Opinion: Michigan's legacy one of missed opportunities
ANN ARBOR -- Well, that's that.
What exactly was that?
Not total failure, either. Although according to Brady Hoke's metrics -- Big Ten title or bust -- it was.
Michigan finished the regular season with a 26-21 loss to Ohio State, and with it, an 8-4 record. Above average by most definitions, but certainly unspectacular.
And that, in the end, is exactly what the Wolverines were this year. A decent team, capable of hanging with some of the elite, but clearly not elite itself.
It is not "back," despite last year's Sugar Bowl title. Back to respectability, certainly, and upwardly mobile, but no more than that.
Consider that Michigan's four losses came against No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 14 Nebraska, according to the AP poll. Those teams have a combined record of 45-3.
Each loss came away from home.
There's little shame in losing away from home to those four -- other than, of course, it happened against all four, and that will be the mark of this team. It was good, but couldn't beat the best.
That's the biggest reason the Wolverines appear destined to play in the Capital One Bowl or Outback Bowl, and not a BCS bowl. They might have been just a win from being eligible for the latter, but couldn't take advantage of the opportunity.
Alabama is a class all its own, and Michigan wasn't going to stack up. But it had a chance against top-ranked Notre Dame, losing by seven points despite six turnovers against a team that will play for a national title.
It had a chance against Nebraska, but the Wolverines dithered without Denard Robinson.
It had a chance against Ohio State, holding a second-half lead, but turnovers and an inability to adjust offensively in the second half led to a five-point loss.
Michigan's BCS bowl hopes remained intact heading into the weekend, ranked 19th and needing to pass five teams to become eligible. And, sure enough, the four teams in front it all fell: No. 15 Oregon Sate, No. 16 Texas, No. 17 UCLA and No. 18 Rutgers.
That would have put the Wolverines at 15th, at worst, and on the cusp of the top 14 with conference title games yet to be played.
But it was an opportunity missed, in a season of missed opportunities.
And that will be this team's legacy.