Sweet as Sugar?

Brady Hoke lead Michigan to a 10-2 season and a BCS bowl game in his first year as head coach.

If David Brandon, Michigan’s athletic director, approached me in August and said “Michigan will be playing in a BCS bowl this year,” I would have politely disagreed with him. Don’t get me wrong, I love Michigan Football. Ann Arbor has been my home for all 16 years of my life and Michigan has been my team for every one of those years. So why would I be so doubtful? In the years since coach Lloyd Carr retired in 2007, Michigan football hasn’t been the same.

On December 17, 2007 Rich Rodriguez was introduced as the new head coach of Michigan football. The events that followed resulted in Michigan’s first losing season since 1967. Forty years of Michigan football dominance ended with a three win, nine loss season in 2008. Three years with Rodriguez, which included only one winning season and NCAA rules violation, didn’t cut it for Michigan.

Rodriguez was fired after the 2010 season.

The tides had turned on Michigan football, and there was no question the next coach would have a daunting task ahead of him. Brady Hoke took the challenge. The former Michigan assistant coach had turned around the San Diego State program. Could he do the same with the struggling Wolverines?

From the beginning of the season, the aura in the Big House was different. Hoke had been around during the glory days of Michigan football. He was and is a Michigan man. I couldn’t tell if it was too good to be true.

Would it be a repeat of the recent past? Would the star quarterback stay? My mind was a jumble of doubts.

A ten win, two loss season propelled Michigan to the Sugar Bowl, a BCS bowl. When January 3 comes I will be anxiously glued to my T.V. watching the future of Michigan football unfold.

It has been a long time since I have been excited for Michigan football. Lately I have felt more embarrassment and disappointment. I attended two games this year and both of them were blow-out wins. The games were more fun to go to than in previous years. The fans have a more positive attitude towards the team.

With the first Hoke-era season in the books, the pressure is on for more success. Next season is up in the air. I would not be surprised if there are some bumps in the road, but the way Hoke has turned around this Michigan team quickly leads me to believe that successes will outweigh the failures in the coming seasons.

Go Blue.

Photos courtesy of  Spencer MacDonald, Communicator Staff and Jared Wadley, University of Michigan News Service.