Well, the inevitable has finally occurred. Michigan lost a game. Worse, it was the third in a row to hated rival Michigan State. As much as it stings to lose, we had to know it was going to happen. Michigan now moves into the meat of its schedule in the heart of the Big Ten, where the defense is much tougher and the offense is more experienced.
And so it begins: No, not necessarily another collapse, like last year. It is related, however, calls for the firing of Rich Rodriguez have already begun.
To some observers it may seem absurd, as Rodriguez not only led the Wolverines to a 5-0 start (the best since 2006) and as high as No. 18 in the AP Poll, but also notched two road wins with a fairly young team, including one against rival Notre Dame. After such a start, we all assumed that Rodriguez would now keep his job. The Michigan fanbase was placated, if only for non-conference play.
But here we are. Michigan has lost three in a row to the Spartans for the first time since 1967, and Big Blue has dropped out of the AP Top 25. Once more we have the proverbial crowds with pitchforks and torches bearing down on Ann Arbor. Yes, M Club supports you, but some only in good times.
Of course, this doesn't represent all of the Michigan faithful. Some have never liked Rich Rodriguez and never will ("he's no Bo!" they shout), and never wanted him or his spread offense in the first place. Others remain patient and hopeful that Michigan will rebuild and dominate the Big Ten, perhaps in the next few years. Others WERE hopeful, but are once again disappointed. Yes, the many shades of maize and blue.
But wait, is this vitriol warranted? Yes, losing to the Spartans is painful, especially three years in a row. But wait, Lloyd Carr, the great Lloyd Carr, lost to Jim Tressel's Ohio State Buckeyes four years in a row, and he wasn't fired. Far from it, he retired at a time when many fans still supported him.
And besides, Michigan genuinely appears to be on its way up. Yes, for real this time. Rodriguez has found his quarterback, and the offense is clicking. Sure, the defense is lacking, but they're young and can mature in the long run.
And, seriously, let's look at the big picture for a second. Michigan is stilled ranked in other polls (No. 24 in the Coaches Poll, and No. 25 in ESPN's in-house rankings), and we have seen glimmers of hope. This years' Wolverines have a far more promising squad; any problems this team has can be fixed with time and practice. Rodriguez's recruiting is finally showing, as the last of the Carr recruits are graduating.
A new system takes time to be implemented. Michigan fans have been spoiled by Big Blue's success, so struggle is relatively unknown. It's a time for not the team to examine itself, but the fans as well. I ask all fans of Michigan: Do you bleed Maize and Blue, through and through, or are you a fair weather fan who can't stand a proverbial Michigan winter?
Stick with it, M Club, and we will see our team return to glory once more, no matter how long it takes.
Let's Go Blue!!!