In the past, the Michigan Wolverines have been a source of great pride for fans living in the Great Lakes State. Since 1969, when Bo Schembechler arrived in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines have been a powerhouse on the college football landscape.
Even after Bo retired, his proteges, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr, managed to continued the excellence that Michigan fans have come to expect.
Now, however, Michigan football fans are experiencing something they thought they would never see….the Wolverines have had two consecutive losing seasons. This humiliating turn of events can be placed squarely at the feet of their new head coach, Rich Rodriguez.
Coach Rod came to Michigan after building the West Virginia Mountaineers to unprecedented heights. The primary complaint against Coach Rod was that he was not a “Michigan Man”.
Most alumni and those who follow the Wolverines football wanted the school to hire a coach from the Michigan “coaching tree”. Rodriguez was not a Michigan man. But he had built a very successful program at West Virginia, not exactly a traditional football factory.
Rodriguez has had a very tough transition to Michigan from West Virginia. The team has experienced two consecutive losing seasons.
Until then, Michigan had not had a losing season since the mid-60’s. Obviously, these are very difficult times for Rodriguez and the fan base.
Here are three primary problems with the current Michigan football program.
Historically Bad Defense
The Wolverines’ defense is dreadful. The defense has been decimated by players leaving the program early, injuries, and suspect defensive coaching. They lost their two best cornerbacks: Troy Wolfolk to a pre-season injury and Donovan Warren, who left early for the NFL draft.
The coaching on the defensive side of the ball has been at best inconsistent. Rodriguez has already changed defensive coordinators which has not yielded any results to date.
Bad Special Teams
To win consistently, you’ve got to have good special teams. Michigan’s special teams are an abomination and anything but special. The kickers are bad. The return men are bad. The kick-offs are bad.
The only good thing about the special teams is that they spend the least amount of time on the field. Until this unit gets fixed, more losing is on it’s way.
Right Coach, Wrong Players
Coach Rich Rodriguez came to Michigan with a reputation as a brilliant offensive coach. His reputation is well deserved- he is that. However, when he got to Michigan, the players he inherited were not good fits for Coach Rod’s spread offense.
His version of the spread calls for fast players playing fast. He inherited big slow players, playing smash-mouth football. Not a good match. The conversion has taken time, but there have been flashes of promise. His offense is proving to be hard to stop and very prolific. The offense is averaging over 500 yards a game.
Michigan is down right now and Big Ten foes are currently taking advantage of their short-comings. But given some time, a few more recruiting classes, and a little patience from the Michigan Football family, Michigan will return to the days of dominating the Big Ten and competing for national championships every year.