(image swiped from The Wizard Of Odds)

Amidst considerable chatter that he’s just keeping the headset warm for Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez insists the Wolverines’ 7-5 campaign is a sign of a program on the rise.  The Detroit Free Press’ Mark Snyder isn’t buying it ; “his primary answer remained the same: it’s the areas away from public view…that better be the case, because if he’s pointing to what is evident, it’ll be a hard sell.”

A thin aspect of the seven victories is the analysis of who they were against — teams that are a combined 37-44. It’s difficult to find a quality win in the bunch and only two of the seven (Connecticut in the opener and Bowling Green) could be considered decisive games.

That might be the best sign of progress, as U-M was able to win the close games this year, a major problem the previous two years. But that can be framed again: against lesser competition, should they even be that close?

In the five losses, all to upper-division Big Ten teams, Michigan couldn’t claim to be competitive, which at least occurred occasionally in 2009.

it’s not a clear case that Michigan has improved on the field. And that’s why Rodriguez has to point elsewhere.