By ERICK LEHMAN, Staff Columnist
And no, it was not from a car accident due to the icy roads.
It was the hopes of a Michigan bowl game.
The window for the Wolverines to become bowl eligible slammed shut Saturday night, with a demoralizing 23-16 loss to Maryland. It epitomized this entire season for the Wolverines.
With Michigan not becoming bowl eligible, the small glimmer of hope head coach Brady Hoke may have had to keep his job is now gone.
This season will mark only the third time since the 1975-76 season the Wolverines fail to become bowl eligible. All three times since then have come during the post Lloyd Carr era.
Becoming bowl eligible and showing signs of improvement in the last few games may have saved Hoke his job, but Michigan has regressed exponentially the last few weeks.
It struggled heavily on offense against Northwestern and presumably used the bye week to work out the kinks.
The offense struggled against the Terps, even though Michigan had its highest rushing output of the season.
But the stout run game did not transcribe too many points, which is a problem.
You cannot win games exchanging field goals.
Hoke and the Wolverines will travel to dreaded Columbus next week for the final game of the season for the Wolverines and what is expected to be the final game of the Brady Hoke era.
Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett spoke to the media before the game Saturday and plans to have an evaluation of Hoke in place at the end of the season. He did not elaborate as to what the end of the season was, whether it was the bowl game or the Ohio State game.
It’s clear now that it’s the Ohio State game.
Saturday’s game against Maryland had an “official” attendance of 101,717 fans, making it 258 consecutive games of 100,000 or more.
The attendance marked the lowest attendance since 1995, when Michigan played Memphis in front of 100,862 fans.
The student section was not even three-quarters full, and the stadium looked like it only had 90,000 fans.
The fan base is becoming increasingly frustrated with this team, and the lack of turnout just stokes the fire more for Hackett’s evaluation on Hoke.
When Hoke is let go at some point after the game next Saturday, a splash will need to be made to jolt the fans excitement.
Enter: Jim Harbaugh.
The season for Michigan has been a downward spiral since the Notre Dame loss.
It has hurt everywhere for the Wolverines. They are losing support from fans, alums, donors, and recruits.
Michigan has had seven decommitments from top-150 players this season, according to 247Sports’ Steve Lorenz.
The most painful coming from five-star Cass Tech running back Mike Weber, a mere seconds after Maryland sent the dagger through the Wolverines hearts, scoring the game-winning touchdown.
Everything has just gone downhill for Michigan. I believe it is safe to say that Hoke coached his last game at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.