Like the football team, I’ll be making a brief appearance this off-season before disappearing again until Fall.
The theme of the coaching search and press conferences over the last several months has centered around the idea that it’s time to return the program to “Michigan Football” (demonstrative finger quotes here). Whether or not you believe that such a thing as “Michigan Football” exists and that the program has indeed drifted from that thing, the message is clear – moving forward, the team and the style of play will look different under Brady Hoke than it did under Rich Rodriguez. The question is, given our personnel (specifically a player whose name rhymes with Denard Robinson) how different will it look this year? Just how far back will Coach Hoke and his staff turn the clock? Will they force Denard into a scheme where he feels out of place, or will they shift their offensive philosophy to take advantage of his considerable talents?
I found an archival photo of Fielding H. Yost’s first Michigan football team and thought it would be a great counterpoint to the “return to Michigan football” theme. Yost’s 1901 team was dominant (11-0 record, 550 points scored – 0 points against) and depended on fast, efficient players to execute a “hurry up” offense to perfection. Stylistically, that sounds more like the offense we saw under Rich Rodriguez than what we should expect from new offensive coordinator Al Borges. Denard Robinson’s style of play would have been a perfect fit for Yost’s first “Point-a-Minute” team.
If Coach Hoke and Denard Robinson jumped into a DeLorean and turned the clock back to 1901, this modified team photo is what you might see hanging in Schembechler Hall today.