Michigan announced its captains for the upcoming football season this week in offensive lineman Ben Bredeson (his second-straight honor), defensive tackle Carlo Kemp and linebacker/safety Khaleke Hudson. Absent from that list was quarterback Shea Patterson, which naturally caused an uproar of sorts from all corners of the internet and sports talk radio circuit.
The senior quarterback has, however, been named an alternate captain, along with safety Josh Metellus on the defensive side of the ball.
The concerns may be somewhat valid, as often times a quarterback will be the de-facto leader of the team and captainship usually follows. Some may see it as a lack of respect or desire to follow in the locker room, but that does not necessarily feel like the case here.
Michigan has not had a quarterback captain since the tumultuous 2014 season with Devin Gardner. Denard Robinson was a team captain in 2012. Chad Henne, a four-year starter from 2004-07, was never a captain. Since 1986, only Jim Harbaugh (1986), Elvis Grbac (1992), Tom Brady (1999), John Navarre (2003), Robinson and Gardner are the only five quarterbacks to also captain the football team.
In fact, if you scroll through Bentley Historical Library’s log of team captains, you will notice a ton of Michigan stars and legends throughout the years have not had the honor of being named captain.
That is not to say that Patterson has achieve star or legend status, but there is this stigma that the quarterback should be a captain by default and that really is not the case.
The popular bit we have heard in recent days is how Connor Cook was not a captain at MSU and look what it meant for his NFL career and blah, blah, yada, yada. Whatever. Cook, while abrasive and clearly sort of a jerk behind the scenes, won a lot of games and was a pretty good player. How your teammates view you as a leader is one thing, but there are plenty of great players that get the job done on the field that may not exactly be the most friendly or beloved guys in the locker room.
Patterson is well-liked and respected in the Michigan locker room and his teammates enjoy playing with him. He is quiet and a bit reserved and not exactly the “rah rah” type of player, but he helped Michigan win a lot of games last year too and did a nice job in what was asked of him. The fact that he is not a captain does not really take away from that.
Something that people are not considering either and that totally feels valid is that captains being people who from day one have been at the University of Michigan and have gone through the process of being a freshman with something to prove and a blank slate to one of the team’s best and most-respected players.
Bredeson is a four-year starter, Hudson has been a star at Michigan since early on and Kemp has improved every season and has grown into a leadership role this offseason. Do not let the hot takes and sports radio fodder take away from that fact that those guys deserve this opportunity and were elected by their teammates. Patterson has not been here for the long-haul and transferred in. Not that it means a ton, but the other guys have been there from the start.
It’s a lazy narrative designed to get a rise out of people.
As far as Patterson goes, this probably will be something that his detractors that think Dylan McCaffrey is better will use against him. Whether he is a captain or not does not make him any less important to the team and Michigan’s offense will go as he goes until someone takes the job from him. By all accounts, that has not even remotely been the case in spring football or fall camp.
There will be people, probably from other fanbases, who read the headline and assume blind loyalty to Michigan on my part or something, but everything stated above feels like it about sums it up.