These past three years, barring some fleeting bright spots, have been unrelentingly painful for anybody who follows Michigan football with any kind of passion. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I look forward to watching the NFL on Sundays. I can't wait for basketball season to start. When was the last time you heard that from a Michigan fan? These last three years, I find myself asking why I care so much; why the damage total thus far is 1 cell phone, window blinds, a wine glass, angry downstairs neighbors, a frightened dog, and a spouse who has asked more than once "shouldn't this be fun?"
Shouldn't it be?
Writing about this team is hard - you may have noticed. Some of the apathy can be attributed to some personal changes that myself and Dave have been going through (all good things - not to worry), but some of it can be blamed on the simple fact that this isn't as fun as it used to be. Not the blogging, mind you, but the whole "being a Michigan football fan" part. As Brian at Mgoblog pointed out in his post-game bullets post, having a conversation about Michigan football these days in about as useful as slamming your head into a car door repeatedly. Painful at first, but soon there's just a swimming blackness as you bleed out. Unfortunately, that metaphor ends in death, and equally unfortunate is the fact that nearly every conversation I've had about Michigan football has had me wishing for it by the conclusion. Typically, they fall into four categories:
1) Sympathetic Michigan fan. You're lucky if you've got one of there. Saturday non-withstanding, I am lucky to have SCM around for this.
2) Reactionary Michigan fan. Fire the whole staff type stuff; we should go 13-0 every season given the talent, bler bler bler.
3) Sympathetic Opposing fan. Really there for the schadenfreude of it all, but will pretend to care.
4) Reactionary Opposing fan. This guy just wants to watch Michigan burn to the ground.
This blog, if we can allow a peek behind the curtains, isn't the most commented on piece of work on the internets. And I'm ok with that. I know people are reading, it allows me to write, which I enjoy doing, and sometimes you get some fun little debates. The loss last Saturday prompted not just one, but five (Brian is laughing hysterically right now - "a whole FIVE?!?") emails in my inbox. Most included the dreaded ALL CAPS RESPONSE WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS FOR EMPHASIS. All wanted Rodriguez and his staff fired.
For the record: I believe it would be a mistake of nearly irreparable proportions if Rodriguez is fired after this year. When you look at some of the most successful teams in both the NFL and college, you have two things: continuity at coaching, and continuity at quarterback. Throughout his tenure, and for much of the latter part of Carr's tenure (I'm looking at you, defensive coordinator), Rodriguez and his players have had neither. He hasn't had time. Forcier, believe it or not, is good enough to provide the continuity at quarterback for the future. To fire Rodriguez will start this process over and we will find ourselves in this same quagmire after year two of the hypothetical new coach's tenure. For a one year investment in Rodriguez, we could be spared at least another 2 years misery under a new guy.
However, if you believe that now is the correct time to fire Rodriguez, and bring in whatever pipe-dream coach you've got in your head, well, you're on your own then. I disagree with you, and I can argue with you about it, but the facts are there right now for you to have a legitimate point. Save for Notre Dame, we haven't beat a single team that we lost to last year. Our conference record, if the prognostications are correct, stands to be worse than last year's. The bare minimum of requirement for this season - let alone a season that started 4-0 - was a bowl game. That is in jeopardy.
So yes, emailers, and yes, people I talk to on the street who notice I have a Michigan hat on and just can't wait to talk to me about it, I am worried. I am worried that a new AD and a potential NCAA investigation combined with another bowl-less season will spell the end of Rodriguez. That, to repeat myself, would be a huge mistake, IMO, but there it is. If you're one of the people who want to argue, or ask "what does he have to do to get you to change your mind" my answer is this: I no longer think you are a moron (in a loving, sports-related-argument kind of way) for thinking Rodriguez should be fired, and you're on your own. I will not, and cannot talk you down from your position, because frankly, your position is actually supported by what I see on the field. Again, I'm willing to give it another year. But I'm tired of arguing about it because at this point there is enough evidence; you might be right.
(Update: Road Games chips in)