Sun & Bluesday: Lessons Learned

By Johnny Ginter on December 10, 2013 at 11:15a

The regular season is over, and Michigan did not play in a game last weekend. Instead they sat on the sidelines as their two most hated rivals duked it out in a game that meant something, watching from the comfort of whatever hovel they live in in Ann Arbor, consoling themselves with the thought that even though their team was considered a preseason favorite in the Big Ten, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Arizona.

How did they even get here, mulling over an almost-win against Ohio State and pretending to be interested in a c-tier bowl played before New Year's day?

Frankly even I'm not completely sure. A lot of weird, weird stuff went down this season for Michigan, and despite watching every single one of their games, I'd be hard pressed to pinpoint where everything started to go south for the Wolverines. So that's why it's important to look back, and take stock of what we all learned over the course of the season (with a little Michigan news mixed in, of course).


If something looks bad, it is bad.

When Michigan barely squeezed by Akron, I think a lot of Michigan fans chalked that up to pure flukedom rather than any kind of institutional failing on the part of the coaching staff. That changed quickly following another narrow escape against UConn, and then the loss to Penn State (in one of the stupider overtimes I've ever seen) sealed it. The Wolverines were bad. Not kinda good with some bad breaks, not "well at least __________ is really good," just plain bad.

Signs of life against Ohio State notwithstanding, Michigan was a team supposedly headed for big things this year and instead fell flat on its face. It was a kind of marco version of what we were kind of hoping for the defense, but way, way worse.

But hey! At least Brady Hoke has announced that there will be no significant coaching staff changes in the offseas-wait what?

Hoke will evaluate his personnel and staff at some point before Michigan’s bowl game or in the offseason. Brandon has said he will do the same.

But when asked whether the coaching staff decision was a “we’ll-see situation,” Hoke replied, “No.”

It'd be really, really interesting to see Urban's response to that same question.


Everyone gets a trophy.

Let's be really real here. Realer than real.

Neither Ohio State nor Michigan in 2013 was fully prepared to tangle with the big boys. Ohio State was obvously more prepared than the Wolverines overall, but in the end neither team was able to get that brass ring. Both teams are now instead headed to bowls more befitting of their natures, and since we have about a thousand of them, even Michigan gets a taste of the big time.

Groundhog DayAgain and again and again and again...

I'm using the words "taste" here quite literally, because while the Buckeyes are going to the Orange Bowl, the Michigan Wolverines are headed to the finger lickin' good Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to play Kansas State in an eagerly anticipated matchup (eagerly anticipated by the two teams who want to try and prove that they're somehow better than their respective 7-5 records).

Right now Michigan is a three point dog to Kansas State, which seems about right if you factor in their mostly crappiness.


People will love you no matter what.

One of the biggest things that Michigan probably should have been worried about long term as a result of this season was recruiting. Say what you will about Brady Hoke, gametime coach (and we do, a lot), but he's been a very successful recruiter while in Ann Arbor. The idea is that down the line that will make up for some other deficiencies in coaching, but it requires Hoke and company to continue pulling in top flight high school players.

Bad, painful looking seasons can derail this, which is why using the Ohio State game as a showcase was so important for Hoke and company. Still, this is kind of weird:

Several Michigan commitments also were in the house, and they even got a postgame talk from one of the high-profile Wolverines.

“After the game, Taylor Lewan came into the recruit lounge and talked to us,” said St. Clairsville (Ohio) four-star linebacker Michael Ferns. “He said that he has no regrets about coming back for his senior year, and he’s just disappointed they couldn’t get the win. He told us to continue making Michigan great.”

That had to be one of the most awkward meet and greets in the history of mankind. "Oh hey Taylor Lewan, just lost the biggest game of your entire year, huh? Well that's cool, don't start jabbing me in the face or stalk me on my way home haha okay bye."


When all else fails, turn to basketball.

John Beilein is a really, really good coach. Michigan is also 5-3, which seems to put that first statement at odds with the second. Still, Seth Davis over at SI thinks that things are going to get significantly better for Michigan, and I tend to agree.

Losing easily your best player to the NBA draft is never easy, despite how Thad Matta has made it look. Beilein ran his entire offense through Trey Burke, and in his absence you've got a lot of guys who haven't quite gotten over that hump. But see, that's exactly the lesson that both Michigan fans and Ohio State fans can take from basketball in general: it's a long season, and if you're sitting at home frustrated about your football team, now might be a good time to get in on a sport that will allow you to see improvement week to week, rather than the exact opposite.

Probably the biggest thing that I took away from watching hours of mind-numbing Michigan football this season was that as an Ohio State fan, I'm extremely lucky that our expectations are literally 10 wins every season, and that that isn't even an unreasonable thing to expect. Demanding excellence and usually getting it is a hilariously snooty position to be in as a college football fan, but that's the one we're in. Sometimes acknowledging that fact makes it juuuussstt a little easier to move on after a (very rare) loss.



Hovenaut's picture

Nice read JG.
In looking at that pic of Herr Hoke, I like to think that he also just read this....and while unable to truly follow the gist of the points therein, knows the overall piece tastes is pretty darn (finger lickin') good all the same.

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

InvertMyVeer's picture

Taylor 'Failure' Lewan, what a dunce... I hope he gets drafted by the Jags 

Football is complicated...

Hovenaut's picture

So he can block for their offensive weapon.
Has said weapon even been unleashed this year (not really following the Jags y'know)?

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

InvertMyVeer's picture

Gotta love that haughty 1.6 yards per carry

Football is complicated...

Hovenaut's picture

Sounds like Borges' influence has, uh, carried on...

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

fear_the_nut70's picture

He was given the Jags September MVP!!

Oyster's picture

Probably one of the best comments I have seen in quite some time was on a ttun forum the other day.  The subject of bowls came up and the comment was made that the BWW bowl was disappointing because it was (hang on) "beneath our program". 

I do feel down about playing a game before January on a late night. It does seem a little beneath our program and I hope it doesn't happen again for a long time.


May you R.I.P. Otsego, but know this. Gaylord Rocks!

Haybucks's picture

He told us to continue making Michigan great.

Continue?  As in keep doing what we've been doing?  Sure.  Go for it. It's not difficult to live up to Lewie's success failure.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Flounder Hoke - a constant, ever flowing fountain of stupidity and hilarious, nonsensical babble.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Earle's picture

Fitting that a "used to be good" program will be playing in a bowl game sponsored by a "used to be good" establishment.
RIP Bo and BW3.

Italics are for emphasis.

buckeye70's picture

Hoke and all of his heavy duty (I mean fat) assistant coaches will eat them out of wings. Better order a couple of more cases of wings for the coaches' room.


Barnsey69's picture

I heard the staff is pitching in to by him a pair of "Fly" Beats headphones, so he can modernize his coaching influence on the sideline, as in participate, and look goooood doing it. 

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

buckeye70's picture

I would like to see a modern art masterpiece of Hoke and his assistant coaches at the wild wings table


Barnsey69's picture

What will truly be interesting to see would be how all those wings will be consumed without the benefit of opposable thumbs...?

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

buckeye70's picture

You don't need thumbs when you can balance food on your stomach !!!


Barnsey69's picture

You know, I didn't think about it like that, you are correct sir! That's feckin funny...

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

aabuckeye's picture

re Lewan: "He told us to continue making Michigan great.”
Yep, it's the great teams that play in the BWW bowl. Michigan: the Buffalo Wild Wingiest program in college football! Go Blue!

Seattle Linga's picture

Back in the 80's there was the BLUE BONNET BUTTER BOWL. Now that sounds more like a _ichigan type of bowl to me.

M Man's picture

The Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl.  Houston, in the Astrodome.  We played in the 12/31/81 edition and beat UCLA, 33-14.

buckeyefanatic's picture

Seth Davis over at SI thinks that things are going to get significantly better for Michigan, and I tend to agree.

People are generally safe saying this at any time - basketball or football season.  (meaning they are usually underachieving!)

How many batteries does it take to beat Michigan football?   1AA
Want to beat Michigan? There's an App for that.

Sleepy's picture

Sleepy - 0
Brady Hoke - 0
Urban Meyer - 0
Does this mean I've been a super-successful college football coach or a total failure?  I'm confused...

cajunbuckeye's picture

You have a better chance of winning B1G COY than Urban Meyer :(

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches