...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
The University of Michigan claims to be the leaders and best. Whether it be in the classroom or on the football field the U of M strives for excellence. From the most wins all time, to the hightest winning percentage, to the largest stadium in the country the University of Michigan has staked its claim in the college football world. The football program, however, has failed to evolve with the ever changing college football climate, and nothing proves this more than the hiring of Brady Hoke. This hiring is more a triumph of mediocrity than the pursuit of excellence.
The Bowl Championship Series has forever changed the college football landscape. No longer is it good enough to win the Big Ten and defeat a good team in the Rose Bowl. Now, in order to be called the champions, you must defeat another excellent team - the best of the best if you will. Does this mean that every championship prior to the BCS is worthless? Certainly not, but the method to be considered the champion has changed. In the 13 years of the BCS, Michigan has failed to recognize this change of culture. Sure, Michigan has won their share of Big Ten titles in the BCS era, but they have consistently failed to compete when going up against elite competition in BCS bowl games.
Three years ago, it seemed like the Michigan fanbase had come to recognize that a paradigm shift was necessary with regards to our football program. In other words, we were ready to stop throwing rock on first, second and third down. The fanbase clammored for change and a change was made. We dipped our toe in waters of chage, and many found that it was to cold or to uncomfortable. Instead of being the leaders and best, we have opted for the saftey of the past and the comfort of what was familiar.
Winning the Big Ten championship isn't enough anymore. Or at least it shouldn't be if we consider ourselves the "leaders and best". That is the old way of thinking, and it clearly has not been working in the BCS era. I have no doubt that the current coaching staff can stabilize the program and bring it back to where it was under Lloyd Carr. I am confident they can lead the program to Big Ten championships and even win a bowl game every now and then. But I want more. I expect more. This university and its fans should demand more.
Please don't misinterpret the point I am trying to make here. I don't believe that we should play in the BCS championship game every season. Programs have good years and bad years, injuries take their toll on every team, and sometimes you just aren't lucky. But, there is no reason why the Universy of Michigan cannot compete with the best teams in the country on a consistent basis.
Always wondered what happened to him. Article reminded me that RR tried to use wingless Michigan football helmets as motivational tools during the offseason.
So after they announced the hire yesterday, I too was a little peeved. I called my father (who lives and works in Ann Arbor) to get a good feel for what was going on. He made some excellent points which got me off the ledge and onto the Hoke bandwagon. Brian seems to be bent on shooting himself and renouncing everything Michigan, but some of you might find this helpful.
1. The Little Things - His best point IMO, was about the little things. Do you remember when you didn't have to worry about the little things? Do you remember ever worrying about the punt returner catching the ball? Do you remember every worrying about a 25 yard field goal? How about kick coverage stopping the other team before they advance past he 30? Do you ever (In your entire lifetime) remember Michigan turning the ball over the most in the Big Ten?
Hoke will fix the little things. This guy is a detail oriented coach who is tough, challenging, and endearing. He learned from the best, and went out into the coaching world to learn more from experience. Those of you saying that "all RR needed was a good defense" were simply not correct. His special teams were the worst in Michigan history. His turnovers were abundant and devastating in all three years. There are so many fundamental things wrong with this team that we desperatly need to get back to basics. Hoke is the perfect coach to do just that.
2. Where's the BEEF? - I grew up with Michigan football. It means everything to me, and it has given me much more joy than it will ever give me sadness. Going to the Big House is my favorite thing to do - PERIOD. Since I was a kid, I watched Michgan's smashmouth style with glee. I loved seeing the opposing team give up more and more yardage as the game went on. I loved to see us dominate the other team, even though they knew what we were doing. Try to stop us, I dare you.
Hoke will bring back the physicality that has been missing from this team. We had no killer attitude, and no dominating presence. With all the amazing weight training and strength building, we never got to see the Barwis effect on our physical nature. I read that he loves Michigan and might stay. That would be fantastic, and I think Hoke will quickly learn to appreciate his ability to shape and mold players. They won't be focusing on speed and quickness now, as much as raw power and explosion.
Sitting there on New Year's Day I watched in horror as my favorite team was demolished and embarassed. My Mom was remarking that our team just "didn't look like a Michigan team any more." When the Wisc/TCU game came on, she was like, " That! That is what Michigan used to look like!" And she's right. We used to be a team people were scared to play. Not just because of the threat of losing, or the intimidating stadium. We were big and scary - the kind of team that gets off the bus looking like hell is on it's way.
3. A Fanbase united, Finally. - This might seem like it's not such a big deal, but it certainly is. We need our former players to stop saying things like "Lloyd Carr's Michigan." We need all the boosters, facutly, and especially all of you to get behind our new coach 100%. We really, really need Brian to get behind this guy because he is probably one of the most influential Michigan fans in the history of our program. There are so many things out of whack about this team right now that we really need someone to get us back on track.
Hoke isn't a glamour pick. He's not the "hot name" whatever that is. He is simply what we need at this time. I think David Brandon was hired to come in and fix our football program. He is smarter than most of us, and I watched him really get to know the coaches and players on this team. When I went to the Purdue game this year, I sat and watched him, Rich and Rich's son talk for 30 minutes. Most AD's don't even travel with the team for away games. (Esecially not by bus) Hoke is a proven coach that has turned programs around who are perrenial losers. Ball St. quickly went back to a bad school soon after Brady left.
4. Defense wins championships - Michigan fans now know this better than most. The last three years, we have seen why having a great offense isn't really that great. If you have a great defense, you will be in every game you play. Hoke will concentrate on running the ball and stopping the run. This philosophy works today, worked yesterday, and will always work in football. I know that the spread is fun to watch, and that the two teams in the title game this year ran the spread. It's all over college football because it works. That doesn't mean smashmouth football doesn't work, though. Any offensive scheme can be run successfully. In fact I could point out several championship teams in this decade that were as good as any spread team. Bringing the core values of what we all know to be Michigan football back to the Big House is what David Brandon did. I applaud him, and can't wait to see this team next year. GO BLUE!!!
Most of you will say, "TL, DR" - or something like that. But I'm writing this for the few out there that will have a bit of an epiphany like I did yesterday. I'm really looking forward to smacking other teams in the mouth again. Look at BH's stats from previous schools, he's not all about running the ball every play. Hell, we used to turn out NFL QB's like we were growing them in petri dishes. It's all headed back to us now. And who's to say that we can't throw some option in there as we're driving defenses into the ground? Bo ran some option back in the day, peeps.
Today's "snow armageddon" in the southeast got me to thinking . . .
For those of you that live in the south, y'all know what kind of reaction there is to a predicted snow storm. For those in the north, a snow storm is an everyday occurrence and you probably laugh hysterically at the reaction of southerners. (Yes, all of the bread and toilet paper in the local Target here was gone by early evening yesterday in preparation for the 4-8 inches of snow predicted).
On my enjoyable drive into work this morning, with the roads to myself, I started comparing the physical and emotional reactions of people to approaching wintry weather compared to the reaction to coaching changes across the country. As the analysis evolved, it became pretty entertaining and I wanted to share in case you are entertained as well. What I've tried to do is match the reactions to snow storms based on geographic location to the reactions of a fan base to a coaching change at a particular school. Here's some categories I've created - please feel free to add more that you believe are pertinent, especially for schools/locations that are less extreme examples that the ones I chose:
Snow in Georgia = Coaching Change at Michigan: I think this fits. Those of you in Georgia (Atlanta, in particular) that deal with approaching snow storms know how drastically people freak out when even a hint of snow is forecasted. I think this is how the coaching change/search has gone with Michigan fans:
Everyone that freaked out about a change are analogous to southerners living in Georgia that are not used to the snow. Those that did not want a coaching change were aware that a change could occur but were emotionally unprepared and started freaking out when it became a foregone conclusion (equivalent to southerners flocking to the grocery store to get milk and bread).
Everyone that welcomed the change are analogous to northerners living in Georgia that feel comfortable in anticipation of a snow storm. Those that welcomed the coaching change believed it would be "all good" and did not worry. However, once the change came they quickly realized that they were not prepared for the fallout and became extremely nervous and began expressing their reservations. For example, Atlanteans (?) realized that getting to work from the suburbs was almost an impossible exercise, just as the coaching change at Michigan has frustrated many to the point of trying to remove themselves emotionally.
[You could probably substitute several schools here including, but not limited to, Florida(?) and USC(?)]
Snow in Michigan = Coaching Change at Eastern Michigan: You could substitute a number of schools here but I thought Eastern was the most fun. Everyone that lives in or has driven regularly in Michigan knows that snow in that state is a regular occurrence and almost all but disregarded. (As an aside, I can remember being in school up there in 1993, probably the worst winter I've experienced, and classes went on as usual. I remember walking to the Frieze Building in a -60 degree wind-chill for my 8am calculus class. And I also remember commuting to work on roads covered in ice with people driving at least the speed limit, seemingly oblivious to the ice.)
I imagine this to be the same for die-hard fans of Eastern Michigan football (are there any???). They basically expect a coaching change every 2-3 years as part of the game. Just as players graduate and new players must be recruited, so do coaches at schools like Eastern.
[Other analogous schools = Minnesota(?), Washington(?)]
Snow in Florida = Coaching Change at Penn State: This one is the most enjoyable to discuss . . . Everyone in Florida knows that it could, one day, snow there. Every Penn State fan understands that, some day, Joe Paterno will retire, be fired, or pass away on the job. Nevertheless, each year that goes by where neither happens leaves Florida residents less prepared just as it leaves Penn State fans unprepared for a change. In particular, every year, Penn State's coveted assistants get wooed by other schools (e.g. Bradley) and Penn State fans freak out that their coach-in-waiting is going to be gone. When the time actually comes, if ever, its going to be very entertaining to watch.
Snow in Canada = Coaching Change at Notre Dame: Per jHackney. Self-explanatory.
Will there be a final piece on mgoblog of college football TWIS?
The Chernobylesque manner in which UM boards are melting down today, followed by the Big Ten bowl debacles, crazy coaching changes, and recruit de- and re-commitmases, plus Ohio State vs. ArkanSAW!.....man, plenty of material dudes.