An infuriating stretch of poor showings from the Michigan football team has been plenty enough to keep Michigan fans close to the edge, but recruiting, among other things, kept part of the fan base optimistic about the future. Then Jabrill Peppers pushed them over like a pack of helpless, inappropriately-clad Spartans:
Imma take a couple Officials after the season myself 🙌🙇— Breezy (@JabrillPeppers) November 26, 2013
Ann Arbor's internet was officially broken, and it didn't look like hope would return any time soon. Why was Michigan's best recruit in the history of the program suddenly reconsidering his decision? Program instability, he said:
"I am still 100% committed to the University of Michigan and that is the place where I want to go to college," Peppers said. "With the rumors about Coach Hoke possibly not being there I need to make sure that I have options and have seen other places in case the University of Michigan decides to go in a different direction. For the sake of my future I need to make sure I have other options. No need to look into it any further! Go Blue and beat TDS."
Couches were burnt. Keyboards were shattered. Michigan fans took to the streets to burn maize and blue jerseys doused with gasoline. Or at least that's what it felt like on the internet.
It was damn near impossible for Michigan faithful to realize that Jabrill Peppers wasn't -- and still isn't -- going anywhere other than the University of Michigan. Dave Brandon tried to throw some water on the growing fire.
Brady Hoke is our coach and will be leading our football program well into the future. There is no question about it. Brady has done a great job rebuilding the program and reshaping the culture to the level it was under coaches Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Anyone making efforts to stir up a coaching controversy at Michigan is ill-informed and is likely promoting a personal agenda that is not in the best interest of Michigan Football.
We don't make excuses at Michigan when we fail to reach our goals, and we never will. We recognize areas we need to address and improve -- and we will. We also know how to hold people accountable for the roles and responsibilities they have as part of the privilege for being a part of Michigan Football -- and we will. However, it is valuable to occasionally step back from the disappointment and frustration that occurs when things don't go as well as expected and consider a few facts that may help put things into proper perspective.
Peppers took to Twitter on November 26th; Brandon took to his blog the very next day. He didn't know that the Michigan fan base didn't need reassurance; people overreact during tough stretches, and reminding them of Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr doesn't stop that. It also isn't seen as a major selling point to recruits, who want to know what you can do for them right now. Tradition doesn't send bodies to the National Football League.
I'm getting away from the main point; I'll rant about Michigan's need to let go of the past another time. The point is this: Brady Hoke isn't in jeopardy of losing his job, and Jabrill Peppers isn't leaving until the staff he has become so close with leaves. Jabrill Peppers will play his football at the University of Michigan, and anyone telling you otherwise is picking low-hanging fruit.
Recruiting hinges on so much more than wins and losses, but fans and the media often fail to see that. Peppers --much like Michael Ferns, Wilton Speight, Shane Morris, Derrick Green and others -- sees Ann Arbor as a great college town where he can get an elite degree in his field of choice. Relationships with the coaching staff and many of the aforementioned prospects and players only add to the lengthy list of reasons why he's destined to play for the Wolverines.
Football is one of those reasons, too. Michigan limped to a seven-win regular season this year, and Peppers watched it all unfold. The dangers of remaining faithful to a struggling program aren't lost on him, but neither are the positives. Greg Mattison, a man who can point to countless players in the NFL to prove his ability to coach, remains with the program. Michigan beat Notre Dame this year, and it was one play away from defeating Ohio State. Insert Jabrill Peppers into the Wolverine defense and an eight-win team just ruined the Buckeyes' chance at a national title. Football still draws Jabrill to Ann Arbor.
I look forward to seeing Jabrill fly around Michigan Stadium, and I hope he gets his number two jersey. He's certainly talented enough to live up to the hype.