When you talk about the 2016 season with Michigan Football fans, you’ll likely spend very little time discussing anything other than “the spot”. The Wolverine faithful mostly view 2016 as a rare opportunity that was stolen away by a bad call on a late-November cold afternoon in Columbus. Most Michigan fans still argue that if the referees had just gotten the call right, Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Football program would be on a completely different trajectory than they currently are. For many within the Michigan fan base, the 2016 season represents the one that got away.
I wholeheartedly disagree.
For me, 2016 represents the standard by which the Michigan Football program should be held to. It was the first time in a long time that Michigan was legitimately feared within its own conference and viewed as a legitimate national title contender. The Wolverines spent all but two weeks of the 2016 season ranked within the AP top five, entering Columbus for the final game of the season ranked No. 3 in the nation and with a clear path to the Big Ten championship game. It was exactly where Michigan fans should expect the football program to be heading into that pivotal final week of the season.
Given all of the resources Michigan has at its disposal, it’s hard to imagine why so many within the fan base would accept anything less than what occurred in 2016. Michigan routinely signs one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, has one of the highest paid coaches in all of college football and has some of the best facilities you’ll find anywhere in the country. With the type of resources that most other programs could only dream of having, why on Earth would Michigan fans ever settle for a second- or even third-tier football program?
It doesn’t matter who or what the Michigan Football program has been traditionally. In fact, the habit of fawning over old traditions might actually be partially responsible for holding Michigan back from realizing its full potential. The days of Bo Schembechler are long gone and hanging onto those old campfire stories of success does nothing to further the program in the new era of college football. What occurred in the 70s, 80s and 90s is completely irrelevant today.
The bottom line is that the Michigan Football program has everything it needs to be a legitimate national championship contender today. The willingness by so many within the fan base to settle for less is confusing to say the least.