Well, that was even uglier than the Florida or Ohio State blowouts. That was a kick to the groin that stung for days. It’s why I wanted to hold off on putting together my takeaways from the game until the immediate emotions wore off a bit. But that didn’t takeaway from just how bad it was and the fact that this program is at a crossroads.
Let’s dive headfirst into it. First, try not to hate yourself and watch the game highlights:
Here are my quick takeaways from Michigan’s blowout week four loss to Wisconsin:
1. Full Program Letdown
This one starts from the top down and hits every single individual within the program. From Head Coach Jim Harbaugh down to the guy who’s guiding his headset cord throughout the game (yes, that’s a real position). It was that bad and that pathetic and embarrassing of a performance.
When the foundation is rocked like the Michigan football program’s was in Madison on Saturday, it’s a true gut check for each individual within Schembechler Hall. It’s put up or shut up time. This team looks like it came into the season expecting to win. And while confidence is key, the old Michigan arrogance can be poison.
When a team thinks it’s already arrived and deserves the crown before even climbing the mountain top, it can be a killer. I’ve seen it with several of my favorite teams, including the 2008 Detroit Tigers who built one of the best rosters in the league, were picked to win the World Series and then face planted and finished last in the AL Central.
In the words of Steve Stifler’s East Great Lake Falls lacrosse coach:
Is this team going to use this game as motivation and a wake-up call to make an all-time bounce back and shut up some of the noise? Or will they roll over and become the laughing stock of the college football world?
2. First Feeling of Doubt
It’s no secret that I’m a very optimistic person, let alone Michigan fan. I can almost always find the good in something. It’s a blessing and a curse, as they say, but one I’m very happy to have. Because, let’s be honest, some individuals of this fan base are bat shit crazy when it comes to caring about a game where they have literally zero impact on the outcome.
But back to my main point. I’m not a sky is falling type of person, but this was the first time I actually have that feeling of doubt that things will work out with Jim Harbaugh and Michigan.
This is a feeling that a good portion of my family members, friends and coworkers like to tell me about and sway me to whenever a loss has happened during the Harbaugh regime. But I normally don’t take the bait. I try to look at the big picture and look back at my sports career to understand that bad games happen and that this program (because of recent history and location) may need some more time to reach the expectations that the fan base consistently (rightfully so, for the most part) has.
Saturday shook that normal confidence quite a bit.
It was the consistent mistakes. The lost looks and efforts from the players. The miscalculations and decisions by the coaches. It was a smorgasbord of f*ck ups that had me leave the post-golf outing lunch I was at during the second half of the game and not even turn it on when I got home. What a crappy feeling.
Some are blaming one individual for all of this: Jim Harbaugh. And I fully get that. He’s the man in charge and the buck stops with him. I’m not sure what the hell actually happened. Was it was piss poor preparation, a hot garbage game plan, those transition lenses he was wearing, or just a lack of mental toughness? Whatever it was, it showed and it showed once again while all eyes were on the Wolverines.
Players admitted to getting down on themselves as the mistakes and misfortunes built up throughout the game. That mindset is contagious and extremely difficult to kick. And it’s starting to really show in the quality of play on the field. Players look timid and unsure of themselves at times and, in turn, make even more mistakes. It’s a plague that has infected the entire team and something that Harbaugh will need to go full exorcism with to remove it.
He’ll need to do this before the angry mob known as pissed off Michigan fans and the national media run him back to the NFL.
3. Stock Up
4. Stock Down
- Offensive Line
- What the hell happened here? This was supposed to be the best Michigan offensive line in the last decade+ but this is starting to look like a Rich Rod offensive line. Zero push. No protection. The run game is nowhere to be found and that “dominance” everyone expected out of a veteran group is MIA. This is another mix of coaching and player issues. Ed Warriner and the top six linemen need to figure it out before the rest of the Big Ten’s top programs come to town.
- This is an easy one. Every single coach should be ashamed of themselves for that performance. These aren’t NFL players, these are college kids. The moneymakers are the main people who should feel the wrath and it starts with Jim Harbaugh, Don Brown, Josh Gattis, Ed Warriner, Shaun Nua, Anthony Campanile, Mike Zordich, Ben McDaniels, Sherrone Moore, Jay Harbaugh, and Chris Partridge. All of them have been extremely disappointing as coaches this season and need to look in the mirror and at their bank accounts to see that they need to be better. That’s especially true for Don Brown, whose defense has been torched by the last three Power Five programs it has faced.
- Coaches can preach effort but it’s obvious some players aren’t giving it their all. And that’s by far the most troubling aspect. When a team starts to quit on itself, things can spiral out of control quickly. This is something the coaches and veteran players need to figure out and figure out quickly.
- Once again, college refs and the reviews turned their ugly head in this game. It’s far from an excuse to what happened for the majority of the game but the missed call on the diving Ronnie Bell reception over the middle of the field was just straight garbage.
- Some Michigan Fans
- Get your shit together, people. I get it. You’re upset and feel like you’ve been let down by Jim Harbaugh, the Michigan players, and the Michigan media. But some of you need to get it together. Don’t be the jackass that sent a tweet to all of the players on the team. Don’t be the player’s sibling who puts coaches on blast on Instagram. Don’t be the hardass that wants to talk trash to myself and other people who cover the team because of the preseason hype. Unless you’re a college student or younger, you should be able to control your emotions after a football game in which you did not play, did not need to wear a jersey, and did not need to watch or attend for it to take place. You have no impact on the outcome and do nothing but bring down the mood of everyone around. Be upset. Be disappointed. Want more from your team. But keep it to that. I mean, is this your first time being a Michigan football fan? This stuff has been happening for the last two decades. If you still can’t control your emotions over a bad performance or heartbreaking loss, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new hobby.
Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog