Michigan did not lose to Georgia because of bad play calling or bad coaching or not having the right quarterback or even because a public mugging was not called pass interference. We lost because the other team was better — especially in the trenches — on both sides of the football.
This loss hurts, but it does not change the fact that this year’s team was different. And this year’s team remains the team that made me love Michigan football again — and that was before the glorious (no other word for it) victory against OSU.
What I felt back on Octocer 11, I still feel today. And this is only the beginning…
As someone who has been a Michigan fan for 50+ years, I need to call out those who continue to negatively compare the 2021 Michigan team and Harbaugh to the “golden age” of Michigan Football under Bo, Mo and Lloyd.
This mythical time when Michigan dominated college football is just that — a myth. Through my childhood as I bled maize and blue, Michigan usually lost 1-4 games a year. When they did go undefeated, they would usually lose in the Rose Bowl. The one undefeated year we had involved many close calls and gritty wins against unranked teams. I am not trying to dog my own team’s legacy, but if you realize what that legacy actually was, you will understand why lifers like me are so excited by this year’s team.
Michigan has not been dominant since the 1950s. They’ve only had one national championship since then. In a Big Ten that was known as the Big 2 and the Little 8, we regularly blew out significantly undermanned teams but — except for the John Cooper years — lost to OSU and Bowl teams more than we won. Even in the John Cooper years, we were usually aware that the Buckeyes had a significant talent advantage on us.
I’ll never forget the day Biakabutuka (and our offensive line) busted loose for 313 years to upset the undefeated 2nd ranked Buckeyes in 1995. (Would fans now complain that we didn’t pass enough?)
I’ll never forget those 4th quarter comebacks led by Brady after he looked mediocre and slow for three quarters (sound familiar?) with the fans screaming for the 5-star phenom on the bench. I’ll never forget the John Wangler to Anthony Carter miracle touchdown to beat an unranked Indiana team; I don’t remember anyone downplaying that because they were embarrassed to be so close to losing to an underdog.
I’ll never forget Harbaugh guaranteeing — and delivering — a win in Columbus after we were upset by an unranked Minnesota at home.
The team I grew up loving lost as many big games as they won, but they had incredible heart and grit and physicality that was the trademark of our teams. That’s what got us fired up — that and listening to Bob Ufer.
Like many fans, I had thought we had permanently lost that — especially when I watched the debacles that were our 2019 and 2020 games vs. Wisconsin. That’s why the road games at Wisconsin and Nebraska were so inspiring. It was the first time in many years that I had felt that old feeling and remembered why I loved Michigan football.
I hope we win every game the rest of the season, and I believe that these players and this coaching staff have what it takes to beat any team — how incredibly refreshing!
But if they lose to a much more talented OSU team or a really strong Penn State or MSU team — or even are upset by an unranked team — it will not mean that this team or this year is a failure. If they lose, I will be sad and suffer with the team like I have after tough losses for the past 50 years.
But this year will still be different. This will be the year that Michigan football was truly back. For the first time in many years, we have returned to the actual “glory days” of my childhood, not to those mythical dominant glory days that never really existed.