If you’re reading this, you probably already know the story. Michigan heads to Ohio State with their hopes of a Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff berth firmly in tact, only to leave Columbus with a historical 62-39 loss to the Buckeyes. The loss kills Michigan’s biggest hopes in 2018.
But what if I told you that loss wasn’t just the end of a season, it was also the start of a new era of Michigan football.
If a loss like that couldn’t shake a team to its core, I’m not sure what would.
Jim Harbaugh did what needed to be done to put Michigan in a better position this season. He brought in a new offensive coordinator, the young and fiery Josh Gattis, who loves to use up-tempo/no-huddle tactics along with a pro-spread RPO heavy scheme. Defensive coordinator Don Brown added more wrinkles on defense to make sure his defense doesn’t give up as many shallow cross pattern receptions in 2019.
Changes have been made. Michigan has that new car smell right now and the vehicle is about to hit the road on a long trip.
New schematics, new energy. New isn’t always better, but it feels that way heading into the season.
However, along with the new the bad taste of the old still lingers, as it should.
There’s a philosophical debate as to whether it’s better to forget about the past and always move forward. Some would agree with that mantra, while others feel the past, even if it’s a negative memory, can serve as a valuable lesson for today and in days to come.
Harbaugh is trying to strike a balance between remembering the past and marching into the future with his chin up.
“Coach Harbaugh gave us some shirts the other day with ‘Co-B1G East Champs on the front, and then all the scores with the games we lost on the back,” tight end Sean McKeon said in March. “So I took that shirt and hung it up in the tight end room with the scores, just as a reminder of how the season ended. We don’t want to do that again obviously.”
“We bring it up a lot, we embrace it,” Jim Harbaugh said about the OSU loss at Big Ten Media Days. “Those are the things that we’re focused on. How we came up short. I could go through a lot of the positives, but we just don’t do that, that’s not what we do. May be right, may be wrong, but we study and we learn. We take it for accountability then we strive to win our goals. That gets us started, then we focus on the positive stuff to achieve our goals.”
That’s how you can potentially turn a negative into a positive. Don’t ignore failures. Instead, learn what you did wrong so it doesn’t happen again.
“We embrace the negative; we embrace the suck. We say, ‘okay, let’s take into account the things that we’ve done and the time that we’ve lost and make it not happen again. Ever.’ So that’s kind of what we do, kind of who we are, our identity,” Harbaugh said.
Never forget. Never again. Not against Ohio State or anyone else. Football isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it’s gloom, doom, heartbreak and despair. It may be good for Michigan to remember that gut-punch of a day in Columbus so they don’t experience one similar again any time soon if they can help it.
Reading between the lines, Harbaugh is basically saying they use the loss to send a jolt up their spine that wakes them up and gets ‘em going on whatever they can do to get better.
Michigan has a deep roster for the most part. A new scheme that is referred to as “Speed in Space”. A new offensive coordinator, a reinvigorated Don Brown at defensive coordinator. A quarterback in Shea Patterson that is receiving rave reviews from teammates. The positives look to outweigh the negatives, but paper champions and paper thoughts don’t mean squat, on-field production does.
Harbaugh realizes there’s loads of pressure and wants his team to feed off it. Michigan’s not hiding from their failures, they’re using them as a torch to light their path on the journey ahead. And for that reason, Michigan’s 62-39 loss to Ohio State is the prologue to their 2019 season.