Craze for Maize
This is my first Diary entry. Go easy please.
December 17, 2007: Rich Rodriguez aimlessly answers questions from the press, clearly unprepared. The introduction to be the University of Michigan’s next head football coach hadn’t gone as well as he had hoped.
On January 8, 2008, Rodriguez met with the team for the first time. In that room sat a young red shirt freshman by the name of David Molk. He was too small to start. In the fall, the rest of what would be Senior Clas, 132, stepped on campus. Names like Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, Junior Hemingway, all unaware of the ups and downs of their future. With the mindset that Michigan would be consistently tough to beat, 2008 would be a rude awakening. Both the players and coaches would take plenty of heat. Molk would go on to talk about the lack of support from the fans. These players didn’t deserve that. The next three seasons would be among the most disappointing in the school’s great history.
Fast forward now to January, 2011. Rodriguez had just suffered an unexplainable beating at the hands of Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Coming off a season where there was no defense and no kicking game, Dave Brandon had to make a move. On January 11, Brady Hoke was introduced. Alumni got what they wanted, a Michigan Man. Hoke would start off his career in a way most coaches could only hope. For those who were not thrilled by the hire, the press conference won most over.
This is Michigan fergodsakes.
As the Spring Game approached, in 2011, the Seniors of Team 132 took it upon themselves to be leaders like never before. Sick of the losing endured through the past 3 years, they were on a mission. In April, as the Spring Game took place, you could feel something different. The emphasis on defense, the fresh start, and the sense of optimism.
On the eve of Brady Hoke’s debut, the team had their annual ritual of going to Campus Inn with plenty in mind. September 3rd would answer many questions. Would the offense still use Denard? Would the defense improve at all? As Western Michigan drove down the field on the first drive, it appeared like the defense was the same as the year before. As the game played out, the defense grew more confident, and as fan watching the game, you felt like they could finally make stops. The debut of Brady Hoke was cut short, but the team showed improvement.
On September 10, 2011, Michigan Stadium would host a night game for the first time. A slow start didn’t look well for Team 132. On the first play of the 4th quarter, the momentum began to change. Just minutes later, as Michigan scored again, the crowd was back into it, singing along to 7th Nation Army. Notre Dame scored with less than a minute left, and it felt like life left the stadium, but Team 132 demonstrated what they had all along throughout their careers. Never stop fighting. Never give up. Roundtree made the leaping grab to give Michigan the win in a game that won’t be forgotten.
November 26, 2011, Ohio would invade the Big House. Michigan was fresh off a dominating, and complete all around performance vs. a top 25 Nebraska squad. A week filled with Beat Ohio cheers everywhere, the Maui Invitational, and Yost Arena alike. The 1st half of the game was not what many envisioned as Michigan trailed. With under 3 minutes to play it seemed like the 7 year curse was over. Toussaint had scored to make it a 2 possession game. That is, until it was under review. For what seemed like an eternity, Don’t Stop Believen played over the Big House speakers as the stadium awaited the call. As the call was overturned to many objections, the players would stay calm. Denard roled out and scored. Finally. But wait, 2 more penalties. This would lead to Brendan Gibbon’s career long field goal, and what a perfect time to nail it. As the clock hit 45 seconds, Courtney Avery came down with Braxton’s pass. Minutes later the field was full of the rejoicing fans. Ohio Beat. What a perfect way to end the season.
The Seniors who went through more than anything and were rewared with a BCS Bowl. The man who was too small too start, would miss the first possession. At that point it did not look promising. On a night of slow offense and poor 3rd down defense, Michigan would find a way to get in to overtime. As Brendan Gibbons walked out to attempt a 43 yard field goal, the same Virginia Tech had just missed, no one knew what to expect. A fitting end to finish off Team 132 and the Senior’s careers. A field goal to win a BCS Bowl, by a kicker who couldn’t make a field goal for a team that could barely make a bowl, just a short year ago. This Senior class demonstrated themselves what it means to stay.
Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.
As the Spring Game nears here in 2012, Michigan will be without those great leaders on Team 132, but what they did for Michigan hasn’t changed. The rebuilding of the football program started with them, and they left with a BCS ring to show for it. As Brady Hoke works into his 2nd year, the cultural change around Michigan is amazing. From the expectations being what they used to be, to the recruiting success, Michigan is back, and with the recruiting, they’re back for good. The leadership will fall on Denard Robinson, Will Cambell, and the Walk on Jordan Kovacs. There’s no little Dave Molk, All State wrestler Mike Martin, RVB, Kevin Koger, or big play Hemingway, but what they taught our new Senior class, Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.
Here’s to great 2012 season.