The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 41 Michigan is exceptional," Hoke said. "They had a tremendous year a year ago. It was since '88 that they had been to the Rose Bowl. They went and won it. You've got to give them a lot of credit in how they've played and how the series has been of late. "Going up there two years in a row is a little different. At the same time, it is what it is. The field is not going to change. It's going to be the same length." As for heading south to Columbus, Hoke isn't about to blink there, either. "The Ohio game has been, in my opinion, the greatest rivalry in sport," noted the native Ohioan. "That's from growing up with it. It's always fun to go to Columbus." He also knows, better than anyone, how close the Wolverines are to standing 3-0 ver- sus the Buckeyes. They've been a play away these past two years. Not that Hoke is inclined to get verbose about that particular topic. "We've got to execute," he noted. "We've got to finish." Finishing will take on a whole new mean- ing for Big Ten and college football teams all across the country, beginning this year. The four-team playoff has arrived, and the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day serve as semifinal games for the national championship contest on Jan. 12. Hoke remains a traditionalist, appreciating the fact that Michigan-Ohio State remains the last game of the regular-season schedule. He wonders about the future of The Grand- daddy of Them All. "How do you handle it?" he pondered. "You're going to the Rose Bowl to get into the championship game. Well, how do you approach the best bowl game there is, from the standpoint of everything that goes along with the Rose Bowl? "Do you not do Lawry's [a restaurant where the two opponents would have a prime rib-eating contest]? Do you not go to Disneyland? Because you're playing for a chance to go play for it all. So does it just become another game? My sense is, it prob- ably is going to just become another game." Meanwhile, he's not crazy about the SEC and ACC playing only eight conference games while the Big Ten and other top con- ferences move to nine. "That's something that [playoff selection] committee really has to look at," he said. "If it's truly going to be that, how can you have two leagues only playing eight conference games, of the five power conferences? How that's fair and equitable? "When you add that other league game, it means something. It means something because you're playing in that conference. It's something that will be much more taxing than playing an eight-game schedule. "When you play another league game, there is some sort of rivalry; there's a his- tory against that school. We typically get everybody's best, because we're Michigan. And we should." The Rose Bowl, the playoffs … the for- mer represents the enduring dream of ev- ery Michigan football player, while the lat- ter stands as a new goal. First things first, though. Moving away from a disappointing season and battling for a Big Ten East Di- vision championship have to overshadow dreams for down the road. It's about getting better and making cer- tain all the changes move Michigan forward. "Obviously, 7-6 is unacceptable," Hoke assured. "We feel that way. This is Michigan. We as a staff know we've got to do a better job when you look at some of the develop- ment and some of the things we're trying to accomplish. "Some of the biggest development comes from an attitude of leadership, an attitude of discipline, an attitude of being a great team- mate, and coaches are teammates also. It's the clarity of the message — this is what we want to accomplish today, or this week, or this month. "We can't accept the way we are right now. If we do, we're making a big mistake. We've got to have higher expectations for everybody in the program." ❑ Hoke (right) believes the changes made with the defensive staff will free up coordinator Greg Mattison (left) to better oversee his entire unit. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 36-41.Brady Hoke.indd 41 6/18/14 3:33 PM

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