SO MUCH has been invested in the narrative that Jim Harbaugh is inevitably going to take Michigan to the football promised land, where Big Ten titles and playoff appearances are common place. Included as part of that narrative is the expectation that he’ll bring Michigan to at least parity with Ohio State and that MSU will be reduced to an afterthought.
What if it doesn’t happen, though? What if after all the investment of energy and hope and want-to, Michigan can’t get over the hump? There’s a school of thought that this is somehow the end for Michigan State, that this past weekend was the last time they’ll ever go into a game against a Harbaugh led Michigan team with a talent advantage. Based on the facts, though, why should anyone believe that some massive sea change is coming? Michigan State continues to recruit at its highest level in decades and shows no signs of slowing down. Mark Dantonio’s not going anywhere and it would seem to be unlikely that he suddenly loses his ability to both identify and develop talent. With Ohio State, you’re talking about a virtual guarantee of highly talented rosters and another head coach who’s shown an unquestioned ability to develop that talent over time.
Can Michigan get better? Of course, and I think they will. Thing is, that doesn’t mean the end result necessarily changes as a bottom line, even if the games are more competitive. What if Harbaugh’s Michigan is just a good program which only occasionally proves capable of winning a division, never mind all the rest? What if, God forbid, he can’t even pull THAT off? What then for the psyche of the Worst Fanbase In America?
Nothing’s guaranteed in life. This is particularly so when the competition is fierce and the other guys can match you on every level that matters. What happens to Michigan Man then, when his messiah proves false? Can Michigan Man keep on living? Does he have to give up watching sport entirely, as so many of them wailed on Saturday night? I don’t think those folks want to think very deeply about questions like these but they should.