I grew up with Saturdays being “days of holy obligation.” When I played football in high school I wore a Michigan t-shirt to counter the bad karma of our very Buckeye-looking uniforms. On a recruiting trip to Michigan I made my case for how Bo needed a 5′ 8″ linebacker with above average speed to play football for him. When I attended the University of Michigan I did my best to spread the Wolverine gospel to my classmates. I followed Moeller, initially scoffed at Lloyd’s appointment but happily celebrated in Pasadena as the Wolverines led by Charles Woodson won the National Championship (KMA coaches poll!!)
When Lloyd retired, I understood that the line of Michigan Men coaching the Wolverines was probably over and that the Michigan Football program was fundamentally changing.
I questioned whether I was fan of Michigan Football or Michigan Football as defined by Bo Schembechler.
To me, Michigan Football was never just about football. It was about an ideal- to be ” The Leaders and Best.” Michigan Men took the lessons learned on the playing field and applied them to be successful off the field. It’s great that Tom Brady has an awesome career in the NFL, but Gerald Ford was more successful as President of the United States. It was far more important that Wolverines find success off the athletic field as on it- to be leaders in their communities.
Under Rich Rodriguez the Michigan Football program was a shell of its former self. Gone was the adherence to tradition, and the mantra of “the team, the team, the team.” In its place was a generic coach, who while talented, seemed to lack an appreciation for “…this Michigan of ours.” More than once I heard Rich Rodriguez utter the line, “…Michigan is one of the top 10 or 15 jobs in America.” Huh?
It was just about the football and it wasn’t enough.
Let me clear. There is no better football job in America than being the head coach at the University of Michigan. The challenge of coaching here is that the head football coach, is not only responsible for leading the team on Saturdays but nurturing the soul of the Wolverine nation. Any person who thinks there are 10 or 15 other places just as good as Ann Arbor to coach football has essentially fired himself in my book.
This leads us to head football coach Brady Hoke. Since his hiring, Hoke has done no wrong. Fans, alumni, and recruits love him. Ohio State’s Jim Tressel committed career suicide to avoid facing him.
Brady opens his mouth and spouts chicken soup for the Wolverine soul. And everyone on his coaching staff is on the same page.
One of the changes at the Big House during games the last several seasons was the decision to incorporate piped in music during games with one of the selections being the opening of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. But covering the drama of Wolverine football under RichRod reminded me of another Eminem song:
…And I’m so caught in it I almost feel I’m the one who caused it
This ain’t what I’m in hip-hop for, it’s not why I got in it…
I thought about the sentiment of this lyric a lot while watching RichRod shrug his shoulders when asked about the defense, or see Greg Robinson duck questions after games, or seeing people from RichRod’s inner circle shovel blame on the media and anyone else on the planet for the shortcomings of the team.
I started UMGoBlue.COM to talk about Wolverine football but unfortunately events off the field have overshadowed the achievements of the Wolverines on the gridiron for far too long.
I welcome the start of the season and opportunity to get back to discussion of events and decisions made on the field.
It’s time for Athletic Director David Brandon and even the newly minted Michigan football coaching staff to recede into the background.
Does Brady Hoke represent the last stand of the ‘Michigan Man”?
The team, the team, the team will determine that over the next few seasons.