The University of Michigan’s 52-14 Gator Bowl defeat at the hands of Mississippi State, which appears to have cost former football coach Rich Rodriguez his job after only three seasons, was a lousy way for every Wolverines fan to ring in the New Year. But the loss holds special significance for players and students in this outgoing class of 2011. Football players like Obi Ezeh, Stephen Schilling, Mark Moundros and Martell Webb are more than merely a part of the fifth-straight senior class to go 0-4 against the Buckeyes. More strikingly, they’ve now become the first class since 1964, and one of just a handful in school history, to accumulate a losing record over their four years in Ann Arbor — quite a distinction for college football’s winningest program.

Bookended by Saturday’s Gator Bowl debacle on one end and that still-fresh 2007 stunner against Appalachian State on the other, the class of 2011 has compiled a 24-26 losing record. Students who started school in 2007 — the ones who silently walked back to their new dorm rooms from the Big House in a stunned state of acute disquiet after their first Michigan game on Sep. 1, 2007 — are part of the first class in 46 years to cheer on Blue to more losses than wins. Most of us wouldn’t have thought that possible three or four years ago.

That’s not to say there haven’t been great memories from the past four years of Michigan football. Beating quarterback Tim Tebow and Florida in Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr’s final game, shocking top-five Wisconsin in 2008 in an epic comeback, beating hated Notre Dame three times and watching sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson’s ascension have been unforgettable. So I’m not bitter to be part of the first Michigan class in 46 years with a losing football record — I just hope that we’ll be the last.

William Petrich is an LSA senior.

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