- Todd Needle/Daily
By Alejandro Zúñiga, Managing Sports Editor
Published August 18, 2014
It remains among the darkest days in Michigan football history.
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On Sept. 1, 2007, the Division I-AA Appalachian State Mountaineers shocked the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium, 34-32, in perhaps college football's greatest upset.
The result was nearly unthinkable to a Michigan team that expected to ride Chad Henne, Jake Long and Mike Hart to BCS bowl consideration.
The game was the first broadcast on the fledgling Big Ten Network, which wasn't yet carried by several major television providers. As a result, many fans learned of the news via word of mouth, through SportsCenter updates or, worst of all, while following painfully unemotional play-by-play tickers online.
Those who opted for the latter witnessed history as two lines of text on a computer screen:
Jason Gingell 37 yard field goal BLOCKED.
End of 4th Quarter.
Ahead of the Wolverines' Aug. 30 rematch against the Mountaineers, the Daily looks back on how it covered the unfathomable.
The gamer: Put aside the different subdivisions and throw out preseason rankings.
Plain and simple, Appalachian State's 34-32 upset win over No. 5 Michigan in Saturday's home opener, a feat labeled as the greatest upset in college football history, was decided on the field.
"They just outplayed us," Michigan tight end Mike Massey said. "They executed better than we did, and we had a lot of penalties that hurt us too."
... "When you lose to a team like that - they're a I-AA team - how can you go for a National Championship?" said Mike Hart, who rushed for 188 yards and three scores despite a bruised thigh sidelining him for roughly two quarters. "I believe, personally, it's out of the picture. I'm not going to give up on it. It's in everybody else's hands now."
The column: Pinch yourself — just not too hard. As bad as you may feel right now, suicide isn't the answer. This past weekend really happened, and I think some people still haven't let it sink in yet. But the first step to moving on is acceptance.
So what's the easiest way to move on? Find someone else to blame, of course. It's the American way.
... Is (coach Lloyd Carr) the main reason Michigan lost? Probably not. Carr didn't miss tackles, Carr didn't overthrow receivers and Carr didn't have a Mountaineer defender run by him to block a potential game-winning field goal.
... Is Henne the main reason Michigan lost? Probably not. Dropped passes and some occasional poor protection didn't help matters.
... Is Gingell the main reason Michigan lost? No. A truck could have driven through the hole in Michigan's offensive line on the final field goal attempt, and yesterday Carr said the first miss was because of blocking miscues, too.
... Is bad luck the main reason Michigan lost? Not even close. If anything, Appalachian State actually experienced more bad luck than Michigan did. Without a dropped touchdown pass by a wide-open receiver, along with a field goal that clanged just off the right upright, the Mountaineers probably would have won by double digits.
... So what does this prove? Besides the fact that it's not one person's fault, I guess it also proves that a lot went wrong for Saturday to go the way it did. So before everyone gives up on the season, just take a deep breath and chill. The players insist that Saturday's mistakes are fixable.
If it's this time next week and there's another list of 10-plus things I could blame for a loss against Oregon, then it might be time to pinch a little harder.
The hindsight: What I'm not sure people understand is how preposterously, appallingly awful the game was from the moment it landed on the schedule.
If the idea is to open with an easy win, why pick the national champions of anything?
... This Appalachian State team definitely wasn't a bad team. And it certainly wasn't worse than the squads that comprise the bottom rungs in Division I-A. So why schedule the Mountaineers at all?
Schedule Buffalo or Temple, Utah State or Baylor — known opponents that lose 10 to 12 games every season and that past opponents have provided numerous blueprints for beating.
The letters to the editor: To the Daily:
Amid the cries for Lloyd Carr's head, there is one question that has been overlooked: Why is no one calling out quarterback Chad Henne after another poor performance? Henne's game has not improved at all since his freshman season, and he is probably the biggest fraud at the position ever perpetrated upon the program.
To the Daily:
What I don't understand is all the negative comments pointed at head football coach Lloyd Carr. If he really hated The Maize and Blue, why would he still be coaching? It just seems as if fans are looking for a scapegoat and Carr is the easiest target. Why blame the players for being cocky and believing that the game would be an easy win? Is it that hard to congratulate another team? Are we that stuck up?
To the Daily:
Let's not mince words here. Lloyd Carr is a lousy coach. Sure, he's a nice man and he runs a clean program, but he is still a lousy coach. Let the record speak for itself. He has somehow managed to lose the last two games of the season three years is a row. ... Let's be more specific: Carr alone is the one who has failed time and time again.
The summary: Imagine opening the door to your dorm room and someone just punching you in the face. That's what transpired at the Big House. So much for a National Championship.
Despite an 0-2 start to the season, Michigan finished 2007 with a 9-4 record, including wins over Notre Dame, Michigan State and a Tim Tebow-led Florida squad. Afterward, Carr resigned, and the Rich Rodriguez era began.
The Wolverines begin 2014 against the same opponent, with a coach on the hot seat and three major rivalry games on the road.
The season kicks off in just over a week.