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30 November, 2011

Brady Hoke Named B1G Coach of the Year (and thoughts on UM, leadership and more)

In his first year as head football coach for the University of Michigan, Brady Hoke was named the Big Ten (B1G) coach of the year. Shocked? Well no. But surprised about the year, absolutely. How did he accomplish a 10 win season and a victory over Ohio? He followed two of my biggest leadership principals for one. The first one is that, often times, the best leader is the one who surrounds himself with the best people. Greg Mattison very well might earn assistant coach of the year honors for what he has done with UM's defense this year. He is a defensive genius. Offensively Al Borges adapted to his talent and got the most out of them that he could. Secondly he empowered his seniors to do what they needed to do to motivate the younger players. Enable them be the "deck plate" leaders.

Look, I know Michigan is loaded with talent. Rich Rodriguez (RR) had a ton of flaws. Recruiting was not one of them. Facing a roster of talented athletes who have seen the worst that college athletics can be, and motivating them to win 10 games for him, all while changing offensive and defensive schemes, that is amazing. This team, though, has one of the strongest group of seniors that I have seen (keeping in mind that by "seen" i mean, from a far. Like Hubble Telescope far). They impressed me with their interviews, with their on the field composure, and their love for the TEAM. I do not know them first hand. I did not see in person what happened for the last three years.  I do know a thing or two about leadership though, and the results speak for themselves in this case. Over the last three years, after a devastating coup the team lacked leadership. Blame it on Bo's passing if you want, but the fact remained that the team had no real leadership. I mentioned RR's flaws, well effective leadership seemed to be one of them. Screaming at kids and telling them they are wrong doesn't teach them to be right. They need a strong  and stable force to follow, and that is what this team had. I have a genuine fear that this team is the best that UM has had in a really long time, and they were forced to waste because of yet another coaching transition. A transition that was necessitated by a lack of leadership. Time will tell whether the younger players step up and lead, but this group of seniors had a vendetta, and the leadership skills necessary to accomplish what they wanted. If the current group learned what not to do over the last three years, lets hope that the next group takes the road map that this years seniors' have made and use it for the future.

Every team will be different, but this team is by far my favorite. They truly ENDURED. Their success culminated today in this award. Well done to the coach and the players, who I think earned it for him. 

Fortitudine Vincimus

Opening Remarks

First I have to give props where props are due. My wife, Mindy, has started a couple of blogs and that, combined with my love of sports and their respective blogging has inspired me to start my own. This will be a sports themed blog with life lessons and stories along the way as they fit in. I follow all sports to some degree, but my biggest interests lay rooting for the Michigan Wolverines football team, the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and just about any respectable Mixed Martial Artist (definitely more to follow on that as the UFC has been a passion of mine since i saw my first UFC fight 6 years ago).

You may have noticed that there is no theme for my rooting interests, so I will take a moment and outline why I root for the teams that I do. Starting with the NY Yankees. The best explanation, and it is similar for most of my rooting interests, is that i grew up on them. When I was a young child we lived in New Jersey, and my parents picked up on them while they were there. I grew up watching Yankee baseball, and have continued to follow them now as an adult. Second, UM football. Well, we moved to Michigan in my younger years, and that is where I spent most of my rememberable youth. As such, in Michigan you were a MSU fan or a UM fan, and you had to choose sides. I remember one particular teacher of mine who was a diehard MSU fan. I hated her. So I suppose I picked UM partially to rub it in her face every time UM won. I also enjoyed the culture of UM fans. A bit arrogant, a bit witty, and always able to back up claims of superiority with stats (btw, a stat that will almost certainly remain in UM's favor is the most wins in college football, and the best winning percentage ). So there's that. Anyways, moving on I root for Dallas out of a lack of Michigan professional football teams. My mother is from Texas, and her family are all huge Cowboy fans, so I was more or less forced into this as well. I am not complaining, I enjoyed watching them, especially as they won.

Herein lies the tie in with the title of the blog. Yes my rooting interests are all over the place. Yes some will say I only rooted for teams that won. The point though is that they haven't been winning lately. I endured through all the bad seasons, perhaps reliving their glory days a bit too much at times, but always I was their true and loyal fan. "There is always next year" came out of my mouth more times than I care to recall, but I endured, and still endure in many cases. Seven years of futility against UM's biggest rival. My wife had never seen a UM/OSU game with me in which UM won. Dallas abysmal season last year.  The Yankees heartbreaking loss in 2004 to the Red Sox. A lot can be determined about a person by who they root for year in and year out. The fair weather fans and bandwagoneers are flaky and superficial. The diehard fans are the ones that I want to surround myself with. Tough hard nosed individuals who will stand by their team no matter what, because that's what loyalty in fandom is sometimes, endurance.

I doubt there will be any Pulitzer Prize winning prose on this blog. I just hope to express my opinions and feelings and maybe relate to one or two people out there. Expect a post a week for starters. I will update when news worthy things happen. If it is twice a day, or once a month, so be it. Seasons are seasons and of course more will be posted now about the Wolverines since they are active and very much a part of the national football landscape. Also, Dallas is making a playoff push which will be mentioned again. The Ultimate Fighter season finale is Saturday. Always stoked to root against Michael Bisping.

Fortitudine Vincimus