Michigan’s football outlook for the 2016 season. If everything goes according to plan under Jim Harbaugh, this will be as much fun as it gets.
This is it Michigan fans – especially the younger ones. This is as enjoyable as this is going to get.
Now the expectations are back again after seeing what life is like as a perennial also-ran. That means the stakes are higher with Michigan back to being a win-or-bust type of program. That’s good – that’s what Wolverine fans want – but it also means things get more intense as the Jim Harbaugh era really gets rolling. This is still just the beginning, but now, after seeing just how quickly everything could turn around, the payoff is expected to be there.
But even if all the Maize and Blue types are hoping for a Big Ten title waiting at the end of this year’s rainbow, and just in case there isn’t, this is the fun time with the joyful hope of what could and should be coming next. The ascension into something amazing is when it’s most exciting to be a fan – this is Christmas Eve for you, Michigan, and if all goes according to plan, the presents are waiting for you under the tree.
From here on, though, losing is going to be gut-wrenching. Once again, Michigan people, you’re entering back into the “zero, fun, sir” world of Alabama, Ohio State, and the hot teams of the moment who’ll be under the uber-stress of having their years ruined by not winning something big. Either you have confetti raining down on you, or you don’t.
Years and years and years of consistent Big Ten title-contending greatness under Bo Schembechler, and later Lloyd Carr, spoiled a fan base fully invested in the whole Leaders and Best thing. But this is the right guy at the helm with the talent, the attitude, and the ability to be even better than the legendary Schembechler.
This is where the method meets the madness. Harbaugh might be eccentric, but he’s also an innovative genius in terms of working the system to his advantage. SEC programs aren’t ticked at him for abusing the whole satellite camp thing; SEC programs are ticked at him because he figured it all out, and now he’s going to make everyone else work that much harder.
As unconventional as Harbaugh might be, it works. The only people who matter in all of this are the children he’s trying to recruit to play football for him and the players he’s dealing with once his guys are there. They’re buying in. They’re seeing five years of Harbaugh in a suddenly-cool program looking like a lot more fun than almost any place else.
Soon, others will try to be as wacky and think outside the box just like Harbaugh, but who’ll have the same coaching chops? Who’ll have the resume, the name, and the all-timer program to try making this all work?
But this all only works if the really, really big wins start coming. For a program and a fan base waiting to explode, those can’t start coming soon enough.
This year’s team will have another amazing defense, another good running game, and an even better passing attack, mainly because the veteran receiving corps should be the best in the Big Ten. But for all the positives and all the really big things to get excited about – including starting out the season with five straight games at home and six of the first seven – the season all depends on three things: at Michigan State, at Iowa, at Ohio State.
Next year it really will be win-or-bust for Michigan and Harbaugh – especially if they lose to Michigan State and/or Ohio State again. But considering the coach, the program, and everything in place, this could very well be another Nick Saban Alabama situation with the program getting close to greatness in Year Two before going on a historic run.
It’s not a crazy dream if you’re Michigan. It’s not crazy to think the crazy head coach might be able to pull it off.