I‘m supposed to use this space to reminisce about my time in Ann Arbor, and, more specifically, my time at the Daily. I’m supposed to mention the road trips and late nights, and all the great people I’ve worked with. I’m supposed to joke about how Lloyd Carr, Red Berenson and Carol Hutchins were surprisingly all right to deal with.

Jessica Boullion

But I can’t, so I won’t . even though I sort of just did.

Many of us were Michigan fans before we were students, and, hopefully, all of us will bleed Maize and Blue when we leave. But while we’re here, it’s different. For many reasons, the wins lift us higher and the losses sink us lower when we’re students.

And the truth is, the last few years have been a disappointment. It’s too late for things to turn around while I’m here, but there’s still time for three-quarters of you. We just need to make sure that those in charge understand the trouble that Michigan athletics are in.

First, a quick refresher: Since 2001, the football team hasn’t made it out of September without a loss and has gone 1-4 against Ohio State, 1-3 against Notre Dame and 1-4 in bowl games. Not even two Rose Bowls can offset that.

And that only scratches the surface of last season, when the Wolverines finished with five losses and about as many coaching changes.

While it’s unlikely we’ll have to get used to losing to Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Wolverines can’t be considered among the elite until they beat the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish. Last season, both teams marched into Michigan Stadium. Both gutted out victories. So breaking the losing streaks on the road this coming fall will be about as easy as tackling Ted Ginn, Jr.

So why has Michigan struggled in its biggest games? I think it’s because when the Wolverines take the field, they lack the swagger that all the other top teams have. Playing for Michigan seems to be a burden, and they seem to be overcoached. I know very little about football coaching, but “letting the players play” is definitely not the Michigan way. Can’t you imagine Vince Young on Michigan, scrambling out of the pocket for a 70-yard touchdown run, and, as he returns to the sideline, hears from Carr, “Tyler Ecker was open in the flat?”

As for the basketball team, we’ve learned that it’s not that easy to build a successful program without cheating.

Two years ago, we believed the NIT championship was the turning point. It wasn’t. This year, we know making the NIT finals meant nothing. Without Daniel Horton, Graham Brown and Chris Hunter, even the most optimistic fan has to take a wait-and-see approach.

These Wolverines have too many problems to count. Why haven’t Dion Harris and Courtney Sims improved since their freshman year? If Brent Petway learned just one post move, how could he be stopped? Are top recruits even considering us anymore?

The difference between the Rose Bowl and the Alamo Bowl, the NCAAs and NIT, can be very small. Thankfully, I’ll have two games to think back to: the football team’s win over Ohio State to go to the Rose Bowl in 2003 and the comeback overtime win over Michigan State the following year. Hopefully, the freshmen will have games like that to remember when they leave.

– All that said, Sharad would like to thank the Daily and everyone at the Daily for four fantastic years. And now, he has one last thing to say: Nets over Pistons. He can be reached at smattu@umich.edu.

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