Michigan Football at a Crossroads

By Kyle Rowland on July 7, 2014 at 8:30a
93 Comments

It’s been quite some time since a group of conqu’ring heroes dashed into Michigan Stadium and leaped to touch the M Club banner. If another season of mediocrity occurs in 2014, Brady Hoke could be out as head coach and Michigan’s once-proud football program could be reeling.

After stumbling through three years of Rich Rodriguez, which yielded a horrendous 15-22 record and three blowout losses to Ohio State, the Wolverines believed they hit the jackpot in hiring Brady Hoke. The Ohio-born Michigan Man understood the culture in Ann Arbor and immediately made friends with his jabs at the Buckeyes.

The first season only added to his popularity.

All the misery washed away in 2011 when Michigan finished 11-2, won the Sugar Bowl and defeated Ohio State for the first time since 2003. But the upward trajectory lasted all of one season. Michigan is 15-11 overall the past two seasons – 9-7 in the Big Ten – with consecutive losses to the hated Buckeyes and an 0-2 record in bowl games.

In three seasons, Hoke is 26-13 with one win over Ohio State, one BCS victory and zero Big Ten titles. According to the head coach himself, those three seasons equal failure.

Said Hoke: “The goal is always to win the Big Ten Championship, and when you don’t, you’ve failed. Then you’ve got to go back to work.”

And it’s not just on-field issues Hoke and the Wolverines are dealing with. There’s a federal investigation into the university’s handling of former punter Brendan Gibbons and an alleged rape. The alleged incident took place in November 2009, but no action was taken against Gibbons until December 2013, when he was “permanently separated” from the university.

Then there’s the attendance issue. For 39 of the past 40 years – and the last 16 – Michigan Stadium has been the nation’s attendance leader. But that could change in 2014. Not only could Michigan be surpassed for the attendance title, but Ohio State is the team that could overtake them.

At the heart of the Wolverines’ issue is the student body. Michigan only expects to sell between 12,000 and 13,000 student season tickets this season, compared to 21,000 in 2012 and 19,000 in 2013, according to the Toledo Blade. A perfect storm has caused the decline – rising ticket prices, a deteriorating product on the field and a putrid home schedule.

Tickets to every Michigan home game can be found for under $30 apiece on the secondary market. Blocks of seats, up to 99 tickets per group, can be purchased through the university for every home game. The Penn State game is limited to 55 tickets. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s student ticket sales and renewal rates from the public are skyrocketing.

Bestselling author John U. Bacon, a noted Michigan football historian, recently wrote a blistering article on athletic director Dave Brandon’s miscalculations relating to the fan experience. Bacon wrote, “TV networks loved showing blimp shots of the sold-out Big House – one of the iconic sights in college football. Now they don’t show any.”

Coaching is a results-oriented business, a fact college football coaches are aware of when they agree to a contract. Gibbons’ alleged transgressions might be overlooked if Michigan was winning. But the microscope becomes more intense when games are lost. Poor attendance, which leads to business losses, only adds to the intense win-now pressure.

The first domino to fall in what could possibly be a win-or-else season for Hoke was the firing of embattled offensive coordinator Al Borges and hiring of Doug Nussmeier, who came from Alabama. Even though the Wolverines struggled mightily on offense last season, Borges’ ouster came as a surprise to many – almost as equally as Hoke’s ability to bring Nussmeier to Ann Arbor.

“Michigan is a program I’ve always had deep respect for, and I’m looking forward to getting started in Ann Arbor and being a part of the great tradition there,” Nussmeier said.

That grand tradition is at a crossroads. If another pedestrian season means Hoke is out, Michigan would be looking for its third head coach since Lloyd Carr retired following the 2007 season. Some Michigan supporters have a dream vision of disgruntled 49ers head coach and former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh returning to his alma mater. It’s interesting to ponder.

The here and now is Hoke, though. He’ll have a talented but unproven roster to work with. The offensive and defensive lines present the biggest question marks, not uncommon with most teams in college football. Jake Ryan and Blake Countess return on defense, which should enhance the unit, and quarterback Devin Gardner gives the offense a dynamic playmaker who will touch the ball every play.

“I think Devin had a pretty good spring,” Hoke said. “He (became) more consistent on a daily basis, I guess is the best way to put it.”

Consistency from Hoke is what the powers that be at Michigan would like to see more of – and not eight-win seasons. The Wolverines are used to 10 wins, conference championships and Rose Bowls. But in this era of commonplace finishes, the Wolverines may as well be Fresno State.

“I think we’re finally there,” Hoke said about establishing depth, not being linked to Fresno State. “With this cycle of recruiting, I think (the players we’ve brought in now) fit the model of what we want to do from an offensive and defensive standpoint, and I think our numbers really reflect that.”

If only the wins and losses reflected progress. 

93 Comments

Comments

BierStube's picture

Ohio-born Michigan Man 

Like most of them ...

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+22 HS
GoBucks713's picture

There needs to be a font for his froggy voice. He sounds like all he needs is a good cough or hack.

Also, he's probably happy with his situation since he's dumb enough to believe that his hot seat will cook bacon.

-The Aristocrats!

+7 HS
Earle's picture

That aroma emanating from Hoke's seat is not the scent of bacon frying.

Just say no to italics abuse.

+7 HS
unknownmusketeer's picture

Maybe this is why he doesn't wear a headset during the game ...

+1 HS
Baroclinicity's picture

It's been beaten to death, but I'll say it again:

We need them to get better.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

+2 HS
BME_Buckeye's picture

No we don't. We need to beat them soundly and develop our players.

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

+24 HS
IH8UOFM's picture

Took the words right out of my mouth

Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

You deserve at least two dozen more stickers for this excellent comment.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Half way home. OSU needs them to improve so the sound beatings look impressive. Beating better teams helps Ohio State. If OSU hands Michigan its only loss or one of its only losses for that matter and does it in an impressive fashion, it means more. OSU will always fight an uphill battle against other conferences. We need the power schools to be better because they are the ones more likely to improve. There is a better chance of Michigan returning to national prominence than NU, IU, Illinois, and Minnesota of even arriving there. Since the B1G has several historically successful programs, the ground work is there to be a power conference. PSU needs to keep getting up off the mat, Nebraska needs to get back to form, Michigan needs to be better, and Sparty needs to continue to improve. With 4 historical winners and a legit national title threat in MSU (if they get there), the B1G's reputation-and as a result, Ohio State's, will drastically improve-which means an undefeated stretch through the B1G means more.

Short sighted to enjoy Michigan's short comings.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

+1 HS
DaveStephens's picture

I've said before I think we'd be just fine without Michigan.  MSU shows promise if they can turn their success over the last few years into something long-term.  But with the new division breakdown, and not much room for cross-divisional rivalries, I'm beginning to agree.  As much as I used to think we'd be just fine with scUM being bad (like, BAD, bad), I don't know that anyone else in the B1G East will stay competitive year in and year out.

The Dude abides.

ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

This is an interesting POV... so on one hand winning all the time is hugely important, which I agree with - why else should sports exist since there is a winner and a loser at the end of the day.  BUT, is winning all the time worth the best rivalry of all sports (arguably) becoming a historical note?  On one hand, we have the richness of tradition, and on the other, win at all costs and damn anything that gets in the way including tradition.

Time will only tell... many who have lived through the Woody/Earle Bruce days would suggest that we are in a weird place in history right now... The funny thing is that there wouldn't be anything that I think Woody would want more than to let tradition be defined as simply winning every single game against TSUN... that would be a grand tradition indeed, but we'll have to go find ourselves a new rival - not convinced it's MSU (yet).

The only thing that I hope to never hear is the same line of arguments they make when we get there (ie, "we have the most wins in college footblah blah blah")

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
808buckeye's picture

We need them to suffer and not get better.  plain and simple

seize the carpe

+1 HS
Bucksfan's picture

I think we give more of a shit about Michigan than Michigan.

+25 HS
Doc's picture

I think you are right Bucksfan.  The fans of TTUN I know think Flounder is turning things around and they will be ok.  How big is Flounder that it takes 4 seasons to turn around?

"Say my name."

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

We're not supposed to give a damn for them.  What is wrong with us?

Class of 2010.

+6 HS
Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

Exactly! Any so-called Buckeye fans that want meeeechegan to improve need to leave this site & join a wolvereeeen site.

OH-IO...GO BUCKEYES!!!!!!!!

-1 HS
ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

That's one of the things that the mgoblog community laughs at us for... they think our site is mostly about them, and that we can't live one day without mentioning or thinking about them... to some degree, they have a point. 

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

Bucksfan's picture

Do they laugh at us for this?

+4 HS
TheShookster's picture

One thing is for sure. There is one great coach in Ann Arbor; the problem is he most certainly is not seen in Michigan Stadium on fall Saturdays. Unless of course the Beilein family happens to be attending the game.

+5 HS
M Man's picture

He's there.  I park about 60 feet from his black Navigator on Saturdays.  Bacari Alexander has the same model.

+1 HS
Brutus' Left Nut's picture

I I'm sure I'll get blasted for this, but I think there is an elite coach in AA - Greg Mattison.  I'm cautiously optimistic about Ash, but if I could have had my pick to fill that position, Greg Mattison would have been towards the top of the list.  He did pretty well last time he was teamed up with Urban too...

Hoke on the other hand has no business being the head coach of a historically great program.

+4 HS
ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

Yup, Urbz wanted him for us, but whatta ya gonna do... we can't have all of them

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

BierStube's picture

I had no problem with Devin's accuracy / consistency last year ...

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+35 HS
gobucks96's picture

That was a perfect back shoulder pass to Powell. Jake Butt had no shot at the ball. Well Done, Devin!

+15 HS
HotSauceCommittee's picture

Butt was padding his fantasy stats with that tackle.

+4 HS
TheShookster's picture

Yeah the thing was Tyvis looked covered but Gardner is so good he threw him open.

+13 HS
mr.green's picture

Nice write-up Kyle. Go Bucks!  

acBuckeye's picture

 “With this cycle of recruiting, I think (the players we’ve brought in now) fit the model of what we want to do from an offensive and defensive standpoint, and I think our numbers really reflect that.”

That's funny, considering Hoke had his best season with most of Rich Rod's players.

+7 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

On a positive note for M*ch^g@n...

+8 HS
rosycheeks's picture

By either legal or illegal means, we need to keep the Harbaughs as far away from Michigan as possible.

+13 HS
swainpm's picture

Screw that I still prefer to beat a #2 Michigan and knock them out of the playoffs. Nothing better. Its fun seeing them lose to App State once in a while but more fun taking their dreams away. Harbaugh might be able to make that happen, Ten Years War 2.0

+1 HS
sharks's picture

'Devin had a great spring,  blah blah consistency...'

We have no idea who our QB will be this fall.

The postgame show is brought to you by... Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it...

+4 HS
Fatpants's picture

Coming from the same buffoon that said, nearly a year ago:

"If Johnny Manziel's our quarterback, he'd probably be playing behind Devin Gardner"

+4 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Michigan sucks.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+11 HS
holein1's picture

I'm having flashbacks of The Game in 2010 (only OSU/Mich game I've ever been to).  Boom Herron punishing M*ch*gan's defense while the Silver Bullets held them scoreless in the 2nd half.  Rich Rod had one of his great quotes during the post-game: "What do you want me to do? Hold hands with all the Buckeye fans and sing 'Kumbaya'?"

Great way to improve a Monday morning after the holiday!

+3 HS
M Man's picture

Unless and until you guys understand what happened and what didn't happen in the supposed Brendan Gibbons case, you ought to quit writing about it.  I've tried my best to straighten it out, and to focus on the real questions (of which I am the first to say there are many).

-3 HS
original buckeye's picture

The "real question" I'd like to see Brady Hoke address is why Hoke allowed Gibbons to suit up for the Michigan football team three days AFTER university determined there is a “preponderance of evidence” to suggest Gibbons committed sexual misconduct.

+13 HS
M Man's picture

I'm not so sure that Hoke or any other AD administrator knew about that letter.  Do you know for sure one way or another?

I am totally certain that Hoke knew that the basic claim was more than three years old and had not resulted in any charges or any university punishment to that point. 

The letter to which you refer was NOT the letter in which the University expelled Gibbons.  You probably knew that; some of the less well-informed might not.  I'm not so sure whether Gibbons had been given any sort of opportunity to respond at the time of the letter to which you referred.  In any event, the actual decision to expel him occurred later, and the basis for the decision remains -- by every account I know of -- confidential and undisclosed, including to the football program.

As I have pointed out many times before, I am not blindly defending my alma mater in this case.  I am severely critical of the inner workings of UM student "conflict resolution" and the extraordinary pressure being exerted by the Obama Administration in these cases across the country.

It's not a football fandom issue.

+4 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

We'll keep talking about it, M Man, and you'll keep trying to explain it away. Perhaps YOU're the one who should give it a rest.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+7 HS
original buckeye's picture

You're grasping at straws, M Man.  The University of Michigan made that determination on November 20, and the guy suited up for the University of Michigan's football team on November 23.  That is a pretty damning thing to have happened at the University of Michigan, your attempts to render the athletic department and Hoke blameless--by nothing more than pointing to the fact that there's no smoking gun--notwithstanding.  At a minimum, it is (in your words) a "real question" that should be answered.

+4 HS
M Man's picture

It's not damning at all, when you look at it carefully.

A letter, dated November 20; sent/delivered to Gibbons... how?  When the team left for their charter plane on either the night of the 21st or the morning of the 22nd.  I know that there's a fair bit of controversy and complexity surrounding that letter, such as whether a copy had somehow gone to the football staff or the Athletic Department (there's no real record of that) or whether a copy of the letter (Gibbons' copy?) was faxed from an athletic department fax machine before the Michigan-Iowa game on November 23.

Brian Cook (for whom I have a lot of respect and admiration, but not always agreement) has written a lot about this.  He has some concerns about what Michigan did or didn't do, but where Brian and I part ways is over the basic fundamentals of what led to the letter in the first place.

You want questions?  I got some questions for ya right here:

  • How was the determination "by a preponderance of the evidence" made?
  • What WAS the evidence?
  • Who were the triers of fact?
  • How were the rights of the accused protected?
  • Were witnesses confronted by the accused?  Was the accused represented by counsel?  Was there any cross-examination (Wigmore's 'great engine of truth')?
  • Was there a record of the proceedings?

Right now, as this thread unfolds, there is a lawsuit pending the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Drew Sterrett v. Heather Cowan, et al.  Just in case you think that I am just blowing smoke about the rights of the accused in Title IX-inspired "sexual assault" discipline at the University of Michigan.

-2 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

If Tracy Sprinkle were on scholarship at UM, he would STILL BE on the team...

The legal process in Ann Arbor moves slower than molasses in January...

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+4 HS
M Man's picture

You won't see me commenting in the Tracy Sprinkle thread(s); I happen to think that Urban Meyer, at Ohio State, is a disciplinarian beyond reproach.  And I don't like to see any scholarship athletes lose their ticket to higher education and a better life.  I won't be at all disappointed if Sprinkle finds a way back to his team.

But Tracy Sprinkle has been arrested and charged.  Brendan Gibbons' case was investigated, for weeks, and he was never charged.  Gibbons didn't lawyer up, like Jameis Winston.  And unlike Winston, Gibbons didn't use his Fifth Amendment right.  Gibbons willingly gave a complete statement to the police.

I have some real doubts about Sprinkle's dismissal.  Perhaps there is some information that Meyer has, that we don't.  But if Tracy Sprinkle is absolved of all but a misdemeanor charge, I question his dismissal from the team.  In any event, his case has gone significantly farther in a matter of hours, than Gibbons' case ever did.  That is, according to what you described -- "[t]he legal process." 

-1 HS
original buckeye's picture

Come on.  In this day of cell phones, email, text messages and various other forms of instantaneous communication, you're going to assume that the university didn't bother to reach out via any of those methods to inform Hoke or the athletic department of such a damning determination made by the university against one of its starting players?  Or was Hoke and/or the athletic department actually informed?  If I were an alum or supporter of the Michigan football program--to say nothing of the broader institution--those are the questions I'd be asking.  Frankly, I'm surprised Michigan fans don't want those questions answered, but would rather attack the process and perpetuate tinfoil hat theories as ridiculous as there being one letter that was accidentally tossed into the garbage.   

+2 HS
M Man's picture

?

The University was, I think, prevented by law and its own policy from communicating with anyone else.  I never suggested that any letter was thrown in any "trash."  Do you even understand?  The letter was signed on November 20 (we think).  Then, I think, mailed to Gibbons' Ann Arbor home address.

Remember, it was not a determination of any punishment.  It was a finding in the course of a process that was not yet even completed.  A process that I find wanting for some pretty obvious reasons.

And remember further that I am not someone who wants the Gibbons case swept under the rug and forgotten.  I'm the guy who hopes that Gibbons sues Michigan, and through civil discovery rips the cover off the whole case and the University's process.

-2 HS
BierStube's picture

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+15 HS
M Man's picture

I didn't raise the matter of Gibbons.  Talk to Kyle about that.

BierStube's picture

True.  But I think everyone on here knows where you are coming from on this issue ... unless they have been under a rock.  At this point it is unlikely much will change the collective minds on this site or others.  All Kyle was trying to say is that success on the field would go a long way for Hoke this year.  Another rough year and additional incidents whether founded or not, would probably put UM in the "find a new coach" mode.  Gave you a UV .. 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+5 HS
M Man's picture

Thanks.  And as you know, I practically never log on to 11W to issue random trash talk or to argue with the contributors about football.  If I didn't like their writing I wouldn't bother reading, much less commenting.

OSU's day to confront a Title IX "sexual assault" charge with an athlete is coming.  I don't know who, when or where.  And I presume for now that Smith, Meyer and the rest of the athletic department have done absolutely nothing wrong.  I will have the same questions about the treatment of an accused Buckeye athlete when it happens.

+3 HS
yrro's picture

I'm with you, dude. This is why we need a real, honest process for sexual assault. So guys can't get off just because they're football players, and so guys don't have their reputations destroyed without having been proved to have done something.

lwitters's picture

That contraption is hilarious.

Menexenus's picture

I'm sure you could be of great help to the federal investigation, MMAN. I suggest you go post about your extensive knowledge of the Gibbons situation on the appropriate Justice Department website (and not here).

Real fans stay for Carmen.

+1 HS
buckeyedexter's picture

They have talent on their team.  Am I the only one worried if they get the O line straightened out they can be dangerous?
 

+3 HS
southernstatesbuckeye's picture
+11 HS
YTOWNBUCKI's picture

Their struggles right now still come from the Rodriguez era.  That was a huge downturn in recruiting that they're still paying for.  The elite don't want to go to Michigan anymore and who could blame them?  Greg Mattison is probably the only coach that deserves to be on staff at what was, and still kind of is, a prestigious football powerhouse.

I still don't understand why Buckeye fans want Michigan to be good again.  How about Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana?  Can't we want them to be better to improve the conference reputation rather than Michigan?

+4 HS
TossTrap's picture

I still don't understand why Buckeye fans want Michigan to be good again.  How about Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana?  Can't we want them to be better to improve the conference reputation rather than Michigan?

I'm with you. What we need is an improvement of the conference in general and the conference teams to start winning bowl games. One team reaching their former glory isn't enough to regain national respect. We need to hear the mention of 1 or 2 B1G teams every year in the discussion of playoff due to conference strength of schedule.

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

+2 HS
Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

As a lifelong Buckeye fan you'll never see me say I want meeeechegan to get better.

+2 HS
AJBor41's picture

I see what you're saying, but I'd have to disagree.  If you look at their recruiting class rankings, the RR Era didn't do much to create a downturn in recruiting.  They had one year (2011) in which their class was unranked.  Aside from that, they've been consistently in the low-teens in rankings, but their best two classes in the past decade have been since the RR Era.

In my opinion, they are still pulling in the same level of talent that they always have.  The difference is that it isn't being coached up to where it once was.  4* and 5* recruits leave/graduate at the same skill level they enrolled with.

As far as the wanting M*chigan to be good again conversation, I'm with you.  I couldn't care less if they became a bottom-dweller in football for the next 25 years.  I will take pleasure in each year of their misery.  If beating them at their best is a 10 on the pride scale, then, for me, beating them continuously at their worst is still about a 9.8.

+2 HS
nmaxwell's picture

i don't think it's as much that michigan didn't recruit well in the RR years, because they were okay.  schematically, they were probably not ideal.  that's still workable.  the biggest issue was the attrition suffered during the RR years and into the early Hoke years.  gardner's recruiting class (true players graduated last year, redshirt seniors this year) took a huge hit.  very, very few even made it to their upperclassmen years on the team.  those players you look to for leadership, accountability, etc were nowhere to be found.  

how would osu have fared if players like hyde, smith, spencer, heuerman, bryant, roby, grant, mewhort, etc did not develop or stick around? just as an example.  osu definitely weathered the change they endured really well, and landed an absolute home run for their JT successor.  but i think (if hoke can manage to get through this year) that 2015 and 2016 will show a very, very competitive michigan team.  that will probably be towards the end of nussmeier's tenure there, but his system should be well installed, and the zone blocking scheme that nussmeier wants is actually the one that their OL coach funk (who i think probably should have been fired last year too) prefers...so we'll see if he can earn his salary.  the defense should be top 25 year in and year out by that point

jamesrbrown322's picture

Honestly, *ichigan's expectations became unreasonable after the run to a BCS game. They played in VERY weak B1G that year, including edging out the worst OSU team in 25 years in Ann Arbor (if Miller hits a wide open Posey, game over). They needed to be a bit more realistic about rebuilding a program that had a roster tailored to what Rich Rod needed for his offense.

The most amazing thing about their fall has been the play of the OLine. I know that they produced a couple of high picks in the last few years, but overall, the play has been very subpar to poor.. They get dominated in the trenches, and at every level of football, that will lose you a lot of games.

For all of those saying that *ichigan "needs" to get better for OSU's sake, I agree on some level. However, I'd rather see Penn State, Nebraska, and Rutgers get better, with continued improvements at Minnesota and Northwestern, while Wisconsin and Mich St become consistent 10 game winners. If all of that happens, who "gives a damn for the whole state of michigan!?!"

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+6 HS
New alum's picture

Very true re expectations after '11.  I must admit I was one of those who got caught up in the success of that year. '93, '94, '96, most of the second half of Carr's tenure featured teams that were once considered mediocre. The program has been in a death-spiral since '08, and was losing altitude long before that. I hoped '11 meant all was "back to normal," but that was a silly thought.

RonnyPBuckeye's picture

Agree completely with your assessment. The 2011 version of TTUN was so much worse than their record, it's unbelievable.  Conference was horrid, they did not have to play in the conference championship game and they got the nod for the BCS game over an MSU team that beat them and narrowly lost the B10 Championship game.  Furthermore, they beat a Va Tech team in overtime that lost their conference title game to Clemson by 35 points or so (which in turn lost their bowl game to WVU by around the same amount of points).

Phillips.449's picture

“I think Devin had a pretty good spring,” Hoke said. “He (became) more consistent on a daily basis, I guess is the best way to put it.”

This seems to be a comment that is lacking in confidence.  I like seeing "pretty good" as words that describe their quarterback who may or may not be starting for them.  Compare that to the verbiage UFM uses to describe Braxton!

+2 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

I honestly think that Gardner is much better than people, especially *ichigan people realize. He is simply surrounded by a poor talent pool, especially on the OLine. Some of this, can be attributed to either coaching or scheming, but some of it is also a lack of talent that has the ability to run a pro style offense. Often, Gardner just tries to do too much, and with that porous defense, gets desperate too easily.
 

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+3 HS
Furious George 27's picture

A quick look at their OL recruits since 2012 shows that they do  indeed have talent and that is not including the fact he had Lewan for 3yrs as well. I think after 3 seasons its all about the lack of development from the staff. OSU implemented a new scheme in less than a season and has produced one of the best rushing attacks in CFB.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+2 HS
M Man's picture

Personally, I have a lot of questions for and about OL coach Darrell Funk.

I have fewer questions for and about Brady Hoke but one of them is "Why Darrell Funk?"  

If anybody is on a hot seat in Schembechler Hall, I'd say it is Funk.

+2 HS
Furious George 27's picture

I do not believe Hoke has done a bad job of recruiting but whoever is developing them is missing the mark. OSU had the same issue with Bollman running out underperforming OL units.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+1 HS
dustinccc's picture

Dead on. Hoke has always oversold Devin (saying he is better than Johnny Football). This does not sound like a great endorsement. Has Devin even been named the starter. I thought he was still in competition with Morris.

+2 HS
OSUMyke's picture

I can't wait for the tweets of Michigan players to start rolling in especially the ones of the recruits that choose them of TOSU.

Mike Cutlip

+1 HS
toad1204's picture

Wolverines may as well be Fresno State

Fresno State was 11-2 last year...  Analogy isn't working out.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

+7 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

M Man, or any other UM fans that may frequent 11W and wish to answer, I haven't heard and/or seen many prognostications about the the upcoming season, so I'm wondering what you think the Wolverines will do this year. What record do you think is feasible, what would be considered overachieving/underachieving?

Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

I hope App State shocks Tsun again!

OH-IO...GO BUCKEYES!!!

+1 HS
M Man's picture

My honest answer to your question is, "I don't know."  I would not be surprised to see the 2014 team, with road games against Notre Dame, Little Brother and the Ohio State University on the road, lose five games (7-5).  I would also not be surprised to see Michigan come out with one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, a good attitude, and a grinding offense that improves with time over the course of the year, and see them win 10 or even 11 games with a bowl win.

I think the question that a lot of Ohioans have is, 'How many wins does Brady Hoke need to save his job, and can we get him fired with a thumping OSU win in Columbus on November 29?'

I'll give you an earnest and heartfelt answer on that:  There is no such number.  I think Michigan could go 6-6 and Brady Hoke could keep his job.  That would represent a year in which Michigan lost to all of Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, plus Northwestern (in Evanston), Penn State (at home at night) and somebody like Utah (also in the Big House).  Now most people would reasonably assert that such a record would doom Hoke.  And they'd probably be right.  What I said is Brady Hoke could survive such a disaster.  I also think that Hoke could win 10 games and get fired.

Here's why.  First, understand that Dave Brandon has spent the past spring firing a small handful of coaches and others in his department.  He is not going to tolerate anything less than success in all of his programs.  Brandon would do anything to improve the football team, including firing Hoke if he thought he could get a big time winner.  I don't need to mention the Harbaughs, and I wouldn't limit it to the Harbaughs.  I just need to point out that Brady Hoke's future might not depend on a couple of wins here or there.

Still, Hoke is Brandon's guy; his own hire, and his own project.  Brandon is watching game films with Michigan football coaches.  Hoke, in that regard, is unlike the people that Brandon has been firing recently.  That's why I think there's no set number that will seal Hoke's fate.  It will depend on a lot of intangibles in December, and not just Michigan football's w/l record.

+1 HS
New alum's picture

Taking the schedule game-by-game, 7-5 seems most likely.  Overachieving would be 10 wins or more, especially since it would mean winning one of the rivalry games on the road, and that seems unlikely. Best chance for that would be beating ND, since that is the one game that has been consistently winnable (and usually won) during this awful stretch.  I don't even want to contemplate underachieving; '08 and '09 taught me not things can always get worse.

Hello_Heisman's picture

After what went down last year, I have no read on this team whatsoever.  To me, these guys are one of those high variance teams with a very low floor and a very high ceiling.  I could see them going 6-6 or 11-1 and would be equally unsurprised by either.  The most logical outcome is that they go 9-3 with road lossses at MSU and OSU, but I'm not predicting that because I honestly have no clue of what to expect.  

Specific records aside, I think that based on the level of talent this team has and the motivation coming off of last year's debacle, underachievement means losing to both MSU and OSU again.  To achieve based on the level of their talent, Michigan needs to win one of those games this year.  Winning both and taking the division title would be an overachievement in my book.

My uneducated guess is that they will underachieve again and things will get worse, but keep in mind that I am still extremely scarred by the last half of the 2013 season.  The thing about college sports is that things can change in a hurry from season to season if the talent is there and has some experience.  Look at the sequence of UK basketball 2012-2013-2014, or Notre Dame's surprising run to the NC game in 2012, or the turnaround season that Auburn had last year after being complete dogshit the prior two seasons.  

As a Michigan fan, I'm simply going to watch them this year and see how things play out.  I can't control what happens anyway, and over analyzing every last quote and practice report in July isn't going to mean anything come November.  If they have a good season, then I'll absolutely enjoy it.  And if they suck again, then I'll start feverishly following all the news about who the next HC might be.  

60% of the time it works.....every time

Chief B1G Dump's picture

If another season of mediocrity occurs in 2014, Brady Hoke could be out as head coach and Michigan’s once-proud football program could be reeling.

They are and have been reeling. Look at any Michigan message board or talk to their fans and you will find that many of them have accepted mediocrity and try to justify it. I have said this a million times on here but I cannot believe that any of those folks truly believe a decade long career 500 mid major level coach would hit the big time at UM and suddenly light the world on fire. They can make all the excuses and keep blaming RichRod but everybody knows and has seen good coaches win immediately, whether their players contrast philosophies or not. A good coach uses what he has and assembles the pieces, Hoke has been steadily regressing. Michigan will always recruit players, did under RichRod and continues under Hoke. They just aren't developed and/or misused. We saw Hoke recruit a million 5 star lineman to run "man ball" but they had the worst rushing attack I've ever seen and now for some reason apparently you can't have good linemen until they are seniors. Their line is perhaps their top question mark? Excuses. 

I continually see and hear their fans dismiss everyone who beats them as shady, or dirty and/or lacking Michigan Man integrity. However, that is a last ditch straw grasping rebuttal which we've seen come back to bite folks in the ass (See Fab 5, Charles Woodson, etc).   Here you have a premier academic institution beaten down to accept mediocrity and defend it with name calling. 

I don't care about Michigan. We are fine with out them, just as long as we have 3 or 4 really good programs in conference. We have enough traditional programs that any 3 or 4 will do...so to hell with Michigan. We will maintain rivalries with MSU, PSU, Wisconsin, Nebraska or whomever. 

I am fine with Michigan failing to adapt and/or face the music. Let them wallow in mediocrity and continue to claim winningest program with wins over high schools, YMCAs and social clubs. Hopefully they don't end up as the 21st century U of Chicago but are well on their way. 

+11 HS
Hello_Heisman's picture

Chief - I think there's a big difference between accepting mediocrity vs. acknowledging it.  The numbers are what they are - Michigan has been largely mediocre for a decade, outside of the 2006 and 2011 seasons.  If I or any other Michigan fan were to try disputing that, we would be accused of being delusional.  But just because we acknowledge there's a problem doesn't mean we've accepted mediocrity as the ultimate end game.  

I think the team underachieved last year and should have been better.  While the OL had some issues in part because of RR's recruiting and there were some overall youth issues in part because of the significant attrition that occurred in the 2010 recruiting class (the guys who would have been 4th year seniors last year), that doesn't explain a 7-6 season.  That explains maybe why the team should have won say....9 games instead of 11, for example.  There were clearly a lot of other issues plaguing last year's team beyond the residual RR effect, and I (and many other UM fans) make no excuses for them.

I will say that your use of hyperbole is fantastic though, most notably the U.Chicago irrelevance quip.  Because while UM football has clearly been in the crapper recently, it's nothing compared to what the basketball program put itself through from 1999-2007.  And if the basketball program could find its way back to national relevance after that tire fire, then I'm pretty sure that with the resources at its disposal the football program eventually will as well.  But it's pretty clear that this will take far longer than any UM fans ever envisioned when things first started going downhill.  

60% of the time it works.....every time

BuckInNashville's picture

Ytownbuck. You really don't understand why Michigan should be good ? Let me ask you this, why do you think that Ford , GM and Chrysler quality has improved so dramatically over the past 30 years ? I'll answer for ya, Toyota kicked their ass within one inch of extinction and they will never go back to their cheap ways of the 70's.  if OSU plays a top 20 MSU and  Penn State , then tops it off with a win over a top 10 M, we are not only in the play off, but actually ready for it. Clemson may not have been better than OSU , but  they knew how to finish a tight game against tougb competition. We clearly did not. 

+2 HS
THEOSUfan's picture

SCUM will get their ship righted, just like Ohio State has done at various moments in their history.  If they don't, I'll do the schedenfruede thing.  If they do, I'll be joyous with any victory over them.

I think Hoke is in a pickle as long as Gardener is there.  He's good enough to win all of their games when he's good, but he can be bad enough to lose to _______ (insert bad team here).  When they put #98 on him, that brought with it the pressure to perform like the real #98, and this guy can't do it - at least not so far.  But maybe the real 98 couldn't have done anything behind that OL.

blu.fan's picture

I always appreciate hearing the perspective of Eleven Warriors as regards Michigan. That whole thing about keeping close to your enemies applies here.

It is hard for Michigan fans to predict what the current season will bring. As a long time follower of Michigan football, I will say that Michigan fans were spoiled by many years of success. Being down for some time is not easy. I am one of those who attribute many of the problems to the woeful OL recruiting under RR. If you were really interested, you could look to several years where OL recruiting was abysmal. And once your line is gone, you're sunk. It takes years to build a solid OL & DL. Honestly, I still think Michigan is a year away from having both talent and experience in line play on both offense and defense. Having a bad interior line just ruins any kind of running game.

Because the OL is still young, I believe that Hoke isn't particularly on the hot seat in 2014. If Michigan wins 9 games, that will be ok this year. The real test comes in 2015 and 2016. If there is improvement in 2015 (while breaking in a new QB,) and even more improvement in 2016, Hoke will be set.

Regarding comparisons between Hoke and Urban, I don't think enough information is available yet. Certainly long term, Urban's record is much, much shinier. However, I think that Urban came into a much better situation (in terms of the recruiting cupboard not being bare.) And, to be sure, while Urban has done well during the regular season, the post season and Big 10 championship record in 2012 and 2013 has to be disappointing for Buckeye fans.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

This is what I'm talking about in my post above...appreciate the post and perspective from you Blu.Fan and I'm not coming after you specifically..but how long does Michigan keep blaming RR and saying "just wait till next year"?  This is year four of Hoke, his first class are now upper classmen.  In his first 3 recruiting classes, Hoke has recruited 26 total OL and DL prospects (many of them highly ranked) (not including TE's) of his choosing for his style of "man ball"  With 26 lineman in the program and any holdovers left from RR, how is the line so terrible, especially considering Hoke started his career as a line coach?  Sure experience helps but since when does your entire line have to be seniors to be any good?  What happened to developing players and implementing them on the field?

I just get a little enjoyment every time I hear Michigan fans justify Hoke's performance and still play RichRod as the villain.  That tells me all I need to know about the state of their program.  Talking about treading water just to get to next year, this is a recurring theme.  Since when does Michigan gladly accept middle of the pack?  Since Jim Tressel beat them down to submission, thats when..

Regarding comparisons between Hoke and Urban, I don't think enough information is available yet. Certainly long term, Urban's record is much, much shinier. However, I think that Urban came into a much better situation (in terms of the recruiting cupboard not being bare.) And, to be sure, while Urban has done well during the regular season, the post season and Big 10 championship record in 2012 and 2013 has to be disappointing for Buckeye fans.

Plenty of sample, both men have been a HC for over a decade but No comparisons.  Urban has won big at every stop he has made.  He won at Bowling Green (cleaned house and had to put adds in the paper for bodies yet still won).  He won at Utah (took them to BCS).  He won big at Florida ( 2 nattys, a heisman, coach of the year, etc).  Now more of the same, with 24 straight wins.  Hoke has been a 500 coach everywhere he has been.  Rode into Michigan with a surprise year under fortunate cirmustances and has been regressing back to his mean ever since.  

I hope Hoke stays up north for many years...or at least enough to not have RR as an excuse.

+3 HS
blu.fan's picture

Well, ok, let me explain why I justify Hoke in terms of recruiting.

  • He comes onboard in January 2011. I don't blame Hoke for recruiting when he had about a month, and think he did pretty well for that short time span.
  • Year two is 2012, the first year he really stacks a bunch of OL recruits (five total.) Most redshirt, as is the case for 90% of the OL.
  • Year three is 2013, with the OL recruits from year two (2012) now freshmen, and the year three recruits (2013) largely redshirts.
  • Year four is 2014. On the OL, we have zero junior or senior tackles, and zero junior or senior guards. There is a single junior at center, who was a walkon. (Glasgow.) There are five with sophomore eligibility, six with freshman eligibility.
  • Year five, 2015, we should have a healthy mix of juniors, sophomores, and possibly a freshman. And still, no seniors with the exception of one walkon.

This is why I am among those giving Hoke a pass.

As regards Urban, I agree that he is a great coach. I personally like Hoke's style more, but you can't argue with Urban's results.

-2 HS
Tom57's picture

Why do we want TTUN to be good again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTPQR7RTrz4

Any questions.... they don't make HBO documentaries about Ohio State versus Purdue... for a reason. There is no rivalry if the other team sucks.

The Rivalry is well into its second century. But if TTUN keeps losing the way they have been for another 2 years .... the last ten years will be the Lost Decade.... or Ten Year Drought.

+3 HS
cajunbuckeye's picture

TTUN's program is at a crossroad. The problem is, they're lost, out in the middle of nowhere, and they don't have a map. It could take 10 to 15 years to straighten out this mess.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

+2 HS
Buck Commander's picture

I'm beginning to think M MAN is actually Brady Hoke!!!!!!

Every time I set my DVR to record Biggest Loser......It always records Wolverine Football Games!

+4 HS
Fatpants's picture

Can't be, the typing is too good. Hoke's sausage fingers would be incapable of typing without a plethora of errors. 

+4 HS
Kingbuck12's picture

Is there an 11 warriors for Michigan fans? I'm not sure I would read it much. I don't really care about Michigan or what they're doing currently. And I hope they keep fat Hoke around forever. He is just what Ohio State needs. 

Kingbuck12

+3 HS
ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

you can go and read our rival's community site (mgoblog.com) when you're wondering what is going on in their minds about Hoke. ;p  FYI, one of the better reads is when we get Ace from their site to come and do an interview. 

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

buckeyedude's picture

Hell, if I can get me tickets for the Appy State/TTUN game for $30, I just may have to go, incognito. I wonder if they play Toledo this year as well?

Scratch that. I'll go as an Appy State fan.

 

 

+2 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

How could "The Wolverines believe they hit the jackpot with in hiring of Brady Hoke." When he had losing record as a head coach?

+1 HS
IH8UOFM's picture

I remember the trolling I did when we got Urban. Michigan fans are at a loss for words when I explain that, Hoke is 10 games over .500 career. Urban is 103  games over .500 career. And Urban only has, what, one year of coaching longer than Hoke? Yeah, chew on that one for a few...

Kingbuck12's picture

Thanks isurvivedcooper i went and checked out their site. I sometimes like to see what idiot michigan fans can say bad about The Urbs and our stellar team. 

Kingbuck12

+1 HS
M Man's picture

Judging by comments from all sides on 11W, you can be assured that what Michigan fans are saying about Urban Meyer is more generous than what OSU fans were saying about Urban Meyer in 2007.

-3 HS