Being a fan of a particular sports team can be agonizing sometimes.
As a fan of the Michigan Wolverines, I've had my share of them. "The Game That Shall Never Be Mentioned Again" was surely the worst of it. But now, many are claiming that the 2008 Michigan team could bear a striking resemblance to that of the 2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
After losing stars Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, and Jake Long, amongst other departures, pundits are calling for the first losing season in Michigan in 40 years (in 1967, the team went 4-6) as well as the first non-bowl team in 33 years.
As I said, many are saying that Wolverines will suffer in the same way the Irish did last year—the 3-9 variety. They point to the personnel losses and the schedule. Both are valid points, though the latter has its flaws and I'll point those out.
That said, the situations are entirely different.
Charlie Weis walked into a barren cupboard after the Ty Willingham era. The 2004 Notre Dame class was atrocious, nabbing just two real contributors: Darius Walker and Ronald Talley, neither of whom stayed the course of their eligibility.
Michigan hasn't had that problem and will provide RichRod with a better talent scale thanks to the No. 6 class in 2005 and the No. 13 in 2006.
For another, Rich Rodriguez is a proven winner. He turned West Virginia into a powerhouse with a fraction of the resources Michigan has. That should count for something in this discussion.
Weis, meanwhile, had never been a head coach and hadn't dealt with a predominantly young team before. His striking resemblance to Jabba the Hutt can't help his case.
As for the schedule, there's a glaring difference. Notre Dame played 10 bowl teams to open the season. Michigan plays around the same number, but of the MAC, Mountain West, Minnesota variety. Our schedule isn't nearly as tough, especially considering everyone is very flawed, even the immortal Ohio State.
All that said, a losing season is possible. But to think that this season will resemble the magical Notre Dame 2007 season is a bit much.