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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
WolverineNation mailbag

By Michael Rothstein

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Could a former Michigan coach return? What will Michigan’s record be next football season? This basketball season?

These questions and more are answered in this week’s WolverineNation mailbag. Chantel has the mailbag next week, so drop her questions at jenningsespn@gmail.com or @chanteljennings on Twitter.

Now, to your questions:

apachehank from The Den: Based on a more favorable football schedule next year, do you think Michigan will have more wins next year than it did this year? I know the defense had a lot of young players who will be returning but still question marks for offensive line and impact players on offense.

There is still a long, long way to go, but my way-too-early answer for this is yes. The schedule goes a long way to that, both in getting those big three opponents at home and the lack of an Alabama on the schedule as well. I think the schedule also sets up better for Michigan to build confidence. Depending what happens against Notre Dame -- and the Irish will be pretty good again next season -- Michigan could be 7-0 or 6-1 heading into November (its toughest games are home against the Irish and at Penn State). That’s when the schedule gets really difficult, with games at Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa along with home games against Nebraska and Ohio State, but by then a young offensive line will have time to build chemistry and Devin Gardner will be approaching a full season’s worth of starts at quarterback. That plus confidence is a huge deal when it comes to college football -- just ask the guys on the 2011 team. So what does all of that mean? Not terribly much right now, but I could envision a 9-3 record for Michigan next season with the way the schedule shakes out balancing out a team that will, at least offensively, have some early lumps next season.

Joe Flacco & Cam Cameron
Former Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has Michigan ties, but a return is a long shot.
Jon from Bowling Green, Ohio: With Cam Cameron being fired from the Baltimore Ravens and knowing he is a Michigan guy, is there any chance they try to bring him on staff in any capacity? I know there are no open coaching staff positions but for someone who is held in high regard in Michigan circles, would they possibly create one?

I don’t know if I see it. While Cameron has ties to Michigan -- he was a graduate assistant and quarterbacks/receivers coach here from 1983 to 1993 -- he hasn’t coached extensively with many people on this staff other than Greg Mattison. I also don’t know where you’d put him. Cameron has either been a college head coach or NFL offensive coordinator since 1997, so I don’t know if he’d go back to college to be a position coach. I just don’t know where you’d fit him in at this point but if an opening happens, could be worth watching.

br220253 from The Den: With the basketball team losing as many as seven players after this season (seniors and assuming Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. leave), will they still stick with just three recruits for 2013? If they are going after more, top targets?

While Michigan will lose a lot of players after the season, three of those guys are walk-ons in Josh Bartelstein, Eso Akunne and Corey Person. Matt Vogrich is definitely gone as he is out of eligibility, and Blake McLimans is also likely gone, although he has one more year of eligibility left. If only those guys leave, Michigan is full as far as scholarships. On your assumption Burke and Hardaway both leave, Michigan would have a couple of open scholarships (and that’s without potential attrition/NBA jump of other guys) so they might look at someone late. Remember, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert didn’t show up on the radar until last season ended. I could see Michigan taking one if it found the right fit, but I could also see them banking the scholarship(s) for 2014, where as of now Michigan would take 2-3 players.

skeeskeet from The Den: It is still very early and in my opinion we haven’t seen any big tests, however from what we’ve seen so far, how do you see the basketball team faring once conference play starts?

I’d disagree with you on the “big tests,” as NC State is a good team and Pitt should be in the NCAA tournament. That said, the schedule ratchets up in January. A ridiculously good Big Ten combined with likely struggles at some point for Michigan’s freshmen will lead to a few losses. I think Michigan’s first loss comes at Ohio State on Jan. 13 and I see four losses in the Big Ten -- at OSU, at Indiana, at Wisconsin and at Michigan State. A fifth loss is possible either at Minnesota or Illinois, but a 14-4 or 13-5 record will be among the best in the Big Ten this season.