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Published: Thursday, 12/1/2011

End Zone: UM 12-01

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

On Monday, my outlook on the future of Michigan football changed more times than Denard Robinson changes direction when dashing up field for a big gain.

Promising thoughts in the morning, birthed by the fresh smell of a 10-2 season, a win over Ohio State, and flirtation with a BCS game, were doused in ice water by reports that Urban Mania was official. Urban Meyer is an intimidating force, folks, especially if you're his rival and he lands in a state superior to yours in high school talent. The image of Meyer from Monday evening, appearing refreshed and sounding motivated at his news conference, was reason for pause, if not hysteria.

An hour later, emotions came full circle. The Big Ten announced its postseason awards, and Michigan placed only four players on the first or second teams, and just one on the first team. Those are small numbers for a big win team and should be viewed as a reminder that coach Brady Hoke and his staff managed to mesh ordinary talent to assemble an extraordinary team.

Hoke's job undoubtedly became more difficult Monday. He lacks Meyer's national titles and name recognition. With Meyer patrolling the boarder, Ohio might be closed for recruiting business to Hoke. That's speculation for now, but this much is true. Hoke can coach and he can lead, and while Meyer was watching games from the broadcast booth, Hoke was on the sideline invigorating a program.

Will Meyer succeed at OSU? Probably. But at Michigan, Hoke already is.

Read more from Ryan on his blog at toledoblade.typepad.com/BigHouseBlurbs or on Twitter @ryanautullo.



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