Despite Michigan’s recent struggles and flurry of so-so headlines, Denard Robinson didn’t hesitate—not even for a split second—when asked about his alma mater’s future under coach Brady Hoke and quarterback Devin Gardner.
As a matter of fact, everything will be OK, says Shoelace, who, before joining the Jacksonville Jaguars, amassed more than 10,000 yards during his wildly entertaining, “flapping in the wind” run with the Wolverines.
“(Hoke) should work for All-State,” Robinson said with his trademark laugh during a podcast interview Thursday night with Sports in the Mitten on Blog Talk Radio. “(Michigan is) in good hands. They’re in good hands.”
Is Michigan really in good hands with Hoke?
As for Gardner, Robinson’s good friend, just wait: The best is yet to come. Interception-prone during the early stretches of 2013, Shoelace’s successor eventually settled down and showed the Big Ten why he’s one of its best overall athletes.
He didn’t break runs like Robinson, but Gardner most certainly made enough plays to keep his team in the fight. Team 134 finished the year with a 7-6 record, but four of those losses were by four or less. And although expectations weren’t met as a whole, Gardner still threw for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns (and 11 picks) and nearly toppled Ohio State.
And he did all of that on a bad foot. Needless to say, once healthy, Gardner will be poised to do damage in 2014.
“Devin wants to prove himself,” said Robinson. “I see that Devin is focused. He wants to get back from his injury and lead his team. He’s focused—I’m telling you, I notice this about this guy—he’s locked in.”
Denard on Hoke
Robinson has love and respect for Hoke, that's not even up for debate.
“He would treat you like a son," Robinson said. "And when I say that, I mean that he would really treat you like a son and make sure that you’re on the right path and ask you questions and be a father figure to you and a role model that you could talk to.”
Since being fired from Michigan, coach Rich Rodriguez remains of slight interest for Wolverines fans, mostly due to his success. He’s won 16 games, including two bowls, during his first two years with Arizona and appears to be on the rise since his embarrassing stretch
“I’m excited for coach,” Robinson said of the man who initially recruited him. “I’m happy for him. My mom still watches his games—she watches Michigan and Arizona. We had that bond (with Rodriguez)…I’m always rooting for RichRod.
“But it’s always going to be Michigan, though. That’s a no-brainer.”
Robinson’s first—and maybe most memorable—play from scrimmage set the tone for the ride to come. Instead of taking a sack, he turned a botched exchange into a 43-yard touchdown gallop versus Western Michigan.
Michigan went on to win, 31-7, and The Legend of Shoelace was born.
“I forgot the play,” said Robinson, who mentioned how the crowd at The Big House can overwhelm the home team, not only the opposition.
In 2010, the following season, he was named as the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year—because of, well, you know. Watch some video.
Notre Dame and Michigan are no more, and that’s unfortunate because the game is “a part of college football,” says Robinson, who routinely torched the Irish for yards upon yards.
Ohio State, of course, is important to the Wolverines and should never be taken lightly. Hoke's yet to defeat Urban Meyer.
But what about Michigan State, which has won five of the past six? How does Robinson feel about his former in-state foes?
"What the running back Mike said," laughed Robinson.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81