Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's the matter with Michigan football? The program is run by a ghost

The long shadow of the late Bo Schembechler hovers over the Michigan Wolverines, even in death. But for the program to move forward, Michigan needs to stop looking back. It's not 1977, and the football philosophy that worked during Bo's heyday haven't translated well into the new century. It's been close to 4 decades of Bo, and his lineage, running the Michigan football program.

It's time for the in-breeding and nepotism at Michigan to come to an end.

For a program as storied as Michigan to lose to Appalachian St. is unthinkable, inexcusable, flabbergasting, frustrating, and any other word with ending with -ting or -able. I never thought that Michigan would become the butt of jokes, a national laughingstock.

The college game is passing the Michigan Wolverines by. The Maize and Blue have been embarrassingly out coached, out prepared, and out played all too often. Players don't measurably improve over their4 year careers. Their offensive and defensive schemes are woefully out of date. Their game planning has become a joke.

And the Michigan Wolverines now have one of the worst losses in the history of sports next to their name. It's a black mark that's never going to go away. Ever.

My knee-jerk reaction after the loss was the obvious one. Fire Lloyd NOW! After a couple of days reflection, my stance has softened.

No, you can't fire Lloyd Carr immediately. He's too entrenched in the culture of Michigan to be broomed out the door. For all he's done for the university as a whole, you can't give him the unceremonious ziggy today, next week, or next month.

But he can be gently prodded, for the good of the "Program," to retire at the end of the season. If Lloyd won't take to the prodding, them it's time to twist his arm. If he still refuses to leave? Kneecap him. The "Michigan Mafia" needs to do whatever it takes, because it's time for new blood. No more playing "6 degrees of Bo Schembechler" with the Michigan head coaching job.

There's also the fact that coaching is a young man's game. The pressure is immense. The hours are insane. Recruiting is a soul-sucking endeavor. You have to be able to prepare a team to be at it's peak physically, mentally and emotionally 13 times a season.

Is all that too much to ask from a man who is in his 60's, who has talked of calling it a career much sooner than later? From the embarrassing results, yes it is.

You are hearing from Ann Arbor that it's only 1 loss. But it's just talk. No matter what happens from here on out, even if they somehow manage to beat tOSU or win whatever fleabag bowl they end up in, their 2007 will be defined by this loss.

It's more than 1 loss. It's a foundation shaking, program changing loss. National powers don't lose to Division 1AA teams. If Michigan is not proactive in making long needed changes at the top of the program, they will become a national power in name only, much like Alabama and Nebraska. Thinking about it, you could say that Michigan has joined them, and you wouldn't get much of an argument.

Despite what they would like to think at Schembechler Hall, the season is over. If the powers that be at the University of Michigan want the Wolverines to remain a national title threat, the Schembechler influence over the coaching job will be over as well.

Remember, Bo Schembechler wasn't originally a "Michigan Man." He was a young coach who came from outside the program, bringing with him fresh ideas, along with a new attitude, to the Big House.

The time has come for Michigan to look for another Schembechler, and he won't be found unless they take off their maize and blue tinted glasses.


  1. Not only was Bo not a "Michigan Man" he was an Ohio State man. That, and the loss to App State, should be enough to get Martin and the gang to look outside the program. Simply put, it's time to find someone who understands football in 2007, not someone who pines romantically for the days of only 6 bowl games and no BCS. Give Lloyd a nice send-off at the end of the season as a way of thanking him for years of service to the university, then start moving forward. We have some catching up to do with the Floridas and USCs of the world.

  2. First Time Poster, Long Time Reader:

    I think it is obvious to all now that the U-M football program is moving in the wrong direction. Michigan has lost four straight bowl games and five out of their last six vs. Ohio State. They have not played in a national championship game since the formation of the BCS. People started calling for Llyod's head after last season, and while I do think that was a bit unfair, I was getting a bit concerned that Michigan was starting to fall behind other elite programs in college football.

    The App State game confirmed my worst fears. The U-M football program is getting complacent. Michigan's huge alumni base and rich tradtion pretty much guarantee that they'll land the talent needed to stay in the top three or four spots in the Big Ten, but merely being a good program is not going to fly for long in Ann Arbor. Something needs to change and it needs to change soon

    Still, I am concerned that the enraged UM fan base will force the administration to make a move that we may all later come to regret. I have expectations of UM football that go beyond just winning Rose Bowls and beating Ohio State. I want a consistently good program that also keeps its nose clean and holds players and coaches to high standards. I don't care if I have to wait another 20 years for a national title or watch Michigan lose 75% of their games against the Buckeyes. I'd rather do it the right way and lose the big games than play for national championships with tainted teams. (Fab Five, anyone?)

    Al's suggestion that the next coach come from outside the program is an interesting one. For years, I've been a critic of the long shadow that Bo casts over the football team and the entire athletic department Why I think that there may be some merit to the idea of looking outside the program for a head coach, that person needs to be a good fit for U-M.

    We don't need a Nick Saban type, looking to coach college for a few years so he can establish credentials that will land him a gig in the NFL. Michigan's head coaching position has been one the most stable jobs in all of college football over the last century or so. I don't think its a coincidence that Michigan is also the winningest program in college football.