The general tenor on the board concerning the state of the program seems to be that Hoke was a bad hire from the start and that his initial success in 2011 was primarily due to Denard "saving us" inspite of Hoke's ineptituted, as well as a defense which improved but ultimately simply enjoyed being on the positive side of the bell curve when it came to turnover margin and 50/50 plays (which even then was acknowledged as unsustainable).
It seems to me that if Hoke, Borgess, Funk et. al. are/were inept, which is clearly the belief now, then either they've always been inept or somehow became inept over the course of the past few seasons. We talk a lot about an increase in recruited talent not translating into on-field success and, rightly, attribute that to coaching... and some of us have gone to 11 with the vitriol.
But this staff, by all accounts, NAILED IT in 2011. Despite what many posters, contributors, and even Brian might recall now, while the 2011 season was happening we did NOT think we were winning despite this staff's (lack of) ability, we thought we were winning because of their ability. We lauded the fact that they came into a situation with limited personnel, limited depth, and players who were unsuited to Hoke's particular vision of football and guided them to an 11 win, BCS bowl season. It seems to me that if this staff is now just a group of inept, out-of-their-depth neophites, we'd have picked up on that in 2011 (we certainly seem to see it that way now). But go back and read the write ups and comments after the Nebraska win, and the OSU win.
Here's what Brian had to say after the Nebraska pummeling:
I was wrong. I was mad when Michigan hired Brady Hoke because I though it was a capitulation, that it was Michigan returning to the things that made it such a frustrating team to root for once Lloyd Carr stopped having the best defense in the universe.
It turns out as I was sitting in the stands burning up inside as Rocky Harvey scatbacked Illinois to victory or Michigan punted itself into oblivion against OSU, Brady Hoke was standing on a sideline burning up inside, whether it was at Michigan Stadium or somewhere in the MAC. Hoke does not want to lead by 17. He wants to lead by 21, dammit. If anything, the playcalling this year has been too aggressive what with the constant unleashing of the dragon
If this feels like getting back to Michigan, it's the Michigan of your dreams, the Michigan you left back in Peoria when you shipped to Saigon. You've got one good picture of her and she's that pretty every day in an ugly place. "This Is Michigan" is about the idea, not the reality—at least not a reality from the last 20 years. So far. Days like Saturday inch us closer to the picture in our heads.
Here were his thoughts after OSU:
I could not have been more wrong about Hoke. He's not the milquetoast win-by-not-losing sort. He's not even average. He has a gut feel that is on par with every RPG minimaxing engineer out there. Forged by the fires of MAC defenses, Hoke has learned to push when he should and pull back when he should. I would not want to play poker against him.
I know Hoke talks about toughness and physicalness even if the latter isn't really a word, and that's fine and important. It's half of the equation. The other half is putting your guys in position to take advantage of that. Hoke does that. MANBALL: pretty much not pejorative anymore.
Undertand, this isn't a Brian "callout;" we all thought we were seeing the same thing here. (Go read how we - and I use "we" as the "collective mood of the board" - felt after Hoke won the Conference Coach of the Year award.) I was in agreement with Brian's analysis then, and I'm more or less on board with the "this staff looks out of its depth now" sentiment. But while we're duscussing how we got from THERE to HERE, the conversation is always about how much this staff, particulary on offense, just seems to "not get it." There is no talk about how they went from "getting it" to, well, "not."
Now... after the Sugar Bowl we were all a little *yeesh* about the offense, and had no illusions that the Alabama game in Dallas was going to go well for us. Brian's write-up mentions worries that now seem prescient.
ALL RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A TALK. Holy pants the offense. This was the third time this year Michigan's offense was just beyond terrible; they lost the other two but horseshoed themselves the Sugar Bowl. It was imperative that Michigan establish something VT had to react to, but they never did. Their big tactical innovation for this game was a not-very-spread formation with a TE, a tailback, and Odoms in motion for a jet sweep fake. That worked on the first play of the game when Odoms got the edge and then hardly ever again. I don't understand Michigan's emphasis on running to the perimeter against a defense like VT's that thrives on getting their safeties to tackle in space. Meanwhile, Michigan receivers got zero separation all night, allowing VT to tee off on the run with impunity. Michigan needs an athleticism upgrade there.
However, we didn't think this staff was out of its depth by any stretch. Now, we act like it's been evident since day one and only Denard, Molk, Martin, Kovacs and luck saved us that year. We went from calling out other fan bases for ripping on Hoke's looks, his weight and his demeanor, to doing it ourselves.
These things we point to now, these "basic," "egregious," and "nearly comical" errors that are so plain to us today, were some of them there in 2011? To me, it's more than "we now have more data." I can see how the results of this season and the two prior outweigh 2011; but the rhetoric now is "they've clearly always been incompetent," yet that wasn't our take back then. We Legitimately thought these coaches were good 4 years ago, now there's no way they were ever anything but a gang of monkey's fucking a football.
How did WE, as a blog, a board, a group of "compatriots," get from THERE to HERE? Lack of results on the field, sure. But to go from one extreme to the other in terms of our affection for this staff, our confidence in them... talk to me a little bit about your experience going from "there" to "here."