By: Eric Thomas
Hi. Have a seat. No, no, we need to talk. I understand how this looks, but we’re your friends. We’re doing this because we care. Just have a seat right there and—hold on, please, don’t speak for a moment. I’ve got the talking pillow.
You, as a fan of the University of Michigan football team, need to stop defending them. The people currently in charge in Ann Arbor aren’t helping right now. Your organization, once one of the finest in the country, has become an embarrassment.
Wait! Come back! Grab him! I’m sorry for the use of force, but you need to hear this. Did you hit your head when they tackled you? Here’s an ice pack. Again, we’re only doing this because we care.
No, we aren’t Sparty. This isn’t a plot. I understand that any time anyone criticizes your team you immediately jump into a defensive crouch. You call them Spartans or whatever. In times past, Sparty Bob, Jeff Smoker and all that, it was justified. Not anymore. Heck, if we were Spartan fans, we’d be trying to convince you to keep Brandon and Hoke. When was the last time MSU won a Rose Bowl? When was the last time MSU was a legit national title contender? If anyone is a Manchurian Candidate operating for the Spartans, it’s the two guys at the top of your football organization.
This intervention is about you. You’ve been screaming that the media has been unfair to UM lately. We’re saying you should stop. When you spend time on Twitter and comment sections defending the current Michigan football administration, you’re helping them.
Yes, I know. Winningest football program in college football history. Sure. Those days were pretty fine. Brian Griese, Drew Henson, Tshimanga Biakabutuka, Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson, you had a great program. One of the best, without question. Tom Brady was nearly forgotten about when he was your QB. Even John Navarre, who you weren’t all that thrilled with, looks amazing now.
It’s been tough since you ran Lloyd Carr out of town. Oh, that’s right; you’re still saying he retired. Right. Either way, I’m admitting you’ve had a rough time. It’s been a long time since you were a national title contender.
Stop shouting about the Spartans, son. You need to hear this: Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke have been a really bad thing for you. When they thunder their chests and say “this is Michigan” they’re taking credit for something someone else accomplished. They talk about tradition and talk about the integrity of the program, but they haven’t demonstrated much themselves. When you talk about tradition, and “this is Michigan” they’re filling you with the memories of the past in order to put up a smokescreen, while allowing the program to circle the drain. The questions about Brady started last year, and the team just got progressively worse as the games went on. He couldn’t pull out of the tailspin, all ending in the embarrassment that was the BW3 Bowl.
Brendan Gibbons—wait! Grab him again! Sorry. Yes, I understand you think it’s a media inflated story. I know, you think it’s a Sparty invention. Listen to me: the Gibbons story is only part of it. It’s yet another sign that the organization is out of control. Is it the disease? No, but it’s a symptom. The fact that two of Gibbons’ personal records were leaked to the Michigan Daily is proof that there is major acrimony among the people within your system.
Recruiting? Stop. Again, talking pillow? Thank you. You’ve never talked about recruiting until it was your only accomplishment. Five star and four star athletes coveted by teams often don’t pan out. Hoke has insulated himself with the classes of kids that have come into the program, but he falls short when it comes to actually coaching them into Big Ten talent. After Brady’s first year, you were all excited about when the team would finally be “his guys”—well, how was last year? That was year three of the Brady administration.
I also know you’re mad at Urban Meyer. He said that MSU was a “real threat” at his press conference on signing day, and has forgotten about you. You used to say that OSU was your real rival and MSU wasn’t really on your radar. Now OSU has identified the Spartans as their rival. You’ve been left out, wandering the street, forgotten, looking for your identity, your place, thinking about a past glory that increasingly feels like it could be forever in the rearview, you dream about the days of being competitive with OSU and when you beat MSU with regularity, the glory days when the coaches were actual assistants from under Bo and the National Championship was decided by poll and not games. I understand that this is hard.
Maybe you were a little too hasty with Rich Rodriguez. He was the rebound coach. It was probably the wrong decision to dump him like you did, especially considering the success he’s had at Arizona, but it wasn’t really about him was it? This has been an ugly couple of years, but clinging to someone because they represent a long-ago glory while your football program cyclones into the drain is a mistake.
You need to stop defending Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon. The media didn’t ruin your recruiting day, their choices did. The media asks those questions because Brandon and Hoke’s actions raise them. This is how it works. Blaming the media is like blaming a runny nose and allowing the infection to thrive; your nose is trying to tell you something is wrong.
Accept that this is serious. Understand that there is a problem. Dave Brandon isn’t going to fire Brady Hoke because he doesn’t want to look bad for hiring him. He’s trying to protect himself to the detriment of the football team. The UM AD position is lucrative and attractive; a line of extremely qualified people will form as soon as the vacancy is reported. Ask yourself: would the football program suffer at all if Dave Brandon was no longer at the helm? Another question: is Dave Brandon really worthy of a job once held by Bo?
Okay. I’ve said my peace. Who else wants the talking pillow?