Its afternoon in the homeroom and they're about to let you go.
And the locker slam on the plan you had tonight.
You’ve been messing around with a boyfriend maybe better left alone.
There's a wise guy that you know could put you right.
Michigan football, we seemed prepared. The hype was there. The players, the Team. If we made such outlandishly long strides during Brady Hoke’s first season, the bounds and leaps we must have taken since the Sugar Bowl could encompass the house that Jerry built. Michigan football is back to the glory it experienced last in the late 90’s. Of course, everyone knew that if Alabama played their best game, they would be very difficult to beat. Just like the seniors guys in high school, the good-looking, football players, they could prey upon sophomore girls with flashy smiles and high-fives. We would be left to clean up the scraps and handle the left-overs.
The game started and the defense took the field. Lacy rush for 2 yards. Defense looked fast. Flying to the ball. Bama incomplete pass. The defense was there anyway. Third down. Good push on defense, two Wolverines, including Jake Ryan, force the throw to…not sure if that’s intentional grounding, but lord knows we get some no-calls our way sometimes. Bama lines up to punt. At this point, I knew we were going to win.
When Bama got the ball back, I was feeling good. So far, our defensive line, the thing I was most concerned about, was seeming to get a pretty strong push against one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Then, Alabama marched down the field, gaining 38 yards on the ground and 23 through the air. The only play during this drive that Alabama didn’t move forward was a false start. The locked slammed. Alabama was the wise guy, and I knew that he was going to put me right. My mind was racing. Maybe we shouldn’t have scheduled a neutral site game against Bama. How come we aren’t playing directional Michigan. Where is Miami(NTM)? We are playing with the big boys now, and we are in for some ...Adult Education.
In the lot the boy that's idling by doesn’t' rev your heart.
Cause it's only lonely spots he shares with you.
And the long halls and the gray walls are gonna split apart.
Believe it or not there's life after high school.
Another three and out for Michigan. Bama gets the ball. Countess goes home. A man opens our locker door again, only to slam it back shut. Bama gets the ball back. Courtney Avery slips. 51 yard TD for Bama. It’s only the first quarter, the game is clearly not over, but as I stand in this parking lot and watch the chances slip away. The single barrel knob creek goes back on the shelf. The Jack Daniel’s comes out. We are on a path right now, and it is dark, and colorless. My buddy calls, one who asked if “I really thought that Michigan has a chance to beat Alabama.” He reminds me “its only the first game.” We had nothing to lose, remember. Nobody (except Mayweather and the rest of the Michigan faithful) thought we had any chance of beating Bama. We were going to show them wrong, it wasn’t supposed to go down like this. Believe it or not, however, the season moves on. It is Monday* already, and that means there are only five days of practice before we get a chance to put some of these pieces back where they belong.
The student body’s got a bad reputation.
What they need is adult education.
Back to school it's a bad situation.
But what you want is an adult education.
Michigan fans, you know, their the worst. Arrogant. Self-entitlement. Haven’t been good for years and still act like nobody can stop us. Similar to becoming an upperclassmen. We own this campus, right? We own it by right, and because the school song says so. “Leaders and the best.” We’ve paid our dues. The Rich Rod years, the under-performing talent from Carr’s final years. Michigan is back, FERGODSAKES. Who can match the style and character of the Wolverines. Certainly, as we get our faces stomped on by a team that is clearly better than us, I held my head high, mostly thanks to the Jack Daniel’s that seemed to be leaving my glass faster than I could refill it. I knew we weren’t going to win, I just refused to believe my own knowledge.
Bama continued to score, and have our way with us on both sides of the ball. Every time Denard threw the ball, I closed my eyes and cringed a bit. I have faith in Denard, I have faith in him winning games that it seems that Michigan has no right in winning. The magic wasn’t there. It was disappointing, especially because of the national spotlight.
The teacher don't know about how to deal with the student body.
And the underclassmen are flashing hot and cool.
All your girlfriends care about the watch you wear and they're talking about it.
Believe it or not there's life after high school.
The Uniforms. I have come to realize that under the current regime (Dave Brandon), the uniforms will be messed with. I know, I know, tradition, blah blah blah. I get it. Don’t change what’s not broken. I have played football in several different uniforms. Never once while I was playing did I think “hmm, this piping on my sleeve is really hampering my ability to compete at a top level.”
By now, it was half-time, and my head was throbbing. All the adrenaline I had started the game with had been slammed up in that locker at the start of the game. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted Bama to stop running the ball. It was painful to watch. The coaches, I could tell that they thought we were ready. They thought they had the plan, they thought they knew. A quote from Mattison popped in to my head. “When you’re pressuring, if a guy like Denard is taking off, it makes it look like it’s not a very good defense sometimes, but you can’t gear everything towards stopping Denard. That’s what we on defense have to always talk about. We have to get ready for the season. We can’t worry about what he’s doing to us.” Does this mean our defense isn’t ready?. Boy is it frustrating.
They're calling it a preparation.
You’re waiting for a separation.
You’re nothing but another odd number,
Memories that you wont remember.
So you got a little education.
And a lot of dedication.
But you want a little night school.
Maybe some of it will rub off on you.
The boys are busy in the mirrors.
Trying to imitate their heroes.
You make it with a false surrender.
More memories you wont remember.
The senior with the junior missus
I wonder what the junior wishes.
That she could graduate to adult.
That she could graduate to adult kisses.
This game, it was a measuring stick for us. As I said before, of course I thought we were going to win. Or show up. Or compete well even after the game was over. It is just so incredibly frustrating that we didn’t play our best game. I don’t know if we would have won. I don’t know if we would have been able to keep it close. But at least, if we had showed up and not had our locker slammed shut, we would have had a chance to use the measuring stick and see where we were at. I won’t remember, at the end of the season, how the Alabama gouged use for an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Yeah, we learned a bit about where we stand next to, potentially the best team this year. But just like when I was in high school, I refuse to believe what I learned, only that we aren’t there yet.
At the end of the night, I was moderately toasted. The glass I was drinking my Jack Daniel’s from had been replaced by the bottle itself. I stared at myself in the mirror, knowing now what my identity was but still refusing to believe it. False surrender, that is what I am showing. I will tell my friends, of course we were going to lose to Bama, they are good at football, very good. But it’s lies. I didn’t think we could lose. I knew we were going to win. The world was going to be shocked. Michigan stamped its foot down last year, as if to remind the country that they are still relevant. Alabama serves as a healthy reminder that we are rebuilding, not rebuilt.
I would like to relate a story to you from 2006. Ball Sate, coached by Brady Hoke, came to the big house. Michigan was currently undefeated. The Cardinals managed to barely lose to Michigan, causing one of Mike Hart's only fumbles of ever (it was counted as a safety, not a fumble). There was a facebook group started called "We made the Big House go quiet." (Facebook was still cool then, yo.) Nate Davis's final desperation heave fell incomplete, and we went home with a loss, and the spirits were high. We would go on to finish that season 5-7, winning both games after we played Michigan. However, Monday morning, Coach Hoke adressed the team. He told us we needed to build on the positives, that we needed to use the energy we had taken with us to Ann Arbor and move forward to the rest of the season. This my friends, is when Coach Hoke told us that "a moral victory is still a .... loss."
I understand that playing Alabama, there was no moral victory. I am proud of the way our players continued to try, long after the game was over. Dennis Norfleet, Devin Gardner, there are certainly positives we can take from this. Jordan Kovacs said it best though.
We can't let Alabama beat us twice
Time spent in my (almost) three short seasons with Coach Brady Hoke.
I was never that good at football. I was a decent blocker, and I could catch most balls that were thrown in my direction, but I was never particularly fast and my route running was, in Coach Hoke’s words himself, “Satisfactory at best.” The main two things I had going for me in my ability to become a member of the Ball State Football team were that I could punt a ball 75 yards in the air easy, and that my best friend from high school was a full ride three year starter at linebacker.
After being recruited to the Ohio Bobcats, the Kentucky Wildcats, the Akron Zips, Ball State University, and Purdue University, I left high school with exactly zero offers save a preferred walk-on spot as a so called “ATHLETE” at Ball State. After graduating high school in the winter, I chose to attempt to walk on to the Purdue Boilermakers before spring ball. The special teams coach there told me I needed to be in better shape and make sure my grades were good, and he would possibly have a spot for me in the fall. The afore mentioned special teams coach took a job with Ball State that summer, and I had already considered leaving Purdue because I wanted to get out of my hometown, West LAFFALOT, so I followed him there and walked on the following spring. This is how I came to have Brady Hoke as my head coach.
In order to put any of these memories into order, I would have to write them all before posting any. Instead, these diaries will be more of little glimpses into my interactions with Coach, absolutely not in chronological order. These are not exact quotes; it is much too hard for me to remember word for word what was said 5-8 years ago.
The Compliance Story
I will start off with one that I posted in this thread; I apologize for those of you who have already read this one.
At the beginning of the season, an NCAA compliance guy comes in to talk about the rules of the NCAA and what the coaches can and can’t force us to do. He tells us about the amount of practice time we can use a week, the amount of time spent in non-practice, football related activities we can spend each week. He tells us that summer ball is and will always be optional. He also talks about receiving improper benefits and what it can do to a football program and coach if you get caught. After he left, first our strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman (currently still on Coach Hoke’s staff) comes in and tells us, “That guys a prick. Always trying to make my job harder.”
Coach Hoke then comes in. “I hope you guys were listening,” he starts. “Everything that guy said is true. We can’t force you to be at practice more than X hours each week. I can’t make you come to morning conditioning when you have practice in the afternoon. Hell, we can’t even make you play football here. If you don’t want to wash your hands after you piss, were not going to make you do that either,” he continues, as a few people in the room start to chuckle and understand what our great Coach is telling us. “You don’t even have to go to class tomorrow if you don’t want. In fact, if you guys don’t feel like eating tomorrow, or the rest of your life, be my guest.”
By now, the majority of the room was laughing. Coach Hoke quieted us down and said more seriously, “You will practice, with us, for the maximum amount of hours we are allowed to. Everything on top of that will be voluntary. Those of you who choose to volunteer for these additional hours, you are the ones who make this team better, you are the ones who will stay on scholarship, you are the ones who will see the field and produce on the field.”
Near the beginning of the fall after I walked on, Coach Hoke talked to us a little bit about academics and athletics.
“I want you guys to know that the reason you are attending this great university is to get a degree. Football might have been your deciding factor, but my job is to make sure that you receive an education off the field as well. You can do whatever you want with it; just help me to finish my job.
"To help you guys remember this, I made these numbers.” Coach Hoke then holds up two pieces of paper with a very large ‘1’ and ‘2’ printed on each piece respectively. “So guys,” he bellows, “Remember….Academics…#1,” he says, while holding up the sign that says ‘2.’ Aaron Wellman stands next to him pointing to the sign. Coach Hoke then switches to the #1 sign and continues, “Athletics….Number 2!” This time Wellman is using a two fingered point at the sign that says #1. Everyone in the room is laughing and nodding their head. Coach Hoke then puts back up the sign that says #2 and says again, “So, academics here,” and switching signs back to the #1, “Football here. Does everyone understand that?”
So, I’ve got to get this bar open and I’ve squandered all my time on writing this. I’m going to continue writing these little memoirs if ya’ll would like me to, the next one that I already started on is entitled “BRADY HOKE…THE PUNISHMENT FITS THE CRIME”
Thanks for reading…
EDIT: Just want to add this second disclaimer. I know these first two stories I've posted scream "OMG COMPLIANCE NOOO." I posted these two stories because these were two of the first interactions I had with Coach Hoke. I wouldn't worry too much. I don't know that I have any more stories about the NCAA compliance guy and Coach Hoke that go together, you can take what you want from what I have to say but please don't take 10 minutes of the countless hours I've spent with Coach Hoke and say, "Augh! compliance VIOLATIONS!"