If nothing else comes from the "transition" that has resulted in the unceremonious exit of Justin Boren, it's that whatever was going on before Rodriguez was not good. And by "not good" I mean bluntly that players over the last several years were not pushed to their potential. I've bared my soul about this before, and it's no secret that I was the number one supporter of the Michigan coaching staff under Carr. The elephant in the room on the field was that top 10 recruiting classes consistently made their way to Ann Arbor, but rarely did they produce near the level of expectation. I used every excuse in the book, often blaming the players, and going as far as to question the validity of the recruiting evaluators, remarking that sure, we had a top ten class...but who really knows how good these high school players are? My other favorite arguement: parity. I could recite the evidence of the scholarship limitations, and moreover the discerning college athletes that chose small schools over major programs for the sake of early playing time.
Well, I was wrong, and the naysayers...I think you were right. With my Maize and Blue blinders on, I couldn't see the forest for the trees, especially in the last 4-5 years, a time in Michigan Football history in which the underachievement level reached it's pinnacle.
The inspiration for my epiphany? An article by Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated who got to see the team practice...
It was similar to practices I've attended at USC, Florida State and numerous other football powers. Yet according to offensive linemanSteven Schilling, "The first couple weeks were a shock to the system. It's a different culture. It's a lot higher paced, it stresses sprinting everywhere. I can't really say which is better."
All of which makes you wonder: If this new approach is really as shocking as Boren, Schilling and others have expressed, what kind of country club was Carr running all those years? And is that why Michigan, for all its considerable talent, has largely underachieved in the decade since its 1997 national championship, including six losses in seven years against Ohio State?
And that's it, folks...that's the story. Of course, all smoke and mirrors until we see a finished product, but I for one am beginning to believe.