well that's just, like, your opinion, man
Obligatory @ right via HSR.
Coaching bits. Rocky Long is officially the new head coach at SDSU, so Michigan will need a new DC. He will bring his strength coach Aaron Wellman, so kiss Barwis goodbye. ETA before he's hired at Pitt: six seconds.
Who did what who with what and the when. I have a request in for a rundown of the Borges years at Auburn with a good friend who is the world's #1 Auburn fan, but they sort of just won a national championship so that might take a little bit. Over at Maize 'n' Brew they have a breakdown of Hoke's years at Ball State from a BSU alum. On offense they started off with a "disaster" of a pro-style offense that got the first coordinator canned, whereupon Stan Parrish was brought in:
Coach Parrish junked the previous offensive scheme almost completely. He still employed two tight ends due to Steinhaus and Darius Hill being two of the biggest weapons on the offense, but also used a lot more three and four wide out formations and the fullback ceased to exist in the offense. Ball State ran a balanced, one back attack with Joey Lynch and the Nate Davis excelling at quarterback, MiQuale Lewis at running back, and Dante Love at wide receiver/running back/quarterback.
So Hoke has some flexibility when it's clear that whatever you want to do isn't actually working, but… yeah, seems like the default impulse is to line 'em up and waggle them three times a game.
On defense, Hoke kept the same guy through his six years but "was the defacto defensive coordinator" by the end of his tenure because Smith was kind of not so good. They moved from the 4-3 under that Greg Robinson actually knows how to run to a Big Ten default 4-3:
For the first four years of Coach Hoke's tenure, Ball State ran a defense that the media mostly called a 3-4 defense, but I think would be more accurately described as a 4-3 under defense. The last two seasons, when Coach Hoke was basically running the defense, Ball State mostly used the 4-3 defense, although the 4-3 under defense was also still used.
Hoke grabbed Long at SDSU, obviously. Depending on who you talk to Long invented the 3-3-5, which is what the Aztecs ran. Flexibility there, though not a whole lot of success. Even in the epic Ball State year that got him out of the MAC, the Cardinals got bombed for 45 points in their two year-ending losses. This year's SDSU team was better on offense by every metric than defense. For a "defensive-minded" coach his success seems based on having a couple quarterbacks that were pretty good.
Fluffwar 3000. Anyone doubting the media 180 should have listened to the press conference, wherein questions were gently peeled by the assembled masses and placed in the most pleasing spot on Hoke's tongue, whereupon they dissolved in a haze of gruff footbaw talk. I think I heard someone say "he's dreamy" at one point. This will be annoying for people irritated at the way Rodriguez was treated but is an asset for the program. Everything is black or white, you see.
We should hold a competition for most Charmin-soft headline over the next six months. Candidates so far:
- "New U-M coach Brady Hoke's character impresses peers"
- "Michigan players applaud hiring of Brady Hoke"
- "Alumni rally around Hoke hire"
- "Brady Hoke earned respect and admiration from former Michigan football players"
And a candidate for most least correct:
These are all exactly what you'd expect, so there's no need to read any of them. Our brief period as a rogue program has ended, and the worst-case outcome of the next few years in the media is a bunch of clucking at fans who aren't satisfied with how much better Brady Hoke's record is than Rich Rodriguez.
Save Drew Sharp, of course. He was the lone guy to fire off a negative question amongst the general fawning, that directed at Michigan's aspiration to win conference championships instead of national ones. I wonder if he asks his wife why she didn't aspire to marry a human being instead of Marvin the Paranoid Android.
The truth. Michigan's situation is odd. They are a 7-6 team with pretty good yardage numbers that has an easier schedule next year and a boatload of returning starters, so they should be better, possibly a good bit better. But they're transitioning coaches and if Denard stays are probably going to make an awkward transition in offense exactly at the point where this year's crater of a recruiting class will start hurting them badly. So Lamarr Woodley's right:
“I mean, hopefully they’ll look good next year, but it will probably take a while for them to be adjusted,” he said. “I don’t want to go into that Michigan State situation, where they’re hiring and firing.
“We have to stick behind coach Hoke and give him time to bring in the guys he needs for his formula."
Michigan will have to be patient, because a tenure much like Charlie Weis's is a strong possibility: good results early, falloff once this class and the last one come home to roost, many grumbles about early success being vapor. Michigan will (should?) have an upperclass Devin Gardner instead of freshman Jimmah and some semblance of an offensive line, so the rough patch might not be awful. It's likely to come.
(Yes, exactly zero players said things like this for Rodriguez.)
The upside. I think this is both praise and condemnation:
Spoke to a bunch of coaches here in Dallas at AFCA who think Brady Hoke will do well at Michigan. They kept using the word "solid" a lot.
Calling a coach "solid" is like calling a girl cute. Also, this…
@mgoblog You may have gotten your Dantonio, for whatever that's worth.
…is the exact same thing. It's hard to envision Hoke not having the same sort of dismal record against the USCs of the world if he's going to rely on recruiting nowhere near as well and out-executing, as Michigan State found out the hard way against Alabama.
Meet the Drew Sharp of San Diego. Brady Hoke had been so openly coveting the Michigan job that even San Diego State's athletic director was all like "he gone," but there is a lone wacko out there willing to point and scream "Rodriguez":
Hoke never purchased a home in San Diego. He rented in La Jolla. He wasn’t staying here forever, and even he no doubt is surprised by how fast this happened. He hadn’t done much of anything, which he admits.
But in the end, it wasn’t so much betrayal as it was deception. It’s hard to say San Diego State is better off today, but if Brady Hoke couldn’t be stand-up about this thing, sneaking around in college football’s increasing shadows, maybe the school’s better off.
A witch! Burn her!
At least there's that. The Mathlete's PAN metrics are pretty easy to understand ratings that go into more detail than wins and losses and as the coaching search progressed he threw up numbers for most of Michigan's candidates. The Hoke graphs are the single most encouraging thing I've seen about the hire, as it does show almost constant improvement across eight years. Ball State, with Hoke in blue:
San Diego State, with Hoke in maize:
Arguing about how fast the improvement happened at Ball State is secondary to the fact that it did improve consistently, though I tend to hold the post-Hoke implosion against him since I'd rather see a smoother glide path to incompetence as the program you put together gradually falls apart. That looks like "Nate Davis graduated so let's GTFO."
This goes here.
Etc.: Guy who won right to attend press conference is a Michigan engineer who wrote a script to enter him millions of times. Michigan engineers: good. Guys who program MGoBlue.com: not Michigan engineers. DocSat: "After three years of attempting to transition out of that mindset into something smaller, faster, sleeker and newer, Hoke is a sign that the Wolverines have declared defeat and decided to turn back home. That will make a lot people happy, but only if the wins eventually follow."
vaya con dios
One quarterback is out, at least for now, and seemingly forever: someone finally asked Dave Brandon about Tate Forcier and he said he was "not with the program"—this is something that there was plenty of writing on the wall about since he hasn't been at meetings and currently isn't enrolled.
Meanwhile, other players are saying Denard is all in but Denard is remaining circumspect:
Robinson would not say whether he would stay at Michigan or transfer. "No," Robinson told The Detroit News as he walked into Michigan Stadium, when asked if he met with Hoke.
When pressed on the matter, Robinson smiled, shook his head and continued to walk into the stadium for what appeared to be a team meeting, about 90 minutes before Hoke's press conference.
"No comment," he said.
The press conference touched on Denard and because Hoke has eyes he'll try to keep him around.
In other news, the media is currently tickling Brady Hoke's belly.
One of Michigan's open assistant slots is already filled, as Brady Hoke will bring offensive coordinator Al Borges along with him. Borges has been a college offensive coordinator for just under a billion years and in that time he's coached everywhere from Portland State to Auburn and UCLA, with varying levels of success. He's now 55 and looks like the dad from Arrested Development:
So that will be terribly exciting for the subset of the population that will not shut up about Arrested Development no matter how many times you ask them to.
His last decade by the numbers follows. Lines in italics are stats from the season before Borges arrived.
For the record, Borges's 2000 season with UCLA saw the Bruins finish 100th in rushing offense at a miserable 2.5 YPC, 23rd in passing offense and 19th in efficiency. Borges's tailback was a junior DeShaun Foster; his quarterbacks anonymous journeymen.
Notes on the numbers:
- Antwaan Randle-El was a senior in 2001 and in the NFL in 2002, explaining the Indiana collapse. Borges split the offense between two horrible pocket passers; it's unclear if he had anyone else. The Indiana offense got even worse in year two and then Borges somehow got the Auburn OC job.
- At Auburn he was installed once the Tigers fell to a moribund 8-5—the numbers that year are propped up by monster games against ULM (73 points), WKU(48), Vandy(45), and Mississippi State(45). Auburn didn't put up 30 on any real opponent and failed to score ten four separate times. This was with a junior Jason Campbell and both Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. Whoever Auburn's OC was in 2003 was an idiot.
- So Borges took this and went vertical wih great success for the only single-digit performance of his aughts.
- The popular conception of what went down with Tommy Tuberville is he let his neanderthal offensive assistants undermine his offensive coordinator whenever he threatened to deviate from extreme MANBALL, and I believe it. Until the bottom fell out in 2007 Auburn was a pretty efficient passing team that ran all the time despite not really getting anywhere.
- The FEI rank for Borges's last year is so wacky and out of sync with how the world perceived it—Borges was shoved out the door and Auburn was desperate enough to import spread guru Tony Franklin—that is probably exposes a flaw in the methodology more than anything else, no offense to Mr. Fremeau.
- As far as running quarterbacks go, current SDSU starter Ryan Lindley had –162 yards in two years under Borges, and his other guys were Brandon Cox, Kyle Boller, Horrible Indiana QB Du Jour, and Jason Campbell. None of these guys would win a foot race with John Navarre save Campbell, and he would only tie. Campbell had 30 yards rushing as a senior.
The NCAA's online stats don't go back far enough to capture the most successful period of Borges's career, the five year run at UCLA during which he convinced the NFL that Cade McNown was a viable quarterback and was twice a finalist for the Broyles award.
As you can probably surmise from he numbers above, Borges is a traditional pro-style guy. Rodriguez has DVDs about the spread offense; Borges's is titled "Coaching the West Coast Quarterback." Smart Football on what Michigan should expect:
The rumor is he’s bringing Al Borges with him to be offensive coordinator; I’m already getting lots of questions about his so-called “Gulf Coast Offense.” I don’t know where that name came from, but as far as I can tell he’s a pro-style guy: nothing too exotic. But he’s been an offensive coordinator for a long time (close to two decades), in two major conferences (the Pac-10 at UCLA and Oregon and the SEC at Auburn), and when he’s had first-round NFL talent (Cade McNown at UCLA and Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown, and Cadillac Williams at Auburn in 2004) he’s had elite offenses.
I think that sounds about right. Michigan’s coaching search was explicitly about someone who wanted to build the program, not hiring the next offensive genius. And I can’t really argue with that — the Rodriguez thing ended badly. That puts on the onus on Hoke, however, as he must recruit and build the program from the ground up; there won’t be any reliance on a decided schematic advantage to win. But is that a bad thing?
He also links three minutes of a hypothetical scrimmage between Borges and the Michigan secondary:
Generic pro-style against a bad defense.
As for the "Gulf Coast" thing, it appears to be some jibber-jabber from when he was freshly hired at Auburn and people were like "lol Auburn's not on he west coast." Apparently it consists of…
west coast principles (short passes, backs, YAC)
post-snap route reads by the receivers
lots of formations
…ie, it's a generic pro-style offense that has a more advanced concept of routes than either Rodriguez's or Carr's offense did. It does appear that Borges leans towards throwing over passing when given the option but most of his rush offenses were mediocre. It's hard to tell what would happen if he actually had a good running game.
Michigan's new offensive coordinator has no experience working with a running quarterback and has pretty mediocre results over the past decade. The "elite" offense cited by Smart Football was 25th in total offense, though I'm sure FEI would look kindly on it because of SOS. The rest of it is bleah aside from the encouraging two-year development by SDSU. In Borges's defense he's been saddled with horrible quarterbacks for most of a decade and made good use of the one competent guy he did have. (Note: Kyle Boller may have been a first round pick but even the year after Borges was broomed with the rest of the staff he did not put up efficiency numbers any better than above.)
Borges looks like just a guy by the numbers, and he's just a guy who seems like the worst possible fit with Denard. Jason Campbell ran more when he got to the NFL. Hopefully there's some more flexibility in this offense than it appears at first glance, otherwise it's a fourth straight year with a new, underclass starting quarterback.
↑ (Byline note: I’m not Brian)
Hoke reads the Letterman Top 10 in ’07. HT: James
I need you to bite down here. It wasn’t a dream. Brady Hoke is the head coach of Michigan.
Obviously, there’s been some disappointment around these parts and others, and you know my sentiments. I figured, this being our coach and all, we ought to start the morning with a few positives. First, from Brandon in his address to the players (HT: Raback Omaba):
- He said he interviewed big names from every conference and found that some "big names" clearly have themselves as their first priority, not their players or the program. This made his search a little easier.
- Everyone he spoke to referred him to Brady Hoke. Opposing coaches, former players, former coaches all said he should consider Hoke.
- Michigan alumni really supported Hoke (Steve Hutchinson called unsolicited to say that "Brady Hoke was the best coach I ever had")
- Only offered the job to one man -- Brady Hoke. Called Brady yesterday morning and offered, Brady accepted immediately. Didn't even ask about money.
Also in there: DB says he wasn’t on the planes we were tracking – apparently our athletic department has a real, live, functioning telephone.
In other panegyrics, Jason Whitlock, who says that Hoke loves hard:
Hoke is no one’s “compromise” or “second-tier” coaching candidate. Not if you understand football. Not if you comprehend how he got to the point that he’s even a candidate to be Michigan’s next football coach.
Brady Hoke loves hard. He loves his family, his players, his assistant coaches, Ball State football and Michigan football.
Whitlock argues that Hoke’s 12-1 season at Ball State is superior to that of Harbaugh’s at Stanford because Hoke did it despite a band of functional idiots upstairs. It’s also brought up that Hoke comes with S&C coach Aaron Wellman, though the author doesn’t say if Wellman’s got a plan for displacing Barwis.
In other affirmative mentions, Navy says Hoke’s offense was good-good:
"In my time here at the Naval Academy," said coach Ken Niumatalolo, who has worked at Annapolis since 1999, "that's as good of an offense as we've seen."
Which is just bluster about a 555-yard aberrant performance, but also true considering SDSU put up more points (35) in this year’s bowl game than any Midshipman opponent since 2008 (including two ND squads, 2009 Ohio State, and 2009 Missouri). That year, Niumatololo’s
cadets sailors jack-tars (thx rlew) gave up 42 to Pitt, 41 to Duke, and 35 in a loss at Ball State which was coached by … oh, Brady Hoke. So score one against the “Brady Hoke makes us ND” meme, because here is a guy who can definitely beat Navy.
Also in that article, a throwaway quote from a happy player:
"Coach Hoke came in and set the standard," Brown said. "You set the bar high and expect nothing less."
Oh good, a bar-setter.*
You might know this already, but Lloyd’s guys seem to like him. Angelique has quotes from a Lloyd guy who wasn’t kind to RR…
"Brady was there with us when we won it," said former Michigan safety Marcus Ray, a member of the 1997 team. "He's a great coach. You knew he cared about players. He would pull you to the side and ask about you even if you weren't one of his position players."
…and a Lloyd guy who wasn’t kind to Harbaugh…
Former Michigan running back Mike Hart, who played for the Wolverines after Hoke, said he has met Hoke several times and thinks he is a strong hire for Michigan.
"He's a great guy," Hart said. "He knows what Michigan is about. He's part of that Michigan family even though he didn't play here. He knows what it is, he knows the pressure, and he knows the type of players he recruits. He knows how to recruit."
Which is fluff, but at least healing old wounds iz gud, yes? One more player whom you might have heard of:
"I'm excited for Brady Hoke and even for Michigan," Green Bay Packers and former Michigan star Charles Woodson wrote in a text message to The Associated Press. "I'm glad this process is over and we can begin to restore the tradition and respect that was once Michigan."
That article starts with a comparison between Hoke and Bo. The official AP article has the new coach positives you would expect, including one from his old boss:
"Brady Hoke is a great choice for Michigan," Carr wrote in a text message.
…but he’s no Mike DeBord. I mean that.
* Mornhinweg comparison entirely unfair except in a “we didn’t get our guy so let’s get a guy lower down the same tree” kind of way.
ON THIS DAY MY HAIR IS VERY APROPOS
So this isn't two thousand words of swearing as promised. That requires some level of verve to pull off and I'm out of that. I'm depressed and waiting for the other shoe to drop and far too sober. A few things:
"This is not Brady Hoke's fault." Repeat 1000x. This is not Brady Hoke's fault. He seems like a nice enough dude. It seems unlikely he actively participated in the submarining of Rich Rodriguez. Unlike everyone else ever associated with the Michigan program with even the most thinly plausible of resumes, he actually wants to be the head coach here. So that's nice.
This is a stupid hire. It will always be as stupid hire and David Brandon just led the worst coaching search in the history of Michigan football. He managed to chase off half of an already iffy recruiting class, hired a Plan C coach on January 11th, probably ensured the transfer of the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and restricted his "national search" to people who'd spent at least five years in Ann Arbor. Michigan just gave themselves a year of USC-level scholarship reduction voluntarily.
What are the chances that the best available coach is a 52-year-old with a 47-50 career record and no experience as a coordinator? Why weren't a half-dozen coordinators with time and results on their side given the opportunity to interview? Why did Brandon waste time with Les Miles, a guy on the downside who may not have even gotten a serious offer? After learning a hard lesson about program continuity with the last hire why did Michigan hire a guy who professes to hate the spread 'n' shred a day after two spread teams played for the national title?
I'd rather have Rich Rodriguez entering year four with a new defensive staff than this, a total capitulation. Does anyone remember Tressel's record against Lloyd Carr? 5-1. Change was necessary. It didn't work, but that doesn't mean you go back to the stuff that required change.
Michigan should still be better next year. It depends on what goes on with the offense. Calvin Magee has already been hired at Pitt, so don't get your hopes up about tempting Denard by keeping the offensive staff that matters (QB coach and OC) unchanged.* The defense should be much better simply by virtue of returning approximately ten starters if you throw in Troy Woolfolk and not dragging the devilishly handsome corpse of Greg Robinson around. At the very least Hoke should have a quarterback, even if it's redshirt freshman Devin Gardner.
A completely average coach should be able to take 20 returning starters on a 7-6 team that sees the schedule ease considerably and get to 9-3. That's good, because that's probably what we hired. If Denard's out the door all bets are off except "will Brian cut down or across?"
*[Tony Gibson immediately found work at Pitt, too, which is amazing: the most maligned position coach on RR's staff is unemployed for ten days while most of Carr's coordinators fled to the NFL to be an assistant (to the) position coach. The exceptions are Stan Parrish, who is on a quest to rack up the worst winning percentage as a head coach in CFB history, Greg Mattison, who left voluntarily for an equivalent job at Notre Dame and shouldn't count as a pro, and Ron English, who got hired by Kragthorpe.]
Prepare for the media 180. This hypothetical 9-3 will cause the media to fall all over themselves declaring Brady Hoke the polar opposite of Rich Rodriguez (lazy media meme #1 is already underway) and whipsaw Michigan back to the positive side of the media ledger, whereupon that period where Michigan State could literally have 20% of their football team descend upon innocent bystanders in back to back years while Michigan gets painted as the Program Out Of Control will end with authoritah. Sportswriters—even the good ones—love nothing better than holding themselves above the outraged plebes, arguing that whatever they think is foolish.
We're unhappy, so they'll defend Brady Hoke to their dying single-sentence paragraph. This would have been a fascinating dynamic to watch if Miles was the guy. Seeing Rosenberg paper over Miles's oversigning hijinks would have been hilarious/infuriating. Since it's Hoke it will just be generic "why can't you be happy going 9-3 every year and beating OSU 30% of the time, I mean look at Rodriguez!"
Prepare for the program alum 180. Judging from twitter, Michigan guys in the NFL are happy, so there's that. At least we won't have Mark Bihl advising recruits to go to Michigan State and Dhani Jones walking into David Brandon's office and demanding a firing. Thanks for your support, guys! Your loyalty in this tough time is appreciated.
This is actually Hoke's main asset relative to non-Michigan candidates: the program won't be actively hoping he fails. This is not an insignificant bonus relative to Rodriguez.
The Gene Chizik plan is dodgy, temporary, and requires a bucket of money and amenable prospects. All right, so maybe we can hire the next Gus Malzahn and the next Ted Roof and import JUCOs like Nick Fairley and Cam Newton. This is lazy media meme #2, because lol those crazy fans, amirite?
- Who is Gus Malzahn? Texas just blew their coaching staff up and hired Manny Diaz and the Boise State OC, so they're off the table. It is January 11th. Next up is… I have no idea. Honestly, if you were going to poach an up-and-coming coordinator your best option on defense is none other than Scott Shafer, and on offense there isn't anyone, really. I'll believe Michigan has hired Randy Shannon as a DC six months after it's announced, but that's what this plan requires: hiring Randy goddamn Shannon as DC at a million a year.
- JUCOs are not available, and I'm not sure anyone can wave a towel like Trooper Taylor anyway.
- We hired a manball advocate unlikely to stick with the bits of Michigan's team that kind of worked, and his defensive coordinator is going to be the head coach at SDSU.
- To date Michigan's pay packages for assistants have been pathetic. Brandon promised that would change. He also promised a national search and hired a guy who will probably be one of the lowest-paid coaches in the Big Ten.
- The figurehead approach leaves you vulnerable to having your quasi-HC poached, as West Virginia found out when Doc Holliday was hired by Marshall and Auburn will find out soon enough. If you can plug and play Cam Newton that might work, but Michigan can't.
Also, Chizik was an established ass-kicking BCS coordinator who led the nation's #1 scoring D at Auburn, was 5th in yardage allowed in back to back years, won the Broyles award, and then went to Texas to win a national title opposite Vince Young. He didn't really need Roof. He had Gene Chizik. He did not immediately turn Iowa State into a team of ninjas but Chizik was a better hire than Hoke even absent the ludicrous money that went into his staff. Hoke's never even been a coordinator, and his results as a head coach are less than a slam dunk.
I am all in for being wrong. Or not really so much wrong as properly skeptical in an environment where success turns on a blade of grass and real games are few and far between and randomness is so important. Kenpom just put up a great post today about +/- and its general lack of usefulness as a stat because of its immense noise—college football has a lot of noise. It is possible that Brady Hoke was just unlucky or unprepared and that his last three years are more representative of his talent than his first five. I won't become what I hate, Emperor Palpatine.
With the dual boosts of a pliant media and cooperative network of former players plus a program that should find itself on an upward trajectory instead of a downward one, everything's set up for him to look like the white knight who "saved" the program and ride that to something approximating success. Michigan's just thrown in the towel on being a national power but this could be Nebraska after Callahan instead of Notre Dame after Davie.
Hoke Named Michigan Football Coach
ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced today (Tuesday, Jan. 11) the hiring of Brady Hoke as the 19th coach in the 131-year history of Michigan football. Hoke arrives in Ann Arbor after spending the past eight seasons as a head coach at Ball State (2003-08) and San Diego State (2009-10).
“We are pleased to announce the hiring of Brady,” said Brandon. “He is a terrific coach and will be a great ambassador and leader for our football program. We look forward to having him build a championship program on the field and in the classroom.”
I cut the blah blah blah bits since the second paragraph details Michigan's accomplishments when he was a position coach on the staff.