Friday, September 09, 2011

For Michigan against Notre Dame, the size of the result must equal the size of the event

It’ll be more than a football game Saturday in Ann Arbor when Michigan hosts Notre Dame. It’ll be an event. The first ever night game at the Big House. The Wolverines will break out their legacy uniforms, which I found to be laughably busy at first considering how perfect Michigan’s football traditional uniforms are - until I saw Maryland’s the other night. Now Michigan’s legacy uniforms don’t seem so bad.
Desmond Howard will be honored on the 20th anniversary of his huge catch against ND. The ESPN GameDay crew will be there. Great stuff.
But whether it is perceived as a gimmick or an event will depend on this:
The Wolverines play on the field.
Notre Dame is not a Top 25 team, but neither is Michigan. The Fighting Irish were beaten at home last Saturday by South Florida, and Irish coach Brian Kelly going ballistic on the sidelines drew more attention than anything else - even Mother Nature’s strikes. Notre Dame has become the biggest enigma in college football.
Michigan’s problems, I feel, can be put on making the wrong decision to hire Rich Rodriguez as head coach following the departure of Lloyd Carr. Period.
Notre Dame doesn’t have that excuse. Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, Charlie Weis - the list of decorated coaches who failed in South Bend is getting long. And Notre Dame has every advantage - maybe even more - Michigan does when it comes to a foundation to built upon.
Kelly is an excellent coach, and Notre Dame closed strong last season. Then this - and already a QB change from Dane Crist to Tommy Rees.
But in truth, everybody has been beating Notre Dame lately. Michigan, too. Rodriguez was 2-1 against Notre Dame.
The challenge for Brady Hoke and Michigan is making sure the result equals the event. A loss would be a step back. How couldn’t it be?
I was impressed with Michigan against Western Michigan. The defensive coaching staff put the right players in the right places at the right times. That’s how turnovers happen. They are not accidents. I think Denard Robinson is a truly great player, and you could see improvement offensively across the board.
But this is a much bigger stage. And in the infancy of Hoke’s program, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is the Wolverines play a great game, not just stage a big event.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home