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November 22, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 7

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 7

Seniors look to solidify legacy
with win over rival Buckeyes

Hoke won't use losing
streak against OSU
as motivation for 'M'

By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Editor
The whole Michigan football
program was crashing down
around them. They had no
coach. No reason to be proud
just days after an embarrassing
loss in a bowl game that ulti-
mately was the final straw in
their coach's dismissal.
The soon-to-be-seniors were
of a different breed, having
already suffered through the
first bowl drought in 30-plus
years. Even more rare, the fifth-
year seniors were about to meet
their third coach in five years,
something that hadn't been
done since the 1920s.
"There were rumors that
Denard (Robinson) was going to
transfer," said fifth-year senior
defensive end Ryan Van Bergen.
"There was going to be people
going all over the place. Every-
body was going to jump ship."
"We've seen it before - we
saw it when coach (Lloyd) Carr
left and Rich Rodriguez came
in - where everyone who was
on that swing fence, where they
could either leave or stay, they
left," added fifth-year senior
center David Molk. "And we
kind of disbanded as a team.
And it wasn't good for our team
in a lot of ways."
In early January, Van Bergen
and Molk called a team meeting
to make sure everyone bought
in - not to a coach, but to them-
selves.
"We didn't really have (a
coach)," Van Bergen said.
"There was speculation it was
going to be the coach from
Stanford or LSU. And we're just
like, 'We need to stick together.
Whatever happens, we've got
a good thing going that people
don't necessarily see.'
"We wanted to see this thing
through."
All season long, the seniors
have been the legs of Michigan
coach Brady Hoke's operation,
driving the 9-2 machine the
Wolverines have become. That's
why Hoke's not doing much dif-
ferent this week as a matchup
with Ohio State looms. The
only change will be when they
practice on Thursday, and that's
because of a planned Thanks-
giving dinner.
Consistency is important,
Hoke says, from the film room
to the preparation. He even
said practices wouldn't be more
physical, even if The Game will
be. But that's because his prac-
tices are notoriously physical
already - the same for Iowa as

The Michigan senior class organized a team meeting in Januaryto make sure the team remained unified.

they are for Ohio State.
Once he built the machine,
there was no sense in screw-
ing with what the seniors had
going.
The difference this week -
as it has been every week - will
be the seniors, who have one
last shot to beat the Buckeyes
and end the program's seven-
game losing streak against its
archrival. The seniors are the
ones holding everyone else
accountable, pushing everyone
to improve each week, making
the whole thing go.
"This is a huge game for our
legacy as a team, for this senior
group, for Team 132," senior
defensive tackle Mike Martin
said after the Nebraska game.
"We just got to make sure we
finish this season out the way
we want to, and the way we
envisioned the whole season."
Their redemption season has
been impressive already, turn-
ing around a porous defense
and returning the program to
national relevance in just 11
games.
No one doubts the seniors
deserve their due credit.
Carr still bumps into a few of
the fifth-year players he recruit-
ed, and when he sees them he
tells them how proud he is that
they persevered. Hoke always
said that the team wouldn't go
very far if he had to lead them,
and he's deflected much of the
praise for Michigan's success to

his senior leadership.
Ohio State coach Luke Fickell
agreed.
"I think it starts with momen-
tum, and adversity creates some
toughness," Fickell said. "The
ability to have some older guys
and some seniors that have been
through some tough times, have
been through a lot of ups and
downs, only makes you stronger
in the long run."
The mature focus of his team
allows Hoke to be hands off this
week. Instead of basking in the
glory of their Nebraska win,
focus shifted almost immedi-
ately to preparation for The
Game. And the mood around
Schembechler Hall was "more
serious than normal" on Sun-
day, Van Bergen said.
That may be the only differ-
ence - that the values and dili-
gent preparation Hoke and the
seniors instilled are amped up
a notch.
Van Bergen described the
"tunnel vision" he turned on
to focus on each individual
practice, and how he can keep
improving - a mantra of Hoke's
team - instead of getting swal-
lowed by The Game's excite-
ment. But Hoke admitted he
thought a few of the seniors
may have already been get-
ting caught up in it, putting too
much pressure on themselves
this week.
It's a heavy thought - how
the seniors could complete their

remarkable journey from Carr's
final season to Hoke's new
regime with a win over the reel-
ing Buckeyes.
The expectation, though, is
bigger than just Ohio State, a
team Hoke has made a priority
of beating since day one. The
way they talk about The Game,
it's more about Michigan, how
they bought into themselves all
the way back in January.
"I thought we were going
to win more games than this,"
Robinson said bluntly. "The
best that we can do is go 10-2. So
we've got to do what we've got
to do to go 10-2."
The machine keeps churning:
November is when champion-
ships are won, Hoke told them.
Now - as it has been building
to this crescendo all season -
championship month is capped
by The Game of all games.
No one would admit what a
win over Ohio State would do
for their legacies, but, in gener-
alities, beating the Buckeyes is
all part of the goals.
"We have the potential to win
11 games," Van Bergen said on
Nov. 14, even before Michigan
throttled Nebraska.
"There's no reason to be sat-
isfied with what we've done so
far. If we sit on what we've done
so far, our legacy won't be any-
thing special. But if you win 10
games at Michigan, win your
bowl game, you're going to be
remembered for a long time."

Michigan enters
The Game with
better record for
first time since '04
By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily Sports Editor
Fifth-year senior center David
Molk was a freshman at Lemont
High School. Junior quarterback
Denard Robinson was in the sev-
enth grade at Deerfield Beach
Middle School. Michigan coach
Brady Hoke was coaching in a
41-14 loss to Bowling Green in
the final game of his first season
as head coach of Ball State.
The current members of the
Michigan football team were in
plenty of different places on Nov.
22, 2003, the last time the Wol-
verines beat Ohio State. But there
was one common thread: none of
the football team's current mem-
bers remember much about that
day.
Michigan has literally forgot-
ten what it's like to beat the Buck-
eyes.
The reaction of many to the
winless streak was summed up
by Robinson's prolonged "wow"
at Monday's press conference
when he was told how long it had
been.
The streak hasn't been pretty
for the Wolverines. In the sev-
en-year stretch, Ohio State has
outscored them by 110 points.
The margin of defeat has been in
the single digits just two times.
Current Michigan players have
endured the worst of that, get-
ting outscored 100-24 in the past
three years.
Despite the lopsided margin
and general one-sidedness of
the rivalry, players had mixed
thoughts onthe streak. Some said
they weren't thinking about it.
"It's notsomethingthataffects
me everyday," Molk said. "It's
just another game. It's something
that we have to win as a part of
our season."
Others dealt with it more
directly.
"That weighs a little heavier

on you, knowing we haven't beat
them in a long time," said senior
tight end Kevin Koger.
Hoke admitted the streak
wasn't "very good," but he won't
use it to create more motivation
for Saturday's game.
"I haven't talked about that
with our team and probably
won't," Hoke said. "We've got
educated young men that are
here at a great university and I
think me telling them that would
probably insult them and their
intelligence."
For the first time since 2004,
Michigan enters the game with a
better record.
The 17th-ranked Wolverines
sit at 9-2, while Ohio State, after a
summer of scandal that saw Jim
Tressel andhis 9-1 record against
Michigan leave Columbus, sits
at just 6-5. Michigan opened the
week as 8.5-point favorites. The
Columbus Dispatch took down
its count of how many days it has
been since the Wolverines beat
the Buckeyes and replaced it with
a to-the-minute countdown until
kickoff.
Most signs point toward this
being the year the streak is bro-
ken, and it may be Michigan's
best chance.
Former Florida head coach
Urban Meyer has reportedly
been in discussion with Ohio
State administration about tak-
ing over the head coaching job
from interim coach Luke Fickell
at the end of the season. Meyer
won two national championships
with the Gators.
With Meyer possibly on the
way and Buckeye freshman quar-
terback Braxton Miller likely
to improve by next season, this
could be the Wolverines' best
chance to break the streak in the
foreseeable future.
Does that add a little more
pressure to Michigan's "Team
132?"
"No," Molk said. "I don't think
that really adds any pressure to
anything. It's Ohio State-Miehi-
gan. It is what it is."
It's a rivalry game, so no
outcome is guaranteed. But
one thing is: these players will
remember Saturday.

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Paul named Lacrosse Person of the Year

Coach earns honor
in program's first
season at varsity-
level lacrosse
By LIZ VUKELICH
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's lacrosse
team hasn't even completed its
first season as a varsity sport,
but coach
John Paul First seen on
is already -the
receiving game
national
attention - Lacrosse Magazine
named Paul its 2011 Person of
the Year.
"This is a great honor," Paul
said. "I'm very proud of what
we've been able to accomplish
here at Michigan. I'm thankful
to Lacrosse Magazine for rec-
ognizing our efforts."
Paul has spent 26 seasons
surrounded by Michigan
lacrosse as both a player and a
coach.
An Ann Arbor native, he
played for the club team before
taking over the reigns as head
coach in 1997.
The club team turned into a
powerhouse under Paul's direc-
tion.
It boasts a commanding 241-
41 record over the past 14 years,

and has gone o the Men's Col-
legiate Lacrosse Association
national championship three
out of the last four years.
But Paul's efforts in trans-
forming the team from a club
to a varsity sport were what put
him in the national spotlight.
"Michigan going varsity was
a landmark moment for college
lacrosse," said Matt DaSilva,
the editor of Lacrosse Maga-
zine. "(It) will hopefully inspire
more brand name universities
to invest in the sport at its most
visible level.
"John Paul made it happen.
He did it for the love of the
game."
Michigan is the first univer-
sity whose football program
participates in the BCS series
to add a men's varsity lacrosse
team since 1981.
And this was something that
had been on Paul's mind of a
long time.
Paul approached Athletic
Director Dave Brandon shortly
after Brandon's appointment in
January of 2010.
"From the minute I met JP,
he was on a mission and had a
passion for getting his program
to the D-1 level," Brandon said.
The growing popularity of
the sport encouraged Brandon
to promote both the men and
women's club lacrosse teams to
the varsity level.
In five months last spring,

- mon-

STEPHEN J.NESBIT T/Daily
Michigan coach John Paul is transitioning his team from club to varsity lacrosse.

Paul raised the $6 million need-
ed from alumni and former
players to kick-start the two
programs.
In May, it was official-
ly announced that the two
lacrosse teams would partici-
pate at the Division-1 level. In
June, Paul was officially named
the head coach of the men's
team. The women's program
will go varsity next season.
"We wouldn't be where we

are now without a great group
of people who are passionate
about two things I love: the
University of Michigan and
lacrosse," Paul said.
"The people I work with,
coach with and coach for
deserve just as much recogni-
tion."
The Wolverines kick off their
inaugural season on Feb 12,
2012 against the University of
Detroit.

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