"You see those kids over there?" Brady said pointing at his celebrating seniors who had jumped into the first few rows of the student section. "That's their final legacy."
I've watched that ending a few times now. Still chokes me up. It was an emotional day. It was something I'd been waiting a long time for.
Michigan is back.
Brady didn't cry, but his voice cracked a little more than it usually does, and it reminded me of 1996, when Lloyd's bottom lip wiggled a bit after the Ohio State game. He uttered "It's a player's game, like most of these Ohio State - Michigan games are...and it was won...on the field...by a team that believed that they could win." And win they did, despite being 17-point underdogs that day.
I remember thinking then that Coach Carr really had developed an amazing relationship with these guys, and he was only their head coach for a couple of years. Brady Hoke has been here for 11 months, and the bond he developed with the seniors that he had no hand in recruiting, and had only coached for a few months, was extraordinary.
He is us, we are him. I love him. I love how he coaches. I love his leadership ability and how he does it. I’d do anything for him. - David Molk
It now looks as if he was the perfect hire for the situation. He surrounded himself with the perfect assistants, and most importantly, preached the Michigan tradition so well, that the team forgot it ever did anything but win. This was not the team that lost 22 games in the previous three years. This was THIS team. This was team 132, with navy seal's chains hanging around their necks.
We went through a lot to get here. It's so hard to imagine that less than a year ago I walked out of a bowl game in the 3rd quarter, that a week later I absolutely loathed the hiring of Hoke, that at the spring game I was certain we were in for a year of attempting a vanilla power offense with RichRod's mighty midget recruits.
I was wrong. So very wrong.
Sugar Bowl (likely) bound and ten wins is a big deal. It's even bigger when you've averaged five wins per season over the last three years. Offensively, we took a half step back for the greater good of the future installation of Power and Pocket, but maybe ended up building a better, if not more healthy, Denard. Defensively, we witnessed what has to be the greatest single season turnaround for a team...with nearly identical personnel.
The season wasn't perfect, as no season when little brother beats you is...and there are going to be a lot of questions going into next season. The questions however will pale in comparison to the expectations. Michigan is going to be a top 15 preseason team, top 10 if they win this bowl game. Michigan will likely be picked to win the Big Ten. And there will be a lot of weight on the shoulders of a senior Denard Robinson.
But I have the ultimate confidence in Brady and this staff to manage expectations. I'm done complaining. Sorry I'm so late to the party. Goals will be set. The expectations will be for the position. Hold the rope. Etc, etc, etc....
Just beat Sparty under the lights in 2012.