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Wow, That Sucked

It's been a long time/I shouldn't've left you/Without some lines about my whines and what my head do...

Wow, so that fucking sucked. Last Friday (not yesterday...and yes, my head is hung in shame), I went to Michigan while my internet wasn't working. It's been a temporary problem in the past that is often cured by the good graces of the technology god. (First of all, all praise is due to the Lord. Without him, I wouldn't be on these internets making posts. He was with me today when I ran back that opening paragraph and made something out of nothing. Sometimes, you get a few good blocks and the metaphors just appear...) This time, I must have done something wrong, though, because he, Time Warner, and Linksys totally sonned me. One new router, thousands of hours, and millions of tech-support phone calls later, I am back in the building.

As frustrating as it was to exist without my favorite internets, it was somewhat therapeutic, too. As we all know, last weekend was a disaster of proportions I still cannot fully fathom. Here is what some of my colleagues wrote about it while I was convalescing in Luddite fashion:

- Brian said:

I give up. Despite the natterings about negativity from OMG PROGRAM INSIDERZ who think that any criticism that doesn't come from their mouths is null and void, this space has tried to hew a middle ground between those who are willing to blame Lloyd Carr for everything and those willing to blame him for nothing. No more. After watching Carr fail to learn a goddamned thing after ten years of the same thing over and over again, it's clear that we'd be better served with Algernon. This is a painful admission for me, since every year I've scoffed at those who think that Carr is mediocre to worse coach. The record speaks for itself, I said.

Well, yeah, it does.
- Vijay said:
3. I am torn on Ohio State and the BCS. On the plus side, I root for the Big 10 to be respected and to deliver on that respect, and seeing Ohio State get a BCS bid and seeing them win would be a boost to conference. But on the minus side, that would move us up one in the Big 10 bowl slot, and as much as I enjoy a good opponent in a big bowl, I really want no part of Georgia, Auburn or LSU. Give us Oklahoma in the Alamo. I can live with that.
Emphasis Added

- Johnny said:
It was 21-12 and I kept getting the feeling I?d seen this game before. The way the lead was so unsatisfying, how bewilderingly it had been obtained, and how petrified I was even while up nine points, knowing fate would soon realign itself and things would be back to normal, with Michigan baffled as to how another one got away. I?d soon be wondering where the three months had gone, feeling like I had been deprived of something. They were winning, the game would soon be over one way or another, but I kept wishing I had everything back...

...I walked around yesterday, stumbling through the late afternoon hours trying to fathom what had just happened. Three years and three thousand miles didn?t matter. Michigan had lost, and it had happened again.
- Kenny said:
I've had this discussion with many of my friends and we all agree that we achieve the less with the most in the country. This distinction used to belong to Mack Brown and Texas but I think we have taken it over. Many people had ridiculously high expectations for this year, I thought our preseason ranking of 4 was too high and we definitely have proven that right again this year. The only thing keeping Michigan from being the biggest disappointment of 2005 is thanks to the choke job of Fat Phil and those criminals down at Tennessee...

...Whenever I get asked by my friends out here what is so wrong with your program, you just went to back to back Rose Bowls, everyone has down years, that is my main problem. Any one of the Michigan bloggers who are big fans but obviously do other things with their life outside of football can tell how what plays we are going to run and when and see that they get stuffed by the opposing defense. Now tell me an opposing defensive coordinator who gets paid to do this for a living and spends hours upon hours studying film won't be able to pick up on it as well? Something must be done, some changes must be made and soon, otherwise we could be heading down the wrong path.
That's a lot of frustration, disappointment, and concern, and most of it seems warranted to me. Brian correctly notes that Lloyd Carr--either stupid or stubborn--doesn't ever learn or change; Vijay rightly fears playing a well-coached, talented team because Michigan can't beat those anymore; Johnny accurately articulates the bewildered pain that Michigan fans are assured of experiencing at least three times a year; and Kenny truthfully asserts that changes need to be made now that UM has vanquished all opponents and sits atop the mountain of programs doing the least with the most. I agree with all of them, and it is fucking sickening. I know that I might be a little crazy, or perhaps unreasonable at times, but can any Michigan fan assess the program and feel good about its direction? BE HONEST. As I think about it, I want to take a shower and then cuddle up in a ball on my bed and sleep until September. This is unbearable.

What's with the Chicken Little routine? Some Michigan fans won't accept that the situation is dire, and there are deceiving reasons which inspire the generally self-righteous dismissals of founded criticism that routinely emanate from this group of foolish optimists. Michigan won consecutive Big Ten titles in 2003 and 2004 and has played in the last two Rose Bowls. Most programs would kill for that kind of success. That's the line, right? Notions that UM needs to be improving are always dismissed or refuted (because, you know, it's unreasonable to want to achieve more) with that line, right?

Well, here are some things that we need to be honest about before we all seek pride in the soaring heights of not-quite-good-enough: 1) That 2003 team (OSU and ND at home; Doak Walker running back; record-setting senior QB; Edwards, Avant, and some freshman named Breaston; good defense) should have been a national championship contender and yet it still lost three times; 2) The 2004 Rose Bowl was something UM backed into after it QUIT (think about that) in Columbus, leaving on the table both an outright title and a crushing victory over a rival in the midst of a bad season. Oh, and it lost three games, too.

Look, I don't want to tear down my own team; I love Michigan football and I cheer loudly when anything good happens (like, even when we win the coin toss). But I also don't want to pretend that everything is OK, and that a 7-4 regular season during which UM basically played the same game eight times is an isolated event. The bottom could have fallen out last season because Michigan has been afflicted by persistent issues for a while. It just finally couldn't overcome them this year, and the UM tendencies are not just that, anymore. Instead, UM is a program with systemic flaws, institutional shortcomings, that cannot be corrected by some more practice time spent running the toss or some press conferences during which Lloyd admits that improvement is necessary. Large-scale change is required...

Starting this week, Schembechler Hall will be running a multi-part series focusing on these issues and assessing their severity.