When the Michigan football team walked into the Junge Champions Center on a steamy Sunday morning last August, smiles glistened from ear to ear.
Everything regarding the 2013 season seemed as bright as the sun beaming through the glass.
Dreams return to national relevance were alive and well. Surely, a new number would replace “42” on the painted mural stretching across the top of Michigan’s lockers in Michigan Stadium.
Big Ten championship No. 43 was bound to happen. A rematch against Ohio State, the Wolverines’ bitter rival, appeared to be on the horizon for the first time with all the marbles, or roses in this case, on the line.
This was it. Michigan football was set to return to the glory days. Nothing else could be possible.
But the narrative regarding Michigan’s 2013 season, comparable to a voicemail recording being repeated over and over again, isn’t a pretty one.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Dreams of a Big Ten championship, shattered. The paint, along with Michigan fans, forced to wait until next year….or beyond.
Three years into Brady Hoke’s regime, the state of the Michigan football program is in shambles. It’s no worse than the one he overtook, a stretch of three gruesome years under Rich Rodriguez Wolverines fans would rather forget.
Right from the start of 2013, Michigan began to falter. A 5-0 start was masked by the level of opponents on the September schedule.
The Wolverines just weren’t that good.
Time could only tell, though. And boy, did time tell.
Michigan finished the season on a 1-6 skid, including a walloping against Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl December 28.
This wasn’t part of the plan. This wasn’t a team that won the Sugar Bowl two seasons ago during Hoke’s first year.
It appeared that the entire staff would return. Hoke anticipated this.
But on January 8, the Wolverines made a surprising change.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges, a member of Hoke’s staff since 2009 when the two were at San Diego State, had been fired.
Out with the old and in with the new, right?
Hours later, Doug Nussmeier was snatched away from Alabama to become Michigan’s newest offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Since his days as a quarterbacks coach with Michigan State, Nussmeier has displayed the talent of developing quarterbacks. At Washington, he helped mold Jake Locker into the NFL quarterback he is today. AJ McCarron also took the next step in becoming an elite college quarterback while being coach by Nussmeier the past two seasons at Alabama.
With Gardner entering his final season of eligibility and Morris now a sophomore with game experience, Michigan possesses depth at quarterback. Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith are entering their second years after failing to get rolling as freshmen.
Right now, Michigan’s in a prime position for immediate success. The components of a pro-style offense, one that the team has craved for quite some time, is in place.
Nearly three years ago, Brady Hoke said “This is Michigan” in his introductory press conference.
For the first time since longtime Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr retired, it appears this awaits on the horizon with Doug Nussmeier calling the shots offensively. Michigan might want to keep that paint close.