I understand that ESPN’s Mark Schlabach likes to do his Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25, and I can’t really argue with much that he says (they are just opinion, after all), but putting the Michigan Wolverines at the number nine spot is utterly ridiculous.
While it is nice to see an SEC apologist give the Big Ten some respect by having the Ohio State Buckeyes leapfrog the Alabama Crimson Tide for the number one spot and placing five teams from the league inside his rankings, forgive me for not seeing what he sees in the Wolverines.
On offense, the team lost its leading rusher and passer from a season ago—Denard Robinson—to graduation, three of the four starters along the offensive line are gone and wide receivers Roy Roundtree and Darryl Stonum are no longer in Ann Arbor.
On the defensive side of the ball, Brady Hoke lost defensive tackle William Campbell and safety Jordan Kovacs to the NFL. On top of that, Michigan also lost four of the teams top six tacklers from a season ago, including the team’s leading returning tackler in linebacker Jake Ryan who will likely miss the entire 2013 season due to a torn ACL.
I understand that every team loses players from one year to the next for various reasons, but the Wolverines are going to be replacing a lot on both sides of the ball. Not to mention, there is lack of definite backups to Devin Gardner at the quarterback position and at running back behind Fitzgerald Toussaint (who is still recovering from a broken leg).
The major flaw in Schlabach’s reasoning is that…well, I’m not quite sure what his reasoning is behind placing Michigan in his top 10? He doesn’t have a valid argument. Everything he said was based upon potential and potential isn’t a good enough reason for any team to start the season in anyone’s preseason top 10 (unless your name right now is Alabama).
This isn’t the Michigan program we saw under former head coach Lloyd Carr where you could just pencil them in near the top 10 every season. These Wolverines still have way too much to prove and current head coach Brady Hoke needs to show that he can get Michigan back to where it was. He has done a heck of a job on the recruiting front, and he did give Michigan fans a glimmer of hope with a BCS appearance a few seasons ago, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done before anyone can say that Michigan is “back”.