As we look at the state of football in Michigan, I will examine the college and professional ranks and compare it to other times. At its peak in the 1950’s, MSU was winning national titles and the Lions NFL championships. At its worse, Michigan and Eastern Michigan were awful and the Lions went winless.
University Of Michigan: This is a program that is in transition, maybe transitioning again. They have missed a bowl two years in a row which robs teams of extra practice time, revenue and recruiting. They have some promising youngsters but their defense is losing a lot in graduation and the NFL. I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with Tate Forcier as I do if he wasn’t a stuck up whiny arrogant jerk. I never treated Chad Henne the way I treat Forcier. And don’t say “he’s just a freshman”, you crowned him a savior, so deal with it. This is a program that needs to make up its mind if RichRod is the next Bo or your John L. Smith. Your AD is gone. I think that RichRod will have to go at least 8-4 to keep his job. That being said, you don’t want to turn into Notre Dame and fire a coach every three years.
Michigan State: Man, where do I begin. I love Dantonio. I believe he is the right man for the job. I am in no way calling for his job, or even Narduzzi’s. But there were some serious coaching mistakes this year. I’ll make my stance very clear. I would have in no way allowed Glenn Winston back on the team this year. I would have redshirted him, allowed him to come back to school and the team and practiced to stay in shape and see what he can do if he was on his best behavior the whole year. I don’t care how talented he is. He was our best kick returner (until Keyshawn Martin came around) and the toughest power runner. Now he is kicked off the team. Now he is an embarrassment to the entire program, along with Jenrette. He should have never been given a second chance, and I have been saying that since he was reinstated. The QB situation was horribly mishandled and cost the Spartans at least the Central game. Putting Nichol in after Cousins made a highlight play is stupid. They shuttled in with little or no reasoning behind it. After Cousins separated himself from Nichol it got a little better but not much. The secondary was atrocious all year with that being Dantonio’s specialty that’s upsetting. The team had many boneheaded penalties and too many penalties as well. That’s not supposed to happen to a disciplined team like MSU wants to be. At least we made a bowl and made it three in a row. At least we beat Michigan and most of the teams we should, and we have a young core of very good talent to build around. But this year was disappointing.
Western Michigan: Talk about disappointment. We went from 9-3 with a great team led by a veteran QB and RB to a 5-7 team that couldn’t beat anybody decent. We did win some close games and play well at home but lost two games we should have won that would have lifted us to a bowl. The Indiana game was tough because we were so close to winning. The rest of our losses were brutal and you could tell how young our team was. Now next year will prove difficult with a road trip to Notre Dame and Hiller and West graduating. Maybe some of Cubit’s recruits can come through and get this team back to a bowl game.
Eastern Michigan: You guys were awful before and are still awful now. Maybe Ron English can turn this around and win more than 3 games a year. I don’t know what this team has to do besides get better recruits, but if they are going to strike, now is the time, with the rest of the MAC West taking a step back.
Central Michigan: State Champs by far. They beat every team in the state besides Michigan, and I have confidence they would win even in Ann Arbor. The upset MSU with a thrilling come from behind field goal after a miraculous onside kick recovery. They took care of business against the pathetic Eagles and on the road against arch rival WMU. This season will turn out to be what many people thought, a trip to the MAC Championship game against Ohio and a chance a better bowl than the Pizza Pizza! Bowl has them contracted to. But this season was one lost, as Dan Lefevour should have produced more. There is no reason this team couldn’t be like Ball State last year and go into this game undefeated and make a very solid bowl. Still a great season for a program that has really become the best in the MAC.
Professional: The Rampage folded with the rest of the Arena Football league and Michigan was not given another franchise in the new launch league. The Kalamazoo Xplosion, the most successful professional team in Michigan, folded. Now we are left with just the Lions.
Detroit Lions: The season is not over technically, but we have found out a lot about the Lions. They are more talented and are better coached. They have a good GM that drafts well (so far, finding gems Levy and Brown) and will pull off moves trading and waiver wire to make this team better. Stafford and Pettigrew have looked very good at times, battling through injuries, and Delmas looks like a future Pro-Bowler. This team just needs more playing time for its young players and more talent overall. A few more drafts and this could be a playoff team. I haven’t believed in a QB, Head Coach and GM in oh, forever in Detroit. It could be a couple more tough seasons but we should see more and more progress until this team is winning.
Overall: The state is on the way up. Central needs to keep winning and Eastern, Western and Michigan need to consistently win and get better. MSU needs to string together more successful seasons or it will be no more a threat in the Big Ten then Northwestern. Do we really need an Arena team? In a word, no. The Lions need a lot more work but seem to be heading in the right direction. The state of football is much better than last year and should improve next year as well.