Tuesday could mark a day of history on the University of Michigan’s athletic fields.
Oh sure, the Wolverines got rid of $14.4 million sideline clapper and alleged football coach Brady Hoke, but that’s just kids stuff compared to what interim athletic director Jim Hackett had to lay down in his press conference.
“I want to get rid of the word ‘Michigan Man,'” he said to the press.
Wow, that hits the eyes just right reading that, doesn’t it? Hackett wants to dispel one of the greatest mantras-turned-punch lines in college sports?
This guy is making some moves on UM folklore in his first few weeks at the boss, as he should.
First off, I don’t think anyone really knows where that term comes from.
Back in 1989 when basketball coach Bill Frieder was planning on heading to Arizona State after a 24-7 season, Bo Schembechler didn’t want him coaching the postseason. He wanted a “Michigan Man” coaching the team, so he flipped the interim head coach role to Steve Fisher — an Illinois State graduate.
Oh, yeah, Frieder was also a graduate of UM. In today’s definition, Frieder indeed was a “Michigan Man.” Fisher was far from it.
So there’s your history lesson — the term was coined by an angry athletic director who was losing a basketball coach.
Recently, it has been foolishly thrown around in coaching searches in code to mean “get someone who is from Michigan and/or Schembechler’s long lost twin.”
When Rich Rodriguez started to falter with the blue and yellow people clamored it was because he was not from Michigan. Rodriguez had grown up in Marion County, West Virginia, which also produced Fielding Yost, the ultimate “Michigan Man.” Still, he might as well been from Dante’s ninth circle of hell.
Well, that Michigan-less man won himself PAC 12 Coach of the Year on Tuesday.
Once he was ousted from Ann Arbor, and after Michigan missed on Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh, the university turned to another Michigan Man — Brady Hoke.
So on Tuesday analysts talked about Rich Rod for a little bit and his new coaching award. What few bright spots in the Hoke era were brought up? The Sugar Bowl.
You know, the Sugar Bowl he won with Rich Rod’s players.
The seniors on that team were part of Rodriguez’s first recruiting class — players he developed in his three-year tenure before handing the roster off to the Michigan Man.
And as Rich Rod’s players dwindled with every graduation, Hoke’s record kept plummeting like the understanding of the term “Michigan Man.”
Now Hoke is gone, and the Wolverine faithful are ready to block the Dave Brandon years from their memories and never speak about them ever again.
UM and its search committee — aka the Get Jim Harbaugh At Any Cost Committee — can venture out into the world and shop for a wide variety of coaches.
Will Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles be named as targets? You bet, and they should.
If they don’t get either of those big names, they can’t strap themselves to the folklore label and get a former Michigan coach or player.
There are plenty of coaches with no UM ties who would crabwalk to Ann Arbor for this job, and putting Hackett’s least-favorite phrase to rest will only benefit UM.
Remember, Schembechler used the term “Michigan Man” in anger when a coach was leaving on his own choice after a good season.
Now UM needs to shed that term to welcome in a coach that can save this limping program.
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @Sheehan_Sports.