Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Michigan - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Well, I figured it's time for a "year in review" post focused on the state of Michigan. Needless to say, it has not been a great year for the state (full disclosure: I used to live in Michigan, but now live in Texas). Let's have a look a the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

College Football
The Wolverines obviously didn't have a good year, but three teams from the state got bowl invitations this year. WMU and CMU have already lost their bowl games, and MSU plays tomorrow. CMU, behind Rich Rodriguez protege Butch Jones, continues to have success in the MAC with Dan Lefevour at QB. In Kalamazoo, WMU coach Bill Cubit just signed a new 5-year extension after taking the Broncos to their second bowl game in four years. The Spartans continue their resurgence behind former Buckeye assistant Mark Dantonio, and will try to knock off the preseason number 1 team in the country, Georgia.

Medical Marijuana
In November, voters in Michigan approved a medical marijuana ballot measure. This is wonderful progress against the stigma of using whatever means necessary to help people with chronic illness and chronic pain deal with their maladies. It has proven medical value to relieve pain, nausea, and other symptoms caused by cancer, MS, AIDS and other diseases (or the drugs used to treat those diseases). If morphine and codeine, essentially medicinal forms of heroin, can be used to help alleviate pain and suffering, why not cannabis as well? As Peter Tosh says, "Legalize it, don't criticize it."

Calvin Johnson
Lions wide receiver Johnson was the only good thing in an otherwise dismal season. If he were playing on a team that had any semblance of an offense, he would have had well over 100 catches.

Red Wings
Oh yeah, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.

The Bad

Kwame Kilpatrick
The Mayor of Detroit finally bowed to pressure and resigned from office in September after years of scandal in his administration. Just look at that wikipedia page. There are eleven items under "controversies" and the majority of the article is related to them. I guess Kwame could fall under "good" since he's no longer the mayor, but his whole administration was in constant turmoil, so I'm filing it under "bad."

Michigan Football
After going to a bowl game for 33 consecutive years, Michigan slumped to a 3-9 record this year despite hiring a new coaching staff headed by Rich Rodriguez. The team was plagued by many problems, including the adjustment to the aforementioned new coaching staff, the installation of new offensive and defensive systems, the loss of ten of eleven starters on offense (including the top pick in the NFL draft and two other four year starters), way too many turnovers, and incompetent play at several positions - QB, Safety, Linebacker, O-Line. At this point, Michigan fans are divided in their feelings about the new administration. I am optimistic about the future of the program, as Coach Rodriguez has continued to recruit very good talent, and he is a proven winner in a BCS conference. But make no mistake about it - this was a very bad season. But at least the hoops team is ranked now.

The Ugly

The Detroit Lions
The Lions became the first team in NFL history to lose 16 games in a season. They were monumentally bad. They lost by an average score of 32-17. They lost only three of their games by less than a touchdown. Five different QBs took snaps during the season (Drew Henson had the distinction of being sacked more often than he threw a pass - three sacks, two pass attempts). They finished 30th in offense, and 32nd in defense. The defense intercepted four passes for the entire season. I could go on (and on and on...), but I think I'll just take a knee and head to the locker room. NOTE: The Lions were 4-0 in the preseason though.

The Detroit Tigers
Despite spending lavishly in the offseason, acquiring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, the Tigers sunk to last place in the AL Central - behind even the lowly Royals. They traded Pudge Rodriguez to the Yankees. Joel Zumaya got hurt again. Curtis Granderson was out for the first couple weeks of the year. They started 0-7 and never recovered.

The Economy
The unemployment rate in the state of Michigan in November was 9.6% - which is a 0.3% increase over the previous month, and a 2.2% increase over the previous year. The auto industry is begging Washington for a bailout. The big three are cutting production across the board. Chrysler is shutting down production at all of its North American plants for an entire month. The slowdown has affected all tiers of the supply chain as well. And that trickles down to all the people who provide goods and services to those people. Also, due to the mortgage crisis, Michigan is near the top in foreclosure rates. Like the section above about the Lions, I could probably go on, but I'll just take a knee again.

Keep your chin up, Michigan - 2009 has to be better, right?