I've been trying to decide whether this or the Colorado Hail Mary was a worse moment for Michigan football. I'm from Boulder, CO and had a lot of friends at CU when that Colorado game happened, so for me personally, that may have been a darker moment. But there is little doubt that this is the low point for the program. I was with you, Nonplus, on your skepticism about this being a top 5 team (and have the e-mail to a friend from last week to prove it), but to say that I didn't see this coming would be the understatement of the lifetime. All the tradition. All the history. All the top recruits. All the returning seniors. And now we have what might be the most embarrassing loss in the history of college football on our resumes. It's probably too early to say whether this is the biggest upset in college football history. It only reaches that level if Michigan actually turns out to be good, which seems dubious at this point (remember, the 2005 Notre Dame loss seemed like a huge upset; it turns out that that was one of the worst Michigan football teams of all time).
What I find most fascinating about this is that as good as they are -- and they might be the three best at their positions that Michigan has ever had -- Henne, Long, and Hart are now three of the most prolific losers to ever run out of the tunnel in the maize and blue. The 7-5 season. The three straight losses to Ohio State. The bowl games. And now this. Put it all together and frankly, it might be the four most embarrassing years Michigan has ever strung together. There have been plenty of high points too, but when you look back at the things that really matter, they have almost nothing to point to. Certainly nothing that will allow them to say, "Yeah, but..." whenever anyone brings up this game. It's not necessarily their fault (at least not Long's or Hart's; Henne is teetering dangerously close to Navarre-land with performances like this; and to be fair, even Navarre wouldn't have thrown that pass that was intercepted in the red zone). The 7-5 team was the worst Michigan team since Bump Elliot stopped coaching here. Clearly, this team is on a fast track to eclipse that one. Sorry guys, but you don't get to be the anchors for two of the worst Michigan football teams ever and claim a special place in Michigan football history. I don't care how amazing your personal stats are.
I'm not sure how we recover from this. It's easy to say at the moment, when we're all feeling so down, that even if we win the rest of our games, it won't overcome this. I have a feeling that people might feel differently if that were to actually happen. Unfortunately, it won't. Sorry, but I've seen this movie before. It's possible that the offense was just out of sync during this game. It happens to the best offenses (see Ohio State in last year's championship game). But once a defense has been exposed, that's usually it. We're just going to have to resign ourselves to the fact that Michigan is never going to figure out how to even slow down a mobile quarterback, even if that quarterback is about 150 pounds and wouldn't have made Michigan's travel squad. And guess what's coming to town next week. Out of all of the negative attention that this game has already gotten, I think that the most searing indictment of the Michigan football program came from an Appalachian State who said something along the lines of, "When we watched tape, we noticed that their defense tended to leave the middle open. We were hoping that they would continue to do that, and they did." That two sentence explanation about what happened sums up just about every criticism that has been leveled against Michigan football for as long as I can remember: the predictability, the inability to adjust, the arrogance, etc., etc., etc.
In reality, the only question at this point is, how painful? How painful is this season going to be. Are we looking at 8-4, 7-5, or gulp, a losing record? After this game, every upcoming game has to be reanalyzed. If they can lose this one, they can lose every game on their schedule. What will probably happen is that this team will do what the 7-5 team did to us. They'll look terrible one week and lose a game that you didn't think they could lose. Then they'll win one that you didn't expect them to be competitive in, making you think that it could turn out alright after all, only to have your hopes dashed the next week. If they really want to follow form, they'll beat a good Oregon team this week, making us think that maybe it was all a fluke, then they'll lose to a terrible Notre Dame team the week after. And even if they were to win every game from here on out, it would probably only amplify the pain from this game. Our fate is sealed.
Well, look at the bright side. At least Ron English is ours for as long as we want him. That's what everyone wanted up until the last three games, right? It's amazing to me to think that after all he's accomplished, Lloyd Carr is probably going to have to leave at the end of the year without any say in where this program goes from here. He won't be fired, but to him, it will feel like he was. 14 years. A national championship. Numerous conference championships. Sixth best record among active coaches. First coach of a ranked I-A team to lose to a I-AA team. And it might be that last part that most people will think of when they think of Lloyd Carr. It's a tragedy.