Edson: Wolverine Fans Are Getting Short-Changed
College football is big business.
That’s why I’m scratching my head after seeing Michigan’s football team totally dominated by Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener on Saturday, 35-14.
In fact, if you go back to last November and U-M’s last Big Ten game, a blowout loss to Ohio State, you have to be shaking your head.
The bottom line is this: The math just doesn’t add up for the Wolverines.
Here’s what I mean:
* Michigan is paying head coach Jim Harbaugh $9 million a season. That kind of pay usually means a program is winning conference championships and contending for national championships.
* The Wolverines continually land supposed 4-star and 5-star recruits. That means they are getting some of the best players in the country. Either the scouting services are missing the mark on how good these players are or the players are under-achieving.
* We were told in the off-season – after that embarrassing loss to Ohio State last November – that the Wolverines were going to get faster with their skill position players and have more punishing offensive and defensive lines. None of that was on display against Wisconsin. In fact, the offensive line got pushed around all afternoon by the Badgers. U-M wound up with only 40 yards rushing.
* U-M coaches were continually touting their new schemes – both on offense and defense. “You’ll see a big difference this year,” they promised us in the off-season. Yet, we are three games into the season and either the schemes have failed miserably or the players are not executing them. Chances are, it’s both.
* When Shea Patterson took over as Michigan’s starting quarterback last year, U-M fans were understandably excited about finally having a signal-caller who could produce. At times, Patterson has looked sharp. But more times than not, he looks very average. Again, the numbers just aren’t adding up.
So what does all this mean? I think U-M fans, college football experts and everyone else who follows the game can now admit that they were being fed numbers that don’t add up. Something is very wrong when big numbers like this don’t pay off.
This could all be justified if Michigan fans were content with a winning record every year and a bowl game at a warm January site.
But when the numbers lie: $9 million for a head coach; 4-and-5 star recruits; a sold out home stadium every game and promises of a stronger, faster team fall flat in the fifth year – well, it’s time for the number crunchers to take a serious look at their product.
To me, it appears Wolverine fans are getting short-changed.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.