Michigan Football: 5 Reasons Wolverines Will Win National Title Within 5 Years
Anyone following the Michigan Wolverines football team is well aware of Brady Hoke's chief goal. The third-year head coach is intent on one thing: winning the Big Ten championship.
A conference title would most likely require a win over archrival Ohio State, which could place Michigan on a path toward a national championship.
Accomplishing all three would instantaneously place Hoke among the small group of revered Michigan football coaches and most importantly return the Wolverines to college football's elite.
Let's see why Michigan should win a national crown in the not too distant future.
Athletic Director Dave Brandon
Dave Brandon arrived at Michigan in January 2010 facing several obstacles.
The NCAA was investigating a Michigan football team which had just suffered through its second straight losing season.
Michigan Stadium was in its final stages of a $226 million expansion, and there were several other athletic facilities under construction.
Brandon, the previous CEO of the Domino's pizza chain, knocked them off one at a time. He handled the NCAA sanctions with minimal damage before firing then-football coach Rich Rodriguez.
Perhaps Brandon's biggest achievement was the hiring of Brady Hoke as Michigan's new football coach. At the same time, Brandon was credited with reuniting the Michigan family which had deteriorated during the final years of Lloyd Carr's reign and during the Rodriguez disaster.
Brandon also installed permanent lights at the Big House so Michigan could host an outdoor hockey game along with its first-ever prime-time football game.
Recruits taking a stroll through the athletic campus can't help but be impressed.
Head Coach Brady Hoke
Possibly the third choice behind Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh when he was hired in January 2011, Brady Hoke has been a pleasant surprise as Michigan's 19th head football coach.
Hoke immediately won over fans, players and alumni alike by hiring solid assistant coaches, delivering on a Midwest-first recruiting philosophy and returning the program to Michigan-style smash-mouth football.
Former players were quick to jump aboard as more than 200 were welcomed back on the eve of Hoke's first spring game. Hoke reminded them of Michigan's traditions, and how they could pass them on to current and future players.
Hoke's first season went well too. His Wolverines defeated Notre Dame, Ohio State and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
His following two recruiting classes finished in the top five nationally, getting a leg up on Michigan State and a recruiting deadlock with Urban Meyer and Ohio State.
Going into 2013, Hoke's defense is in good hands with coordinator Greg Mattison.
Offensively, Michigan will unveil its power rushing attack under coordinator Al Borges, which should be flavored with a touch of the West Coast offense.
Yes, there's plenty for optimism in Ann Arbor, and there's a good reason for it.
The Between-the-Tackles Running Game
For the Wolverines to successfully transition to the physical rushing game Brady Hoke promised, they better be able to block.
To do that, Hoke has recruited 10 offensive linemen in the last two classes. Former Ohio State commit Kyle Kalis leads the 2012 group, while this year's class boasts four linemen rated among the nation's best at their respective positions.
With only two starters (LT Taylor Lewan, RT Michael Schofield) returning, look for Kalis and perhaps redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson to be the only underclassmen seeing extensive action this fall.
By 2014, Hoke should be able to create a unit composed primarily of the 2012 and 2013 classes, one that can stay intact for several seasons to come.
Running backs Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith should have little trouble navigating the much-improved offensive line in the not-too-distant future. Green has been rated the No. 1 running back in the nation, while Smith is the No. 1 back in Ohio.
Stability at Quarterback
The list seems endless: Elvis Grbac, Todd Collins, Brian Griese, Tom Brady, Drew Henson, John Navarre and Chad Henne. One after another, these NFL-bound signal-callers took the field for Michigan.
And the Wolverines are at it again.
Devin Gardner, who started five games at quarterback in 2012, begins another line of pro-style quarterbacks. He'll be followed by 2013 signee Shane Morris, and then possibly by 2014 commit Wilton Speight.
At 6'6”, 235 pounds, the Richmond, Va., collegiate junior already looks like a prototypical NFL quarterback.
He certainly has the confidence. “I just can't wait to get up there and lead (Michigan) to a couple national championships,” Speight told Scout.com.
He plays his high school ball only seven miles from Hermitage High, and former Wolverines David Terrell, Marell Evans and Brandon Minor also played in Richmond.
Like yesteryear, Michigan is now developing a succession of quality quarterbacks; certainly a positive sign for the future.
Offense Wins Games, Defense Win Championships
When Rich Rodriguez coached at Michigan, his teams often scored at will.
It was the defense which cost him his job.
One of Brady Hoke's first moves was to shore up the defensive unit which allowed 35.23 points per game, 108th in the nation during the 2010 season.
Along came Greg Mattison, who came over from the Baltimore Ravens to join Hoke. His defense made an immediate turnaround during the 11-2 season in 2011. The unit ranked seventh in the nation, allowing just 17.2 points per game.
Last season, Michigan's defense regressed a bit by allowing 19.8 points per game. You could easily argue that the schedule was tougher with the addition of Alabama and a date with South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
The major problem with the 2012 defense was undoubtedly the pass rush. Sophomore Ondre Pipkins and 2013 signees Maurice Hurst and Henry Poggi will help at tackle, while early enrollee Taco Charlton could make a difference at end. The return of cornerback Blake Countess won't hurt either.
Another thing to consider is Mattison getting up there in age. Another title would be sweet before he calls it a day.