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Decade in Review: Looking Back at Michigan Schadenfreude and the Saddest Wolverine Moments of the 2010s

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The Schadenfreude, the Schadenfreude, the Schadenfreude.

Before we get into this, I feel compelled to roll out this disclaimer. There’s something to be said about the human experience and how people derive satisfaction from the sadness of others. In an ideal world, the concept of Schadenfreude doesn’t exist.

We don’t live in that world, however.

When it comes to the Ohio State – Michigan football rivalry, there’s certainly no love lost on either side. A foundation of bitterness was laid for most of us in the 1970s when Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler raged against each other in the Ten Year War. That foundation held strong for more than five decades.

That brings us up to date. Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer drilled a mentality of respect toward Michigan. It’s the team’s job to live up to that. It is very fortunately not our job, though, which brings us back to the topic at hand.

It was not a banner decade for our dearest rival.

Dating back to the start of 2010, the Michigan football program has gone through three coaches who made precisely zero appearances in either the Big Ten title game or the College Football Playoff. For perspective, Ohio State has technically employed four different head coaches during that span, but they collectively garnered a national title, an undefeated season, three playoff appearances and four conference titles.

Between 2010-2019, Michigan suffered 44 losses on the football field. You have to go back to the John Cooper era in the late 90’s to recall the last 44 Buckeye defeats.

This is mentioned because Ohio State always has one eye on its rival. But over the course of the last decade, the Buckeyes have had to look back as they blew past the Wolverines in almost every aspect where football is concerned.

In that spirit, let’s look back at a decade of sadness— football shortcomings of the horrific, hilarious and heartbreaking variety. Oh and also Josh Groban music. That too.

10. The NCAA’s Rubber Hammer

Did you know Michigan is an elite university that does things the right way? 

If you’ve ever associated with a Michigan Man or Woman, you certainly know this. You know in your bones that the Wolverines take the high road at every opportunity. The thought of, say, a member of the football team taking online courses instead of the traditional in-class alternative is a sin against nature on par with thinking the fullback position is dead in modern football.

That’s why it’s so hilarious Michigan started the decade on a three-year NCAA probation for violating the NCAA’s rules for number of total coaches and practice time restrictions.

It was a slap on the wrist for an admittedly dumb rule, but irony is gonna irony, my dudes.

9.The Mattison/Washington Heel Turn

Following the disastrous end to Michigan’s 2018 season, Harbaugh experienced the worst kind of staff turnover. That happened when former defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Greg Mattison, alongside linebackers coach and ace recruiter Al Washington, bolted from the Wolverines staff to join Ryan Day’s new regime in Columbus.

Having two of his coaches leave for the school’s top rival was a bitter pill for Harbaugh to swallow.

“We’re not going to be sending each other Christmas cards based on where he went,” the Wolverines head man said.

8. South Carolina, Part 1

There were about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter of the 2013 Outback Bowl when it happened.

The Wolverines had stormed back from an 11-point deficit to South Carolina and held a 22-21 lead when they were incorrectly awarded a first down on a fourth-down attempt that should’ve given the Gamecocks the ball at the Michigan 41-yard line.

After a brief timeout, the play ensued.

Vincent Smith’s helmet is still orbiting space seven years later.

7. South Carolina, Part 2

Conference pride is dumb.

Theoretically, you shouldn’t care about how Big Ten teams perform in the postseason because it matters little to what Ohio State can control in terms of its national perception.

That changed midway through the Aughts when “SEC!” chants haunted the stadiums of bowl destinations nationwide. Conference performances during bowl season started having a direct impact on the validity of conferences and their contenders, particularly during the playoff era.

At the end of the 2017 season, the Big Ten was on pace to put together a historic bowl season. All it needed was Michigan to beat South Carolina to go a perffect 8-0 in postseason games.

The Wolverines responded in kind, blowing a 19-3 late in the second half as South Carolina scored the game’s final 23 points.

6. You Raised Rich Up

The Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan was a hilarious catastrophe. The former West Virginia head man brought his spread offense to Ann Arbor with the hopes of pulling Michigan into the current century.

His tenure went south quickly as the Wolverines won just three, five and seven games in his first three seasons. Sensing the inevitable was coming, Rodriguez gave a tearful speech to his team, former players and boss while pleading to remain the head coach at Michigan during the Wolverines’ season-ending banquet.

An awkward scene turned unbearable when Rodriguez pulled a move more suitable for Michael Scott from The Office than the head coach of a legendary college football program.

Take it away, AnnArbor.com.

As speculation regarding his job reached a crescendo in recent days and weeks, Rodriguez talked openly about the toll the uncertainty has taken on his family, coaches and players.

He said he had found some solace in the lyrics of the Josh Groban song “You Raise Me Up.”

He read the first verse of lyrics aloud.

“This may seem kind of cheesy or sappy or what have you, but I’ve been listening to it the last few weeks, and it kind of fits the mood of what we’re in right now,” Rodriguez said.

Speakers in the ballroom then played the song for the team’s 21 departing seniors and several hundred others gathered in the ballroom.

As the song concluded, Rodriguez grabbed the hands of his wife, Rita, and the night’s emcee, Frank Beckmann, and raised them above his head.

Several seconds passed before others on the dais, including Brandon and the entire Wolverines team, followed suit.

Criiiiiiiiiiiinge.

5. Rutgers!

Did you know (!!!) Rutgers had as many wins over Michigan during the 2010s as the Wolverines had over Ohio State?

This may be surprising, but it’s true!

Michigan’s sole win of the decade came in 2011 when Ohio State was resetting after the fallout of Jim Tressel’s fall from grace. Brady Hoke’s 11-win team that year managed a six-point win over the worst Buckeye team in half-a-century. It’s the lone highlight of the decade for Michigan in college football’s best rivalry.

Rutgers (!!!) has a similar marquee win over a premier program that’s way out of its league.

Six weeks into Ohio State’s run to and through the 2014 College Football Playoff, the Wolverines suffered a stunning 26-24 loss to a Scarlet Knights program that hasn’t eclipsed four wins since that year.

4. Sparty, Yes!

There have been moments over the course of the last decade where Michigan looks cursed. One of those moments came in the closing seconds of its 2015 showdown with Michigan State.

Leading 23-21 and needing just one successful punt to likely seal the game, Michigan lined up and snapped the ball to punter Blake O’Neill with 10 seconds remaining in the game. O’Neill bobbled the snap and couldn’t get the kick off, allowing Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson to pluck the ball out of the air and return it 38 yards for the game-winning score.

3. The Two-Point Diversion

Ohio State went into the 2013 games against Michigan riding a 23-game win streak with complete control over its BCS title aspirations. The Buckeyes were heavy favorites over the 7-4 Wolverines, who had faltered greatly under Hoke.

Michigan proved feisty that afternoon, trading punches with the Buckeyes all the way to the final seconds of the game. A Devin Gardner touchdown pass to Devin Funchess with 32 seconds remaining made it a 42-41 Ohio State lead. Hoke opted to go for two points and the win instead of playing for overtime. 

The result was fantastic.

It’s rumored that Gardner’s crushed spirit still lays on the Big House turd to this day.

2. 62-39

Harbaugh’s first three cracks at Meyer and the Buckeyes had gone poorly, and the coach came into the 2018 matchup looking for his first win in the series.

He had all the momentum and his Wolverines were favored to win despite the game taking place in Columbus. Ohio State’s defense had been wet toilet paper all season, and Michigan entered the contest countering that with the nation’s top defense.

The Buckeyes did whatever they wanted to that defense, piling up an absurd 567 yards of total offense and a series-high 62 points in the 23-point win that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate.

1. Bitterly Disappointed

The decade’s biggest moment between these two schools came at the end of the 2016 season. Michigan entered the final game of the season ranked third nationally, while Ohio State checked in at No. 2. A spot in the College Football Playoff was essentially on the line when the Wolverines invaded Columbus.

The game lived up to the hype. Michigan built a 17-7 lead in the third quarter and looked completely in control, but J.T. Barrett, Curtis Samuel and Co., willed their way back into the game, scoring the final 10 points in regulation to force overtime.

The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime period, then the Wolverines stalled and settled for a field goal to open the second overtime. Ohio State looked destined for a similar outcome before the magic happened.

Samuel’s magical third down jaunt preceded Barrett’s fourth down run that set Ohio State up for the winning score. After the game, Harbaugh lamented the officiating and communicated his bitter disappointment.

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