I’ll admit, I wasn’t hoping for the result of the game played last night that came to pass. But when a performance as impressive and as definitive as those displayed by the Michigan Wolverines are seen, a rational-thinking and objective fan can’t help but be impressed.
THE ATHLETIC’s Chris Branch summed it all up succinctly in his newsletter this morning:
Consider the arc of the 2023 Michigan Wolverines:
- They began the year with massive pressure. A loaded roster returned to a school that had just choked away a Playoff appearance with a coach who’d annually looked into an NFL return. For many teams, that’s doom.
- That coach, Jim Harbaugh, then caught six games’ worth of suspensions, the second batch coming via a sign-stealing scandal that rocked the sport for most of the season. Ramifications from both suspensions are still pending, even if Harbaugh declared everyone “innocent” in his post-championship comments.
- The Wolverines went 15-0 anyway. Last night’s 34-13 blowout win over Washington was ugly at times, but it was clear from the game’s first 10 minutes that Michigan was better up front on both sides of the ball. The Wolverines “ran the damn ball” for 303 yards and pressured Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. all night. Penix looked like a shadow of the guy who torched Texas in the semifinal.
The more parochial local media, such as MLIVE.COM’s Aaron McMann, added to the narrative:
After a rollercoaster season that saw NCAA probes, its coach suspended twice and plenty of critics, Michigan made sure its final act was most impressive.
The Wolverines entered Monday night’s game with the No. 1 -ranked defense, both in points and yards allowed, and finished as such. In a battle of elite offense versus elite defense, it was Michigan and its bend-don’t-break defense full of disguises, varied looks and changing personnel that won out.
This season will be talked about for a long time. Folks will analyze it, critique it and contort it. But in the end, Michigan emerged as the kings of college football.
And, honestly, that’s all that needs to be said.
I’m consistently stunned at the inability of so many so-called fans to at least acknowledge when someone other than their favorite team does something well, let alone extraordinary.
Some of them have so much derangement and displacement that they can’t even fully spell out the name of the state their arch-rival represents.
Apparently, some of them even have tentacles to the management of the Big Ten conference.
Plenty of them despise Harbaugh. YAHOO! SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel would like to set them straight:
Nine years ago, Jim Harbaugh left the NFL and returned to college football with a single focus — to restore a then-struggling Michigan program.
He immediately began throwing elbows and inviting controversies. He set up satellite recruiting camps. He accused the SEC of cheating. He held sleepovers at prospects’ houses. He walked around asking, “Who’s got it better than us?” even when he was losing three games a year, including to Ohio State.
He was odd and unorthodox and unusual. It made a lot more sense when he could only manage to get Michigan back to respectable, but far from the scene that played out here late on Monday.
There was Harbaugh, standing on a makeshift stage under falling national championship confetti. A man who almost never appears comfortable was suddenly perfectly content, silently scanning all that was in front of him — hugging players and beaming parents, proud alums and dancing fans. And an entire sport beneath him.
There will be plenty of time for potential penalties to be dealt. It’s highly likely that by then Harbaugh will be gone to greener pasture in the NFL. Plenty of teams need a coach with this kind of ability. Two more openings, in highly desirable cities, opened up yesterday. We’ll see how next year’s team feels when they’re saddled with these reality checks. Ask some members of the 2007 USC Trojans, for example.
But as the partisan McMann reminds, Michigan emerged as the kings of college football.
So please, detractors, especially those of a certain team. Today, M is the maize and blue letter, not the scarlet letter. And O, they deserve your acknowledgement and praise.
Hail to the victors. And grow up.