I know I've written this post before. I know I touched on these same feelings when I said goodbye to Coach Rodriguez after his 2010 loss to MSU at the Big House. For me, this is, and always will be, about player development. I don't see it. And honestly, I've never seen it. It was the same complaint I had about Coach Carr and Coach Rodriguez, and it's same complaint I have now. Show me where things have gotten better from year to year when the staff has remained the same. Show me where we have improved in the middle of a season. Don't tell our next "amazing" recruiting class, but I'm pretty sure this is where good players go to die. Maybe that's a little harsh. It's where good players go to be the same player they were in high school. Their success here will determined by how well their personal game translates to the college level and how they react to having a few pounds of muscle tacked on to their frame in the weight room. To that end, if we played Michigan State in week one or two, we might have won. But since the start of the season, they've improved in a lot of areas. We have regressed. Their coach...better than ours...at least until he finds himself a real job.
A few bullet points of anger and randomly placed thoughts that may or may not include sarcasm:
- Unpredictable Old 98 has forced us into an offensive shell that we have no intention of coming out of. The defense is getting worse, as teams realize that we are vulnerable deep (and have been since 1991).
- We will establish this run. We will establish it, win or lose, no matter how unsuccessful.
- We will not try any other running backs, because Fitz Toussaint is a senior. A senior that has returned from an injury. Got a short yardage situation that looks like it might require the services of the young human bowling ball on the sidelines dying for a hand off? Nope. Keep that bowling ball where it is, we'll take the dancing Fitz...he's a senior...he's a leader.
- And Lewan, the man that could have (should have) left, continues to talk a good game, telling me what I want to hear heading into gameday, while playing his way from the NFL's first pick to the second round.
This is a disaster, and this is not a hiccup, it's our reality. Four games remain. None look like wins. The offensive line is not improving, and it's worse than we ever could have imagined. The season saver at the end of the year with the Buckeyes is so out of the realm of possibility at this point, that I can't even muster the courage to preach the underdog role I loved so much in '95 and '96. We used to ruin their lives you know...often. Now they barely think about us. They don't hate us like they used to.
Bring back the bullets:
- Michigan State is probably going to play Ohio State for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis.
- We are going the wrong way.
I don't have nearly the same feelings anymore. The emotional swings are gone. Numbed by the RichRod era, and yet to be rebuilt by Hoke and Friends. And that's sad. There's been nothing to be proud of for many years, nearly ten by my count. This is the biggest Big Ten title drought in my lifetime. Back then, we all thought that John Navarre would be the worst thing that ever happened to us.
Make no mistake, I'm in love with gamedays and tailgates. I will tailgate by myself if I have to...because it's about more than just the team or the game. And yes, the hair still stands up on the back of my neck when the season starts and the "band takes the field." They will be in the hunt for the national championship each and every year in my eyes until they prove me otherwise. But it's so hard to love this current iteration of Michigan. This athletic department and its NFL mindset have done something to us. Every move they make pushes away those who were there from the beginning. We have a pretty old tailgate group. Guys that can remember when Michigan Football was a hidden gem. A time when the Wolverines asked for all of your heart and a little bit of your money. They don't care anymore about your heart, but they do love your wallet. Combine this new attitude with what can only be deemed as "bad football," and you've got a recipe for indifference....and empty student sections.
Times have changed. But was hasn't changed are the goals...the football goals that is. And at least I know Brady Hoke knows what's important, or at least I think he does. Big Ten Championships, beating ND, MSU, OSU...these things are on his list. It's the reason he won't be run out of here like Rich Rod was.
And the leash is long my friends. I implore you to have patience not because he deserves it but because there is no other option. We must hope that while the staff has shown little ability to get players to improve...perhaps they themselves can. I've still got some support left in the tank for Coach Hoke. We are still very young. We are still recovering from whatever that was that happened between 2008 - 2010. We still have time because, well, all we have is time.
I read somewhere on twitter in the post game... "sad today, proud forever," and that's about right.
I guess this just turned into a hodgepodge of random thoughts about the "state of the program" or "state of a tailgater's psyche" other than a recap of a game.
Wanna talk about the game? It was miserable. It was cold. It was wet. And it was played in a stadium that has all the panache of a amphitheater in cold war Russia. Man that place is awful.
It never looked like we had a chance to win, at least from my perspective, which was near Bubba, Stephen, the Godfather, and a concrete wall. Every offensive move we made, every trick in the bag, was met by multiple Spartan defenders that seemed to know our gameplan better than we did. Other adjectives that seem to fit the outcome? Out-toughed...out-coached....bullied....beat up. Our loss to Penn State fell under the category of stupid, conservative, and "we're better than this." The loss to MSU? Not so much. Weaknesses exposed, it's time to go back to the drawing board. We are not a good football team, so we are desperately going to need a few really good gameplans to salvage a .500 record in these last four games.
Alright, enough rambling. Get your flannels out of the closet and get ready for the lumberjack tailgate...soups, stews, sausage gravy...man food. Go Blue.