Patience isn’t something you usually find among fans of big programs fallen upon hard times. The hope is extremely high at Michigan where Jim Harbaugh is in charge of changing the momentum, and reality is sinking in for Texas fans who thought Charlie Strong was going to turn things around in just one season.
Michigan are coming off of the Brady Hoke hangover. He had one good season (11-2, 2011, including winning the Sugar Bowl), but that was it. He recruited poorly and couldn’t turn the talent he did get into meaningful contributions. Michigan went 8-5, 7-6 and crashed to 5-7 last year. However, as the Texas lesson might teach us, things can get worse.
Jim Harbaugh is a very good coach. We saw so at both Stanford and not too far away from there, with the San Francisco 49ers. But he needed time changing things for The Cardinal, and he did more of inner tweaking for the 49ers than completely turn around the team. Michigan aren’t overflowing in talent, and as good as a coach might be, finding the right players often takes more than one recruiting tour or even two.
Charlie Strong is finding that, or maybe those who were sure he’d bring Texas back to its 2001-2009 days, when the Mack Brown coached Longhorns made two national championship games (winning one) and won 101 games. Since 2009, Texas are just 36-28, including an abysmal finish to last season; just 6-7, getting crushed by Arkansas in the Alamo Bowl.
This season? Michigan play at Utah to start the season and that can create a very bad tailspin. Harbaugh can ask Strong about his BYU game later on. Texas have Notre Dame on the road to start the season, and the Big 12 is a gauntlet, at least for them, to go through. Great success doesn’t seem to be in the cards for both programs, starting the season unranked, something that’s likely to remain when it’s over.