Along with all of the other t-shirts (Michigan Beer Pong, Michigan Undecided) for sale on State Street before football games, a new one has appeared this year: "2008 Worst Season Ever".
Not being one to quarrel with a t-shirt, I thought I'd go back through history and see just how bad this year's team is compared to teams of the past.
1. Rich Rodriguez has the worst lifetime record (2-7) of any Michigan football coach. The nearest benchmark is the 1891 team, coached by Mike Murphy and Frank Crawford, who coached for one season with a 4-5 mark.
2. The last years in modern times to have a two win season are 1962 (Bump Elliot) and 1958 (Bennie Oosterbann's last year).
3. In 1934 and 1936, Harry Kipke coached to a 1-7 record. Harry Kipke has a street named after him, notes the Hoover Street Rag, and the late Gerald Ford was MVP of the 1934 team. Ford wrote a chapter in What It Means To Be A Wolverine which is worth a read about just how difficult a year that was.
So, not quite the worst season ever, but pretty close - "worst coach ever" is too soon to tell, but RichRod still needs to live up to the Bump Elliot benchmark of winning the Rose Bowl (with the 1964 team vs Oregon State).
The other football benchmark is of course is Michigan football (see the season map): look for a report on how the season compares to previous years next week. The reports I have gathered from people with parking near the stadium who always fill up is that prices don't vary much by the success of the team, but the time to sell out the lot is a lot less on a busy day. As you get farther from the Big House, even lower prices won't necessarily fill all the spaces. Ann Arbor taxpayers depend on the rents from their 7x/year lawns to pay the property taxes, so we're all pulling for the team.