Dear Lloyd,

I came to see you this Saturday. I even brought some friends. We piled into a car, drove a really long distance, paid a lot of money and parked pretty far away just to stop in and have a visit. So why the lack of hospitality?

I wouldn’t be so upset if after the game (You know the one I’m talking about, the one with the goal-line offense that would have choked a yak and the quarterback who didn’t seem to know up from down, left from right or maize and blue from gold and white), you didn’t get on the radio and talk about how happy you were with how your team played.

I begin to wonder, is it really that great to be a Michigan Wolverine? I love you guys, you know that, but why is it so great to be associated with a team that has not beaten a top-10 opponent in years, or been a legitimate contender for any national recognition since Tom Brady wore the winged helmet? Is it really that great to be part of a fan base that is slapped around by a team that, without fail, loses its first road game, no matter how bad the opponent is? (I’m looking in the direction of Oregon.) Why should we be so proud to be associated with a team that is frightened by even the most slight of hostile environments, or scared witless by a team who only marginally deserves its mighty number 20 ranking?

I know we have a lot of talent on this team, but why do you squander it? Why don’t we have any legitimate way to spread the offense out, run a shovel pass or do anything that the other team can’t possibly replicate 5,000 times in practice the week before they show up? Resting on talent alone is great when you have Braylon Edwards, who can jump 14 feet into the air and snag down even the most errant balls. It’s not so good when you have Steve Breaston, whose last moment of glory was two seasons ago, because you hoodwink his ability to confound defenses by limiting him to two or three deep ball opportunities per game (even my mom knows he’s not that kind of receiver, Lloyd). Or when you treat Jason Avant (a very capable receiver), like Mike Williams, when he’s really more of a Mercury Hayes.

Then again, no one player can carry your team, Lloyd, and since you can’t really coach, or demand excellence from the team at large, the team slips into mediocrity.

How hard would it be to turn all these talented guys into something wholly unique, exciting and new? Why are we using Chad Henne as a Brian Griese, and Kevin Grady as an Anthony Thomas? They are different players, with different styles of play. Anyone could see that. It’s not about molding your players to fit the tiny space you’ve allotted them, it’s about being versatile and changing your plans to best fit the strengths of your team, while, above all else, demanding nothing but pure excellence from them. You know, “leaders and best?”

Why am I watching Ohio State and Texas, two teams with which Michigan should supposedly be on par, counter each other with new and exciting ways to move the football downfield? How can we ever hope to compete in NCAA Division I football with this current mindset?

I do love Michigan football. I love how you guys ram it up the opponent’s nose 40 percent of the time, try to control the clock and never go too crazy on either offense or defense, but when Kirk Ferentz, Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll and, oh heck, Charlie Weiss, are making a mockery of the last 130 years of football tradition just by being demanding and innovative, we’ve got problems, Lloyd.

Don’t get me wrong. We used to have the innovative and demanding Fielding Yost, and at least we had demands for excellence (if not always innovation) in Bo, and even Moe.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time you successfully beat a team that had a better coach than you. I remember Braylon defeating Jim Tressel in 2003, but every other instance is just you being outcoached – pure and simple. You’ve even been outcoached by people like Bob Davies and Ty Willingham. That must’ve been embarrassing. Their teams ended the season below .500, but they still beat you. Wonder why that is – I’d say it was some sort of fluke upset, but those don’t happen every year, do they, Lloyd?

But times, boy how they’ve changed, Lloyd.

So, even though we had a lovely afternoon at your house, and the sun was shining brightly, and the friends were charming and entertaining as always, I can’t help but wish for you to be evicted – and replaced by a more gracious host.

 

Johnson is a University alum.

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