Michigan won just 15 games during Rich Rodriguez's three seasons, including six in the Big Ten. The schemes on both sides of the ball are being overhauled. Yet new coach Brady Hoke remains adamant Michigan isn't rebuilding.
"I don't think we're rebuilding, period," Hoke said. "I mean, we're Michigan. We've got kids who understand they're Michigan."
The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry enters a new chapter with both Hoke and Luke Fickell in their first year as head coaches. It's the first time since 1929 both Ohio State and Michigan will introduce new coaches in the same season.
Fickell is still finding his way in Columbus as a first-time head coach. Hoke, fresh off success at Ball State and San Diego State, is bringing the same type of swagger Jim Tressel did when he took over in 2001. Tressel immediately made it clear how important the Michigan game was by guaranteeing victory the night he got the job.
Hoke won't make any such guarantees, but the Michigan Man whose bloodlines run similar to Bo Schembechler acknowledges the importance of Ohio State. The game will be discussed every day, to the point Hoke didn't rule out practicing something for the Ohio State game every day. But he refused to say Ohio State is a "wounded" program given the current turmoil.
"That's a tremendous program with tremendous tradition, just like we have," he said. "We have 42 championships in the Big Ten. When you have schools that have that quality about them, have those legacies, I don't see anybody as wounded."