To say that this has been a frustrating season for Michigan Football, would be an understatement of monumental proportions. If you can remember way back when, to the Notre Dame game, it looked like it might be a real fun season. The Wolverines looked impressive as they dispatched the Irish and rivals.com #1 ranked recruit, Da’Shawn Hand was on hand for the festivities.
Reports soon started circulating that Michigan was the frontrunner to receive a commitment from Hand. Already in the fold was the nation’s #2 ranked recruit Jabrill Peppers, who had committed to Michigan over the summer.
Signs of trouble
The wheels started wobbling on the Wolverine express just one week after the Notre Dame game. Akron came to town and almost pulled off a titanic upset. In fact, they had a chance to win the game on the final play of the game. Michigan held them off, then went to UConn and had to storm back to avoid being upset by the Huskies.
After a bye week, Michigan cruised past Minnesota. Then they lost a confounding, 4 overtime game at Penn State. Michigan followed that up by winning a shootout against Indiana.
The wheels fell off
Michigan came completely off the tracks when they were manhandled by Michigan State. The following week, they lost to Nebraska. They needed a miracle to get a win at Northwestern and then, last week, lost at Iowa.
It was during this stretch of games that Da’Shawn Hand, who was still considered a Michigan lean, committed to Alabama. That sent shockwaves through the fan base. It was believed that the duo of Hand and Peppers would help solidify what is already a pretty strong defense in Ann Arbor.
The loss of Hand was huge, but many, myself included, took comfort in the fact the Jabrill Peppers was still solidly committed to Michigan, his childhood favorite. He is, after all, the kind of once-in-a-decade type player who can make an instant impact on both sides of the ball. Think of a bigger version of Charles Woodson.
Sound the alarm
After the losses to MSU, Nebraska and Iowa, combined with the narrow victories over Northwestern, Akron, and UConn, questions were being raised about Michigan’s coaching staff. While I thoroughly believe that Brady Hoke will not be fired, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some changes on his staff this offseason.
Do you think coaches across the country have decided to kick Michigan while they are down and start negative recruiting their committed players. The answer is, absolutely. Which leads us to Tuesday afternoon, when Jabrill Peppers declared on twitter that he would take some “officials” after his season is complete.
Forget the shockwaves that resulted from Hand committing to Alabama, this tweet sent the Michigan faithful into full-fledged panic. Losing Peppers would be a devastating blow to the Wolverines.
Peppers has since clarified his intentions in a statement he sent out via email.
I am still 100 percent committed to the University of Michigan and that is the place where I want to go to college. With the rumors about Coach [Brady] Hoke possibly not being there, I need to make sure that I have options and have seen other places in case the University of Michigan decides to go in a different direction. For the sake of my future I need to make sure I have other options. No need to look into it any further! Go Blue and beat TDS
If Michigan was enjoying a successful season there would be no reason for Peppers to look around. He is however, almost certainly hearing from opposing coaches, say in Columbus, Ohio, that Brady Hoke is in danger of being fired. Peppers loves Michigan and he loves Brady Hoke. However, if Hoke is removed from the equation, Peppers will likely remove himself as well and be a game-changing player for some other school.
Just yesterday, Erik Swenson, who is one of the top players in the 2016 class, committed to Michigan. The Wolverines also have commitments from the #2 overall player in the 2015 class, George Campbell as well as the top running back in the 2015 class, Damien Harris.
If, as expected, Michigan gets trucked by Ohio State on Saturday, it will create more unrest in and around Schembechler Hall. The recruits will be looking for reassurance that Brady Hoke will continue to be the head coach at Michigan. The sooner that is clarified by David Brandon, Michigan’s Athletic Director, the better, at least in terms of recruiting.
In regards to Peppers, I do believe if Hoke is at Michigan next year, Jabrill Peppers will be a Wolverine. If he’s not then Michigan goes into rebuilding mode again.
It’s important to remember why we are even having this discussion. Michigan has regressed on the gridiron this year. I’ve been telling anybody who will listen that Hoke needs at least four years. Next season is year four and I think many of the pieces are in place for Michigan to begin contending for championships. Is there some tweaking that could be done with the staff? Yes, there is. Is it time to pull the plug on the Brady Hoke era? I don’t think so.
Although it seems like the longest of long shots at this point. What if Michigan hands Urban Meyer his first loss as Ohio State’s head coach on Saturday? That would sure help get things back on track.
Needless to say it’s going to be an interesting few months in Ann Arbor.
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