An attempt to diffuse the hostility - a short summary of the feelings of those underwhelmed by the Hoke hire
Brady Hoke is the head football coach at the University of Michigan. All Michigan fans wish him and the team (or should) nothing but the greatest success. However, several of us are not convinced that he will deliver on that hope. We're not rooting for him to fail; we're not trying to undermine him; we're not saying he shouldn't have taken the job; and we're not criticizing him as an individual. We're expressing disappointment and will ultimately move on.
At his press conference Hoke was asked whether Michigan was still an elite job, still an elite program. He expressed incredulity at the notion that a sane minded person could consider Michigan anything else. And we all feel that way about Michigan. For that reason, we expected the university to hire a football coach whose track record indicates with a high degree of certainty that he would succeed at Michigan.
Let's take a step back to the moment before Hoke was hired and consider whether Bob Stoops would have been a good hire. He has won a national championship, recruited nationally at a place that doesn't produce a lot of talent regionally, continually produces teams that win conference championships and contend for national championships and has done so while avoiding NCAA violations. In short, there's no reason to believe that if he coached at Michigan that he couldn't maintain that level of success. On the contrary, the evidence indicates that but for some unforeseen circumstances, the probability of his success at Michigan would have been high.
Let's next consider Tim Brewster. Brewster failed to recruit at Minnesota, he produced consistently poor teams and his coaching performance prior to Minnesota contains no evidence that he would have been a success had he been hired by Michigan.
In short, most all candidates fall somewhere on the scale between Brewster and Stoops. They all come with a certain amount of evidence that increases or decreases the likelihood that they could win at Michigan.
If we believe that Michigan is an elite job, we should also believe that Michigan is capable of hiring a coach who comes with lots of evidence that he could win at Michigan. Brady Hoke has some - he has the support of the administration and former players, he produced two great turnarounds and SDSU and Ball St. - but Bob Stoops has more.
I'm not asking for Bob Stoops; that's not the point of this diary. Rather I'm saying that for those of us disappointed in the hire, we had an idea as to the quantum of evidence we wanted to see that forecasted with high probability that the new coach would be a success, and we believe that Hoke is below that line, or that at a minimum, his resume contains less evidence than those of other potential candidates. For that reason, we are disappointed.
Say you really want to go to Harvard, and apply to there and Yale and only get into Yale. You go to Yale. You try to make the best of the situation. But that doesn't mean you don't have some disappointment that you didn't get into Harvard. As it is with Hoke. We'll make the best of the situation and support Michigan Football. But it's ok to express some disappointment.
As many have noted, prior success is not always indicative of future performance. Brady Hoke will have every opportunity to prove that whatever his resume, he has what it takes to win at Michigan. And those of us skeptical that he can do so will cheer for him with the same vigor as those most convinced that his resume is outstanding.
Let me start out by saying that teams do not compete for National Championships, plural. They compete to win every game on their schedule every individual year and the chips fall where they may. A team (and coach) must win ONE championship before they win another, this is highly important as one undoubtedly makes the other possible. Look at the champions from the past decade (I also included Michigan's 1997 team for comparison purposes), their coach, and the number of years their coach was in place at the school when they won it all
1997 - Michigan - Lloyd Carr (3rd season)
2000 - Oklahoma - Bob Stoops (2nd season)
2001 - Miami - Larry Coker (1st season)
2002 - Ohio State - Jim Tressel (2nd season)
2003 - LSU/USC - Nick Saban (4th season)/ Pete Carroll (3rd season)
2004 - USC - Pete Carroll (4th season)
2005 - Texas - Mack Brown (8th season)
2006 - Florida - Urban Meyer (2nd season)
2007 - LSU - Les Miles (3rd season)
2008 - Florida - Urban Meyer (4th season)
2009 - Alabama - Nick Saban (3rd season)
2010 - Auburn - Gene Chizik (2nd season)
Who the hell were all these guys before they won? Sure Meyer had a good run at Utah and BGSU but so what? Yes Carroll was in the NFL, where he was average (Wannstadt anyone?). Sure Saban did some nice things at MSU...and? These guys were all on their way up the ladder, not already at the top. All of these coaches except Mack Brown was at their respective school four years or less when they won their National Championship. These numbers suggest that most of these teams were not very good (as they were hiring new coaches to replace their ineffective ones) just a few short years before winning it all (this is not true for Texas, Miami, Michigan, or LSU with Miles) which should give any fanbase hope. This also suggests either that these coaches were/are geniuses or that their hires invigorated recruiting and player development. I for one do not believe that Mack Brown, Les Miles, Larry Coker, or Gene Chizik are anything more than good coaches. I would agree that Tressel, Saban, and Meyer might be very good coaches but none of them are unblemished or in the same category as a Bill Belichick.
Why is this important? Because college football is fickle, much more fickle than the NFL where everyone for the most part operates on an even playing field with the best athletes in the sport. One of the columnists on ESPN was saying that if the NFL was like college football, the Patriots would just play the Falcons to determine the championship this year. I am sure there are some people who think the Falcons would deserve that but I don't think it is the majority. This is the lot we are stuck with as college football fans.
This also means that winning the NC is more than having the best players or best coach. Schedules are hugely important. Look at MSU this year. They did not have to play OSU and could have snuck into the NC game if they did not lay an egg at Iowa. Wisconsin might have been able to beat Auburn in the NC game behind their brusing line but they did not get the chance because they lost to MSU on the road (inexplicably). I don't think anyone here would argue that if we played OSU at home in 2006 the result would have come out in our favor.
Winning a national championship is also not about being undefeated, or even the best team necessarily. Auburn won all of its games in 2004 yet was left out of the discussion. LSU (under Miles) got into the NC game via the backdoor when RR's powerhouse WVU team lost to a terrible Pitt team. The Hokester is getting a lot of heat for his stance on winning B1G titles and not focusing on NC's. Well you can't have one without the other.
NC seasons are about getting lucky not just being good. Oklahoma was 7-5 the year before they won, how many people picked them to win it all? OSU was 7-5 the year before they won. LSU, 8-5. Florida, 9-3 (first title). Auburn, 8-5. Michigan, 8-4. These trends suggest more than just the x's and o's of coaching. Teams do not go from 7-5 or 8-4 to National Champions with out a little luck, especially if they have a target on their back in every game. It is tough to win when everyone is giving you their best shot. Ask Alabama this year, or the Miami Heat. Being able to play without the expectation to win every game is huge especially when you are talking about 18-22 year old kids.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football and hiring new coaches has a major effect on that. Maybe newer coaches recruit harder or bring a more committed attitude but winning NC's, plural, is about putting together ONE magical season then reaping the benefits years later. Does anyone think OSU's 2002 NC team was better than the Miami team they beat, or even better than their 2006 NC losing team? Their win is what has kept them at the top of the heap in the B1G. They get who they want because they are now the badass on the block (perception is a bitch). LSU, same thing. Florida, who was the 3rd best program in their state for a long time is now cleaning up on the strength of their recent history while Miami and FSU have been trying to rebuild. All we have to do is capture a little magic and we will be right back where we belong.
In summary, Hoke does not need to come in here with some guarantee about NC's. He needs to invigorate recruiting to bring in some difference makers while putting the guys we already have in a better position to win. Unfortunately for us, 2011 was setting up nicely. We have 8 home games including all of our rivals except MSU at home. In theory we should be a stronger team in 2012 then we are in 2011 except our schedule is much tougher. That means we could look to 2013 as a golden season where again the schedule goes in our favor. As much as I am one to look ahead, we do not know what kinds of bounces will go our way any given year. The SEC, which everyone agrees is the best conference, could cannabalize itself this year allowing a team like Stanford to put together a NC team where they end up playing a hot FSU team. Would anyone see that coming? Stanford and FSU are not setting out to win the NC this year, they want to win all of their games and then the rest is out of their hands.
We do not need to heap expectations on ourselves. We need to go into the season focused and prepared. If we show holes or flaws, we need to fix them via recruiting or scheme changes and we need to play who is in front of us every saturday and only who is in front of us. Let the pollsters worry about who should be on top every year. How many teams come out wire to wire national champs anyway? If we win B1G championships we will get our shot. I think we will have a very good season in 2011 and I think it will enable us to pick up some key recruits who will help us in our quest.
The last thing to consider is that in 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2010, the team with the best player in college football won it all. We have a guy now who could carry that title in the years to come, although do not sleep on Devin Gardner.
Sorry, it just kept going and going...
There's been a lot of questions and concern over Dallas Crawford today. The rumor is that Dallas has decided to decommit and move on from Michigan. I spoke with Dallas' head coach Grant Redhead to find out what was going on.
TOM: Has Dallas dropped Michigan completely?
COACH REDHEAD: I talked to Dallas about everything this morning. I asked him now that Michigan has a head coach what does he think. He said coach I think I've moved on. It upsets me because I'm a Michigan fan, I always have been. Not having a defensive staff in place hurts Michigan because he doesn't know who's going to be there.
TOM: With the defensive staff, if they bring someone in within the next few days is there still a chance with Dallas?
COACH REDHEAD: The main thing is that they need to talk to him. The concern with these kids is that they don't want to just be a number for the new coaches. They want to make sure they're actually wanted, and these guys have recruited players like him before. Florida tried to get back in with Sammy Watkins and I asked them about Dallas. They told me he's too short, they like taller guys. Some coaches don't like shorter safeties or corners. We want to make sure he's in a place that actually wants him. If the new coach feels he fits then they'll have a chance.
TOM: I know Dallas is going to Miami this weekend, do you think he'll make a decision to commmit?
COACH REDHEAD: I don't think he will. He's supposed to go out to North Carolina and USC, too. The Miami visit is the only one set in stone, but I don't think he'll make a decision this weekend. The Miami coaches have been after him the second they took over, so they've been coming after him pretty hard. No matter what happens we just want to make sure he's in the right place for him. I'll always root for Michigan, and I answer everybody's calls.
There obviously has been a lot of talk about keeping Denard here. Coach Hoke stated in the press conference that he believes in doing what's best for the team, and that means putting your best players in a position to be successful. One could easily infer that means that he will put Denard at QB and run a spread offense. Coach Hoke followed that by saying that usually means doing what's best for the player.
What if, however, he believes that putting Denard in the best position to be successful means he could be most successful at WR or RB? What if Coach thinks what's best for Denard is to play a position other than QB b/c he won't play QB in the NFL?
We can only go by what we know. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. Coach Hoke's teams have never run the spread, nor has OC Al Borges ever run it. As a former coach I can tell you that your best chance of success is to coach what you know. Since they a) don't like the spread and b) don't know it, I'm guessing that you won't see us running a spread offense.
The only way you'll see us running spread option is if the entire new offensive staff goes and visits with someone who runs it well. In my opinion, that leaves three options:
- Chip Kelly
- Urban Meyer
- Rich Rodriguez
First, we know that Coach Hoke despises an offense based on the outside zone (aka Stretch). (Boy, he must have hated watching his own offense during his time as DL coach at Michigan.) That would eliminate options 1 and 3. Besides, there's no way the new staff would go to the old staff and say, "Can you teach us your offense, please?" That would leave them with visiting Urban Meyer.
It would be a nice fit. First, he's unemployed, so he could actually come here and be a consultant, if you will. Second, he believes in inside zone and gap schemes like power, counter trey, and iso.
Inside zone is still zone blocking, but it's not about reaching the outside shoulder. It's basically the playside tackle base blocking the DE while the rest of the OL works combo blocks. The objective is to get vertical push on the DL, then come off to LBs working downhill--let them come to you. The RB is a downhill runner and he gets one cut into the hole. The hole isn't pre-determined, but the cut into that hole happens (in theory) at the LOS or on the defense's side of it. In outside zone, that decision (or cut) happens in the offensive backfield.
Regardless, I don't think you'll see Michigan in a spread option offense, and I believe it would be in Denard's best interests to transfer to Oregon.
I love the work of Brian Cook. MGoBlog is something that has filled my life with joy and wonder, bringing my level of Michigan fandom to a level that is both wholly satisfying and terribly unhealthy at the same time. But right now I can't support Brian's views in regard to the coaching search and eventual hire of one Brady Hoke. This is no way to begin the era of a new coach, regardless of what Brian's personal feelings on the matter are.
I get that many fans, especially those who frequent MGoBlog, are less than pleased with how the coaching search went. Brady Hoke wasn't my favorite candidate either. I do respect David Brandon for how he conducted the search though. I think Brandon showed that he is a man of integrity in several ways, many of which were frustrating to fans:
- He gave Rich Rod every opportunity to show progress that would warrant keeping him on as head coach. I think the results of the bowl game really illustrated how much that game mattered in the evaluation of Rich Rod. Without that data point, Michigan fans are even more divided about the need for a new coach. The Gator Bowl embarrassment cleared things up, and thus had value. Had Rich Rod managed to win and get Michigan to 8-5 with a bowl win over a ranked opponent (would have only been RR's second in 13 tries), I think it would have strengthened the case for keeping him almost as much as the embarrassing loss killed it.
- He didn't interfere with the season of any other program. I think this is one of the most glaring differences between this coaching search and last, it felt more respectful towards others and therefore more Michigan. No coach considered was interfered with before his teams' bowl game, including Mr. Hoke. Considering the outcome, would it have been better for the program to have had Hoke sign up and come over a month ago? Of course. But I am glad that SDSU and Hoke got to get that bowl victory, and that their players got to have proper closure to their impressive season. Pulling Rich Rod before WV's BCS game always seemed a little shady to me.
- He stuck to his guns throughout the process. I never got the feeling that he was out of touch with the search, despite the lack of leaked info. He wasn't off sailing his boat, and if I believe that he was pretty busy following possibilities. Harbaugh wanted the NFL; I don't consider this DB's fault. Miles decided to stay at LSU; this may be for the best as Les had a bit of baggage anyways. Michigan couldn't afford to wait much longer to sign a coach and whether we like it or not, DB had a set of criteria in mind and Hoke met the requirements.
The bottom line is that none of us know how things went down. Also none of us is any more qualified to judge the coaching search than we are to judge the decisions of our football coach. There is a reason David Brandon was hired to be Michigan's AD, and we will have to wait and see if his decision is a good one. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The pudding has not been served yet.
I am excited for a new era of Michigan Football to begin and I am 100% behind Coach Hoke. People keep bringing up Hoke's record of 47-50 as a head coach as if just under .500 football has been his consistent result throughout his career. Reality paints a different picture though: a progression from Head-Coach-That-Never-Was-A-Coordinator (HCTNWAC) learning on the job at a loser program, to Head-Coach-That-Turns-Shit-Around (HCTTSA) that wins conference Coach of the Year honors.
What I see:
Ball State 2003 (HCTNWAC)
Goes 4-8 (3-5) in first year with Bill Lynch's players (6-6 in 2002). Does not look competitive if the scores are any indication. Ended season on a 4 game losing streak.
Ball State 2004 (HCTNWAC)
Bottoms out, going 2-9 (2-6) in his second year. Whether because of personel, or lack of HC experience, Hoke appears in over his head at this point. 2 wins come against teams with a combined 1-21 record.
Ball State 2005 (HCTNWAC?)
In his third year things start to show improvement. Record improves to 4-7 (4-4) with three wins against teams that would finish with winning records. Won three of final four games and took final game against CMU to OT.
Ball State 2006 (HCTTSA?)
More improvement, going 5-7 (5-3), his first winning record in conference. Didn’t beat anybody of note, but put a scare into a very good Michigan team.
Ball State 2007 (HCTTSA)
Continues to build the Ball St program, going 7-6 (6-2) for his first winning season and bowl bid. Beats talented Navy team in overtime. Comes within 51 seconds of knocking off Nebraska, losing by 1 point on a long touchdown in the final minute.
Ball State 2008 (HCTTSA!!!)
Undefeated regular season, including a second straight win against Navy and a victory over Indiana. Peaks at #12 in the polls before faltering in the conference championship game, finishes 12-1. Ball State would fall off a cliff in 2009 after Hoke's departure, going 2-10.
SDSU 2009 (HCTTSA?)
Takes the reigns of a program that hadn't had a winning season in a decade. Takes his lumps, going 4-8 (2-6) with victories coming against the dregs of the MWC.
SDSU 2010 (HCTTSA!!!)
Has an outstanding season, ending at 9-4 (5-3) and taking Coach of the Year honors for the MWC. Closer inspection of his season reveals that the 4 losses were all to teams with winning records and a cumulative record of 40-12. The 4 losses were by an average of < 4 points per game as well, with the worst a 5 point defeat @ undefeated TCU. 3/4 losses were away games. This season is easily better than the final record indicates. Hoke gets his first bowl victory, stomping Navy 35-14.
This is not the same as merely spouting 37-40 implies.
The bottom line is that Brady Hoke deserves our full support as a fan base. He seems like a class act and served Michigan in the past, producing NFL quality D-Linemen and helping to form the 1997 defense. He remembers what it is like to coach a winning team against that team down south. He legitimately has turned 2 smaller programs around and is walking into a Michigan program that is on the rebound. I expect that he will have a good/great season next year and be a great representative of the University of Michigan.
This is Brian Cook's blog and he will post what he sees fit. MGoBlog and its community will continue to be a cornerstone of my passion and obsession as a fan regardless. I just urge that Brian, and all those that frequent this corner of the interwebs, realize how MGoBlog influences public opinion. Comments about the coaching hire being "stupid" and calling our new coach "average" before the new coach is even formally introduced will have a very real effect on how many people view Michigan Football. Recruits and current players, all of which we are trying to retain, no doubt read these statements and form opinions based on them. Positive thoughts and comments lead to positive opinions and the feeling that the fans have Michigan players' backs (and their new coach's back as well).
If MGoBlog is going to be so obviously anti-Hoke, how is it any better for Michigan Football than the Freep?
The purpose of this diary is simple, to track Hoke’s record against BCS team. One of the perks of being in the MAC is getting called in to BCS schools early in the year to be ground into a fine powder by more powerful teams and offered up to the Revenue Gods as Macrific.
So I decided to chart how Hoke did against various BCS Teams. One thing you might remember about playing MAC Schools is that by the Fourth Quarter those of us still in the student section are normally going “Whoa we have a SIXTH string quarterback?” as we watch some guy we never heard of put up Heisman like numbers. In an attempt to normalize for garbage time points I’ve also done my best to note games where the BCS Team was comfortably ahead, put it on cruise control and let Ball State score some pity points.
Result: 35-7 Loss
Ugly slow death by Ball State here. First quarter ended 7-7. In the second Mizzou got 14 unanswered and then 7 in each of the final two quarters. Ball State’s only points came off a 4 yard drive so the offense did nothing.
Result: 42-21 Loss
The first half was relatively even. No points for anyone in the first. 14 each in the second quarter (44 and 54 yard drives for Pitt, 46 and 80 for Ball State). Coming out of half though Pitt made adjustments and got 21 in the 3rd. 7 each in 4th, but Ball State’s last 7 came in the closing minutes of the game when Pitt was likely checked out.
Team: Boston College
Result: 53-29 Loss
The first starts out decently enough. 80 yard drive by Ball State and a 59 yard drive by BC. BC also gets a punt return for 14 total. Then just a steady steamroll by BC, 11,14 and 14 in the last three quarters. Ball State manages to put together some drives of decent length but it isn’t enough.
Team: Not That Miami (But Ranked #15 at the time)
Result: 49-3 Loss
The only ranked team Ball State played. Total ass kicking / incestuous Macrifice
Result For 2003:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 0
Macrifice: 4 (counting the loss to ranked ntM despite them being in the MAC as well)
Team: Boston College
BC leads 12-11 at half. In the second Ball State gives up one 53 yard drive and that seals the deal for BC. The 2004 edition of BC finished 9-3 and beat UNC in the Tire Bowl. BC beat PSU 21-7 the week after playing Ball State.
Result: 59-7 Loss
The 7 points came in the 4th when Purdue was likely in celebration mode.
Result: 48-0 Loss
Result To Date:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 1
Macrifice: 6 (I almost feel like I should count Mizzou and Purdue as double)
Result: 56-0 Loss
Kirk Ferentz cruises.
Result: 63-3 Loss
Hey I think I know what made Hoke decide to hire Al Borges.
Team: Boston College
Result: 38-0 Loss
BC gets 14 in the first and then off to the races in the 3rd and 4th.
Note: Ball State had 7 players suspended during Iowa and Auburn for NCAA infractions.
Result To Date:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 1
Result: 24-23 Loss
23-7 Indiana at half. Ball State gets 14 in the 3rd and manages to make a game out of it. Indiana started their second string QB but ended up playing their 3rd string for the entire game due to the suckitude of the 2nd stringer (he was pulled after 6 players). Thus this is a push for scoring purposes. Indiana is a cellar dweller to begin with and even worse once you start running the QB depth chart.
Result: 38-28 Loss
21-10 at half, and 31-13 at the end of the 3rd. So it looks like Ball State kind of put up a fight in the first half, Purdue makes adjustments and seals in the 3rd. A FG in the 3rd for Ball State and then 15 garbage points in the 4th. So no credit even though the final score was one two scores different.
Team: North Dakota State
Result: 29-24 Loss
We know how this one feels don’t we?
24-12 at half. 7 each in the 3rd and Ball State outscores 7-3 in the 4th. We played Henne the entire game. Now this has long been a question mark game for me. I was there and I really felt like Carr was being nice to his former assistant or else was having trouble finding the gas pedal for some odd reason. This was our 11-1 season and our team crushed everyone else. I’m going to give Hoke credit here and call it a not that bad win even though to this day I feel like Carr was simply too nice to go for the kill against his former Associate Head Coach.
Result To Date:
Not That Bad For a MAC: 2
The Horror (MAC Version): 1
Result: 34-31 OT Win
Competitive the whole way through, no last second rally when the other team went to sleep and the let other creep back into it.
Result: 41-40 Loss
This was in Nebraska’s shitty period but even so Nebraska needed to outscore Ball State in the 4th 13-9 to get win. A definite Not That Bad.
Result: 38-20 Loss
Indiana was in its normally sucky mode and desperate for a win to be Bowl Eligible. They got the win. Overall a decent game by Ball State but you don’t get credit for losing to Indiana by three scores.
Result To Date:
Not That Bad For a MAC Program: 4
Tim Brewster Nods Knowingly: 1
Result: 38-25 Win
Someone get Navy on the schedule.
Result: 42-20 Win
Indiana managed a total of 3 wins this year (Western Kentucky, Murray State and drum roll #22 ranked Northwestern [ouch]). Still a win over a BCS Program counts, plus I’ve been mean to Ball State so far so I’ll give them another bump.
Result: 45-13 Loss
Ball State did not score in the second half. You can argue they’re disappointed after losing to Buffalo in the conference championship and getting shunted off to the GMAC Bowl or whatever you want, but they still got punked by a C-USA Team. What CRex giveth for a Win over Indiana he taketh away for utter destruction at the hands of Tulsa. Actually no wait he won’t, since upon closer inspection Hoke had already bailed for SDSU.
Result For Career:
Not That Bad For a MAC Program: 5
I’d Talk Shit, But I have No Room To Talk: 1
At the end of the day I think the examiners bias here determines how you view these. One thing I’ve heard brought up constantly on the boards is that part of Hoke’s record can be explaining by the fact that he was forced to play at least 3 teams ever year that had access to better resources than he did. Overall he comes out as 5-11-1 and a WTFOMGDIVISIONIIBBQ loses thrown in the hell of it.
If you don’t like Hoke you’re predisposed to lean in the direction of “Wow look at those losses to Purdue, Missouri, Auburn and Boston College. If you like him you look at the 5 not that bad ones and the Push and cite them.
My personal take away from all of this is that whenever I hear Hoke’s record tossed out I’m not going to panic and mentally spot him a few more wins. If he’d Big Ten caliber recruits and facilities maybe some of those almost wins turn into wins.
It’s hard to read these tea leaves though, for example in 2003 he finished off the first quarter tied up 7-7 before Missouri took care of business. Finishes the first half tied with Pitt that year but then Pitt pulls away in the second. So either Hoke was ready for Missouri/Pitt and his MAC caliber players simply wore down or else Missouri and Pitt weren't taking Ball State seriously and spent a quarter or two fumbling around trying to find the gas pedal. If you like Hoke you’ll likely say his scheme managed to hold it together for at least a while. If you don’t like him you’re more likely to claim the other team just never bothered to shift it into gear.
Thus I’m not going to try to take much data from this, but I’ll post this in case anyone wants to find a use for this or simply for education purposes. For example that Auburn beatdown definitely helps explain why Hoke went hard after Borges and brought him along.