2008 Michigan Football: The Program That Really Was

Jeff ContizanoCorrespondent INovember 27, 2008

So many journalists and fans alike clamored after the 3-9 season Michigan suffered this year.

"They have too much talent!"

"Rodriguez wasted it!"

"They never should have gone 3-9!"

Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is, Michigan was not the program we all thought it was. Michigan did not have the depth and talent that we all thought they did.

For example, of the 2004 recruiting class (fifth-year seniors this year), nine players either transferred or quit the team before Rodriguez came. Five (Henne, Hart, etc.) graduated.

Of the 2005 class, eight players transferred/quit, two left the team (Bass—5* who ruined knee, Slocum—Academics), and one (Zirbel) became unavailable after Rodriguez came.

Still with me? That's 25 players. That's 25 "premium" recruits we supposedly had. Let's continue.

This year, players like Artis Chambers, Zion Babb, and Justin Boren either transferred, planned to, or were kicked off the team.

Other players haven't panned out as we thought they would. Kevin Grady has turned out to be a bust, Carson Butler is a pain in the ass, and players like Patterson, Criswell, Savoy, Logan, Panter, and many more have rarely seen the field.

Now a lot of teams don't have "successful" classes, or at least where 50 percent of their classes eventually see the field or are deemed "successful recruits."

But Michigan has lost a significant portion of its talent through attrition and graduation. Many players never panned out, some quit, and some simply graduated, not taking a fifth year of eligibility.

With Manningham and Arrington, the truth is there wasn't a lot of talent behind them after they departed. Mathews was solid, but Stonum was unproven. Junior Hemingway was out for most of the season with mono/injuries, Zion Babb was a bust, and Odoms turned out to be a surprise.

Lloyd Carr can be partially blamed for the quarterback situation, as he typically only went after a single quarterback recruit each year. And if you think Ryan Mallet left because of Rodriguez, you are wrong. He hated Ann Arbor, was generally disliked by the team, and probably wouldn't have fit well.

Part of the theory behind Rodriguez's theme is to build strength with competition, and that won't start to take place for another year or two. With strong recruiting classes, the Wolverines will finally have the depth that so many believed they had.

Then they can return to elite status.