Monday, August 26, 2019

Bold Predictions for 2019 Michigan Football: 13-1 or 14-1!!! 50 Years After Bo

Michigan’s football season begins August 31 at home against Middle Tennessee State. Enough about that for now. Let’s go back 50 years to November 22, 1969. The arrogant, brutish, cocky Ohio State Buckeyes came to Michigan Stadium. They were the returning national champions, having defeated USC and O.J in the Rose Bowl. They were on a 22 game winning streak. Some were calling them the greatest college football team of all team. They had destroyed Michigan 50-14 in 1968. They poured salt into open wounds near the end of the game when the Buckeyes scored a touchdown and then went for a two point conversion. Coach Woodrow Wilson Hayes, when asked why he want for 2, replied, “Because I couldn’t go for 3.” Michigan football was in the pits. The glory days of Fielding Yost and Fritz Crisler were ancient history. Michigan Stadium was far from selling out. Coach Bump Elliott was fired. Don Canham, the athletic director, hired Glenn “Bo’ Schembechler from Miami of Ohio as the new coach. The anguish cry went out: “Bo Who?” Bo whipped the returning players in shape. Many dropped out. Bo posted the famous sign: “Those who stay will be champions.” He also painted a sign on the floor as they entered practice. It was OSU 50, Michigan 14. The players had to daily walk on it. Michigan started out 3-2. Oh No, more of the same with Bo. The Wolverines jelled, caught fire and ran the string. And yet, they were penciled in as the next human sacrifices for the Mighty Buckeyes. I was not at the game. I was in my last year of law school at the University of San Francisco, working Saturday morning, got back at halftime. The score was 24-12 Michigan. What! 24-12 Michigan. Someone forgot to tell Bo, also known as “Little Woody,” the Michigan players, and the 103,588 fans that Michigan was supposed to roll over for the greatest team of all time. The final score was 24-12. Little did I know on November 22, 1969 that 9 months later on August 28, 1970 that I would arrive in Ann Arbor as a graduate student/ Michigan out-toughed TOSU. The vaunted Buckeyes offense committed 6 interceptions and one fumble. Bo was no longer Bo Who? November 22, 1969 restored Michigan football to the pinnacle of Big Ten football. Bo went 5-4-1 against his mentor. The UM-OSU seesaw went back and forth between Michigan and Ohio State with Michigan going 10-2-1 against John Cooper, who was fired on 2000 for consistently losing to Michigan. Jim Tressel was hired as the Buckeye’s coach, and begin Ohio State’s mastery of Michigan. Michigan only won one game against Ohio State from 2001 to the present. Michigan’s sole victory was in 2001 against a scandal ridden depleted, demoralized Ohio State team. Even then Michigan had to hold on to a 34-28 victory. A W is a W. Urban Meyer was then hired as TOSU’s coach and went 7-0 against Michigan. Some games close – some blowouts Last year was a blowout Short slants over the middle Little pressure from defensive line September 1, 2007 marked the collapse of Michigan football. The pre-season 5th rank Wolverines lost at home 34-32 to Appalachian State as their few fans in attendance yelled: “It’s great to be a Mountaineer.” Lloyd Carr resigned as coach at the end of the season, defeating Florida in the 38-30 in the Outback Bowl. Lloyd retired a winner. The decision was made to hire an inventive coach with a vastly different non-smash mouth football approach. Rich Rod was a master of the spread offense, which often bedeviled Michigan’s defense. The experiment was a disaster with Michigan only winning three games the first season and losing to Toledo. Rich Rodriquez was Three and Done, to be replaced by Brady Hoke. Coach Hoke’s first year was great. Michigan went 11-2 defeating Ohio State and then Virginia Tech in the Bowl. Michigan was back. Or not! Brady was Four and Done as each season was progressively worse. The really nice guy was too soft on the players. Then came Jim Harbaugh 4 years ago. He’s gone 38-14 in four years with three 10 game winning seasons. The Michigan family has been patient, but have higher expectations. Michigan is on the cusp of college football greatness. I predict this is the year. Michigan will sweep the regular season, defeating Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio state at home as well as Penn State and Wisconsin on the road. This year’s team has purely Harbaugh recruits. The Wolverines will surmount their multiple problems since the Appalachian State debacle. The first is a consistently weak offensive line. There’s been good, and even great players, on the line, but never a consistently great line. They have been unable to play Jim Harbaugh’s power game, smash mouth, which he was able to do at Stanford. The result has been quarterbacks and running backs banged up by the Ohio State game. On a couple of occasions the fleet, elusive Denard Robinson was physically unable to pass. That also happened with Devin Gardner. The result was that Ohio State would defend against the run, ignoring the pass. This year’s line is said to be at the level of the offensive lines of a decade ago. A third problem was being unable to win on the road, especially against powers such Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Harbaugh’s Wolverines have shown they can defeat the Spartans in East Lansing. This is the year to step up on the road at Penn State and Wisconsin. A fourth problem is a constant change of systems, especially on defense. Stability has set in on the defense. Michigan has a new offense this year – much more wide open than in the past. The quarterbacks and wide receivers love it. One of the problems Michigan faces in the big game is that Ohio State knows it will win. Michigan hopes it will win. The Wolverines can only get back the swagger that wins close games by defeating by defeating the Buckeyes, not to mention Notre Dame in the same year. This is the year. Ryan Day is the new head coach of TOSU. He was last year’s offensive coordinator who created the game plan that was devastating to Michigan’s vaunted defense. Michigan’s defensive coordinator, Don Brown, learns from defeat. He will not be defeated the same way twice, and usually not once. Michigan will be prepared for the Buckeyes. Michigan will never fully be back until they defeat Ohio State – not just once, but regularly. This is the year they begin the process. Why this year? Because I’m sick of saying “Wait Till Next year.”

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