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Michigan faces a brutal schedule that some say is too
for the team to contend for the Big Ten title
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ONE WAY. The Football Ride runs
approximately every 20 minutes
beginning two hours before
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr doesn't exactly enjoy
media day. He gets to stand up in front of dozens
of arrogant and often crotchety reporters and
defend decisions he hasn't even made yet.
Bombarded by questions,.accusations and demands,
Carr has nowhere to hide, save a small podium in the
middle of Schembechler Hall's press room.
Michigan's quarterback controversy is a year old:
Reporters are almost tired of the subject. But the
Wolverines' treacherous schedule? Now there's a hot topic.
Since media day, Carr has grown tired of answering
questions about Michigan's rough
schedule. He tightens his jaw and
utters some ridiculous cliche about
Mt. Everest being climbable. It is
now a taboo subject.
TThere is no question that
Michigan's schedule is tougher than
week-old beef jerky. The
JOHN Wolverines face seven teams
LEROI ranked in the AP top 25. Of course
Out of there is nothing that Carr can do to
Bounds get Penn State and Ohio State off
The Big Ten is a tough confer-
ence. And this year, conference cellar-dwellers Illinois and
Purdue fall off the Wolverines' schedule. Replacing them
are contenders Wisconsin and Iowa.
But the main debate is why the Wolverines would want
to face Colorado and Notre Dame in a season when the
Big Ten will be so competitive.
Everyone from Lee Corso to Bo Schembechler has
weighed in on the subject. And almost everybody thinks
the Wolverines are making a mistake of gargantuan pro-
"Michigan has too tough a schedule to have a great sea-
son," said Corso, a college football analyst for ESPN.
"They just have too little margin for error. They can have
a very good team and still lose three or four games."
Most other Big Ten coaches seem to agree. After all,
the Wolverines never have any trouble filling Michigan
Stadium. The Big Ten season is physically demanding;
why subject your players to such risks when you don't
Ohio State will play Wyoming, Bowling Green,
Arizona and Missouri. Penn State plays three cream puffs
in Pittsburgh, Temple and Louisville before taking a week
off before the Big Ten season commences (as if the three
weeks before were really strenuous).
It bangs up your players. It hurts your national title
hopes. The Big Ten is tough enough.
Michigan took a lot of heat for scheduling weaklings
like Memphis and Miami (Ohio) in 1995. Michigan quar-
terback Todd Collins actually said he was glad he was
graduating before the '95 season because he'd be embar-
rassed to play that schedule.
Now the Wolverines are taking flack - literally being
called stupid - for renewing rivalries with Colorado and
Notre Dame. Some media members even suggest voiding
Michigan's contract with the Fighting Irish to avoid play-
ing them in future years.
Ridiculous. The schedule's benefits far outweigh it's
Sure, it's tough on the players, physically and emotion-
ally. But this is football for god's sake. It's a tough sport.
"I'm sure there's not one player who doesn't want to
play our schedule," Carr said. "Pressure isn't a negative
And it is a stretch to say that difficult non-conference
opponents hinder a bid at a national championship or a
high-profile bowl game. Sure, the Wolverines could lose
one or two of those games, but to be the best, you have to
beat the best.
Michigan lost to Purdue last year. Why don't we all
focus on fixing those problems first. And, although a
team's non-conference record is the second tie-breaker for
a Rose Bowl berth, it is almost meaningless for every
other bowl. Bowls just want a big draw, and the
Wolverines fit that billing.
And all three of Michigan's non-conference games are
at home, so fans get to see Colorado and Notre Dame in
addition to Ohio State, Iowa and Northwestern. Fans love
seeing nationally ranked teams. All of Michigan's home
games are sellouts. Why deprive the fans and the players
of playing exciting games?
And what about pride? Michigan should be one of the
most feared college football teams in the country, not the
other way around. Why back down from big games? The
Wolverines have terrific rivalries with Notre Dame and
now Colorado. Why discontinue them?
These are the kinds of games that make college football
exciting. Michigan used to be a huge part of that. To stop
now - that seems awfully stupid.
- John Leroi can be reached via e-mail at
The Football Ride
three U-M parking structures,
serves Ann Arbor hotels and motels,
Arborland Mall, Domino's Farms, the
gan Union, and downtown Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor Transportation Authority
For complete route and schedule
information, call: 996-0400
Michigan coach Uoyd Carr has had to answer a lot
Wolverines' schedule. Some say Michigan is foolish