things go poorly
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:
All of the local papers, Twitter, Facebook etc. are full of speculation about Hoke's future. That's understandable given last weekend's debacle.
That said, I think that an ongoing tsunami of posts this week and the coming weeks about possible changes at the top on the board are destructive to the program. People can obviously post whatever they want subject to the mods/Brian, and I'm neither a mod nor Brian so this is just my 2 cents. My point though is that Hoke will certainly be the coach throughout the 2014 season. Posts listing possible replacements or reasons to make a change may get the attention of the Athletic Department, but may also get the attention of current recruits and players in different way than a Terry Foster column since this site is largely made up of true fans.
While i'm sure that the commits realize that football coaches don't get tenure I still think that multiple Mgoboard posts about the potential longevity of the current staff, their perception nationally etc can't do anything but hurt us with the players we hope to see wearing the maize & blue in future years and the current team.
I hope and expect that there will a serious discussion/evaluation of the direction of the program at the end of the season, and that all options will be on the table. I just think the discussions I see now are premature.
Saturday night left me wondering about the worst losses suffered by Bo, Moeller, and Carr (I remember RR's pretty well). I've listed the three worst defeats of each coach below (with RR's listed too).
Please note that I'm defining "worst" by point differential only. Thus no Horror, etc.
Please also note that, when I list a year, I'm listing the season. So, for example, the 2001 Citrus Bowl was played on 1/1/2002, but I gave 2001 as the relevant date.
26 points at Iowa in 1984 (Harbaugh broke his arm two weeks prior). Result of the season: lost Holiday Bowl.
23 points at home to Missouri (!) in 1969. Result of the season: lost Rose Bowl.
19 points at home to Notre Dame in 1987. Result of the season: Won Hall of Fame Bowl.
20 points at home to Florida State in 1991. Result of the season: lost Rose Bowl.
20 points in Rose Bowl to Washington in 1991.
16 points at OSU in 1994. Result of the season: won Holiday Bowl.
32 points at home to Oregon in 2007. Result of the season: Won Citrus Bowl.
28 points in Citrus Bowl to Tennessee in 2001.
25 points at home to Iowa in 2002. Result of the season: won Outback Bowl.
38 points in Gator Bowl to Miss. State in 2010.
35 points at OSU in 2008. Result of the season: no bowl.
30 points at OSU in 2010. Result of the season: lost Gator Bowl.
So there you have it. Make of it what you will.
Yes I am a hothead, I admit to that, but does it bother anyone else to the point of homicidal rage when supporters of other teams crash our beloved all things Michigan site? I posted a diary titled 'Notre Dame in the rearview mirror' (listed above) and I have had more hits from an Irish fan than from the Mgoblog community at large. In all seriousness, who appreciates rival posters and who wants them eradicated? Maybe I am a nut but I can't think of a bigger waste of time than cruising another teams blog and posting argumentative comments. Am I alone?
Looks like that 2nd team we will face in the far upcoming schedules will be Texas. I'll be going to Austin for that one, if I'm still alive:
Reading this blog, one can get a skewed sense of how (1) more casual Michigan fans, and (2) college football fans, generally, perceive our program. Sure, we all know about the great recruiting classes brought in, the youth of the O-Line, the "empty cupboard" that both RR and Hoke inherited, but sometimes we forget that non-MGoBlog fans don't know any of this. I relate below two recent interactions that I have had in the past 24 hours:
1. The first was at a neighborhood party (live in suburban NY), at which there were a good number of college football fans, including 5-6 who root for other Big Ten teams, as well as one other Michigan fan. When the discussion drifted to college football, the comments about Hoke / Michigan were somewhat eye-opening (paraghrased below despite use of quotation marks):
"you guys got smoked again - have you guys beaten anyone good since Lloyd Carr retired"
"saw your coach on sportscenter - he looked totally lost and confused. What's his deal? Why did they hire that guy?"
"I remember when Michigan was really good - they really have sucked for a while now"
"seems like you guys get worse every year."
"can't you guys find a decent coach? Between Richrod and this buffoon, you guys pick shitty coaches."
2. At a deposition yesterday (I am a lawyer), there were four lawyers. Aside from me, there was a Va Tech fan, an ND fan and a Wisconsin fan. At lunch, we were discussing the demise of the Big Ten and the Va Tech fan was going off about how our coach comes off as clueless and over his head. ND guy, who is actually a decent guy, agreed and was saying how shocked he and his Domer friends were at how poorly Michigan played. He was saying that the consensus amongst ND fans was that given our talent, they expected more. They were particularly shocked at how minimally we used to Funch. Wisco guy agreed about Hoke, but chalked up the Michigan decline to the general decline of the conference and RichRod allowing State to raid to in-state talent in from 2008-2010.
Obviously, we here are way more informed about our team than these more casual / non-Michigan fans. But, sometimes it is easy to lose the forest for the trees. So, while all of us can probably recite the depth chart by heart, and know all of the reasons for optimism / pessimism, perhaps we are missing the 10,000 foot view of these fans, which is that Michigan is in a real decline and our coach is perceived to be way over his head.
Going forward, if we don't start to win, I think that Brandon has to take into account the real decline in the perception of Michigan in the cfb world. Even if Hoke is a great guy and the excuses are valid (I know, strong if w/r/t excuses), if we don't start to win this year, Brandon may have to consider making a change to prevent the slide in public perception of Michigan.