Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Best Years

I have a premise I am pondering, but before I write up my research on it, allow me to pose the question to you, the reader.

Strictly from a football standpoint, and nothing else, if you could pick any four year period in Michigan history since 1968 to have been a Michigan student, what would it be and why?


Nick said...


Michigan went 11-0 in the 1971 regular season before falling in the Rose Bowl 13-12 to Stanford (a game Bob Ufer claimed Michigan would have won 99/100 times and that "fate was unkind to us out there").

The next 3 years Michigan would go 30-2-1 under QB Dennis "The Menace" Franklin (one of my favorite UM quarterbacks). Unfortunately, both of the losses and the lone tie were to Ohio State. Also, Michigan would never return to the Rose Bowl during this span, as OSU was selected each year (including the infamous 1973 10-10 tie).

So while I would have only won The Game once, it still was by far the best 4-year stretch in Michigan football in my view. With that many victories, you can't go wrong. Plus I went oh-for-OSU during my 4 years at Michigan, so even beating them once would have been nice.

As a close second to this span, I'd go with the next 4 years (1975-78) under QB Rick Leach, as he brought a whole new dimension to the Michigan offense (and his record wasn't too shabby either). Overall, I think the 1970's were one of the best decades in the history of Michigan football.

Joe said...

It's sad, but having just finished "War as They Knew It", I really think I'd pick an era that was defined by success against a good-to-great OSU team.

'75-'78 (with Rick Leach et al) is definitely up there. I'd also consider pretty much any four-year period during the Cooper years, even though (to be fair) '97 was really the only outstanding year there -- the rest was a bunch of middling 8-4, 9-3ish seasons. But '97 also had a great lineup -- Woodson, Griese, the all-name team of Steele, Sword, and Swett, etc.

Interesting question.

Unknown said...

A great question. My answer would be 96-99. 3-1 against OSU, 3-1 in Bowl games, a National title, 2-1 vs. SEC. Also, 97-00 is a pretty good span as well.

matt said...

i'd agree with casey since you could tack on those hockey titles as well.

Ross said...

I'm partial, because (as does everyone) I loved all four years I was there ('94-'98); Others have recounted portions of this period in their answers, and it is hard to argue for their supremacy over any other period, but here is a short list of why '94-'98 were such great/memorable/historically significant years to be a student:
1994 hail mary loss to kordell stewart & colorado (followed by '97 home victory over CU)
1994 victory over ND 26-24
1997 victory over ND 21-14 at home
1995 Pigskin classic (comeback victory over Virginia) - rushed the field
1995 5-0 victory over Purdue (terrifically horrible game in atrocious conditions (freezing rain) but quite memorable)
1995 victory over OSU 31-23
1996 victory over OSU 13-9
1997 victory over PSU 38-7 to get to #1
1994, '96 & '97 victories over MSU (3 of 4 as student)
1997 victory over OSU 20-14 (+ Woodson Heisman-sealing game) - rushed the field in final home game as senior
1997 B10 champs
1997 rose bowl champs
1997 Nat'l Championship
1997 Heisman
1996 Nat'l Championship in Hockey
1998 Nat'l Championship in Hockey
1998 Hobey Baker

Anyway, again, I'm sure everyone has incredible and indelible memories from their 4 years, and a case can be made for the various periods (esp. '75-'78) folks have already listed, but I really could not have imagined or scripted a more memorable and historic four years to attend UofM as an undergrad than '94-'98.

A senior year that culminates in national championships in both football and hockey, plus heisman and hobey bakers for Woodson & Morrison was just tremendous...

eager to read more stories from other fellow grads...

Aram said...


You get the incredible '88 football season, a Rose Bowl win, Bo's final season in '89, an NCAA basketball championship, Jim Abbott winning a gold medal, Desmond Howard, the freshman, pre-vacated records Fab Five, 4 wins over Ohio State and the dawning of the John Cooper era, 3 Rose Bowls, a Gator Bowl win... What am I leaving out?

Jeremy said...

Football only! Read the directions! :)

Edward Vielmetti said...

Only four years to be a Michigan student? It took me six.

The People's Blogger said...

That's an easy one. 1985-88.

Your freshman year Michigan, having come off a 6-6 '84 campaign, starts out unranked then proceeds to go 10-1-1, allowing just FIVE touchdowns all season from such future NFL QBs as Chuck Long, Steve Beuerlein, Stan Gelbaugh, Jim Everett, Jack Trudeau and Mike Tomczak. Then U-M beats OSU on a 77-yard Harbaugh-to-Kolesar bomb in the final minutes and spanks Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl to finish #2 in both national polls.

Your sophomore season Michigan wins its first 9 games, beating Notre Dame, Florida State, MSU and Iowa. Then after being upset by Minnesota and written off in Columbus, your QB Harbaugh guarantees a win and delivers, with the help of 200+ yards from Jamie Morris, beating Earle Bruce's Buckeyes to earn the trip to Pasadena.

The Wolverines weren't so great your junior year, but they did beat Alabama in January on yet another dramatic Kolesar catch, on fourth down no less, in the final seconds. And Jamie Morris became the #1 rusher in Wolverine history.

However, you get redemption your senior year, as 1988 saw another run for the roses. This time it came with victory in Pasadena, Michigan's first win over USC in 40 years, 22-14. Leroy Hoard was a horse, unstoppable all year long. On the way there you stomped MSU and Ohio (the latter being perhaps the most exciting game in the last 40 years of football's greatest rivalry). Watching Bo hoist the Rose Bowl trophy after dedicating it to a great band of Wolverines would be the perfect send off to your senior year.

All told, in your four-year plan Bo's Michigan teams went 3-1 vs OSU, 3-1 vs MSU & 2-2 vs the Irish. You beat the likes of Florida State, USC, Nebraska and Alabama. You went 3-1 in bowl games, including wins in Pasadena and Tempe. You saw Bo beat the likes of Lou Holtz, Bobby Ross, Bobby Bowden and Tom Osborne. And you would have witnessed a mere FIVE conference losses over your entire college career (to OSU, MSU, Iowa, Minnesota and Indiana).

And yes I know it's only football, but watching the basketball team win its first and only national championship the month you got your diploma gave you an extra sweet graduation gift.