I'm sure what I'm about to do here is going to probably get a reaction from some, which is really all its intended to do. While not exactly throwing shit against the wall just to see if it sticks, I've had this kind of conceptual piece floating around in my head for a few days now, so I'm just going to get it on paper and run with it. Let me just say that I could easily be convinced of the fallacy in my thinking if the proper counter argument or example could be made. With the NCAA's Wrist Slapper of DOOOOM set to come down on USC, with Alabama just nowgetting out from under the sanctions placed on it, Oklahoma having to vacate their 2005 season, and with Ohio State skirting the NCAA banhammer more than a few times over the past decade, I'm beginning to wonder whether sanctions is just a sign of success these days.
Using the above list, and "since 2000" as a measuring stick, you'd be hard pressed to find a better collection of "who's who" in the national picture in College Football. Even Florida State, who hasn't been relevant in the national picture since...well...Michigan was (self-imposed ZING!), is getting in on the act. Is the nature of college football, and perhaps more pointedly, the nature of the media coverage such that coaches and universities must push the envelope to the very limit in order to be competitive?
While Lloyd Carr was coach (blessed be his name, etc.), you got a football team that you could almost invariably be proud of both on and off the field. Increasingly into the 2000's, you also got an 8-4 football team year in and year out with the exception of an exciting run in 2006 that was largely proved to be smoke and mirrors and a great defense. Squeaky clean, no doubt. Also not competitive on the tippy-top-tier of College Football. So we all grumbled a little as wins at Florida and Ohio State and mounted, and when Carr did leave, it was with almost a sigh of relief. The old man is gone - he is remembered as a great coach and a great man - but we can finally get going on winning on the national level. What we didn't realize is that winning on the national level means toeing, and sometimes outright crossing, the line of "competitive advantage" that Carr seemed never to approach.
So now we're stuck, right? We've been sanctioned for the first time in our history, and all of the sudden our little ivory tower has a little smudge on it. But guess what? That ivory tower never meant anything anyways because while we were holding our heads high on some kind of faux moral supremacy, those schools who already were pushing the limits were winning championships and building sustainable programs that would compete nationally well into the future. The sanctions on Michigan - as ridiculous as the circumstances that brought them about are - have brought Michigan down into the mud with the rest of them, and maybe - just maybe - we can start holding our heads high about winning football games rather than holding our heads high because our tower is whiter than yours.
I'm not saying that you can't have it both ways, but ask Notre Dame how that's going. What I think I am saying is that....the sanctions don't bother me. It doesn't bother me in the least that our "good reputation" was besmirched because no amount of NCAA rulings will take down our reputation faster than 3-9, 5-7 which have both already happened. There will be many who will say "if this is the case, then I don't want to win" to which I cast a wistful eye and say "good luck." I'm ready to win some football games and as long as we're not forcibly injecting steriods, paying players, or having illegal hostesses run some sort of brothel right there on the big Block M, I'm ok with it. You said you wanted to win. This is what winning looks like.