If Michigan doesn't create excitement, there could be a Big House cleaning
Michigan has fallen far behind Ohio State and Michigan State. Brady Hoke has one last chance to breathe some life into its sputtering offense, or else.
CHICAGO -- Michigan is not-so-suddenly boring.
Not boring in the sluggo way Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr won those championships. That was good boring. That was beating the poo out of the other guy. Offensively, the current Wolverines look a bit like ... well, let's leave it at stultifying.
Michigan is loved by millions. Those winged helmets inspire legions. No program has won more games. But, sorry, the Wolverines have unceremoniously been lapped by Ohio State (24-2 the past two seasons). They're looking up at "Little Brother" and defending Big Ten champ Michigan State.
In its current state, Michigan is bad boring. No amount of tradition, cool helmets or legacy can change that.
"Some of the proudest moments I've had," Brady Hoke said Monday at the Big Ten media days, "have not been on the field."
Probably not the best thing to say with the hot seat warming up. But that's how Hoke addressed his job status. Sixty-nine of 69 seniors have graduated under his watch. Laudable, but that's the kind of statistics coaches fall back on when their running game was 102nd nationally last season.
Or that the offense was dead last giving up 113 tackles for loss. That's lost yardage on one in every eight plays.
Michigan/Hoke/heck, the whole administration need to win now. It's AD Dave Brandon's backside on the line, too. We all get that Rich Rodriguez didn't fit the culture. Hoke's a Michigan Man through and through with his own issues.
Rich Rod's offenses got steadily better -- from 109th overall No. 8 in three seasons. Hoke's have gotten steadily worse (42nd to 87th).
Almost makes you forget that Michigan is less than three years removed from a Sugar Bowl victory. The question was put to Brandon that night, if the program had returned to prominence.
"As far as I'm concerned, Michigan never left," he told CBSSports.com.
Then his hand-picked coach proceeded to win all of 15 games the past two seasons.
This is not necessarily a shot at Hoke. I think the man knows what he wants, it just can't be executed at the moment. Hoke wants to build intimidating bruisers on both sides of the ball. He wants to make the opponent submit.
That's a brutal identity that Little Brother coach Mark Dantonio has perfected. That's why the Spartans have won five out of the past six meetings.
"We're going back to East Lansing this year, second year in a row, so what?" Hoke said.
Only that it could be the game that decides his future.
At the moment, Michigan State is tougher. Ohio State is more talented. If that stings in Ann Arbor, it should. Didn't you expect more? It's both sad and (possibly) inspiring that super freshman Jabrill Peppers' abs are more exciting than anything Hoke has on offense at the moment.
You might have seen it last week. Peppers tweeted out his sculpted body after only a few weeks on campus.
One recruiting service wrote in a preseason magazine, Peppers " ... has the personality to be the most famous player in college football ... " That probably has something to do with Peppers dropping his own YouTube video in May 2013.
It should have everything to do with Peppers -- on some lists as the nation's No. 1 recruit -- playing at least a little offense. The cornerback has been touted as one of the best prospects ever to come out of New Jersey. He's got a bit of a Charles Woodson two-way vibe about him.
"Let's anoint him when he does something, right?" Hoke said. "I mean, let's see what he can do."
Yes, let's. Just hurry. Michigan's on-field production is currently outstripped by its merchandise sales and halftime shows. Name any other school whose quarterback led the team in rushing at 2.9 yards per carry (Devin Gardner).
"That's not the ideal situation ... " Gardner told reporters. "I'm sure you guys won't let us forget about it."
Why should we? Gardner, a fifth-year senior, is going on his third offensive coordinator. The latest -- Doug Nussmeier -- comes highly recommended having just arrived from Alabama. "It's a lot more simple ... " Gardner said of the new scheme. "It's hard to play fast on offense [when] you don't know exactly what you're doing."
That's certainly an endorsement. Isn't it?
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