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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Expectations: Simma Down

A week ago today, one of the few mass media bloggers who covers Michigan that I like, decided to post this article titled, "Why Brady Hoke needs to win in year 1". This man, is Adam Rittenberg. Before I even began the read, I instantly went into face palm mode...

Articles like these, are what get our frugal Michigan minds running with expectations and the memories of glory days of yester yore. Are we really going to allow ourselves to get stuck in that trap again? For all of the things Brady Hoke has on his side compared to Rich Rodriguez, one thing they should not be allowed to have in common is lofty expectations of instantly turning the program around, the instant time they walk through the door.

If Michigan doesn't win big in year 1, Rittenberg seems ready to put Hoke on the proverbial hot seat by year 2.
If Michigan doesn't make a big jump this fall, it could have a tough time doing so in 2012. The Wolverines could be a better team, a more well-adjusted team, and not have the record to show for it.

Two middling seasons would mean two more years of Michigan lingering outside the upper crust. Questions about whether or not Hoke can restore Michigan among the Big Ten's elite likely would surface.

Is this like Rich Rodriguez's first year where, we as fans just forget our deficiencies and expect greatness right away? I don't think there needs to be any reminder of where our defense is at and I look at the defense like I did the 2008 offense. A unit that is inexperienced, young, and needs a substantial amount of proper coaching.

It would be a disservice to Hoke, his staff, recruiting, and the players if by year 2, the papers are running articles about him pleading for patience among all ye faithful... I am not going to exhaust all the problems that faced RR when he came here or while he was here, because it was more than impatient fans that caused his demise. However, we all know that wins could have cured all. I just hope that the patience RR did not get from the administration is forwarded to Hoke, and from Brandon's comments, that appears to be the case...

"Everybody always wants to know wins and losses and 'How are they gonna be?'" Brandon said. "I've been around this game long enough to know that's a dangerous trap. So much depends on injuries. We're implementing a new system, so how fast can our players adapt to a completely new system on both sides of the ball? How big of a step-change improvement will you see among some of those young players who really struggled last year?

"There's just too many unknowns to quantify how we're going to be on the field this year."

I wonder if this was his process when evaluating RR's tenure here at Michigan. It doesn't appear that was the case, but he's got HIS GUY in there now and lets hope the fan base follows suit with this patient approach.

I ask myself and other Michigan faithful what if, we go 7-5 or 6-6 this season? More often than not, the response I get, is something along the lines of "disappointing". My rebuttal is always, what if we are actually competitive in our losses this year? See, my rule of thought, is there is a massive difference between 7-5 and being competitive vs. 7-5 and getting blown out by every quality team on your schedule. There's a difference between losing nail biters and letting Wisconsin run 99.9% of the time en route to getting dismantled at home.

As a die-hard homer fan it has taken the 3 years in the shitter, that it seems like the program has been stuck in, to really appreciate what we had and where we are at. It seems like we as a fan base, have been plagued by our previous success these last 3 years and the "AHHHH WE ARE MICHIGAN!!!" mentality has allowed us to skew rationality and cause lofty expectations. Here's a bit from the guys at Maize and Blue Nation from 2009...

On 2008 expectations...
I'll be the first to admit that I was a little too hopeful for an 8-win season in 2008. But looking at the schedule and taking time to really think about our opponents, I thought 8 wins could be possible. If we got off on the right foot and could keep injuries down...we might get there.
And the 2009 expectations came out too...
So there you have it...we will end the season with 8 wins and 4 losses. And for those keeping score at home, 5-3 in the Big Ten. We'll make a bowl game. Likely a pre-New Year's Day bowl. Maybe the Alamo Bowl or something along those lines.
Optimistic after an atrocious 3-9 season, no? I couldn't find much in the realm of quoted season predictions from 2008 that wasn't of the bleacher report substance, but for 2009 only 1 member of the Michigan rivals staff had us pegged for anything less than a 7 win season. Again after what I saw in 2008, those especially in retrospect were lofty expectations.

Now, Brady Hoke comes into a situation where he's getting 18 starters back. He's got an offensive coordinator who will implement his offense, but not force a square peg in to a round hole and a defensive coordinator who by all accounts seems to be on the same page. He's a Michigan guy, which should buy him some time. I just urge fans on the side of caution with this upcoming season. If we don't immediately, look like the 97 team that many of us want to see, can we please keep everything in perspective, and stay objective? I am going to shove my foot in my mouth (only a little bit though) when I release my season predictions, but I am a believer in Hoke and what he's doing with the program and would hate to see questions about his ability to turn around the program surface so early in his tenure.

So, lets stay calm, and follow our team faithfully this season, and not haunt Hoke with expectations that were always over the head of our previous coach. As always, Go Blue.

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