“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
There's a David Foster Wallace story from Oblivion in which a main character has an incredibly talented sphincter. He becomes renowned for pooping out beautiful works of art and it's all very confusing and revolting and weird and sad because that's the overall thrust of Oblivion. It's called "The Suffering Channel." You should check it out if you've always wanted to read a 90-page story about poop art*.
What I am saying to you is this: Brady Hoke is not entirely dissimilar from the talented Brint Moltke. The man poops magic. In this he is the exact opposite of the star-crossed Rich Rodriguez. Because we are (largely) not clinically depressed people trying to grapple with 9/11 we can leave out the existential dread. The man poops magic. Yay!
When Hoke took the job he brought some dudes with him and no one was that impressed since no one had ever heard of them, and then he asked Greg Mattison if he'd like to come back to college a year after he'd flirted with Florida and his defensive backs coach was going to be hired away. If you listen to Peter King, they really liked the defensive backs coach and didn't necessarily love the idea that their DC would constantly be flirting with a return to college. So they said "okay, you should probably go" instead of backing up the dump truck of money at his house. So now Michigan has a veteran defensive coordinator Urban Meyer says is "the best recruiter in the country" who can say "you == Ray Lewis."
When Hoke took the job Michigan State had barely had to fight for the top player in the state the past couple years because his coach had him ready to pick Michigan State a year before he signed. The guys responsible for that are no longer at those high schools and four of the top five players in the state are either from Cass Tech, best friends with the guys from Cass Tech, or Michigan fans. Michigan got all those guys.
When Hoke took the job Ohio State was the omnipresent Big Ten Death Star, scandal free since the arrival of Darth Tressel and merrily blowing Michigan's seasons to bits. There was no reason to believe it would change until Tressel entered his JoePa phase about ten years from now, which is when Hoke would be getting ready to retire himself. Then a lawyer inadvertently sent a photon torpedo down the exhaust hatch.
So. When Brady Hoke was hired I put up "We Are ND" which wait why link when you can embed:
This was both an opportunity to post "We Are ND" again and an editorial commentary on hiring an old guy with an indifferent career record instead of a young one who can plausibly be declared up and coming. At the time I thought Hoke was good to beat OSU maybe three times in a ten year career and then would give way to the next guy because he'd be 65 by then, and while this would be an improvement on the last decade there are several Southeast Asian prisons that would qualify as an improvement on the last decade vis a vis OSU.
A few months after Hoke's hire the two low-probability events above have transpired. Michigan's ceiling in this brave new world is now unknown. Or more unknown than "probably not as good as Ohio State," which wasn't exactly an axiom in the first place.
It's likely Ohio State will be searching for a new head coach soon, and the addition of Mattison not only promises defenses better than not only the Rodriguez-GERG debacles but those of the last half-decade of the Carr era when punt-and-strangle became punt-and-strangle-the-DC. Even if Tressel manages to survive he will take a heavy hit from the NCAA. His reputation is already in tatters. Michigan State's renaissance will be brief and quickly ended if in-state recruiting continues on the path it has this year, and Michigan already has the top guy in 2013 whispering in his classmates' ears about where they should go.
Meanwhile, Hoke has done a tremendous job to not screw it up. This is not a backhanded compliment. Not screwing it up is really hard. Greg Robinson: QED. Hoke knew and acquired Mattison; even if the Ravens weren't fighting hard having the temerity to ask or the knowledge he could get him is something. He has not lost any of the in-state locks to Penn State or Ohio State or Notre Dame or Michigan State and along the way he flipped two of the three guys Michigan State fans were banking on and probably the third if he can get his grades up. A wave of media and program adulation was waiting for anyone who could say "hi, I'm not Rich Rodriguez"; Hoke has turned large sections of Southeastern Michigan into lovesick tweens by saying "you're not Rich Rodriguez either!" He hasn't blown his layups, which is more than Michigan's head coach has been able to say for a while.
The prognosis now is much better than it was in January. Hoke will be able to shovel early missteps onto Rodriguez's grave—already the tallest mountain east of the Rockies—and ride out the awkward transition from the spread, at which point he'll have a roster full of guys who are qualified, a career record worlds better than Rodriguez's, and a talent advantage over his division opponents. From there it's a matter of grabbing that goddamn win over Ohio State and seeing what happens. It's hard for me to think we'll be as good as spread terror du jour in any particular year, but let's whine about that bridge when we get to it.
This column kind of echos my thoughts as well. I'm in the "let's wait and see how a real game goes" before annointing Hoke "savior", but to date he has done an excellent job. I was unenthusiastic about the hire, but Hoke really has presided over a perfect storm, and I am once again drinking all the Maize and Blue Kool-aid I can find. My NCAA-11 has been in use the last few weeks, and I can't wait for August.
"Over? Did you say, over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!"
I'll add that it was very helpful to my sanity to have seen SDSU's bowl game against Navy prior to the coaching change fiasco. They looked well-coached on both sides of the ball. My ferverent hope is that the defense and special teams both improve more than the offense regresses.
Agreed... I live on the West Coast and caught bits of SDSU's games this past season on the off (and, as I thought at the time, unfortunate) chance that Hoke would end up as Michigan's next coach. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. They looked well-coached and didn't make many mental mistakes. The games they lost were to teams that had a clear talent advantage. It wasn't enough to keep me from being disappointed when we did end up hiring him, but since he took over, I can't think of a single thing that he's done wrong.
Also, you have to consider SDSU's history: before Hoke got there, they hadn't had a winning season since 1998, hadn't had a 9-win season since 1977, and hadn't won a bowl game since 1969(!). His reputation as a turnaround specialist is not just a cliche.
As these last few months have played out, I don't think anyone can argue that Hoke hasn't exceeded expectations, especially when it comes to recruiting. I know we haven't seen much as far as the team playing together under the new offensive and defensive schemes, but I for one am optimistic about what the team will be bringing to the field every Saturday. Things are starting to look up again, even if all we have seen so far is some spring practices and new recruits. Go Blue, forever!
“What the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve and those who stay will be champions.” - Bo
At what point do we have to admit that the "process" actually worked? There is definitely a benefit to having a guy like Hoke in charge. He's made all the routine plays you expect the HC at Michigan to make and he's also pulled out a few surprises.
Some will temper their enthusiasm until we play some games, but I think it can be said that there is a confidence that Hoke has instilled since he's been here.
Look, the process was painful for all of us, and perhaps it cost us a few recruits. But, if Hoke ends up being as good of a coach at Michigan as I think he will (which is very, very good), then the process worked. Period.
Sure, we could have fired RR in December and hired Hoke earlier. But, if we had done that, I am not so sure that Hoke would have gotten the great reaction - both from the press and the fanbase - that he had gotten. People would have been up in arms that we didn't get Harbaugh who, people believed at that time, wanted nothing more than to return to AA on a white unicorn. Even if DB offered Harbaugh in December and he turned us down, people would have said, "of course he turned us down - his team was going to be playing in a BCS game - why, oh why, didn't DB wait until after the bowl game to bring Jimmy home??" And this would have undermined the whole hire. DB fired RR within days of the bowl debacle, and then hired Hoke within days thereafter, during which time he did his due dilligence and met with many alum, former players, and other potential candidates.
No, if Hoke turns out to be a good coach, anyone who is still criticizing the process is missing the larger picture that DB apparently saw.
People who think it wasn't well run are really just complaining that they didn't get to talk day to day with David Brandon on what he was thinking and/or just didn't like the fact that he picked Hoke.
Also if you go back and actually read what was written, you'll find a compelling argument about why waiting until January enabled a smoother transition than hiring in Feburary. The biggest reason being that from the end of the season to the bowl game the media is going to make up anything so they have something to write about. Giving them a "no comment" on the fire/no fire of Rodriguez instead of, "I picked Hoke cause Jim Harbaugh wants to coach the pros" is very compelling.
What's also compelling is that if you actually listened to David Brandon, he stated that he talks with the Harbaugh family all the time. So not only did he understand that Jim wanted to coach in the NFL, but that the entire coaching Harbaugh family could offer an opinion on Hoke, as well as an opinion on how well it would fit that Mattison become the DC.
I think that the HC fo the Ravens has a "Harbaugh" in his name somewhere.
Now, I think there is plenty of room to endlessly and fruitlessly debate whether or not Hoke was the best choice. But I don't think there is any evidence at all that Brandon ran a poor process. Especially considering that there was no way to "hire" Mattison until the Ravens were done with the playoffs. So, how easily would it have been for Hoke to recruit during December while Brandon was waiting for the end of the NFL season to hire a DC who could say, "hey high school LB guy, do you see this video of Ray Lewis? I told him to do that, do you want to be like Ray Lewis, then come to Michigan and I'll tell you to do that."
ole' superior IQ "if you read what was actually written" spiel unless you actually know what you are talking about.
You are assuming that everyone has the belief that Dave Brandon planned on the hiring process to go the way it did.
I saw the press conference in which he was announcing a "National Coaching Search". He looked clueless. He did not look like a man who was confidently about to embark on the hiring of someone who "was always the guy" or whatever he said about Brady Hoke.
It worked out for him. I don't believe he planned for it to happen the way it did. He was lucky to have Brady Hoke chomping at the bit to come here.
It's a bit like the Celtics when they traded for Ray Allen. Ainge made the trade because he had to do something. He ended up looking like a genius when he was able to seal the deal on Kevin Garnett. He had to hope he could get Garnett, but he didn't know it for sure. Imagine if we had simply hired Hoke and he had been unable to bring in Mattison? It's the same concept. It worked, but it wasn't some finely crafted process in which he knew each step would bring him closer to his end goal.
How Hoke turns out as head coach at UM has nothing to do with whether DB's "process" worked or not. The bottom line is no one is going to know if it worked unless DB, JH, LM, RR or BH actually come out and tell everyone what went on during that time.
Brady Hoke may turn out to be a better coach than JH could ever have been, but if it happens that JH was really the first target, LM was really the second, RR staying with a new DC was third and BH was in fact a fourth option it would mean that fate was on our side and would have nothing to do with the "process" being a success.
As most here know, BH would have dropped everything and ran to UM prior to SDSU even playing in their bowl game which would have saved a lot of time, energy and possibly recruits had he been given the opportunity to get here sooner. I think it is pretty obvious from the way things transpired that BH was not DB's first target no matter how many times people try to rationalize the way things unfolded.
Again, I have faith that BH will make things happen at UM and do a good job, but that has no effect on my opinion on whether or not DB's "process" was a success. To me it just looks like he knew BH would jump at the job so he took his time trying to figure out what JH and LM wanted to do before moving on to plan c.
I understand your point and think that it's smart and reasonable. Here's one issue that I have with the logic, though:
Your understanding of the "process" seems to be that DB had (or should have had) a very clear rank-ordered list going into it. One guy was the first choice, some other guy was the second choice, etc. It's possible, though, that this was a genuine coaching search such that Brandon was learning about the candidates as time passed. For example -- and I have no reason to believe that this happened -- maybe Harbaugh seemed ideal but a conversation with him revealed that he'd always have one eye on the NFL. If this was the case, then it's possible that Hoke ascended from the second, third, or fourth choice to the first choice during the search, which would make the process remarkably successful in bringing out that information.
when the process started and i had my concerns about what brandon was doing i spoke with a good friend pat doyle, brandon's successor at domino's, and he assured me brandon was a rock star and deserved all the credit we had given him until that point and would his process would work. got to say looks like he was right. so let's stop beating "the process" up and realize brandon's as smart a person as we expect an m grad to be and is doing a fnatastic job.
anti-Hoke non-stop douchebaggery, but you are correct in saying the process didn't work.
Hoke is record saying he would crawled across the country over broken glass to come to michigan, so why wait till January ? The only redeeming feature of the "process" seems to be that RR wasn't able to get another job this year and that has drastically reduced the attrition from the roster.
Tom Harmon's last game: In a 40-0 victory over OSU, he scored scoring three rushing tds, two passing tds, 4 extra points, 3 interceptions and punted 3 times. He was given an standing ovation by the OSU crowd.
I would say (as of today, anyway) that the process worked, and not just because Hoke is off to a solid start. Think about it. Over the course of the process, Brandon threw a bone to every faction in the fanbase: the pro-RR. pro-Harbaugh, pro-Miles and pro-Hoke camps.
-RR was given one final chance to show what he could do, in a game in which he had a month and 15 practices to prepare for, and a healthy QB. Many coaches don't get that final chance - their ADs often fire them in December. If we'd won, RR might well still be our coach. But after losing by 38 points, he was not going to be retained. His base of support crumbled.
-Harbaugh was given a chance to take the job - at least, it appears that way. No one can argue that we didn't accommodate his schedule. If we'd hired Hoke in December, the Harbaugh faction would probably still be disappointed today. They can't now, because Harbaugh turned us down.
-Miles seems to have received some consideration, or at least Brandon made it look that way by talking to him. No one can say that Brandon didn't at least hear him out, unlike Martin in 2007.
-Finally, Hoke was offered the job. Yes, he'd have taken it in December, but if so, the other three factions in the fanbase would have been upset. Instead, we are reasonably unified right now. Most fans I talk to are at least cautiously optimistic. The few who aren't (like our friend above) are sticking out like a sore thumb.
Brandon has stated recently that the UM alumni/player base was fractured into more than pro-RR/anti-RR camps; he specifically identified groups who were Miles fans, those who were Harbaugh proponents, those who were RR supporters, and those who wanted Hoke. He's made a couple of cryptic comments that seem to imply that there was a pretty significant level of antagonism and discord as a result, although I'm sure we'll never hear the inside skinny. Regardless, I think Brandon realized that regardless of who he picked, it was not going to help the new HC if these divisions persisted.
My personal belief is that Brandon was a Hoke fan from the beginning, but as jmblue laid out, Brandon knew that if he didn't at least appear to give each of the other obvious candidates—RR, Miles, and Harbaugh—the opportunity to make their case first, choosing Hoke would only have further stoked the fires of discontent. Hoke appears to have shared Brandon's view about the importance of a unified alumni player base, given his road trips to meet with 15 or so groups across the country.
Yes, we'll all have to wait until the games are played to see whether Brandon's choice is going to work out where it has to—on the field. Until next fall, all Hoke can do is choose his assistants, mend fences, and recruit, and he appears to be doing a tremendous job of doing all three. Whether that's pooping gold or some other similarly ridiculous analogy, I don't care.
People who support "The Process" and bemoan "The Process" need - and have needed - to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture will not be completed for some time. In the meantime, neither side really has any idea what it's talking about, and everything is just a wild-ass guess.
HD, what do you want DB to do now. Go back to Jan. he didn't get Harbaugh or Miles,
He couldn't go back. What would you want him to do now? Not being a jerk, serious question. What would make you happy.
I want banana and peanut butter pancakes. And I don't want fucking sliced bananas. That shit has to be smashed up and mixed into the batter. And I would also like him to smoke one Player's cigarette with me afterwards, on my deck, with my dog trying to jump on his leg. That's really all I ask. I don't think it's that big of a deal.
or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
I don't think the outcome (no matter how good or bad it is) plays any roles in whether the "process" worked. What defines whether it worked is knowing what DB intended to do and knowing why he took so long to do it. \
If the reason was to get JH, we can say without doubt it was totally a failure. If it was to get LM we can say it was a complete waste of time. If his goal was to get Brady Hoke and leave him as little time as possible to save a recruiting class then yes, it was an astounding success.
It may (and the start looks promising) turn out to be the best move UM has ever made in terms of head coaching hires, but the way everything transpired was ridiculous. Considering BH would likely have jumped at the chance the moment it was offered, if he was the number one choice it could have been handled much sooner than it was IME.
And while I think it's completely valid to say the process was shoddy, even if the results ended up good, we'll never know what he was thinking, so we'll never know if it was good. Basically, the last time, we went the gamut, where the process sucked, we hired Rich, which was a good hire, it didn't work, so it became bad again. So it'll be on whether the coach succeeds or not.
But one theorized here recently that if we HADN'T have seen if Harbaugh (and maybe Miles) had interest or not, and had just hired Hoke right after OSU, he'd have been slammed for not waiting for Harbaugh to take the job. And Brady would have been cut off at the knees before he started. And you'd never get Harbaugh to publicly say "I don't want the Michigan job. They should move on." He needed to start flirting with the NFL.
Now whether Brandon knew his intent and waited for the hand to be revealed, or really wanted Harbaugh and either screwed the pooch, or go caught with his pants down, I don't think we'll ever know. And it really doesn't matter. Because winning or losing only will. Same would be true if we had gotten Harbaugh (though he might have had a longer lease). Rich was a popular hire, and that went downhill quick with the losing. So good, bad...it only matters on the field and in the classroom. Here's hoping Brandon made the right call, no matter how he came to the decision.
I agree with you 100%. My main point was whether or not the "process" was a failure or a success can't be judged by the outcome of our coach, because we would have to know what went on behind the scenes to make that judgement.
The coaching hire could end being a success, and we will be able to determine that through on-field results, but that won't change whether or not the process was worthwhile. We will most likely never know what DB was up to during that time, and therefore nobody can really evaluate the "process".
I just get a little upset when people keep trying to get anyone who was critical of the whole thing to stand on a hill top and proclaim they were wrong just because BH does something good. I don't feels BH's success or failure should be used to evaluate what DB did with his "process".
To be clear, I think BH is doing a fine job so far and hope he continues to do so. My distain for the "process" does not influence my opinion of BH one bit.
now I get it. You are DB. Having been around here a number of years and seeing your posts previous to this I know you are smarter than this.
For every scenario you dream up in your head to justify why DB did what he did there is someone else who can come up with an equally plausible dream as to why it was a catastrophic failure. The bottom line (as I have said twice now) is that we will never know unless DB writes a tell all book on the process.
To be clear, you may be right, but then so might the people on the other side of the fense. At the end of the day none of it matters. I just want BH to have success because he is the HC for my favorite team on the planet, and no matter who coaches orplays for that team, they get my support.
From where I sit, the Process sure wasn't a "catastrophic failure." Other than an overtime loss in a national championship hockey game, and a WR getting drunk (allegedly) at Skeeps, everything has come up roses at Michigan since RR was fired.
This is the whole point of the argument, and you've missed it: The Results are separate from The Process.
Let's say I get wasted at the bar and decide to drive myself home - I get home fine and no one gets hurt. In fact, I give a ride to a hot girl walking home in the rain, we hit it off, get married, and have beautiful children.
The good results in this case (getting home fine) do not make the process (drunk driving) good.
In case you're metaphorically challenged, Brady Hoke = hot girl in the rain, Dave Brandon = wasted driver, car = Michigan Football, ride home = The Process.