Cynicism isn't necessarily an attractive quality, but it's unavoidable at times.
Keeping that in mind, this isn't about being cynical—it's about being realistic:
The Michigan football team's season is only going to get worse.
Because it can.
After Michigan lost to FCS power Appalachian State, prognosticators argued that the Wolverines could still run the table, win the Big Ten, and go to the Rose Bowl for a long overdue dose of redemption.
There were only a couple of problems with that scenario.
First off, the sheer volume of mojo that Appy St. sucked out of the Big House would have left even the greatest of powerhouses feeling, um, unmanned. By the time Oregon came to town, it was clear the Wolverines were in trouble.
Lou Holtz's motivational speech on ESPN was a Band-Aid in battlefield triage. Oregon was Appy St. writ large in terms of ability.
Secondly, the Big Ten itself is clearly cycling downward. Contrary to what some observers have claimed, though, that doesn't make the Big Ten the newest midmajor.
The Big East, ACC, Pac-10, and Big XII have all gone through their downturns. The breaks have finally caught up to the Big Ten—or at least the truth is finally being recognized.
The BCS Championship game this past January should've sent a clear signal. The implications for the conference signature's programs—like Michigan—aren't positive for the foreseeable future.
Please understand, I'm not anti-Michigan. If anything I'm neutral—and while some may consider neutrality to be contemptible in both man and beast (see the Swiss), at least I'm not hovering about a prone victim with long knives drawn.
Why do bad things happen to good programs? You'll have to ask the Football Gods on that one (the differences between Football Gods, Basketball Gods, and all other sporting deities is a topic which needs a separate report for clarification).
It could be an over-extension of "luck credit," or racking up back membership dues in an elite club. Or, something more tangible, simply getting lazy and distracted.
Suffice it to say that the desperation bell tolled when I heard Michigan running back Mike Hart guarantee a win against Notre Dame. Hart, bless his heart, is obviously upset by how the season has started...but grasping predictions will only make the situation worse.
My prediction: Michigan will get beaten by a bad Notre Dame team. After that, the Big Ten teams are salivating to feast on the Wolverines, and there's a dangerous matchup with Eastern Michigan the first Saturday in October.
The writing is on the wall at this point—Michigan will most likely have a losing record on the season and miss a bowl game for the first time since 1975.
What does all this mean for the Michigan players and fans?
Simply this: It's over—at least for this season. Box it, bury it, get it over with as quickly as possible.
After this season draws to a merciful end, a new head coach will be crucial to Michigan's recovery. Lloyd Carr may be the most decent man in his profession, but presiding over this plane crash makes his departure an imperative.
Only then can a new regime sweep away all the bitter debris of a party gone on too long—and broken up by the police arriving on the doorstep.
The new head man will have to dredge the program up from the bottom of the well and set it in the right direction. A new, brighter day will come for Michigan football, and the Big Ten too.
Just not this season—it's already ruined. And yes, it will get worse. Merely an observation.