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Stadium and Main: The Future

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Future

Uncertainty breeds excitement, among other things. Each August, you can easily find hundreds of Michigan fans so hopeful about the season’s prospects that any and all logical arguments cannot convince them that Michigan won’t go undefeated this year. But uncertainty also breeds anxiety, and that is what I’m feeling right now. Because, in my opinion, the next 5 years will be the most important seasons for Michigan Football and Basketball in my lifetime. And I've already started fretting about it. Every season (nay, every game) is important – but I think that even the most casual Michigan fans realize (or should realize) that both “major” programs at Michigan are approaching ridiculously critical stages. Both programs will likely face major changes in the next few years – whether it is a coaching change or a change in what we expect to see in the “win” column, or both. I’ll focus on Football (this is a Football-based blog, after all), but I think it is important to touch on Basketball, as well. My discombobulated thoughts…

The Football Program

Lloyd Carr will not be Michigan’s coach in 2010. In fact, most “insiders” expect him to hang it up no later than after the 2007 season (making one last run at a National Championship with an experienced team (Henne and Hart will be Seniors)). So who takes the reigns? The conversation usually starts (and, unfortunately, often ends) with the “Michigan Men.” Four guys that are frequently mentioned are current Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord, former QB and current San Diego (not State) Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, former DL and current Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator Mike Trgovac, and former Assistant (QBs and WRs) Coach and current San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron. Force me to pick one right now, and I’d take Trgovac. Mainly because he has succeeded in the NFL at a fairly young age, coached under legends at big time programs like Michigan and Notre Dame, and has strong Midwest roots for recruiting purposes (a Youngstown, Ohio native). Also, I want Michigan Defense to mean MICHIGAN DEFENSE once again. Force me to bet $10,000 on who will be the next coach, and I’d (begrudgingly) say it's DeBord.

Here is the most likely scenario in my mind: Michigan has a decent year in 2006, and the Offense improves quite a bit (due to fewer injuries (please!) and more experience, but DeBord will get some credit). In 2007, Michigan has a great year – only 1 or 2 losses, max (Oregon, ND, PSU, OSU – all at home). With a talent-laden, experienced Offense, Michigan puts up big numbers, and DeBord gets even more credit. Forgetting the fact that DeBord failed miserably as the Head Coach at Central Michigan, and put up relatively mediocre numbers from 1997-99 with a very good OL, Anthony Thomas, David Terrell, Brian Griese, Tai Streets, and a few other NFL’ers (oh, and some guy named Brady?), DeBord is promoted to Head Coach, and Lloyd cackles with delight while walking off into the sunset. But I digress… The bottom line is if you don’t know much about those four guys yet, you might want to do some research, because those names will be bandied about in the coming months/years. And it pains me to say that I think “DeBo” (no, not that Deebo) will be our next HC.

You essentially have 2 types of logic floating around right now. One says that Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin is a smart, aggressive businessman, and he will make this his decision – getting us the best coach available. The other says that the “old guard” still rules (and will always rule), and Lloyd and/or Bo will hand-pick the next Head Coach, and it will be a Michigan Man. “Sexy” names like Cal’s Jeff Tedford and West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez sound nice, but will Michigan be willing to spend the big bucks for the next hot-shot coach and/or buy out the contract of a coach with a big money deal (like Louisville’s Bobby Petrino or Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz)? I’d much rather have somebody that has succeeded as a Head Coach than some crony who bombed out at CMU while his successor (Brian Kelly) continues to make strides. Help me Bill Martin, you’re my only hope…

The Basketball Program

What a difference a week makes. Just a matter of days ago, Michigan Basketball fans were lamenting the signing of some no-name guard from Florida with a bunch of Division 2 offers. The future did not look bright. We did not have to wear shades. But with the recent verbal commitment of “Manny” Harris and the re-commitment of Alex Legion, the Michigan backcourt of the future contains two Top-50 players. It’s about time that Tommy got a break or two.

Now, Michigan Basketball 2006 might not be that great, but the 2007 roster will have NBA talent on it (and I’m not talking about Bernard Robinson Jr. or Daniel Horton NBA talent – no offense to those guys). Don’t forget about 2006 recruit DeShawn Sims, and do start following Michigan Basketball recruiting again, because we are in on some big names for 2008. And so the question becomes: What can Amaker do with some higher-quality talent on his roster? Will the offense still look disorganized and sloppy one-quarter of the time? Will he be able to draw up a play out of a timeout besides that predictable double screen for an “open” 3-pointer from the wing (Memo to Tommy: If I know it’s coming, so does Tom Izzo, and Bo Ryan, and…)? Will we still lose 7 of 9 to end the regular season? If so, Michigan’s program will take a giant step back. Head Coaching turnover is hardly ever a good thing, and Michigan has been feeling its effects since 1997. Now that Michigan Basketball appears to have the potential to be stabilized, it is up to Tommy Amaker to make it work. If he can't, we might as well just implode Crisler and start over. Well, we might as well implode Crisler anyway, but that is a conversation for another time.

In Closing…

I mention my worries to you because I can’t go through this alone. I envy all of those idiots that I see every day on the street – walking around, completely oblivious to pretty much everything. If you consider yourself a Michigan fan, you just can’t be oblivious about this stuff. And if you're reading this blog, I know you're not oblivious. So start sweating now, my friend. The next 5 years are arguably the most important for Michigan Athletics in all of our lifetimes. As George Costanza would say, "Let's get nuts!"


Blogger Jake said...

Great post. I'm ready to get nuts. Bill Martin has to know that this is a business and boosters won't give money if he pisses everyone off. I choose to trust Bill just like I trusted Dombrowski. Time will tell. If it's DeBord, I will feel the EXACT same way that I felt about the last two Michigan football hires (Lloyd and Moeller) so it'll be nothing new.

10:21 PM  

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