The Mighty 'M' And The Magical Swoosh
There are only two ways a relationship can end: in death, or in a breakup. That's it.
In 2007, Michigan left the Nike brand in favor of Adidas -– and for a legitimate reason: they got more money. In fact, the Adidas deal was the largest for any collegiate school at the time in the United States.
It wasn't your fault Nike, maybe Michigan wanted to see other
While Michigan rocked the Adidas logo on their uniforms, their first year with the three stripe brand left about nine stripes in the loss column. The second year with Adidas (and with Rich Rodriguez at the helm) saw the Wolverines miss another bowl game.
Maybe it wasn't the Adidas brand's fault for the Wolverines struggles. Rich-Rod implemented the spread-offense in Ann Arbor –- which traditionally saw the pro-style attack under Lloyd Carr –- and it didn't work. Ryan Mallett left the program for Arkansas, and wide receivers Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington bolted for the NFL Draft after Rodriguez became head coach. Combine departures with inexperienced players, and you have a formula for a train wreck of historical proportions.
However, is it a coincidence that Michigan, who (at the time) hadn't recorded a losing season since 1967, began a new era with Adidas with two losing seasons in a row?
Trick question. There are no coincidences o_O. *puts on tinfoil hat*
Michigan did make it to the Gator Bowl in Rich-Rod's last season, but got blown out of Jacksonville by way of a 52-14 beat down.
Athletic Director Dave Brandon proceeded to fire Rodriguez and hire Brady Hoke. Spoiler alert: Rodriguez went to Arizona, and built a powerhouse that could compete for a Pac-12 title, and Hoke failed to meet expectations as Rodriguez's successor.
If this was a trial, Rodriguez and Hoke would be found not guilty for the downfall of Michigan, while the jury is still deliberating if Brandon should be found guilty for tanking the program.
But there is still one party left to be tried: Adidas. A case of the wrong logo at the wrong time? Maybe it was one too many throwback/alternate jerseys for the Wolverines?
Unfortunately, the court of public opinion will always win. No matter if you're innocent, you will be crucified by the public if they think you are the problem. When Michigan became a fragment of its former self, some people blamed the move to Adidas. It gets worse when you watch your nemesis, Ohio State, win the National Championship wearing the Nike swoosh while you sit at home thinking about how to be relevant again.
The search for relevancy went from being a light-through-a-pin-hole to blinding soon after the Buckeyes hoisted the championship trophy in Dallas on January 12th. Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh in the hope he can pick up the pieces and turn the Wolverines back into National Championship contenders.
Then this happened.
See Nike, it wasn't your fault
Michigan re-signed with Nike and made a bunch of money in the process. The Block 'M' carries weight, but even more so when it shows signs of winning. With Harbaugh (who's had a track record of success) it seems obvious that Michigan will win. It may take a year, but improvement year-in and year-out is almost a guarantee.
People remember the Nike Michigan as a winner. Worse case scenario: we go to the Outback Bowl. Best case: pack up the family, we're going to a Rose Bowl!
With Adidas, if Michigan just got to a bowl game, that was reason for celebration. It shouldn't be that way, though. Take it from a Buckeye: a bad Michigan is bad for everybody (especially the Big Ten). Ohio State-Michigan has lost its pop, and became a fizzle at best after the 2006 "Game of the Century" meeting in Columbus. Rivalries are suppose to be slugfests every year, not blowouts. Harbaugh can make Michigan a power again, all while wearing the magical swoosh.
As I said before: relationships can only end in two ways. This time around, we saw the breakup of Michigan with Adidas.
More importantly, we saw the death of Michigan football being average.