Is Michigan Football an Elite Program?

From The Sidelines

Every once in a while I come across some statistics that make me go “Hmmmmmm?”  While a lot of times these are fun to look at and contemplate over, this may be one of those times people may regret, or purely hate, what I am about to write.

While listening to Mike Greenberg of ESPN fame, he gave some statistics on the University of Michigan that were very unflattering.  So, Michigan fans, what I am about to write may anger you, but they are true, and may make you think about the Maize and Blue! (huh, that rhymed…….happy accident!)

Many think of Michigan football as one of the top 5 programs in the country.  I know I always did.  But when you take a deeper look, you have to ask yourself, “Are they, really?”

Jim Harbaugh caught a lot of grief for his record against Ohio State. But long before Harbaugh, Michigan was less than great. Consider this, the last time Michigan won an outright National Championship was 1948! Ohio State has won 7 since that time.   Michigan has only shared one other National title since then with Nebraska, in 1997.

Do you have any idea how many National Titles the legendary Bo Schembechler won?  None! Up until this year, the last Big Ten title for Michigan was 17 years ago in 2004.

Ohio State has won it 10 times since then.  Until this year, Michigan hadn’t beaten Ohio State since 2011 under interim Coach Luke Fickel. Harbaugh deserves some small blame, but the two coaches before him, Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriquez went 24 and 32 in the conference!

Harbaugh is 32 and 12, winning 80% of his conference games.   If you think that their beating Ohio State this year is a portent of things to come, think again.  Harbaugh, may be moving on, if you believe the rumors, and if that is the case, players they may be counting on might just go into the transfer portal.  A few already have.

As of December 16th, Michigan had signed one 5 star recruit, Nine 10 stars, and twelve 3 stars.  Ohio State only has 18 commitments but those are two 5 star recruits, and sixteen 4 stars, and two 3 stars.  The recruiting isn’t over yet, but Ohio State has the 4th ranked class, while Michigan’s is tenth.

Having so many stars is not a guarantee of success, but it is an indicator of who wants to play for you.  Michigan can recruit good players, but then what?  The results since 1948 have been less than stellar.  Jim Harbaugh is not the real problem.  His predecessors did no better.  What seems to be the problem then?

I think it may be the Michigan faithful have way too high expectations for their team.  We all want our teams to be successful, and Michigan is successful, but not great.  They have done nothing nationally, really, so are they as good as their fan base thinks?  The answer is no.

After seeing all of this, you have to ask yourself, “Is Michigan an elite program anymore?”  That may be hard for Michigan fans to acknowledge, but it is a legitimate question.  I want to see Michigan become respectable again, it makes the OSU-Michigan game much more fun.  Can Michigan basically overcome 74 years of…..well…. a small step above mediocrity? That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines.

Thanks to Mike Greenberg for the help with some stats!

Commissioner Mike Stegall

Mike Stegall / Correspondent

Mike Stegall is a GHS alum and played on the Green Wave's only undefeated football team. Served 27 years as an OHSAA football official and currently serves as a Darke County Commissioner

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