Commentary

Michigan could regress in 2012

The Wolverines top a list of likely preseason darlings that could struggle next season

Updated: January 4, 2012, 11:59 AM ET
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders
Brady HokeAP Photo/Carlos OsorioBrady Hoke led the Wolverines to an 11-2 record in his debut season as head coach.

The Michigan Wolverines capped their season Tuesday night with a 23-20 Allstate Sugar Bowl win over the Virginia Tech Hokies, giving them an impressive 11-2 mark in coach Brady Hoke's debut campaign. There is potential for some to view those results as a sign that Michigan has reclaimed its status among the college football elite. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and expect that reclamation to happen immediately.

The fans and media tend to spin bowl-game success into next-year momentum drivers, but it doesn't really work that way. Last season's BCS bowl game losers won more games in 2011 than the winners did. There are many more important success factors to consider, including recruiting, returning starters and schedule strength, which ultimately will determine the conference and national championship races in 2012.

The fans and media tend to spin bowl-game success into next-year momentum drivers, but it doesn't really work that way. Last season's BCS bowl game losers won more games in 2011 than the winners did.

The best teams build consistent success over time. Michigan is likely to receive some preseason love in the polls in the fall, and blue-blood programs like the Wolverines have demanding fan bases with high expectations and limited patience. But Michigan's program profile doesn't merit "it" status again just yet, and extraordinary expectations for this team in 2012 will only end in disappointment. Here's why.


To read more from Brian Fremeau on why Michigan and other "it" teams could struggle in 2012, sign up for ESPN Insider.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com