Michigan Football: 10 Reasons It's a Great Time to Be a Wolverines Football Fan
Let's be honest, it's been a rough couple of years.
We saw the likes of Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan under center in an era that will be forgettable for everyone. Rich Rodriguez is gone and with him, hopefully, the bad taste in everyone's mouth.
Things are looking up with the hire of Brady Hoke. Hope has finally been restored in one of the most storied programs in college football history. While the Wolverines showed progress last year, the next few years should be when all of the excitement will take place.
Here are 10 reasons why it is a great time to be a fan of the Michigan Wolverines.
1. Denard Robinson
The midseason Heisman front runner, Robinson exploded onto the scene last year as the most dynamic player in the nation. He ended the season as the second leading rusher in the nation and finished sixth in yards per attempt.
In addition to his rushing, his ability to throw the ball improved greatly over the course of the season. While he may never be Chad Henne through the air, he brings a threat to the game that no other team in the nation can boast.
His transition into Hoke's pro-style offense may be the single biggest factor in the Wolverine's success this year. Regardless of his efficiency through the air, he will provide highlight reel runs and plenty of excitement.
2. Young Core of Talent
The core of the team returns from last year and is complemented by some nice pieces off the recruiting trail. From last year, the Wolverines return their six leading rushers, five of which are juniors or younger. They also return their top five receivers and top tight end, with two underclassmen among group.
The defensive unit is loaded with talented freshman that will complement the senior leaders. The line has a lot of young talent. The secondary is very young as a unit as well, led by Jr. J.T. Floyd.
Recruiting went well for the Wolverines also. On the defensive side of the ball, they inked a four-star corner and defensive end, while the offense will be bolstered by a four-star running back and offensive lineman.
3. Brady Hoke
When Michigan hired Hoke in January, it was met with a lot of speculation and frustration. Many people were left asking one question: Brady who? After seven months on the job, people are starting to realize that David Brandon got this one right.
He has really gotten to work in Ann Arbor, scrubbing the memories of the previous regime from the walls and memory of all involved. He is a quality guy and has an infectious sense of optimism and determination. He seems to be the type of guy who wants to roll up his sleeves and take things head on.
His pro-style offense is a return to the Michigan football that we all know so well. While the theory of the spread offense sounded good when Rodriguez took over, it was never met with full support as people were reluctant to let the Michigan of the past go.
Now it's back, and we can get back to business.
4. 2012 Recruiting Class
As of this very moment, the Michigan Wolverines have the No. 5 overall recruiting class for 2012. For a team that is not coming off a dynamite season, that is pretty much unheard of.
This class is the cause for a lot of optimism. The Wolverines have brought in four linebackers that have elite level Big 10 potential. They have also added one of the top tight ends in the country who could develop into a dangerous weapon.
Headlining the class is offensive linemen Kyle Kalis from Lakewood, Ohio. Kalis originally committed to Ohio State but decommited and decided to come to Michigan after the Jim Tressel fallout in Columbus.
5. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison
While you may not know his name now, it may be one that you would consider checking out. He has been snared away from the Baltimore Ravens to be the defensive coordinator of the Wolverines.
He has over 30 years of experience in college football and was the defensive coordinator for Urban Meyer when he won the National Championship at Florida in 2007.
Though Mattison is known for being a great coordinator, and it is his efforts in recruiting that will really pay dividends for the Wolverines. Urban Meyer is on record saying that he is the best recruiter in the country.
This has shown up in the recruiting effort for 2012 and should set the Wolverines up well for the foreseeable future.
6. Mike Martin
If Denard Robinson is the anchor that the offense will rely on this year, Mike Martin will serve the same function for the defense. Even though he battled through injuries last year, he still enters this season on the preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik award for best defensive player in the country.
A senior from Redford, Michigan, Martin was second team all Big 10 last year and notched 37 tackles, six tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks, while starting 12 games at nose tackle.
He has the ability to penetrate the line and give ball carriers some real trouble. I think that Martin is capable of an All-American level season. If he performs this well, the defensive unit will be tough to deal with.
Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com also named Martin the second strongest player in college football.
7. Return to Michigan Tradition
Something just didn't feel right during Rich Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan.
He wasn't a bad guy, he just seemed like a fish out of water. Michigan is known for having classy guys and a tradition of clean, hard-nosed football. Michigan came under heat for practice hours during Rodriguez's time, and he just seemed to be a slippery kind of guy.
With Brady Hoke taking over, all nonsense is gone. Many of the traditions that fell by the wayside under Rodriguez have been reinstated under Hoke.
Getting back to the days of Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr are a welcomed sight in Ann Arbor. We will see smash-mouth football and rarely a game with 80 or more points scored, as we have in recent memory. We will see headlines from between the white lines and not outside of them.
8. Stadium Upgrades
Over the past three years, the Big House underwent some major renovations. This has resulted in the addition of seats and luxury boxes. The Big House is now even bigger. This gives Wolverine fans an amazing venue to take in a football game.
While there was a lot of work done on the stadium, it has not lost any of the aura or sense of tradition. The scoreboard was renovated but still provides you with an old time feel, a feel that brings back memories of all the history that has been made in that stadium.
9. An Improved Big 10
It is really an exciting time to be a Big 10 fan in general. With the addition of Nebraska, the conference takes on a whole new outlook. While Ohio State has ran the conference in recent years, there appears to be a changing of the guard in the near future.
Michigan seems as likely as anyone to be the face of the new look Big 10. Many teams are improving, but none have the history, tradition and name recognition that Michigan has.
Nebraska will be a difficult team to deal with, but added competition in the conference is a good thing overall. Iowa will be better this year. Michigan State and Northwestern seem primed for big years. These should help to offset the difficulties facing the Buckeyes.
The best aspect of adding Nebraska is that it brings the Big 10 to 12 members, meaning that there will now be a championship game. This will bring in a lot of fans and money while providing one of the more exciting football games each season.
10. There Is a Mess in Columbus
Say what you want about the futility under Rich Rodriguez, but it did serve a purpose. He did not give the players the temptations of selling any championship rings for tattoos.
The same cannot be said for Jim Tressel and THE Ohio State Buckeyes. The whole situation has turned into a bloodbath, and it cost beloved coach Tressel his job. With the Sweater Vest, Terrelle Pryor and their sense of innocence gone, Ohio State is left to pick up the pieces.
While I wish no ill on most people in the world, I can't say that I'm broken hearted about the trouble in Columbus. I will forever be grateful to Rodriguez for not being able to land Pryor. It may have been his biggest accomplishment.