classified as a rebuilding year...on our way to a second consecutive Big Ten Championship. Going back-to-back is feat rarely accomplished by any team in the Big Ten, other than Michigan. And while the second championship was a tie, the team we tied with (Iowa) suffered a 30-17 loss in the Big House.

Forgotten is Michael Hart, the Big Ten's leading rusher that didn't play until week 3, and ran for 200+ yards in three consecutive games.

It seems that the banter that is tossed about is about how we are "worse off", and everyone else is "better off". While Chad Henne and Michael Hart are poised for Sophomore slumps, and we can't recover from the loss of Braylon Edwards, there's no doubt about the definite improvement in Drew Stanton and Drew Tate. And Iowa, who didn't have a single player rush for over 227 yards, was last in the Big Ten (11th) and 116th out of the 117 Division I teams in rushing will be a force to be reckoned with. No sophomore slump for Ted Ginn, who is perfection personified, and will score a touchdown every time he touches the ball.

Texas is a national powerhouse. Clearly worlds better than our Wolverines. But if a field goal had twisted just a bit more at the end of the 2005 Rose Bowl, would the world even know who Vince Young is?

So the pundits post predictions (that's called alliteration) and we summarily post them on the message board. They talk of heart, drive, paper champions that can't get "off the paper." We're not hungry. We're not driven. We're spoiled, over-recruited athletes. But these same idiots also claim that we will win the Big Ten, the consensus best conference, for the third consecutive year.

I only know what I know, and it's not based on statistical analysis, positional matchups, or coaching styles. Michigan will have somewhere between zero and three losses, that's 0,1,2, or 3, which in my gorilla math equates to a 25 percent chance that I'll be celebrating victory in Pasadena on January 4th. But with 23 days to go until life begins again, I think I just might be getting ahead of myself. I'll leave the business of making predictions to the idiots.