This isn't entirely about Brady Hoke. After all, there isn't much to say about the man mere hours into his tenure as head football coach at the University of Michigan. Brady Hoke comes in to Ann Arbor with a decidedly mediocre resume, that much is unassailable. Forty-seven and fifty. Three bowl appearances--two of them losses. Five of his eight seasons as a head coach finished under .500. This team has just hitched it's wagon to a guy who may or may not be fit to hold the reins. Unfortunately there isn't anything to do now but wait and see.
And that is what this is really about: the waiting. You could say that Michigan fans have been waiting patiently (impatiently?) for three years, but that would be a lie. In all reality we have been waiting since January 1st, 1998, the last day that the program reached the heights at which we could finally step back, pat ourselves on the back, and know without a shadow of a doubt that there wasn't anything better at that moment than being a Michigan Wolverine. Since then it's been heartbreaking non-conference losses, in conference upsets, and a whole bunch of nine and ten win seasons. None of it was ever enough.
Other team's fans call us arrogant. Well, you know what? Fuck them. We are arrogant. We expect so much out of our team that we eventually canniblize the coaching staff and players and spit out the bones. IWe did it to Lloyd*, Rich, and now we begin the process all over again with Brady.
*(Yes, I know he retired. The fan base may not have literally forced him to resign, but most of us--myself included--made such a stink about everything he did or didn't do that no sane person would continue to put themselves in the position to be the object of hatred for hundreds of thousands of rabid, frothing fans every fall.)
On one hand we finally have our "Michigan Man". The offense will almost certainly switch from "basketball on grass" to whatever the hell real Big Ten football is--not something that works in bowl games apparently. Although this means that the most high powered offense we have ever seen at Michigan is gone, and we have no idea what will replace it or how effective it will be. The defense will gain toughness (age and experience too, but you can bet all you'll hear about is the toughness) and most certainly take it's lumps for another year before becoming anything resembling a good defense again. Maybe this team finishes above .500. Maybe not.
When it is all said and done, this is the most frustrating part of the Great Coaching Debacle of 2011. This team spent the last three years building something, and I spent the last three years not simply waiting for future glory but anticipating it. Times were certainly tough, but I could still see the payoff at the end. The top ten offense paired with what I still believe could have been a fast, havoc wreaking defense with a couple more years of experience and depth--and probably a new coordinator. It wasn't always easy to watch the games, and the losing streaks against rivals always hurt, but I could take the taunts and laughter from other teams fans because I believed. That belief wasn't ever there under Lloyd. It was always just an ominous feeling that the other shoe was about to drop.
I still believe in this team. I still believe that the University of Michigan is a prime destination for players and coaches (although it seems our AD is either completely lost in the woods or merely incompetent at large scale coaching searches). Most of all I still believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel--whether it is Hoke or the next coach who gets us there is another story entirely.
Until then I will throw my support behind Hoke. I'll give him a few years at the helm to prove that he deserves the job that he so desperately wanted. I'll probably die a little inside when Denard Robinson inevitably transfers, but it isn't anything a little booze can't fix. Most of all I'll cheer for the team as hard as I ever have, and I'll hope for another sign that Michigan football is finally on its way back.
But it will just be more waiting. Same as it ever was.