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The Burden of Expectations: What will it take to jump-start Michigan football? // B1G 2019, Potluck #1

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A weak Ohio State? A scuffling Penn State? A helpful crossover? We talk about if 2019 is the year Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines finally get it done.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Florida v Michigan

We’re almost there—it’s Michigan Week!

With our faithful Michigan writer Brian Gillis piloting the Good Ship OTE through the choppy waters of the Big Ten East, we’re here to learn about all things Michigan Wolverines in the 2019 season. Are the Wolverines the favorites? Is this the season they make the College Football Playoff? Can Jim Harbaugh get over the hump against Ohio State?

Today in the OTE Michigan Potluck, we’re talking vaguely ethnic food in Ann Arbor, the weight of preseason expectations, and how insufferable we’ll be when our wildest football dreams come true.

Question #1: Joanie loves Cha-chipati?

In the process of learning too much about the state of Michigan for this week, I happened upon a weird dish apparently invented (or something) in Ann Arbor, the chipati. From MLive:

“For those of you who don’t know, a Chapati is a salad with all the fixin’s stuffed inside a flat bread. (Apparently, the name derives from the Indian flatbread of the same name. Note: There is nothing remotely Indian about any Chapati I have ever eaten.) At Pizza House in Ann Arbor, you can get this concoction both spelled wrong and with their own special Chipati sauce. Or, as Judge Reinhold says in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, “thousand island dressing”. OK, we’ll give them “spicy thousand island dressing”.

But if you want the best of the best, go to Tower Inn on Cross Street in Ypsilanti. Their bread is FRESH. They DO NOT skimp on the veggies. And you can get the thing made up pretty much any way you want it. Also, they skip the pretense of any sort of special sauce and offer you... um... whatsitcalled... salad dressing.”

So I’ll ask you, writers: (1) Wouldja?, and (2) Do you have a particular soup or salad that you enjoy more when turned into sandwich form?

Jesse: By now, I think you can tell that (a) yes, I’ll eat pretty much anything, and (b) no, none of this sounds specifically great. Anyhow, I think the interesting thing here is that this isn’t really an invention so much as a ripoff of a pretty good dish, but whatever. As for a soup or salad that is better in sandwich form, I’m going with the classic Caesar in that, look, that dressing is delicious, but throw chicken, lettuce, tomato, and some sort of provolone and put it on a nice ciabatta, and we’re in business.

Brian: A chipati? Or is it a chapati? Either way, bring it on.

Candystripes: Salad? Hard pass. And the only soup that gets better when sandwichified is ice cream. Fight me.

Boilerman: Sure I would try it. Not a huge fan of Thousand Island Dressing but would see. Soup as a sandwich? What kind of witchcraft are we pulling off here?

MNW: I’ve made this french onion soup sandwich before--minus the mayo and light on the mustard, along with a proprietary blend of spices (including just a hint of brown sugar). It’s basically a fancied-up grilled cheese. And it’s very good.

As far as the chapati/chipati goes? No. I already am picky when it comes to salad, and the idea of just stuffing one willy-nilly inside some bread (even if it’s good) holds little appeal for me.

Thumpasaurus: I am much more prepared for a catastrophic upheaval of the world as we know it than all of y’all, because I’ll eat anything at least once, and in such an event, the picky eaters will be naturally selected first. That sounds fairly tasty. Guess what though, chicken salad and tuna salad are salads. As such, they’re the clear-cut top choices.

Andrew K: I pledge my banners in support of the Candystripes Manifesto.

WSR: In spite of my willingness to try nearly everything, this is a hard no. I would not want to try it at all. I want my salads to be salads. If I wanted carbs with my salad, I’d get either a breadstick or some croutons. I thought I should expect more from Michigan, but that’s what I get for having faith in anyone or anything. And no, salads or soups should not be made into sandwiches. They’re salads and soups. Sandwiches are sandwiches, and things that are not sandwiches should stay as salads, soups, and hot dogs.

BrianB2: I would try this, if it was given to me for free, I would not pay for such a thing, because as it is described, I very much doubt that I would enjoy it. I am not even sure how to approach the second part of this question?....I much prefer my New England Clam Salads in chowder form?

Creighton: Yes I’d obviously eat it, but if we’re bestowing sandwichood upon a salad, then I’m officially demanding we revisit the lowly hot dog.

Beez: So a chapati is an open-faced wrap? I’d definitely eat that and I’m worried I’m missing something other than “sports guys don’t want to eat vegetables” given the level of pushback around here. At a friend’s wedding a few years back they served grilled cheese and tomato soup bites and they were fantastic. I don’t exactly remember how they worked, but I’m counting that as a soup-into-a-sandwich.

MC: I actually would not get this. I looked up a picture of a “chipati” and man, what a waste of that bread. I am not against knocking out a salad, but that bread should have, like, lamb and tzatziki and feta in it. If you ordered that blind and it was brought to you with the open face looking away from you, you’d think you’re in for a treat. Then it throws you its best romaine punch and you flashback to opening your last gift on Christmas Day only to find that Mom got you a shirt with your name embroidered on it.

Question #2: Do dreams come true?

Ten and three. Ten and three. Eight and five. Ten and three.

Each year Michigan football and its vast hype machine rev up, and for three consecutive years we’ve surveyed the wreckage of expectations. A bowl collapse to Florida State. A bowl collapse to South Carolina. A beating at the hands of Florida--Florida!--of all teams.

And here we go again. 20 writers in the Cleveland.com poll chose Michigan to finish first in the Big Ten East, with 17 tabbing the Wolverines to win it all. At NCAA.com, the Wolverines are ranked 6th, and they were so convincing in their spring game that USA Today moved them from 7th to 6th. Yes, like the buzz of mosquitoes after a hard summer rain or a cloud of grasshoppers in Las Vegas, so too does Michigan descend once again on a football season.

So we ask you, writers: With a new OC, a first-year coach at Ohio State, and a little stagnation at Michigan State and Penn State, could this be the year that Harbaugh and the Wolverines shift out of 2nd-4th gear?

Bonus: What’s your stupidest “can’t get over the hump” story in football, and how insufferable were you/will you be when it ends?

Jesse: The Cleveland.com poll also seems to think Nebraska is going to win the Big Ten West and led to a few analysts saying Darkhorse Natty, so let’s just go ahead and remember that these writers aren’t a ton more informed than our ‘writers’. That said, there are some legitimate cues towards ‘getting over the hump’.

Namely, the recruiting has been ridiculous and I still must concede that Harbaugh has been a pretty good coach. Bowl game disasters aside, his record is 38-14 (.730) which is ridiculous and I would guess that having new pieces everywhere at his rival, it’s at least sort of rational? I’m still of the mindset that it’s ‘nah until you prove it’ but we’re probably getting there, right?

As for worst can’t get over the hump story, it’s Pelini, and he never did so here we are.

Brian: During the Big Ten Media Days earlier this month, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio was asked what makes him think he can win in Columbus this year. His response? Because he’s won there before. Fair enough. The same principle holds here. I’ll believe it when I see it.

And for what it’s worth, it’s not Michigan’s hype machine. Neither Cleveland.com nor USA Today are wholly owned subsidiaries of the University of Michigan … at least not as far as I know.

Candystripes: Is this THE YEAR™? I’ll say sure, but with the caveat that they will tie someone (probably OSU) atop the East and lose on a late touchdown in the Big Ten title game.

As for your bonus question, the entire history of Indiana football ineptitude will merit a massive multi-article blowout if that particular hump does in fact get vanquished before the heat death of the universe (outlook not so good).

Boilerman: There are more than a few people who believe it’s finally the year for Michigan to get over the hump. I’m not so certain they’re wrong. In VSiN’s College Football Guide, there was even a smattering of sports betting journalists who put Michigan into the CFP. They seem to have the pieces but we’ve said that before. I’m going to be reserved and say yes, but there’s a heavy dose of Welllllllll before that.

Thumpasaurus: Oh, they’re FINALLY going to do it this time? Is Michigan the Little Engine That Could? No, I’d say they’re the gigantic convoy of state-of-the-art diesel locomotives that somehow couldn’t quite. There are still two teams (Penn State and Ohio State) that have similar levels of talent. Michigan vs Penn State becomes unpredictable because both coaches tend to sink to the floor of their talent level...EXCEPT...Franklin has won a division title and a conference title. Anyone who thinks Harbaugh is great has to also concede that Franklin is great.

In other words, nothing has changed to convince me they won’t get beaten down by one or both of the similar-talent teams.

WSR: MICHIGAN BACK? Well hell, it’s going to be a great year for journalists looking for an easy story if both Texas and Michigan are back as National and Regional powers, respectively. But I’m not going to bite too hard on Michigan being a Division and Playoff contender until I see it, and a big part is due to the offense. Show me that a new Michigan OC will actually change things instead of being lipstick on a pig and maybe I’ll start to think it’s possible for them to beat Ohio State.

And stupidest “can’t get over the hump story” for Minnesota? Pretty nice timing of it being Michigan week for this question. I can’t say much more without starting to twitch other than that Chris Perry just picked up 10 more yards on yet another screen pass.

Andrew K: At this point, I can’t decide which Team X Is Bakk tagline is more beaten to death - Texas, Miami, or Michigan. A lot of these national writers seem to be overlooking the star power lost from the defense. I get that they’ve recruited well, but uhhhh so has Ohio State, so has Penn State, and even MSU has a ton more experience. Offensively, they have player continuity in a completely new scheme which could work great! Or it could work the way 90% of new schemes do, which is to say it needs a year or two before the players really know it. Look, if we had access to the traffic data on Michigan Football Offseason Glowing Review articles, we’d have our answer for why they get written year after year for a program whose most recent conference title could be in driver’s ed. That’s it, that’s all.

As for a team that just couldn’t quite get there, hoo boy sit back and let me tell you about the 21st century history of the Detroit Baseball Tigers. They went from nearly setting the single season loss record to the World Series (which they did not win) in just 3 years, and then spent the next decade mortgaging the future and paying through the nose for big-time free agents pushing open a championship window built around Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera that just never came to be, and now we’re in the second Year Zero of the aftermath because of just how barren the farm system was left because of all those years of being a buyer. It’s also a nice little twist of the knife that the exec who oversaw most of this, Dave Dombrowski, was jettisoned for unclear reasons, went to Boston, reacquired a bunch of Detroit’s players, and instantly won a ring with them. Baseball: why even bother?

Creighton: Jim Harbaugh is Bo Pelini East, and that hump’s going to be there a while. As for my own experience: C.J. Fiedorowicz was always my biggest “what if” player. He had the physical tools to be one of the greatest tight ends to come out of Iowa City, but a combination of injuries and an offensive coordinator that inexplicably refused to use his best weapons kept C.J. from ever really taking off. Tony Moeaki had similar, if not worse, injury problems, but was still able to shine whenever he was actually on the field.

BrianB2: The cards seem to be falling in Michigan’s favor this year, and I would not be surprised to see Michigan win the Big Ten East and subsequently the Big Ten Championship. Losing to Urban Meyer led Ohio State teams, while frustrating to Michigan fans I am sure, isn’t exactly choking.

Maryland football doesn’t really have any attainable goals to speak of, the silver lining being that they don’t really have any humps to get over. Getting through an entire season with the same quarterback, maybe? In other news, I have been a Washington Capitals fan for sometime now. I hear that they used to have an issue with getting out of the second round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in tandem with struggling against a certain team from western Pennsylvania. Their playoff struggles were outright remarkable really, but that is all ancient history now.

Beez: If Michigan can’t with this season with a new-HC and new-QB Ohio State, and no-more Trace Doucheface at Penn State, and Mark Dantonio still at MSU...then Harbz needs to retire. If he can’t win the division this year, he’s never going to do it.

Wisconsin’s last remaining football humps both involve the playoff, right? Making it and winning it. Sure it’s been a little bit, but they’ve already won a conference championship game and a Rose Bowl. If we’re turning this into a “get over the hump AGAIN” situation, then let’s say winning a conference championship, though.

MC: If I learned anything following basketball around here, it’s never The Year.

Poll

Is THIS the Wolverines’ year?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    No, but Harbaugh’s safe.
    (153 votes)
  • 6%
    No, and it’ll cost Jimmy his job.
    (17 votes)
  • 33%
    Yeah, it just might be.
    (84 votes)
254 votes total Vote Now