The University of Michigan football program isn’t used to this. It isn’t used to staring up at half the Big Ten/Eleven. It isn’t used to fielding a defense that was perilously close to scraping the bottom of the barrel—nationally—and giving up more points in a season than Michigan teams used to surrender in three.

Michigan football had been living in the penthouse and is now slumming. This is a program whose name wasn’t just spoken, it was said with a sneer—by both supporters and rivals.

Michigan didn’t get hurt, it inflicted it on others.

It started in earnest with the hiring of Bo Schembechler in 1969, and for the next four decades, just about, Michigan football was 10 wins, a Top 20 ranking (or higher) and a conference championship or very close to it. It was fall Saturdays spent terrorizing visitors to the Big House before 101,000-plus pairs of leather lungs.

It was a win over Michigan State, one over Ohio State at a rate of at least once every two years, a helluva tussle with Notre Dame and a bowl game—where the mystique sometimes took a hit. But at least there was a mystique.

Michigan football was a monster, being fed by the media, the fanbase, the alumni and the larger-than-life personality of Schembechler, the Chairman of the Board. Frank Sinatra had nothing on Bo.

Even after Bo retired in 1989, the program didn’t miss a beat. His disciples took over—Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr—and the monster stayed fat and it kept devouring MSU and then it even slapped Ohio State in most years.