An Open Letter to Michigan Fans

Jeff ContizanoCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2008

"When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing."

You know who said that? Guess. He was a Michigan coach from 1969-1989, compiling a 194-48-5 record. Oh yeah, that's ol' Bo Schembechler.

If there's anything that the past weekend has taught us as Michigan fans, it's that we're not being the fans that we make ourselves up to be. Michigan fans are proud of their team, no matter the W-L record, or number of points scored, or number of players sent to the NFL each year.

Michigan fans stick behind their program. You can blame Mike Martin for hiring Rodriguez, you can blame Lloyd for retiring—heck, I'll even find Rod's phone number so you can call him and tell him, "You suck!"

But if there's one thing I know, it's that we've become too used to winning. That sounds like a stupid idea, but we've become so comfortable with strong season after strong season that when our road becomes bumpy, we're all ready to abandon ship.

Now, I've heard plenty of excuses (and made plenty myself), but here's why I think the Michigan wolverines are struggling so badly.

Fans say, "Why not run more pro-style sets?" The answer is debatable, but it is better for the team to struggle and absorb the offense then to experience average/mediocre success without it. Also, if you think our players are suddenly going to become better, well, you're wrong.

The Wolverines are struggling. Players are confused, they are lacking the real motivation we've seen, and to be honest, they are beaten.

"But Lloyd didn't leave the cupboard empty!" Well, that's sort of true, but if you look at Michigan's starters there are only two real starters on offense from last year: Steven Schilling and Greg Mathews. Alex Mitchell left with one year of eligibility, Justin Boren bailed, and Jake Long and Adam Kraus graduated.

Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham, for whatever reasons (for Rodriguez/draft) moved on, and Ryan Mallett transferred to Arkansas. So that cupboard really shouldn't have been as bare as it is now. And sometimes no matter how much raw talent you have, you still can't win.

Our offensive line is average at best and very inconsistent. But there aren't any better players to plug in. Toney Clemons set weight room records, but he either hasn't been thrown to enough or just hasn't translated to on-the-field talent.

Brandon Minor has developed a rare disease known as acute fumbleitis, Carlos Brown and Junior Hemingway are constantly injured, and Kevin Grady has rarely seen the field, only to fumble like many of his other teammates.

Who should we play? Martavious Odoms has been the man for the receiving corps, and Sam McGuffie has been a solid backfield option—and he doesn't fumble either.

Now for the quarterbacks. We know Threet and Sheridan really can't run the offense. Sheridan is a scrub and Threet is an average quarterback at best, though he's still learning.

So who do we play? Is this the coach's fault?

Will calling for Rodriguez's head make the season any better? Think about firing him right now. We have a top five commitment class for next year, with players basically designed to run the spread.

Who would run the offense? Calvin McGee? Fred Jackson? It makes no sense to fire him now.

Give the Wolverines a chance. Take your shots from the Buckeyes and other Michigan haters, but keep your pride strong. Maybe we won't go 10-2 next year, but now is not the time to abandon ship.