After last night's utterly embarrassing loss to Wisconsin, a 49 to 11 blowout at home that was even worse than that lopsided score would indicate, it looks like the Michigan Football 2020 Preseason Hype Train has finally ground to a halt. The Hype Train is an annual event up in Ann Arbor, a premature ejaculation over the Heisman Trophy and National Championship and victory in The Game that will certainly come this year, because this is their year once again. We're used to the Hype Train down here in Ohio, it's old news and played out and barely warrants a snicker these days, it's all so outrageous and overblown. But this year's loads of loving hype were extra sticky and gooey, and Michigan Man lapped it all up and kept coming back for more. Here are some of the best money shots:
Josh Gattis (Michigan OC): Joe Milton makes NFL highlight reel plays.
Brandon Brown (Sports Illustrated): Compares Joe Milton to Cam Newton and young Big Ben.
Josh Ross (Michigan LB): "We should have the best running back room in the country for sure, no doubt."
Brandon Knapp (Wolverines Wire): Michigan's depth at WR should scare opponents.
Don Brown (Michigan DC): Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye are the best DE duo in the country.
Sam Webb (247 Sports): Compares Aidan Hutchinson to the Bosa Brothers.
Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan DE): Michigan's defensive line will create "matchup nightmares.... It's going to be scary once we get out there."
Shaun Nua (Michigan DL coach): "Kwity Paye is literally a freak."
Josh Ross (Michigan LB): Michigan has the two best linebackers in the country (Cam McGrone and himself).
Cam McGrone (Michigan LB): He is scared for everybody in Michigan's path. Vows revenge on Wisconsin.
Don Brown (Michigan DC): Dax Hill is the best cover guy in the Big Ten.
Isaiah Hole (Wolverines Wire): Predicts that Michigan will be 11-0 entering the Ohio State game.
Whew! Had enough yet? I'm sure that I could find several more pearls of wisdom from the scummers and their media fluffers, but you get the general idea: The 2020 football season wasn't just going to be the annual return to greatness, but maybe the greatest season ever in the storied history of Michigan football. I mean, a Heisman Trophy for Joe Milton throwing to a scary-talented group of receivers ... the high-octane passing game augmented by the deepest running back room in the country ... multiple All Americans on defense including the best DE duo and LB corps in all of college football ... and let's not forget the multi-talented Dax Hill, the savior of Michigan football....
In reality, 2020 was going to be a down year for Michigan football, even by their low standards. Anyone with half a brain (most of BP, for example) was predicting a 4-4 regular season for the Wolverines, maybe 5-3 if things broke their way (and the opening game win at Minnesota seemed like it might just be that break). Then maybe, just maybe, a 6-3 finish if Michigan drew the right opponent in their bowl game. In other words, Michigan's ceiling in 2020 was going to be just another pretty good season that would be just good enough to fuel the 2021 Hype Train....
No one rooted in reality believed that Joe Milton was even an average QB, much less Cam Newton 2.0 ... or that Michigan's RB room was deep, at least not deep with talent ... ditto for Michigan's WR corps, which had one pretty good returning player (Ronnie Bell), but lost three NFL-caliber wide receivers from the 2019 team.
And not even the bluest homer said anything positive about the Wolverines' offensive line. That line was a weak unit in 2019, and it was only going to get weaker after four starters left for the NFL (or selling insurance, as the case may be). The biggest loss was center Cesar Ruiz, a first round draft pick and Michigan's best offensive lineman since Taylor Lewan (himself a first rounder all the way back in 2014).
The 2019 defense got pounded by Wisconsin midseason, and run out of the stadium by Ohio State and Alabama at the end of the year - it was not only slow and unathletic, but also undersized in the trenches, a lethal combination. That defense lost its best pass rusher (Josh Uche), it's only decent linebacker (Khaleke Hudson), and two NFL cornerbacks (Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas). Despite all the hype, the aforementioned Hutchinson & Paye were just guys in 2019, not scary good, not even average against the premium opponents on their schedule. Motor Mouth Josh Ross was returning from an injury that cost him most of his 2019 season, and he wasn't all that good in 2018 when he was healthy. His companion, the equally cocky Cam McGrone, was a five-star underachiever, to go along with fellow five-star underachievers Chris Hinton and Dax Hill (who at least had the good sense to keep their mouths shut while all that jazz was flying around Ann Arbor during the preseason). The rest of the 2020 defense would be comprised of no-names and has-beens and three-star recruits.
Then there's that coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis had no experience and couldn't figure out how to run a smash-mouth speed-in-space hybrid. Defensive coordinator Don Brown had way too much experience and everyone could figure out how to exploit his archaic schemes for big plays. None of the assistants was particularly adept at developing talent, and only a few were even decent recruiters.
And finally, we get to the root of the problem up north: Jim Harbaugh, the quarterback whisperer, the offensive guru, the all-around football genius who has created that baffling mixture of arrogance and apathy that now defines the Michigan football program. As outsiders, as somewhat objective observers, we all knew that Harbaugh was a great football coach who could quickly turn a program around and take it to unaccustomed heights. We also knew that Harbaugh would flame out almost as quickly, losing his team and alienating his superiors in the process. Jim-Bo's crash was inevitable. With a depleted roster and COVID concerns and his own code date about to expire, 2020 seemed like the right time for that crash to occur. And so far, that crash has been spectacular.
October 24th: #18 Michigan travels to #21 Minnesota, and the Wolverines lay an ass whooping on the Golden Gophers, 49-24. Hype Train picking up speed. All aboard! Next stop, Indianapolis!! Playoffs in sight!!!
October 31st: Better hit the brakes on that Hype Train, fellas. #13 Michigan loses at home to unranked Michigan State (who had just gotten pantsed by Rutgers). Blue balls setting in once again. But maybe Sparty is better than we think, and it is a rivalry game after all....
November 6th: A Michigan beat writer (Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press) has the unmitigated gall to suggest that the Michigan players and coaches might just be spending a little too much time smelling their own farts: "Over and over again, the Wolverines injected a big dose of 'rat poison' — Alabama coach Nick Saban’s term for excessive hype — into their veins.... Losses can happen, hope turns to disappointment, and hype becomes empty promises. This is Michigan football in Week 3, recovering from its own toxic mix of rat poison."
November 7th: Hype Train slowing down about a thousand miles shy of Indianapolis. #23 Michigan (how the Hell were they still ranked at this point?) travels to #13 Indiana, and the Hoosiers beat the Wolverines for the first time since the Reagan Era (1987, to be exact). And it's not even a close game or a lucky win, but a 38-21 demolition, a curb stomping from start to finish. Then again, Indiana was ranked in the top-15, and the Hoosiers really do have some talent on both sides of the ball....
November 14th: Hype Train dead in its tracks, engine on fire, passengers fleeing. #13 Wisconsin invades Michigan, pulls its own train on Ann Arbor, rapes and pillages the Big House, leaving the plunger firmly implanted in Harbaugh's backside. The final score: 49 to 11, the 38-point beatdown being Michigan's largest loss at home since 1935 (a 38-0 pasting by your very own Ohio State Buckeyes).
The Wolverines have now lost five of their last six games dating back to the end of the 2019 season, with four of those losses being unquestioned blowouts: 17 points to Indiana; 19 points to Alabama; 29 points to Ohio State; and 38 points to Wisconsin. Harbaugh has crashed the Michigan football program, and he has done so much more successfully than I even thought possible. When he leaves after this season – and he has to leave then, if not sooner – his successor will inherit a program that will be even lower than it was at the end of the RichRod era. And our schadenfreude will be at an all-time high as we watch the Michigan football program gagging on a toxic combination of jizz juice and rat poison. Bon appétit!
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