Each week we have our writers break down a "hot topic" among the Michigan fanbase and allow them to express their personal opinion on the issue. Topics cover everything from rivalry games to team and fan apparel. Writers have their own opinion and you are welcome to comment below or contact them via Twitter with your own thoughts.
Kyle Curtiss - Representing Those For Brady Hoke As The Better Rebuilding Coach
1) When Rich left, Michigan was left in limbo. In comes Brady Hoke, saying he would have walked here, and restored the faith in Michigan football. In one brief season, Hoke has brought Michigan football back to the national conscious mind with an 11-2 record, and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. Naysayers dismiss it; saying there were more deserving teams. Yet the bottom line shows we were there, and we won. Beilein has made the NCAA Tournament 3 years now, and has done nothing with it. One shared regular season title does not make a championship program.
2) Is it easy to recruit for a national powerhouse? Nowhere near. Pundits say Lloyd left the cupboard bare, and Rich didn’t stockpile Big Ten talent. That’s not to say Rich couldn’t recruit—he did land Denard Robinson, but it wasn’t the same. Going 3-9, 5-7, and 7-5 in his 3 years of coaching was Shakespearean tragedy at Michigan. With Hoke at the helm, he landed the 21st ranked recruiting standing, followed by 6th, and going into 2013 he has the #1 ranked class. With another year under his belt, Borges and Mattison as his coordinators, there should be no reason why Michigan is not ranked in the pre-season top 10.
3) There is a reason why Bo labeled his players as “Michigan Men”. Rich came into the program and didn’t give much credence to it. Oh he’ll say he wanted to be a Michigan Man, but it goes above and beyond wanting to be one. It has to be earned. Hoke has brought back that distinction. It’s no small feat to accomplish but just absorbing his natural candor is infectious. “It’s Michigan, for God’s sake!”
Thomas Beindit - Representing Those For John Beilein As The Better Rebuilding Coach
1) The first and most important thing that has made Beilein a better rebuilder for Michigan than Hoke is that the team he inherited was significantly worse than the team Hoke received. Michigan's basketball team hadn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1998 when Beilein was hired and he has made 3 tournaments in the last 4 years. Along with this, Michigan hadn't won a Big Ten title since 1986 and really hadn't competed for almost a decade. Michigan has just won the Big Ten Championship this season and has propelled Michigan to a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, it's highest seeding since 1998. Michigan football may have only made 1 bowl game in the 3 years before Hoke was hired, but in order to have even close to a fair comparison, the football team would have had to do almost nothing significant for the 9 years before Hoke was hired. During that same time period Michigan football made 7 bowl games including 3 Rose Bowls, and won some of them. In the 9 years before Beilein was hired Michigan basketball didn't even make the NCAA Tournament once.
2) Rebuilding Michigan basketball is also more difficult than rebuilding Michigan football because of the name alone. Michigan has not only been a good historical power, but it is consistently considered to be one of the elite programs in the entire nation. Think about it, I don't think anybody could argue there is a program anywhere else that has been significantly better than Michigan. Even teams like USC, Notre Dame, and Alabama are pretty comparable to Michigan. However, Michigan's basketball program is not exactly elite. I'm pretty sure a novice sports fan could name 5-10 basketball schools before Michigan. Certainly Michigan has had some great moments (notably the Fab 5), but can't really be compared to teams like Duke, UNC, or Kentucky. There are even Big Ten schools like Indiana that can be considered historical powerhouses in comparison to Michigan. Not only does this perception make recruiting more difficult, but it gets less attention and support for the program. For instance, I think we can all remember watching Michigan basketball games with empty arenas. That's not exactly something that helps the team compete on a consistent basis. Now, compare that to the football team. Everybody can remember watching 2008 and 2009 home games (Michigan's football team was horrible both years) and seeing record-setting crowds. So, not only did Beilein have a weaker team to work with, but recruiting was more difficult and the team had less fan support.
3) Along with the team's weak performances and smaller prestige than the football program, Beilein also entered a program suffering under real sanctions and the results of those sanctions. Michigan had to vacate some of its most successful history as a result of the Ed Martin Scandal, but more importantly had to give up scholarships over the next several seasons. Giving up 1 basketball scholarship may seem small, but it's actually pretty significant because of its ramifications on team depth. There's still plenty of scholarships for starters, but there are fewer players to develop and less to come in off the bench. After poor performance coupled with this sanctions, there wasn't much for Beilein to actually inherit when he took over. The team was not absolutely horrible the two years before Beilein was hired, but they never really competed for anything significant and playing in the NIT is not what I'd refer to as a successful season. Michigan's football program got in trouble before Hoke was hired as well, but never lost any scholarships and only had to give up some practice time over the next few years. Comparing these two scandals is just not realistic, the basketball program's scandal made Beilein's rebuilding efforts even more impressive.
Kyle - The cupboard was far from bare when Beilein arrived. Udoh was a budding superstar before he decided to transfer to Baylor, where he starred. Beilein tried to replace Udoh with Benzing and Coleman and Benzing failed to meet eligibility guidelines, and Coleman was a dud. Novak and Douglass soon followed, but neither were All-Americans. Beilein still had Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims, and both failed to make a splash. It wasn’t until a few months ago that Beilein landed his highest recruit yet with Mitch McGary, a top ranked power forward from Porter, Indiana. Highest one since he got here in 2007? Not saying Beilein hasn’t been able to bounce back from the years of Ed Martin, and scholarship losses, and mediocrity…but it’s nowhere near the level of stature that the football team is. It never will be. Ballplayers want to play at Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas, and Michigan State. Michigan could be up there with a few Final Four trips. BUT you’ve got to be able to recruit on selling Michigan, the best college and amateur sports program in the country. Using sanctions as a crutch is fine, and a lot of people do. Fact is, USC is coming back from their sanctions, Miami did a few years ago, and probably will have to again. “Ohio” can never be counted out. The only school ever truly damaged by sanctions, irreparable ones, was SMU. Michigan basketball didn’t receive the death penalty but it sure acted as though it did.
Thomas - I would agree that Brady Hoke entered Michigan during a rough period, but it's not like Beilein came in at a great time either. Michigan had at least made a bowl game the year before Hoke entered the program. Along with that, they had increased their win total during both of the previous two seasons. Beilein took over a program without a NCAA Tournament bid in 9 seasons. Beilein entered into what was undeniably a rougher situation than Hoke entered. Hoke has certainly done well on the recruiting trail, but he not only had solid players when he entered, but he also had a national brand to market. When Beilein took over he could only market based on his own coaching pedigree and Michigan's academics. Hoke didn't have to leave out the program's successes from the past like Beilein did. Could Beilein discuss teams like the Fab 5? Yes, he could, but it was always tainted. Hoke didn't have that same shadow hanging over the program like Beilein had to deal with. I can't deny that Hoke has brought in a great culture for the Michigan football program, but Beilein has done a great job establishing a culture as well. Recruits barely even considered Michigan before he got here. Now there's so many Beilein is having to be careful with the scholarships he gives out. Along with this, there was little to no fan involvement before Beilein took over. Crisler now consistently sells out and fans are flocking to see the Wolverines be able to compete and win championships.
All writers are entitled to their own opinion and those may or may not represent the held beliefs of Hoke's Mad Magicians as an entity. Readers are welcome to comment below or contact the writers via Twitter with their thoughts.
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