I’m back form our annual holiday trip. It was a good trip, but I always love coming home. Too bad my good mood was ruined by the Alamo Bowl last night. I’ll tell you this, if I was steamed last night (and I was), then I’m raging pissed off today. It’s rare that I can’t let go of a loss after a decent night’s sleep. But this one is going to stick for a while.
By this point if you haven’t heard about it you’re probably living underneath the dirt, slugs and sediment that’s living underneath the rock. Suffice to say it should’ve been a phenomenal game, but it was absolutely buried under a mountain of inept, blown and flat out headscratching play calls from an officiating crew that seemed to have better things to do. How else to explain their eagerness to never go to the replay booth for a review or to leave the field when they should have been throwing flags on the final “play” of the game.
Don’t get me wrong. Nebraska won this game. When you cough up 15 fourth quarter points you deserve to lose and this is the second time in as many games that Michigan has been unable to stop a team and protect a fourth quarter lead. I’m not blaming the officiating for the loss.
That said, yes there were bad calls that went against both sides. But if you think it was even, you’re kiddng yourself. Nebraska got hosed on a catch interference penalty on a punt and a couple of other relatively minor calls. Michigan got hosed out of a fumble (1st quarter), two of their fourth quarter timeouts (since either the replay official or those on the field refused to look at their own bad calls unprompted), a pass interference call on what would’ve been a go ahead touchdown, an inexcusable delay between placing the ball and starting the playclock, as time rolled off the game clock prior to Nebraska’s final fourth down punt, and -depending on whom you talk to- a Chad Henne fumble that was about a tenth of a second from being a clear forward pass (I’ll chalk that one up to bad luck). And then there was the final play.
Someone, anyone, please explain to me how the officials don’t throw a flag when three quarters of the Nebraska football team and staff are on the field during the final play. They took away more than half the damn field when Hart and Tyler Ecker had the ball. Some will point out that there was Michigan staff on the field too. Well, they entered the field well after the Nebraska players did so I’m not clear on how that rule gets interpreted. But even so, how do you not flag both teams? HOW?!?!?!?!?!?!? I mean those f@#$@ just left the damn field as fast as their candy ass little peg legs could carry them. Did they have a poker night they were late for? A midnight movie for which they didn’t want to miss the opening previews? What the hell? Yeah, yeah, if they flag both teams its off-setting penalties and the game is still over. That’s not the ever-loving point. So what if Michigan had scored? No flags would mean a Michigan TD would’ve stood and Nebraska loses a game they should’ve won?
It was hands down the worst officiated game I have ever seen in my life. Even when these guys did get the calls right they needed a huddle, map, flashlight and four advisors from the Harry Potter School of What the Hell Just Happened and Can I Please Divine My Way to a Chickensh#@ Call.
Anyway, the worst part for me isn’t Michigan losing. It’s the Lloyd Carr vultures that will take this tasty morsel and spend the next year picking away at him and the program. I’m so sick of hearing about Michigan’s consistent three loss seasons. I’m sick of hearing how Carr can’t beat Jim Tressell. I’m sick of hearing that Chad Henne, with his whole two years of college ball experience, can’t get it done. He threw for three TDs and ran for another, had a receiver fumble a first down catch and others drop sure first down catches more than once late in the game and it’s pretty hard to fault him for the fumble had while in mid throw. I’m sick of all of it. Because too many Michigan fans seem to forget that the grass ain’t always f@#$@ greener on the other side. Carr recruits well, he runs a clean program and no matter what the insane alum asylum wants to bellyache about Michigan has been a consistent winner on his watch. Over the last ten years the Wolverines are in the top ten in the nation in winning percentage. They’ve been Big Ten champions or co-champions the last two years and several times before that (I can’t find a list at the moment or I’d include the exact number). Oh yeah, and that National Championship thing in 1997.
Oh, but that was like so ten years ago. I’ve read that more than once today. Four words. Shut. The. F@#!. Up. Guess what Mensaboys. Winning a National Championships is f@#%@ hard. It’s not supposed to happen all the time. When was the last time before 1997 the Wolverines won it? Gary Moeller didn’t win one. Bo didn’t win one. And god do people seem to forget how many damn Rose Bowls Bo lost. He practically made losing that game an art form. It doesn’t take away from him being one of the greatest coaches in college football. It’s like we Michigan fans forget that the list of teams that have won it more than once since 1997 is exactly one school long: USC. End of list.
Losing to the Buckeyes sucks. Losing something like four of the last five bowl games sucks. But at some point you also have to take stock and be realistic. Michigan ranked #4 at the start of this season was a fracking pipe dream that set way too many unrealistic expectations. Yeah, this team could easily have been 6-6. They could also easily have been 10-2 with those close losses and end of game collapses against Notre Dame, Minnesota and Ohio State, let alone the Alamo Bowl. That’s college football. The fact that this team rallied from 3-3 even when nearly all of their Big Ten opponents met them while playing their best football of the season is a good reflection of the Michigan coaching staff. Yeah it makes me go crazy they play in such soft zones. Yeah it makes me crazy when Henne throws another crappy pass. But that’s how it goes some years. It doesn’t make them the damn Detroit Lions. If Michigan rolls out another five loss season next year fine. Let the debates rage, but I’m telling you right now it won’t happen. This team has a lot of young talent and a lot of starters coming back. And more importantly, coaches that can routinely win 10 games a season, or even eight or nine are not exactly growing on trees. And to think that a coach like Carr can be easily replaced, well, be careful what you wish for.