Michigan Football: When It Rains, It Pours

Michigan-Utah

I can’t help but look at this photo and think it’s a high school football game. After the rain delay, this was all that was left at Michigan Stadium. This certainly looks like the death of an elite football program to me.

As I sat there in the pouring rain, waiting for the game to be suspended after seeing lightning, I couldn’t help but think, this is how it all ends for Brady Hoke. Soaking wet, in a weather delay, following another offensive turnover. The offense has turned into a turnover machine that couldn’t find the end zone with a god damn GPS.

I went into this game expecting a loss. I was convinced they would lose after the performance the team had the last two weeks. I had very little confidence in the offense to be able to move the ball and that only dissipated as the game went on. I’m not nearly as mad about this game as I was about the Notre Dame game. I’m more embarrassed and defeated. Dejected is probably the best way to put it. Nothing can put me in a sour mood like football and this time it’s different. It’s not so much anger, but sadness. Preparing for the inevitable rebooting and rebuilding of this football program. Preparing for the 3rd new head coach since 2008. Preparing for the inevitable problems and growing pains that come with a new program and a new head coach, because they surely won’t be able to rebuild on the fly.

Stadium Flooding

I want Brady Hoke to succeed. Seriously, I do. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. He’s a nice guy and he bleeds maize and blue. He genuinely loves Michigan and wants to help the kids succeed and lives for this program. The only problem is that it has become increasingly evident that he is in over his head. He said all the right things in his opening press conference but as time has gone on it has become the same old tired crap.

“It starts with me as the head football coach, we’ve got to do a better job for these kids.”

“Our goals are still intact” or “our goals are still out there.”

“Ball security is an issue.”

“We don’t talk about injuries.”

On and on it goes. The same old shit over and over again. Never saying anything real, of any substance, and never fixing any actual problems. And when it comes game time, things only get worse and the team never really clicks like it should. Not without Denard Robinson at QB anyways (again, good call, everyone.)

Gone are the days when Michigan mows down average non-conference opponents with ease and young players get playing time to get better.

Gone are the days of a Michigan powerhouse offense putting up points on command and controlling the clock with a devastating running game and hog mollies on the line.

Gone are the days of a stifling Michigan defense that keeps opponents in check and churns out defensive prospects.

The good ole days are gone, folks. Mediocrity is here…and in reality, it’s been here a lot longer than most want to admit. Something has to change. Immediately. Whether it’s the Brady Hoke and his staff getting canned, some coaches on the staff getting let go, or Hoke himself changing (yeah right); something has to give.

Michigan hasn’t won a Big Ten Championship since the 2004-2005 season when they shared one with Ohio State. I was a freshman in high school. The last time they won one outright, I was in 8th grade back during the 2003-2004 season. For those of you that aren’t good at math, that is a long freaking time ago.

Michigan hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown against a Power 5 Conference opponent this year. In fact, I don’t think they’ve been in the red zone yet. You can’t blame that on Al Borges. Unless you want to blame him for ruining Devin Gardner as a quarterback…then sure, okay.

Stadium Flooding

As far as I’m concerned Devin Gardner has no confidence in himself or his offensive line. Anytime he feels a little bit of pressure, he drops his eyes and starts looking to run. That’s why he doesn’t see open receivers when he’s scrambling…he’s not looking for them. His mind is effectively broken and it causes a ripple effect through the rest of his game. Shane Morris won’t do any better, as we saw against Utah. He’s not ready. If he was, he would have beaten out Devin Gardner for the job. No quarterback and no offensive line…that’ll move the chains.

This team is on pace to go 5-7. It can happen, don’t kid yourself. And as much as everyone wants Brady Hoke to be fired at the moment. I’m not convinced that it’s going to happen. Not so long as Dave Brandon is here. Though he may realize that he will have to swallow his pride and admit he was wrong about Hoke in order to save his own skin. Don’t worry, I’ll get to Brandon in a minute.

Hoke and his staff have not developed any talent. They just flat out haven’t. You can’t tell me that guys are better now than they were before. The offensive line is as bad as ever, which is to be expected when you lose two tackles that went in the first 3 rounds of the NFL Draft. You have a five-star guard being beat out by a walk-on. You have a four-star tackle playing left guard. You have a true freshman left tackle. How have the other highly touted players not developed? You can’t possibly recruit that many busts in your highly touted recruiting classes. Yes, it takes time for guys to develop. But they don’t have to be redshirt juniors before they are capable to play.

The team is consistently underprepared for opponents, especially on the road. The in-game management is terrible. Any time a coach punts from the opponent 36-yard line I’m gonna be pissed. The play calling is rough at the moment. Marginally better than last year at this point.

I have friends that say they don’t go to games anymore because they would rather sleep or do homework. That’s what Michigan football has come to. It’s no longer the destination for people on Saturdays. 103,000 people were in the stadium against Utah (allegedly) and I can’t remember the last time numbers were so low. The coaches don’t want you to boo the players and want true fans to support the team, which is 100% understandable. But what they fail to realize is that the lack of support is for them, not the players. Which, apparently Brady Hoke welcomes.

There’s really no other way to sugar coat it, but the program is in shambles.

Utah Heisman Pose

A kid on Utah returned a punt and then did the Heisman pose in the end zone for god’s sakes.

It’s a young team and there is plenty of potential. But who is going to develop it? It certainly won’t be this coaching staff. They’re turning in four and five-star players into middle round marginal talent faster than I can complain about it. Sure, there are some guys that have turned into good players under the staff, I won’t take that away from them. Jourdan Lewis and Willie Henry look like bonafide studs, but that isn’t the case with all of the players, that’s for sure.

If Brady Hoke gets fired, who is going to replace him? Jim Harbaugh? John Harbaugh? Les Miles? Lol, yeah right. Les ain’t leaving LSU and Jim is destined to take another NFL job with GM/Roster control when his situation in San Francisco boils over. John Harbaugh just won a Super Bowl with the Ravens and has job security, why would he bother?

This is Michigan. And I still believe it is a destination job. The athletic department can pay for any coach, but will they? And say all of that happens, how many players decommit or transfer? 20? 30? It’s like hitting the reset button, again. For the third time since 2008 it would be a total reboot. How much more can this program take? I’m afraid that it’s at it’s last remaining life line and the program that I knew as a kid is on life support.

You can thank Mary Sue Coleman, Bill Martin, Lloyd Carr and Dave Brandon for all of this. The first three were the brain trust behind the Rich Rodriguez hire and did nothing to prepare him for it. Brandon is the man that handpicked an underqualified coach that loved Michigan to run the program, while simultaneously ruining the fan bases support for the team by raising ticket prices and treating the athletic department like it’s a company. Who needs repeat customers, they’ll always be there, so lets go find new ones. Yeah, good call, Dave. Raising ticket prices, pissing off alumni and destroying a ten-year waiting list for tickets by charging a fee to sit on the wait list….total joke. Sure, the department is flush with more money than they could ever need, but the football ticket bubble burst. Supply has exceeded demand and the price has exceeded all of it. General Admission and raising student ticket prices killed the future fan base/season ticket holders and student numbers are at their lowest ever. What’s going to happen when the current students are 35? Will the Big House be empty?

My Papa has a scholarship endowed in his name and two years ago he was told by the athletic department that he hadn’t given enough money to keep receiving his free “The Wolverine” magazine subscription. This was the final straw for me in standing behind Dave Brandon, because doing something like that is utterly ridiculous. This is the type of stuff that has alienated alumni, because I know my Papa isn’t the only one to be treated like this. Now no one gets the magazine subscription because they decided that it was a cost they wanted to cut. That’s why Brandon fired so many people when he came in. Cut costs and raise profits. Treated the athletic department like a company and what he got was a company. The thing pumps out money faster than it can spend it and everyone seems to hate him and how the “company” operates at this point. It’s like a fucking Comcast clone.

It’s cool though. Keep having sponsored tweets from Chobani and flyovers to mask the problem. Use the cheap tricks to keep the sheep oblivious to the real problem: Michigan is a middling Big Ten football program with no hope in sight. Raise prices over at Yost and Crisler and hope that you can keep making money off those programs while your football team and your hand-picked head coach continue to flail about. Thank god those fireworks weren’t approved.

I’m more used to Michigan losing football games than ever. It doesn’t piss me off any less, but the anger and pain is certainly starting to dull. It’s gotten old. Old enough that I feel more beaten and defeated then actually upset. I’m sure that’s how the athletic department feels at this point. They’re putting football tickets up as groupons for fucks sake. Don Canham, Fritz Crisler and Bo Schembechler are surely rolling over in their graves despite “Michigan Men” running the show.

What happened to this being Michigan? A fantastic public school with a dominant football team?

https://vine.co/v/O7avXn0dKr7/embed/simple

This is from the second episode of Entourage back in 2004. You don’t see this school getting cameos like this in TV shows. That Michigan seems to have died and gone away.

An elite job?

How about an offense without a purpose and an athletic department doing anything for a buck that is hell bent on mugging their fans consumers while distracting them shiny sideshow crap?

THIS is Michigan…for now, anyways.

[Photo via: @aeschnepp] [Photos via: @Mark_Snyder]

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