Did you know that Michigan lost the Outback Bowl to Will Muschamp and South Carolina? Did you know that Jim Harbaugh is 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State? What about this: did you know that Jim Harbaugh has a podcast and the football team took a trip to Rome last year? They met the Pope and gave him Jordans.
If you’ve been at all plugged into Michigan football or the sports world in general, there’s a good chance you did already know all of this. If you’re a fan, you’re probably dealing with an entangled mess of frustration and annoyance with the state of the program.
While I sympathize and ultimately agree the on-field product is unacceptable, I believe fans that have grown tired of the off-field “theatrics” are suffering from the same overarching issues plaguing the team on Saturdays: they’re not embracing the future.
If you’ve seen the newest installment in the Star Wars saga, you probably remember Kylo Ren’s line to Rey “Let the past die, kill it.” It’s time for the Michigan football program to follow the sequel trilogy’s
hero villain’s advice. Kill the past and understand that this isn’t Bo’s program... nor should it be.
Let’s start with the common ground that we’ll all find as fans here: the offense was unacceptable and the schemes are clearly dated. Every time they lined up under center on 3rd and medium-to-long, I’m pretty sure Urban Meyer’s heart became more and more resistant to anxiety attacks. The Michigan Daily in interviewing Gamecock corner JaMarcus King, did an excellent job in capturing this ridiculousness:
When asked if there was a moment where the Gamecocks’ defense felt they had solved the Wolverines, cornerback JaMarcus King gave an affirmative answer. He felt that way after Michigan’s first two drives.
“They gave us everything,” King said. “After that, we knew we could stop everything.”
Why? King felt the Wolverines were playing to their tendencies — running a lot of the same routes over and over again.
“The choice route where the receiver runs a mesh and the tight end runs a dig,” King said. “So they ran that probably 85 percent of the time, and they ran a lot of stop routes on the back side.”
This exchange is frustrating, if not surprising. Michigan did try a couple RPO’s and a handful of unique looks, but for the most part showed much of the same unimaginative offense we saw all year. Exaggerated jumbo formations, schemes aimed at loading up on blockers rather than creating space, and a lack of tempo and misdirection that characterizes modern offenses were all traits of the 2017 Wolverines.
Change could be on the horizon though with Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson coming on board and rumors that Greg Roman among others could be replacing Hamilton and Drevno. Patterson has run an up-tempo spread at Ole Miss, and Roman has gotten creative in the past with quarterbacks like Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor. If this materializes, it appears the coaching staff and team is ready to move forward, which brings me to the fans.
Y’all, it’s 2018. You may not like the flash, the personalities, “The Twitter”, the “self-centered” recruits, or whatever else you think is different from the Good Ole Days. Everyone has their own reasons for their nostalgia, and I’m not here to judge or critique you — I get nostalgic for certain things too, namely coherent Star Wars movies with reasonable timelines.
Looking at the Rome trips, the podcasts, the satellite camps, and the Signing of the Stars events as distractions and unnecessary is short-sighted and, well, to continue using my favorite phrase: out-dated. Recruits love this stuff. Heck, as someone in my early-20’s, a spring break trip to Rome, customized graphics for myself, and #JORDANS! have a ton of appeal. That would certainly catch my eye as an 18-year-old.
These changes may not appeal to you as someone who yearns for yesteryear, for Bo or Lloyd, but the future is now. As it increasingly looks like the coaching staff and program are ready to move forward, we as fans should as well.
“It's time to let old things die. Amani Toomer, unimaginative recruiting. The pro-style, the white chin straps, the vanilla and bland... Let it all die.”