Brady Hoke’s first season at Michigan was a smashing success. Few could have predicted an eleven win season considering the challenge of implementing a new offense and defense, overcoming talent and depth deficiencies, and trying to fit personnel to scheme. Hoke’s first year success exploded expectations for 2012. Going into last season, the majority of Michigan fans expected seven-nine wins. In the span of a year, those expectations have changed dramatically. Last week, Michigan was voted the favorite to win the Big Ten conference by members of the media. Brady Hoke, as most would expect, brushed aside the selection noting that where Michigan is rated to finish the year is more important than where they are at the start. The media selection echoes what many Michigan fans have felt all off-season. Michigan returns fourteen starters off an eleven win 2011 team including the electric Denard Robinson. As a result, many feel that Michigan is inevitably poised for an equal or better 2012 campaign.
There are inherent dangers in expectations exceeding reality. When a team plays to its capabilities yet that is not enough because of unrealistic expectations, the result is often a strong negative backlash. That backlash can potentially create a toxic environment that impedes future success. Michigan fans know the results of trying to operate in a toxic environment all too well. There is nothing wrong with wanting or hoping for highly successful seasons. We all want Big Ten Championships; BCS bowl victories, and National Championships. The danger comes when you move from hopes and dreams to expectations. Expectations come with consequences when they are not met.