Nearly two years ago to the day, the Michigan football family was feeling its oats.
The Wolverines just completed the 2011 season with wins over Notre Dame, Ohio State and a victory over Virginia Tech in the BCS Sugar Bowl.
“Michigan Man” Brady Hoke completed his first season as head coach 11-2, helping Wolverine fanatics forget the Rich Rodriguez regime along the way.
Hoke had won over the Wolverine base with his impassionate speeches. His key objective was winning a Big Ten championship and returning to the national prominence predecessors like Yost, Crisler, Schembechler, Moeller and Carr achieved before him.
‘Tattoo-gate’ costs Tressel his job
Hoke was also given a helping hand by the Buckeyes, who fell victim to an NCAA investigation known affectionately as “Tattoo-gate.”
Push the clock up a couple of years and things aren’t nearly as rosy.
Urban Meyer was hired to clean up Ohio State’s mess, and has done fairly well, winning all 24 regular season games before losing to Michigan State in this season’s Big Ten title game and suffering a loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Even more concerning is Meyer’s effect on recruiting, especially in the state of Ohio.
After OSU coach Jim Tressel was fired during the NCAA scandal, Hoke was able to swoop into the Buckeye state and grab seven of the top 10 prospects while OSU landed eight.
Marshon Lattimore commits to OSU
Michigan’s current recruiting class will be much different. Thus far, Michigan has only one commitment from the talent-rich state, while Meyer, who like Hoke grew up in Ohio, has six.
Meyer recently received commitments from defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Erik Smith, who both prepped at Cleveland Glenville.
The Wolverines figured to have a shot at the pair, since legendary Glenville coach Ted Ginn, Sr. recently sent defensive tackle Willie Henry and defensive end Frank Clark to U-M.
Despite nearly striking out in Ohio, Michigan still has 16 players committed thus far. The small class will total only around 22 because teams can only have 85 players on scholarship at any one time.
Even so, Michigan could again finish with a top 10 class, especially if Hoke lands DE Malik McDowell of Southfield.
Big Ten title has eluded Hoke
That would give Hoke three solid recruiting classes going into his fourth season. Regardless of what Rodriguez left behind, it’s time for Hoke to at least challenge for the Big Ten title. If not, the seat Hoke’s currently residing in will get very, very hot.
With Michigan State’s program steadying itself even more every season, just getting past the Spartans this year in East Lansing will be quite a challenge. And everyone knows OSU’s Meyer will have recruits lining the field when “the game” is played in Columbus Nov. 29.
One thing for sure, Hoke better not lose to Appalachian State at home Aug. 30. If that “miracle” would happen, boosters, alumni and fans alike, would be very unhappy. After all, another coaching search during the 2014-15 bowl season would be hard to take.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer