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Thread No. 2: Once you're done spazzing out about an insignificant bowl game and want to focus on the things that are actually worrisome, realize that every major issue facing this program and regime all have one thing in common -- it circles back to Ohio State.
I'm not going to tell you what your expectations should be. If you're benchmarking the program against any B1G program not named Ohio State, Michigan is in a great place. If you're comparing Michigan and Ohio State, it's a very depressing situation on all (on-field) levels.
No matter what you use as your gauge of success, every reasonable measure would be reached if Michigan was competitive with Ohio State. Rivalry game performance? B1G title game appearances? CFP appearances? All of those boxes get checked if Michigan just splits with Ohio State.
"Michigan never makes it to Indy" is common fodder from rival schools. I don't blame them from using it. If I was below .500 in B1G play over the last 3 years, I'd deflect & turn back the clock, too. But that's really just a veiled way of saying "Michigan can't beat Ohio State."
Same goes for "Michigan hasn't made the CFP." If Michigan took care of Ohio State in 2016 (2 v 3 on the road -- all "JT was short" aside, U-M outplayed OSU that day), the Indy and CFP boxes would be checked. Hell, Michigan would've been the No. 2 seed in the playoffs that year.
Michigan had the same chance this year. Again, it had to do it on the road. Obviously the game wasn't like 2016 and Michigan was outclassed, but Michigan was Indy-bound and a double-digit favorite to win the B1G and be CFP-bound if it had taken care of Ohio State on the road.
Simply put: Michigan has not gotten the job done against Ohio State. It's been blown out. It's blown leads. It's lost close games. Any way you can imagine losing to a rival, Michigan has found a way to do it during the Harbaugh Era. And THAT is the biggest issue w/ this program.
If that issue was already solved, all current talking points would be dead. And once that issue is solved, basically every remaining #narrative dies, too. How that happens is easier said than done, and it'll take solving some (/all?) of the lingering issues on offense & defense.
The biggest of these current issues manifested itself in the most recent edition of The Game: Has Ohio State "solved" Don Brown's defense? And will (/can) Brown adjust? He will get every chance to show that he can - and he's earned it. But defensive adjustments DO need to happen.
Just to be clear: Don Brown's defense isn't a "gimmick." It's elite and has been so over an extended period of time at multiple programs. But Brown isn't the only great coach in America. There are great offensive minds, too, and they've shown the blueprint to solve his current D.
Like I said about Michigan's offense in my other thread, the same general tenets can still remain the focal point. Brown likes to succeed w/ aggression. Michigan's D can still thrive off aggression. But when others start zigging while Michigan zags, there needs to be a Plan B.
That Plan B needs to include zone. An openness to adjust. And those looks can be tried out against "lesser" teams. That might mean sacrificing some stats in the name of learning, but if the goal is taking the next step vs. OSU, that's a tradeoff everyone should take w/o blinking.
If there's a time to flip the script against Ohio State, there's no better time than now to do it. There will be a coaching transition. There's likely going to be a QB transition. Michigan will not be going to the Shoe in 2019. We're beyond excuses, but there are none in 2019.
If you're still in the excuses stage when it comes to Ohio State (hand up - I've been guilty of this): The Buckeyes are Michigan's daddy and that will remain the case until Michigan does anything about it. But I still believe this program has the ability to do something about it.
As for non-Ohio St schools, don't get me started. People can selectively frame stats to fit whatever narrative they want to make. But no reasonable person w/o an agenda is going to rank Michigan's program any lower than 2nd when given the choice of Big Ten programs. Exhibits A-C:
-U-M has spent more weeks in the top 10 during Harbaugh Era than all non-Ohio St B1G East teams combined

-The only B1G school w/ more 10-win seasons than U-M during Harbaugh Era: Ohio St

-The only recurring opponent w/ a winning h2h record over U-M during Harbaugh Era: Ohio St
Only Ohio State and Wisconsin have more wins than Michigan during Harbaugh Era. And Michigan v Wisconsin isn't close to apples-to-apples. If you let more than half of the B1G East switch places with Wisconsin, they'd be able to replicate (or exceed) Wisconsin's recent success.
And one other pet peeve: If you're lumping all "big games" together, you either can't differentiate levels of "big," you're just constructing a lazy narrative or you're just plain trolling. Bowl game losses to Florida State, South Carolina and Florida are not "big game" losses.
If you haven't come to realize what the bowl system is by now, then I'm not going to waste anyone's time addressing it. It's a fun trip for players and fans. It provides nice practice opportunities for younger players. But seeing the emotions Saturday's game brought on is absurd.
The amount of people that absolutely lost their minds on social media Saturday because Michigan didn't play well in a bowl game where its two All-American defenders, All-B1G RB and starting tackle sat is staggering. I was (and still am) legitimately embarrassed for a lot of you.
"Big games" are the four losses Michigan has had to Ohio St. And that's what needs to change. But on the "big" scale, U-M's collective 101-27 destruction of Wisconsin/Michigan St/Penn St was far more "big" and important in the grand scheme of things than any bowls -- good or bad.
When it comes down to it, here's our reality: There's a segment of the fanbase whose lifeblood is to complain, panic and spaz out. It's a vocal minority, but wow -- they sure are vocal. They're going to overreact at every turn. At the same time, there are reasons to be concerned.
But if your concern level hits its peak during a Peach Bowl matchup against Florida, maybe log off from Twitter for a bit. Or organize a viewing party where you and fellow miserable people can all take turns high-fiving yourselves over how angry you get watching sporting events.
Michigan isn't Ohio State. And until it can start beating Ohio State, the program will not be at the level that most people (including Jim Harbaugh) probably expect it to be. But let's also keep in mind that Michigan's program is in better shape than its been in a decade plus.

-- No.

Thank you for coming to another one of my Ted Talks. I promise to stop flooding your timelines now.
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