Remember when going 0-4 against Ohio State meant something?
What's beautifully commonplace these days was unthinkable a few decades ago.
Even with Michigan's dominance in the 1990's, there was a certain ebb and flow to the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry which all but guaranteed at least one neutral result against That Team Up North/Down South. There had only been one instance of four straight losses on either side of the rivalry since 1950, and the only times that Michigan had lost four in a row to the Buckeyes was from 1934-37 and 1960-63.
When Jim Tressel sauntered on the scene in 2001 and promptly guaranteed (I mean, not really, but shut up!) and delivered on a promise to beat the Wolverines, things felt like they might be changing in a rivalry that had been extremely one-sided for well over a decade. Then he won again, which preceded a national championship, and Lloyd Carr and company must've really started to sweat.
But a loss in Ann Arbor in 2003 brought new hope to the Michigan faithful, as did the emergence of two players who Wolverine fans spent the next four years trying (and failing) to build up to the level of, gosh, I don't know, literally any other, much better, skill position player at Ohio State.
Chad Henne and Mike Hart were both generally decent football players. Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were bad, but mostly they were just average dudes who absolutely did not earn or deserve the amount of attention that they got.
Or at least, not long term. Both Henne and Hart had genuinely impressive freshman seasons in 2004 that garnered attention and made many speculate what the duo could accomplish in the future. Henne threw for over 300 yards three times in a famously cro-magnon offense and Hart rushed for 1455 yards, including a three game stretch with more than 200 yards in every game.
But then... meh! Henne had a rocket arm, but also a rocket arm with a propensity to throw right into the hands of the opposing team. In four seasons of college football, he threw 37 interceptions and often completed below 60% (or even 50%!) of his passes. He was a big, prototypical mid-2000's quarterback, without much of the real skill to go along with it. So actually maybe he was the perfect example of a big, prototypical mid-2000's quarterback.
Hart fascinating to me. He is Michigan's all-time leading rusher and even finished in the top five of Heisman voting in 2006, but just barely averaged 5 yards per carry for his career. Carr and company would ask him to barrel forward into an opposing defensive line, hoping something would just kind of happen, and then repeat this dozens of times a game.
Hart had some decent cutting ability and was great at protecting the football, but was slow (the dude ran a 4.69 in the 40 yard dash at the NFL combine) and tended to fall off the map considerably after October. He'd destroy the likes of Indiana and Eastern Michigan and then take 38 carries to get to 100 yards against Minnesota in November.
Which is fine! There's no crime in being an okay but overrated player.
No, what makes Henne and Hart The Worst is that they were part of the storied Michigan tradition of serving Cheez-Whiz and calling it caviar.
They won that game against Notre Dame, but as Brian Jones points out in the clip above, who cares? Hart and Henne didn't just have an 0-4 record against Ohio State, they were also 1-3 in bowl games. For those keeping track at home, yes, that means that they finished the season 0-2 in three out of their four years in Ann Arbor. They would beat up on bad or overrated squads and then completely lose the plot against any competent team not named Penn State (and they were 2-2 versus the Fighting Irish, for the record).
And of course, there's that whole Appalachian State thing.
Their final game against Ohio State was a hilarious indignity that wrote the last chapter of a book Michigan fans thought they wanted to read but ended up being an extremely lengthy public service announcement about the dangers of hubris. On a cold November afternoon in 2007, Tresselball ascended to new heights, becoming an all-encompassing blob that consumed everything in its path.
Beanie Wells ran for 222 yards in that game, a 14-3 Ohio State victory, while the combined efforts of both Henne and Hart could only muster 112 yards of total offense. It was their final, doomed, attempt at relevance against a program that had thoroughly dominated both them and their team for four straight years, and it amounted to barely half of what Jim Bollman accomplished by stroking his mustache and barking "DAVE!!" 39 times in a row into his headset.
Mike Hart and Chad Henne were supposed to be Michigan's standard-bearers in the 2000's, a duo who would kick ass, take names, and catapult the Wolverines back to national prominence. Instead, they became a symbol of the semi-competent malaise the program found itself in and still finds itself in today. Fifteen years later.
For that, Hart and Henne, you are The Worst.