Where Have You Gone, Michigan Wolverines?
The Hart they have is senior running back Mike Hart, but the Heart they don’t have is the heart to come through in big games.
I have watched this team all my life, but for the last four years, they have seemed lifeless and heartless.
Over the past four seasons—including the 2007 season thus far—the team record is 35 wins and 13 losses.
Granted, 35-13 is great for most college teams, but for the Michigan Wolverines, it’s mediocre at best.
With today's loss to the Wisconsin Badgers and an angry Ohio State coming up next week, with revenge on their minds after an upset loss to unranked Illinois it could get messy in Ann Arbor.
So what is the reason for the lack of success? Coach Lloyd Carr, the assistants, or the players themselves? Whatever the cause, this team seems to have the attitude that it's great to win, but if they lose, that’s fine too.
Where are the bright spots? Fans can look at the 2007 season and say, "At least we beat Notre Dame," but that's no longer a legitimate consolation; Notre Dame is a bad team.
They beat Joe Paterno’s Penn State—again, Penn State is not a very good team. In general, the Big Ten doesn't seem to be that good anymore, aside from Ohio State.
Getting beat by Appalachian State is a major black eye for the Michigan program. Appalachian State? The Michigan of old could have sleepwalked through that game and come out on top.
Take a look at the players that have been at this school for the last four years: Braylon Edwards. David Baas. Jason Avant. Mike Hart. Pat Massey. Gabe Watson. Lamarr Woodley. Marlon Jackson. Steve Breaston. Leon Hall. Mario Manningham. The list goes on.
Bottom line—the team has had too much talent in the last four years to be only 35-13.
Have we been spoiled by such high-powered Michigan teams in the past that 35-13 is unacceptable?
Throughout my life I have seen the Pistons go from bad to good to really bad and back to good again. I've seen the same with the Tigers, the Red Wings—and this year, even the Lions.
But Wolverines football has been our Old Faithful, a team we could always depend upon to have a great season.
In the past, other Big Ten teams would build their defenses with one goal: to stop Michigan. Former Ohio State coach John Cooper got fired for basically one reason: he couldn’t beat Michigan.
So as we approach the big game vs. Ohio State, which could possibly be the fourth loss of the season, I have to wonder if this could be the end the era of dominance in Michigan football. The team has lost its shine.
I hate to play the "Coach Carr Has to Go" game, but to me he is the biggest reason for the listless play of the team. When the cameras turn to him on the field, he shows no emotion or fire, instead standing there lifeless.
It's the same thing in his postgame appearances—he just sits there, speaking softly. His press conference after the loss to Oregon was a prime example: "Nothing gets me down—not losing games, not losing my job." That does not sound like a coach who can fire up a team.
Maybe if Carr is gone for the '08 season, and if sophomore QB Ryan Mallet develops into a team leader, and if WR Mario Manningham sticks around for one more season to give the big Texan Mallet a target to hit, this team in Ann Arbor can get its heart back, and return to the Michigan team of old that all of us fans knew and loved.
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