By this point, it’s common knowledge that Michigan has hemorrhaged players from their 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes. The ramification of this exodus has unquestionably hindered the program’s growth. Losing all but seven players from a 27-player class will do that, as Michigan did with the 2010 group. The positive is that Brady Hoke had a clean slate from then on and was able to stock up in the 2012 and 2013 classes. From 2015 onward (assuming that Hoke continues to retain players at a similar clip – he’s kept 51 of 52 from the ’12 and ’13 classes) this will create nice depth at each position group and units that won’t require underclassmen to play immediately, which we saw this year is not an ideal position to be in.
It puzzles me how many undervalue stability in a program. Coaching changes bring attrition – that’s just the nature of the game. Continuity for a coaching staff minimizes personnel losses and thus minimizes situations like we saw last year on the offensive line. Now we are finally beginning to see this at Michigan; not yet on the offensive line as the starters will likely include only one upperclassman, but this defense has nice depth at each position group, supplemented by a few legitimate star players. That unit took a step back in 2013 (I put most of it on the offense not staying on the field and personnel deficiencies at safety and tackle) after great performances in ’11 and ’12, but Greg Mattison has proven himself before. They’ll will be fine in 2014 – as will the entire team so long as the OL gets a firm grasp of a greatly simplified scheme after another offseason of development.
I’m as tired as anyone else of the mediocrity. Michigan hasn’t been a genuinely excellent football team since 2006, but the reality of this game is that when a coach inherits what Brady Hoke inherited, he’s going to spin his wheels a bit before the program starts making serious strides. As hard as it is, we have to be patient here and see how this season goes. Good or bad, it’ll be telling. My greatest fear in this regard is wasting the talented classes Brady Hoke’s signed and more so, losing the excellent defensive and (now) offensive coordinators he’s brought to Ann Arbor. With a new hiring, this cycle begins all over again and I don’t know how many of us have the patience for that.
I was talking with a fellow devout Michigan fan the other day and we recalled the story about Brady Hoke never once wearing red in his entire coaching career. On the surface, that sounds like nothing more than a little quirk for a coach to have. But consider what that means for a man who’s been a head coach since 2003 with both of his previous stops using red as their primary color. We’re talking about a guy who so badly wanted to become the head coach at Michigan someday that he refused to even wear the color of their hated rival while coaching at a school that’s 2300 miles from Ann Arbor. His heart is in it, there’s no questioning that.
If we’re still sitting here two years from now, still closer to the middle than the top of the Big Ten, then maybe Coach Hoke’s best simply wasn’t good enough. My guess on the next two seasons of Michigan Football is as good as anyone else’s. There is one certainty though: this is Brady Hoke’s destination job and he’s going to do everything in his power to get this ship moving the right direction.
You can follow Tony Kaminski on Twitter at @tkumich.