Because although it's not the Big 2 Little 8 anymore, it's still important to have a grasp on what's going on in Ann Arbor re: coaching, players, bowls, and Penn State. Why? Because there is a large chance that a) Michigan is coming to your town soon to impact your season or b) Michigan's performance in 2010 will not only affect your BCS ranking, but will also impact who will be coaching against you in 2011. Onto the points:
Michigan Should Beat Penn State This Week, But...
The Vegas line is hovering around 4 and apparently some PSU faithful think it should be hovering around 4...touchdowns. Probably not having Rob Bolden is a major issue, but the injuries across the board is the biggest issue for PSU. One thing that you need to focus on though, not to be a killjoy: Sure, PSU is injury wracked and not really gelling. And yes, Denard Robinson, if healthy as he says he is, will probably get his chunk of yardage and big plays. But what, may I ask, gives you any inclination that Michigan will be able to stop Penn State's offense, backups and all? Michigan made Massachusetts look great on offense and made Indiana look like 2008 Texas Tech.
Rich Rodriguez Needs 8 Wins, Right?
Maybe. I strongly believe that Rich should get another year, no matter the results. The team is behind him and he absolutely couldn't work any harder. You can't have turnover at the coaching position again and again - nothing will ever be accomplished. But people keep telling me that 8 wins is the benchmark for Rich to keep his job. The inability to beat a top tier Big Ten team s grating on many who expect Michigan to play at the Tier 1 level...nationally. Every year. But, hey look, the 800 lb. gorilla in the room is -
Jim Harbaugh, Your Next Michigan Coach?
"The greatest competitor I've ever seen." "Jim can will Michigan to win games they won't win now."- Quotes from people in my office
You're going to hear it from everywhere - "Graham, we won't be starting over with Jim Harbaugh as our coach in 2011. He'll come in, install his system with Rich's players, and win instantly." Do I believe it? Absolutely not, but I guess I wasn't too cognizant when Jim was willing Michigan to bowl wins and upsets in the 1980's. He's the guy though, who most have pegged to take over if and when the UM administration comes calling. These people also have no doubts he'll take the job.
How Does Michigan Stack Up Against It's Tier 1 Peers?
I would consider 10 or so CFB programs to be the Tier 1's. These are monster sized programs with huge budgets, fan bases, possibly some tradition, conference/national titles, etc. It's a short list, populated by: Ohio State, Michigan, USC, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Penn State, Tennessee, Oregon. Michigan's development has been lagging behind it's Tier 1 pals of late.The recruiting has been decent, especially this year on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively though, the recruiting and the development has been lacking. This is especially hard on Michigan fans who were used to big linebackers, athletic secondaries, and bunch of run stuffing d-linemen. When Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, and Chuck Woodson have been replaced by undersized, inexperienced players, eyebrows are going to be continually raised. When Rich gets another year (which I think he will), the defensive players and recruits will be scrutinized even closer than usual.
Michigan's Final Five
OSU is listed as a loss, as is Wisconsin, because I mean hell, if Michigan can't stop the Massachusetts run game, what is John Clay going to do? The Maize and Blue will be favored v. Penn State and Purdue, so we'll call those wins...which leaves us with a home game versus the extremely physical and improving Illini. That will be one of those "shake out the middle" games where we find out who exactly gets to go to the Gator Bowl and who gets the magical Insight.com Bowl. Tell me what you think: Where will the Wolverines end up in 2010? Which UM games are you watching closely?