Coming into this season I expected there to be some bumps in the roads as the team had to replace several star players on offense and everyone had to adjust to new Coach Rich Rodriguez. However, I was hoping for at least a .500 season and it appears that there is a very real possibility that the maize and blue will finish the year with only three or four wins (if that), including loses to rivals Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State.
As a lifelong Michigan fan, I'll admit that I've been spoiled. The team has never really had a horrible year in my lifetime and consistently competes for the Big Ten title. To say this year has been an adjustment would be an understatement. I came across this post by Chris Burke on The Diag with some helpful insights for those of us that bleed maize and blue. This is some of what Burke had to say:
"You know, it's pretty obvious to me that us Michigan fans have been spoiled. So many non-losing seasons in a row, so many consecutive bowl appearances. Constantly in the top 25 and in the Big Ten title hunt until the regular season's last days. We scoffed and moaned at the 7-5, 8-4 and 9-3 years. If only we had known then what we know now ...Even though this has been a tough year, there have been a lot of freshmen that are gaining valuable playing experience and with a good recruiting class for 2009, the future looks bright. In addition, Rich Rodriguez's teams have typically had a big adjustment in year one and seen major improvement in year two.
Michigan football is not infallible. All around us, the great programs in the country suffered through downward spirals - USC, Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State. And yet, Michigan avoided too terrible of a collapse. Sure, there would be a less-than-stellar season every now and then but, for the most part, the Wolverines were among the best 10 or 20 programs in the nation year in and year out.
The program got a little stale, a little lackadaisical. So a change was made - a huge change. And even though we knew 2008 would be difficult, I think we all still hoped and expected that the step down would be to 6-6 or 7-5 - bad by Michigan's standards, but still above water.
So consider this our wake-up call. It is not easy to be great in college football these days. There are more competitive teams, stricter recruiting rules and more player resources. You cannot just flip a switch, completely revamp a program and expect everything to be copacetic immediately.
On a positive note, my alma mater, Central Michigan, is having another great year and is poised to win its third consecutive Mid American Conference championship. So at least I've got the Chippewas to get excited about on Saturdays this fall. Hopefully next fall we'll see winning seasons for both U of M and CMU.