A couple of days ago I compiled Hoke's win-loss record, looking specifically at road v. home v. neutral site and the differences between the Vegas line and the actual win differential. I was curious, though -- and maybe this was prompted by a comment I saw somewhere -- how other successful coaches at our rivals had fared recently. That is, was Hoke's downward trend normal? Abnormal? Is there, in fact, a normal?
Here are the results (click to embiggen):
- Hoke is most like Meyer: a string of victories at the start with a slow (inevitable) decline, although Meyer was able to string together an amazing 24-0 start at Ohio State.
- Kelly and Dantonio are more similar: a difficult first year followed by a fairly consistent improvement in overall record.
- Rodriguez is a real outlier: he never really got about .500, so never showed the overall improvement that Kelly and Dantonio did.
Hoke's downward slide looks ominous. What if we look on the brighter side, however, and project a 9-3 season, with losses to Michigan State and Ohio State but victories against the rest of the schedule? We get something like this (I'm not projecting the other coaches' records here):
That looks significantly better: essentially Hoke would be neck-and-neck with Kelly at the end of his year four, with a better overall record than Danotio's first four years. That's not bad.
Even if we project an 8-4 season this year -- say we lose to Penn State under the lights -- the overall record ain't too shabby:
The question, then, may be: is Hoke better than a .700 career coach? The difference between .700 and .750 is pretty palpable. Lloyd's career record was .753, Moeller's was .758, Bo's was .796 (at Michigan only for the latter two coaches). The scene of college football is significantly different now than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's probably fair to say that Michigan fans and alumni reasonably expect to win 3 out of every 4 games, even if we were never happy with Lloyd or Moeller's tendency to drop the occasional game to undermatched opponents (a loss at home to an unranked Illinois in 1993, my first year at Michigan, still stings a bit).
There's no doubt that the end of last year and this year is a bit of a trough for Michigan football: we're rebuliding, not reloading, despite the addition of Peppers. At least that has to be the positive take, anyway; the negative take would be that in the coming years the slide continues, and Hoke's line on the graph above will cross Dantonio's in 2015.
My overall take is more positive than I thought it would be when I started: if Hoke can hold serve this year with a 9-3 record and continue to bring in top talent, then there is a good case to be made that things will rebound. If those things happen, then on paper Hoke and Kelly look awfully similar, and I think that we probably think that whatever Kelly's many faults, he's got Notre Dame football on the right track in terms of the on-the-field performance.
Yet as I type those sentences about Michigan they seem awfully optimistic... far more optimistic than I currently feel.
EDIT: Per the suggestion by LandonC in the comments below, here is Hoke's ten
year game rolling win percentage vs. Kelly's, Dantonio's, and RR's:
ND's Outside Receivers Coach appears to the be the new OC for ND. No QB coach yet but it will be an outsider per BK....BOOOOOOORGES
Notre Dame offensive linemen Zack Martin and Chris Watt recall Under the Lights I with irishillustrated.com, ranking the experience above some other notable away games:
"According to Martin and Watt, nothing last season - not Oklahoma under the lights or USC at the Coliseum - stood up to the Big House two seasons ago. It’s likely no stadium moving forward will, either."
I hope this year's game is two times as loud and leaves them with an everlasting impression of the big house. Go blue and beat ND!
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As Brian Kelly moved ahead Tuesday, he backtracked just for one moment on the appraisal of the Notre Dame-Michigan football series.
"This is a great and historic rivalry that we'll be playing this Saturday," Kelly said during his weekly news conference. "So let's get that out of the way right away, so we don't have to answer any more questions about this rivalry. We're excited about the game, we're excited about playing it.
"(Hoke) is a first-class guy. There's nothing there, other than he's done a great job at Michigan, and I know he wants to continue to play Notre Dame. We'd like to oblige him, but right now it's difficult with the commitments we have. [But right now now we have to uphold important historic cupcakes like Purdue]*
Now that college football season is nearly upon us, and wildly inspired by Cracked.com’s Sunday article, “The 5 Most Creative Acts of Insanity by Modern Dictators”, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could get my creative, historical snark on and write up a tome on similarly bat-shit college football coaches. After all, this a world where Bo Pellini, Les Miles and Wil Muschamp prowl the sidelines.
The amazing thing I learned in writing this diary is that a coach need not be named “GERG” to engage in motivational hilarity, and that our former Defensive Coordinator’s pep talk with a fur-covered hand puppet didn’t even make my Top 5 (though it might have been #6 since we were all left asking “What. The.F-ck?”). Neither did Rich Rodriguez’s use of YouTube and ten gallon hats and Josh Groban.
Google “insane college football coaches”, and you’ll get nearly 2.8 million hits, and not one of them will mention so much as a sock monkey (go ahead and check – I’ll wait).
#5 Brian Kelly Tries to Recreate That Scene from “Scanners”
You know the one I mean. Against a mediocre South Florida team in 2011, Notre Dame head coach, Brian Kelly, went all Bobby Knight after his team coughed up its third turn-over of the game. Now, I imagine that he was just reacting as most ND fans did at that moment, what with the Irish deep in Bulls territory and threatening to score, and all.
Still, Coach Kelly managed to put the “A” in “apoplectic”, nearly having a stroke on the sidelines that was captured and replayed by media talking heads far and wide for the next week and on opposing fan sites long after. There are MGoUsers who actually have the photo of the key moment as their avatars, and they’re probably not the only ones.
#4 Lane Kiffin Holds a Press Conference for the Recruit That Never Was
Back in World War II, the British made Mincemeat of the Nazis by staging an elaborate ruse that involved a real dead man, a fake identity, a submarine and a clown car (I’m finding the last bit difficult to confirm) in an effort to make the Germans believe the forthcoming Allied landings in Sicily were going to be anywhere but Sicily. Everyone who has ever head-faked their dog by pretend-throwing a Frisbee knows how the trick works. The Allies were delighted to find that Hitler was a lot more trusting than a retriever, who sent his army chasing a stick out near Malta while the Allies were invading Sicily.
Evidently taking a page from British history (or not, Lane Kiffin doesn’t strike me as the type to open a lot of books) the coach decided to stage a fake press conference for nine recruits to Tennessee in 2009. Unfortunately for him, that’s an NCAA violation.
But Coach Kiffin didn’t stop there.
Continuing with the “World War II” theme, the coach channeled Humphrey Bogart and the end of Casablanca by installing a fog machine to simulate a “game environment” for those same recruits, which is also an NCAA violation. No word on whether he was also thinking about adding a disco ball and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
#3 Marshall Strength Coaches Think Kevin Bacon is a Pussy
Taking the term “hot seat” into uncharted territory, not only was the Omega house initiation apparently used as a how-to guide for motivating the Thundering Herd, but Marshall’s former staff upped the ante by lighting the paddles on fire.
With their breath.
Fortunately for Matthew McConaughey, none of the players on the business end seemed to enjoy lunches of double bean burritos and egg salad sandwiches. He’s done that movie once and his agent has probably insisted that he’s not interested in filming a We Are Marshall sequel, no matter how hot he is for January Jones.
#2 Woody Hayes Forgets That Size Does Matter
Speaking of wood, this story comes to us courtesy of Urbz himself, who claims he witnessed the event. I don’t normally speak ill of the dead but I’m making an exception in this case because Ohio State.
For those of you too creeped out to watch Urban Meyer (and who isn't?), I'll give you the gist of it. Evidently, Woody had advanced to that age where he no longer had a useful purpose for Little Woody, or at least one of the two that Nature most intended. So, just like in that heart-tugging ending from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, the old coach said “F- You!” to PETA, dug deep and pulled one out (of his pants).
After a humbling bowl loss, then-Buckeye head coach, Earle Bruce, asked Woody to come in and give a pep talk to the coaches on toughness. Immediately after berating the current staff on its lack of meddle, Hayes opened a box to reveal a snapping turtle, whipped his (apparently seldom used) baby maker out of his trousers, and demonstrated for Earle’s staff what a real man is capable of doing that they aren’t.
In case it’s not readily apparent what he did, I’ll let you use your imaginations or read the story yourselves. It hurts below my waistline to even write about it.
I feel awful for the turtle. Reptile or not, no species of plant or animal should have to do that for a Buckeye. And it got a poke in the eye for its troubles.
Thank God Bo didn’t bring every one of Woody’s lasting lesson with him to Ann Arbor.
#1 John L. Smith Tries to Get the Voices in His Head to Stop
What? You thought I wouldn’t remember this one?
In the raw vote (which I conducted solely inside my head) this episode of The Ball Coach Be Crazy Yo’ only finished second. But since this happened while he was still in the process of earning the Sparty No! Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was caught on camera by everyone, and it’s been replayed eleventy billion times, and he later went on to become some kind of Bat Shit Superhero at Arkansas, he’s earned the outright top spot in my list.
In doing the research for this story, I realized I could have written it as “Top 5 Reasons JLS is Insane”, but that would have been too easy. And it’s probably already been done.
As always, your mileage may vary.