The Wolverine’s 2013-2014 football season ended in disappointment in the win loss column, which caused the firing of Coach Brady Hoke at the end of the season. That poor record was too much to bear, even if may other aspects of the football program were right.
The reason why many other aspects were right were displayed at this year’s bust as Brady Hoke, 6 days from being given the axe, showed up to honor his players. He was seated near the man that fired him. The comments from both of them were laudatory, and amiable.
Many of the team members indicated gratitude that he had helped them turn from boys to men, and he expressed appreciation that they played hard every game, and had the ability to tune out distractions.
Gracious in his comments, and carefully on point, Hoke displayed his genuine regard for his players, and they for him. Reportedly, Hoke had tears in his eyes when he presented Devin Gardner, as did Gardner.
Gardner was up to the moment, as he adroitly presented his impressions of his unique and interesting career Michigan career. He finished with 6, 336-yards for his career, and 44 TDs, while he played two positions for three head coaches, changed offensive systems, endured an inexperienced offensive line, and shrugged off many hits afterwards by laughingly saying, on one occasion, he hoped they didn’t kill him. He will never forget singing the Victors and coming out of the tunnel.
He has a Bachelor’s degree and is headed for a Masters, and was named a football team captain at the function for Team 135.
The other Captain named was Jake Ryan, who won the Roger Zatkoff Award as the team’s best linebacker. Surviving a serious knee injury, he was successfully switched to middle linebacker this year, nailing 112 tackles, 14 TFLs and 2 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries.
Walk on offensive lineman Joey Burzinski won the Dr. Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award.
Starting Center Jack Miller won the Hugh J. Rader Award for the best lineman. As the season wore on, Miller often became on of the team’s press conference spokesman.
Defensive end Brennan Beyer won the Robert P. Ufer Award for enthusiasm and love for Michigan.
Hoke quietly slipped out a door, having said farewell to team 135, quietly ending his M career, but not ending the fog of speculation which remains unabated regarding the leadership of Team 136 in his wake. There is much to come.