Breaking Down the Buzz: Michigan

Michigan fans are taking a bit of a break from football right now
Michigan fans are taking a bit of a break from football right now. (USATSI)

Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the Eye on College Football examines what current hot topic the fans of one BCS team are obsessing over -- rationally or not. Today's team: the Michigan Wolverines.

What they're talking about is ... basketball, mostly. It seems a bit strange, but it's entirely understandable. Michigan's football season ended with six losses in its last eight games, including a close call against Ohio State and a boring bowl loss to Kansas State. Meanwhile the basketball team just beat Michigan State last week and is the only Big Ten team that's still unbeaten in conference play.

Still, it was surprising to see so few threads about football on Michigan message boards at the moment because this still is Michigan football we're talking about.

Maybe Al Borges being fired caused everybody to put the pitchforks away?

What football talk there is centers on general recruiting, with the biggest news currently being the recruitment of five-star defensive linemen Malik McDowell.

What they're saying is ... it does/doesn't look good on McDowell. McDowell, who is ranked as the third-best defensive linemen in the 2014 class and the best player in the state of Michigan is planning to visit LSU or Ohio State this weekend. McDowell unofficially visited Michigan in September, but hasn't been back since. Meanwhile he visited both Florida State and Michigan State in the last few weeks. The good news, however, is that McDowell is expected to have an in-home with Brady Hoke this week.

As you'd expect, this is causing some Michigan fans to lose faith in getting the top player in the state, and others clinging for hope with typical message board rationalizing. Oh, and of course there's the "HE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT ACADEMICS" talk, which is on the message boards of every school ever. Here's a sampling of what they're saying courtesy of 247Sports (VIP access required):

  • "Personally I don't think we have a prayer.....but hey, crazier things have happened."
  • "Not bad news. Apparently he isn't solid to MSU. Also, it appears he is using his recruitment to enjoy himself a bit. At the least, there is a family split that is making him look [out of state]. That means Michigan is still in it. If Michigan wasn't in it, he would be solid to MSU IMO."
  • "Maybe the kid is scheduling them for fun?"
  • "the interesting thing will be what he says after coach Hoke's in-home later this week. If he's still not using that [official visit] for Michigan after talking to Hoke, I will really start to doubt our chances."
  • "1% [chance McDowell commits to Michigan]."
  • "Here's what we gotta accept. As much as Malik's dad can pine on and on about academics....look at the schools Malik chose to visit....he personally clearly doesn't give a rip about academics. Which is fine. To each his own."

And what we're thinking is ... there just isn't a lot of excitement surrounding Michigan recruiting at the moment. As we said, most of the talk on message boards lately involves basketball and the awesomeness of Nik Stauskas. McDowell is the recruit du jour at the moment, and for good reason as the Wolverines can always use more talent on the defensive line. Any team can.

But overall there's just a lack of buzz. It's not that Michigan's 2014 class is bad or anything. The truth is it's pretty good, as it is ranked as the No. 15 class in the country, and No. 2 in the Big Ten. It's just that ever since Jabrill Peppers -- the top-rated athlete in the 2014 class -- committed in May things haven't been all that exciting. A McDowell commitment would change all of that.

Even if McDowell goes elsewhere the buzz will return. It always does. The disappointment of the 2013 season is still fresh in everybody's mind, and like a bad break up, Wolverines fans just need some time alone to work things out before they dive head-first into another relationship with the 2014 season. And once they get there we expect the talk will turn to Brady Hoke and the relative warmth of the seat he's sitting on.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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