|Just that kind of day. (Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press)|
Yet, I really didn't want to do so. There didn't feel like there was much new to say. This, I suppose, had not stopped me before, the archives of the Hoke era would show the widespread repetition of themes, ideas, and even outright echoes of other posts. But this just felt awful and numb. It felt like everything that needed to be said had been said by people wiser than me, more thoughtful than me, or more seasoned than me. The defense was great until it faded a bit at the end. That fade may have been because the offense perpetually let them down. That offense was missing three starting offensive linemen, on its third choice at quarterback, and missing its top receiving playmaker. After being gifted with several turnovers in the first half, the offense returned the favor back to South Carolina, in crucial spots on the field, in critical situations, in all of the worst times, places, and moments. In the final analysis, Michigan lost a game it had a 90% probability of winning in the moments before the Higdon fumble. That's what five turnovers will do.
But I suppose the worst part is that it's the last image of Michigan football we have for eight months, the long desert without college football reminding us of a punt going off a returner's facemask, or a pick in the end zone on a play that could have swung momentum back in Michigan's favor. It's hard to conceptualize (and it purposefully accentuates the most negative concepts), but Michigan is 9-8 in its last 17 games, and yet somehow, this is still an improvement over the Hoke era. I worry on some existential level that Jim Harbaugh is the best coach Michigan football could have for its program and that it may not be enough to achieve the hopes and dreams of the Michigan faithful. There are plenty of examples in the college football landscape, this year alone, of quick turnarounds from dreadful to solid (see Notre Dame and Michigan State as two examples). But if college football lives on hope, it also wallows in self-doubt. One hopes for the turnaround, but fears that it won't happen. Without new data points to interpret, we curve fit based on the mood we're in. For now, the season is over, and perhaps not a moment too soon.