There are many ways to describe the last three seasons in Michigan Football. Trying. Frustrating. Maddening. Saying it's been rough for Wolverine fans is an understatement. Under Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines have struggled. A 15-22 record in three seasons is tough to swallow for a program steeped in pride and tradition. But there is hope. Hope that the future will return the program to one of the Big Ten's elite. Here are five reasons for Michigan fans to be optimistic about the future.
Respect. That word has so much meaning for the new coaching staff. New head coach Brady Hoke has assembled a staff that respects the tradition, the facilities, the players and everything that goes into Michigan football. They also garner plenty of respect starting with new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. The former DC of the Baltimore Ravens has been called college football's best recruiter by former head coach Urban Meyer. Hoke also respects the coaches that came before him and even preaches about 'the team'.
Keeping Denard Robinson as a Wolverine was job #1 for Brady Hoke and after meeting with the speedy QB, the new coach came away quite impressed by the young man with the infectious smile. Offensive coordinator Al Borges has transitioned a few spread offenses into pro style offenses so he's been there, done that. The thing even he admits is that he's never had a QB with this kind of speed. Once he becomes a more polished passer, look out.
Having been the Defensive Coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens on your resume gets anyone's attention. That's instant respect after working with the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. But anyone who's met Greg Mattison realizes there's more, much more to him than being an excellent coach. He's a coach with passion, a coach that truly cares about his players and a coach who wanted to be at Michigan as long as it was with Brady Hoke. Mattison didn't care if the defense was one of the worst statistically the previous season. That's just a challenge to him and his coaches. He LOVES Michigan and knows the mission is to restore the program to greatness.
David Molk, Taylor Lewan, Patrick Omameh, Christian Pace, Rocko Khoury, Elliot Mealer, Ricky Barnum and Mark Huyge. The offensive line must show stability and consistency during this transition year. As long as this group stays relatively healthy, the offense should get better at running the ball. If the nasty streak in Lewan can rub off on the other players, it could be much better. Adding big tight ends into the offense will also help this group.
The new coaching staff has begun recruiting bigger players, like previous coaches did before RichRod. I'm not sure where the next Jake Long is but you can believe that this new group of coaches will be doing everything they can to find those 'Michigan Men' and get them to commit to Michigan and becoming part of the storied tradition. Greg Mattison is one of the top recruiters, if not the best, in the nation. Fred Jackson has been part of the Michigan staff since 1992. That says volumes about the man. And head coach Brady Hoke comes from the old school, the BO school. His passion reminds many of Bo's passion for the game. Learning important lessons from the legendary coach will serve Hoke well as he restores greatness to the Maize and Blue.