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.
The Worst Part About All Of This Is Hoke Rhymes With "Joke" And "Choke," Thus Providing A Steady Stream Of Hur Hur Hur Posts From Teenage Fans Of Rivals
NOTE: Logins are disabled due to crushing levels of traffic.
Next stop for the Dominos plane is an airport approximately 90 miles from San Diego. Touchdown is scheduled for about 6 PM.
UPDATE: Local paper has picked up on this and put some meat on the bones, at least sort of:
The agent for San Diego State head football coach Brady Hoke has been in discussions for Hoke to possibly become the next head coach at the University of Michigan, a source close to the situation said.
Trace Armstrong, Hoke's agent, has declined comment. Hoke and other SDSU officials have not returned messages for several days.
Hoke was in the Los Angeles area Tuesday recruiting for SDSU. Meanwhile, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon has planned to fly to nearby Orange County for a meeting Tuesday.
So… he's in LA, where Brandon is apparently meeting him. It's unclear how much of this is solid, but… yeah. Probably solid. This "national" search is national in the sense that people who played or coached at Michigan comprise a nation, which they do not.
UPDATE II: Despite the newspaper article above I have two sources saying that the Domino's plane is now being used by, you know, Domino's, and is no longer ferrying Dave Brandon around. There is a conference called ICR going on that starts tomorrow in Dana Point, California and features a presentation by Domino's at 8:25 AM, so the above newspaper article may be speculation or wrong or this is false hope and Dave Brandon is in some other jet.
UPDATE III: Our respite was brief:
SDSU Coach Brady Hoke recently visited with Michigan, source says
If we're seriously talking to him he's all but announced since he'll take twenty dollars and donuts twice a week to coach at M.
Via everyone, the LSU AD:
“I am pleased to announce that Les Miles will remain the head coach at LSU."
It's coordinator-or-Hoke time.
First, there was no late-night meeting with Miles and LSU AD Joe Alleva or other high-ranking university officials in an effort to convince the coach to stay. After Miles’ meeting with Michigan AD Dave Brandon, Miles went home.
Part two: Adam Rittenberg reports via his Big 12 compatriot that Les Miles is not in Dallas despite being scheduled to speak at 3 PM. If he is taking the job, he would be at Michigan's scheduled meeting with the players at 4.
UPDATE: Flight tracking suggests that Miles isn't in Dallas yet but probably will be. This flight leaves essentially now:
For what it is worth, a twin prop is scheduled to go from Baton Rouge to Love field in Dallas at 11:12 CST. The plane is owned by a Med transport company, but is most likely chartered by LSU for the trip. Plane is making a 11 minute flight from Lafayette to Baton Rouge prior to the Dallas trip.
Either that or Les is flying American Eagle to DFW. Yeah right.
[HT to Kirk Fauri.] So… if the meeting gets moved that's a good sign. If it doesn't, not so much.
UPDATE II: LSU sources at their Rivals site and some local radio station are reporting Miles will stay at LSU. Radio is whatever but usually Rivals guys are plugged in. The Rivals stuff is currently paywalled, however, so its unclear how definitive that information is.
The love boat is not actually the Brandon plane but I can't help what people photoshop and send me
Dave Brandon's plane visited Baton Rouge last night and returned to Ann Arbor. Les Miles has a speaking engagement in Dallas at the AFCA convention. There's a players' meeting scheduled for 4 PM. The athletic department is pushing a contest where you—yes, you—can attend the historic press conference when Michigan's 19th head coach is named, something which will no doubt thrill and delight the assembled throng when you ask "how long is 35 seconds, Les? Is it 35 seconds? Please say it's 35 seconds."
What I'm saying is that today is the day we find out whether or not Les Miles is Michigan's head coach and then either get busy living with it or get busy dying as Dave Brandon flies to San Diego or Auburn or somewhere. As of about 9:30 AM on F5 day, I believe but can't confirm it will be the former. Les Miles will probably be Michigan's coach by the end of the day.
While it's possible this is all a rumor storm built from the obvious plane movement and obvious candidacy of Miles, there are many, many people saying it's a done deal ranging from Tiger Droppings posters to serious-seeming but not confirmed people in the inbox. Circumstantially, if Brandon met with Miles and didn't immediately return to Dallas—the place with more football coaches per capita than anywhere else in the world right now—or headed to some other place containing a coach of interest he's probably got his man. I can't imagine an athletic director not working around the clock on January 11th when he's got an open head coaching job and little time to fill it. A return to Ann Arbor should mean something is done.
While that could be Miles not working out and Brandon agreeing to a fallback plan with someone he met with in Dallas, I think it's Miles.