Definitely make this a weekly thing. In the offseason this is perfect.
This Week's Obsession: The Hoke Trajectory
Trying a new feature on here, where we ask a question to the staff each week about whatever Michigan fans are obsessing about at that moment. It's kinda like a roundtable, but just one question. Please feel free to suggest future questions in the comments, and offer any other suggestions. Given the vagaries of our schedules you won't see responses from everyone every time, for example I kinda sprung this on everyone last night and anyone who keeps reasonable sleep hours probably hasn't seen the email yet.
Brian Cook: Editor, Lord Commander of the UFR, and Wielder of the Holy Stick of Snark
Ace Anbender: Recruiting Coordinator and Head of the Council on Rhymes
Seth Fisher: Associate Editor, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Handler of the Royal Pig
Heiko Yang: Press Coordinator and President of Al Borges Fan Club
Mathlete: Grand Maester of Charts and Keeper of the PAN
Blue in South Bend: Master of Twitter'ers and Vice President of Social Media Relations
And for this week's question I thought we'd go with a broad stroke:
What exactly is Hoke building here? Is there another program in modern history that it most closely resembles in expectations for annual competitiveness, ceiling, floor, and general makeup?
Brian: You ask as if we know, man. We've had two years of Brady Hoke, and still know little. He inherited a quarterback he would never have recruited, no linemen (okay, two linemen), a defense coming off a triple-digit GERG crater. We've had a Sugar Bowl winning year in which horseshoes flew out of everyone's butts and an 8-5 year that could have been a lot better if we hadn't volunteered to get rochambeaued by Alabama and Denard's elbow hadn't gone on the fritz.
You want to draw conclusions from this business? I have two:
1) Brady Hoke would win a poker tournament against the D-I coaching field with ease.
2) He could sell toilets to Ohio State fans.
This likely leads to satisfaction. But, like, am I to declare this to be something else already?
Mathlete: When Hoke came in I think the program really resembled where Nebraska was when Bo Pelini was hired. A program that was used to success and was coming off of a failed attempt to reinvent their identity. Hoke's recruiting the last 2.5 cycles have elevated the expectations beyond that level. If the on field results match the recruiting and those two continue to feed on themselves the best case scenario is a bizarro version of Pete Carroll's USC Trojans. Michigan would mirror USC with a strong program/school identity and coach that embodies it and its history. The definition of that culture will be 180 degrees different in Ann Arbor but the concept would be similar. This season will be critical in terms of timeline. I think the roster is still another year away but if the staff and team can generate a season similar to Hoke's first, the ceiling will be lifted from the program.
BiSB: In an ideal world, we're looking at the beginnings of 1990s Nebraska. The Huskers were built from the lines outward on both sides of the ball. They featured an aggressive, thumping defense with an all-consuming front seven, and an an offense that was exciting in its face-denting smashmouth boredom. Osborne's teams never lost more than three games, taking advantage of a low-variance formula and a massive home field advantage. Their prospects on any given year ranged from a mid-teens finish in the polls to a national championship. Of course, projecting anyone to become Lawrence Phillips and the Blackshirts (note to hipster alter-ego: this would be a great band name), or expecting Derrick Green to change his name to Ahman, is asking a lot.
A more realistic range would be the Red River Rivalry from the early-to-mid 2000's. Michigan and Ohio State will play the roles of Oklahoma and Texas, who dominated the Big 12 the entire decade both on the field and on the recruiting train. Their division (the South) was by far the more difficult, yet between the two of them they won every division title that decade (no one else even grabbed a co-championship between '00 and '07). They won eight of the ten Big 12 titles between them, and from '02-'10 only twice did anyone else finish among Rivals top two Big 12 recruiting classes. Each entered most years with national ambitions, with the Red River Shootout serving as an elimination game of sorts. Neither achieved dynasty status, probably because of the less-than-stellar perception of the rest of the Big 12 and the zero-sum nature of such rivalries, but both teams won national titles, and both hovered around the top 10 more often than not.
Seth: I'm not so sure the Big Two will be able to dominate so much. Consider: two weird losses in a season can make a team full of five stars seem to drop right back to the pack. In 2014 Michigan has to travel to all three rivals (THANKS BIG TEN!) in addition to facing Utah, Penn State, and Maryland at home. Three excusable losses there at the wrong time could drop Michigan well out of the race for the division and produce all sorts of Dynasty talk for Ohio State.
Hedging, I put us closer to Mark Richt's Georgia program, except with far less frequent misdemeanors and without Richt's pious sanctimony.
Hoke's first three classes are about even with Richt's in star power:
*Meyer's two OSU classes are extrapolated into three
Actually it's closer to Carroll's USC. However Carroll and Tressel kept themselves annually competitive by improving the lifestyles of their NFL flight risks. Georgia has been a (mostly) clean program in the Old West of the SEC, usually beating the softer SEC East teams they should and sometimes getting bitten by a pesky obsessive in-state rival. He even had Urban Meyer on his southern border for a time. They also proudly display their "Old Man Football" t-shirts when somebody makes fun of Pro Style offense. Over 12 seasons Richt has gone 118-40, 67-29 in the SEC, and played in three Sugar Bowls, winning one. Now imagine Georgia if Nick Saban wasn't in the same conference…
Ace: I'm late to the party and BiSB stole my answer, so this is off to a rollicking start...
I've been thinking about the basketball and football programs and their very different approaches in working to get to the top of the Big Ten. John Beilein has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to basketball strategy, and right now the hoops world at large is conforming to his style of basketball—less reliance on big men, more spreading the floor and creating layups or threes (anyone watching the NBA playoffs in the last couple years can see this is happening at all levels). Beilein is arguably better at identifying players that fit this system—and then coaching them up—than anybody in the country, and we all saw the benefits this spring.
Brady Hoke and his coaches, meanwhile, are sticking to a decidedly old-school style of football, especially on offense—this as the rest of the country trends towards high-tempo variations on the spread-and-shred. Like their hoops counterparts, the football coaches are adept at identifying and landing talent—obviously, recruiting is going pretty well lately—and like the basketball team they have a distinct system for which they're recruiting; Beilein's offense is now a Michigan signature, and smashmouth football on both sides is what the football team is hoping to make their hallmark.
Bryan brought up 1990's Nebraska, a program that stuck to an old-school style past its supposed expiration date and succeeded wildly by bringing in top talent—good lord, look at Tommie Frazier film sometime—and running the offense with masterful precision; and, of course, combining that with the famed Blackshirt defense. I think that's the peak we're talking about here, though Alabama has beaten Michigan to the punch when it comes to assembling this kind of team — national championships are still going to be remarkably difficult to win.
The floor? I think we saw it last year, though it could happen again — a key injury to a quarterback here, a couple high-profile busts there, and this team could easily underachieve, especially if Al Borges fails to adapt enough to today's game (with his increased recruiting of tights ends of all sizes, I'm optimistic this won't be the case).
This is an excellent initiative
I also love brown bears and ice cream
First, love this feature; keep doing it.
Second, I'm in the boat of 'I don't have an F'ing clue right now'. I mean, I think we'll be good. But will we be late Carr era good that finds up second fiddle to OSU, losing bowl games, and general underperforming expectations? Or will we be GOOD good like finding ourselves in the college football play-off every other year or something and winning some Rose Bowls. I think this year will tell us a lot. The best coaches just get it done. There will always be question marks, and we're still the youngest team in the B1G (seemingly again), but the best coaches still win with question marks. I think we're going to have to endure another crappy year in 2014 where we'll be better than our record indicates, but everyone will be focused on OSU and their Charmin schedule. This year needs to be a statement for our continued success into the future. As long as Mattison's in town, the D will be good. The key to pushing us to GOOD good, is having Borges pull his head out of his ass, or finding someone who can.
I also don't have a clue but I do believe that as long as Mattison stays, we will keep on an upward trajectory. Once all of our great classes grow up and begin to get into the rotation (next 2-3 years) we will really begin to get a good picture.
I'm with you all the way on Mattison. I think the defense is going to brutalize many teams, and bring us further than many think. For me, the jury is still out on Borges and the offense, but I'm cautiously optimistic. I hope we can slightly overperform this year (2 - 3 losses?) and set the table for 2014 and beyond. Partly, this is about luck: who knows exactly how Fitz, and Green, and Gardner, and the new guys on the OL, will perform.
The recruiting class for 2014 is already very good, and with just a few more (Hand? McDowell? Adoree Jackson? Jamarco Jones?) we'll be in rareified territory. We are closer and closer to just reloading, and having depth across the board. This will increase competition in the team itself, and we won't be so hamstrung if we have an injury.
I have to say I'm surprised by all the Borges pessimism on the board. The question we have to be asking is whether Borges is a better OC than Mike DeBord, that's really where the difference will lie in how this offense ultimately performs. Myself, I have no problem concluding already that Borges > DeBord. If Mike DeBord had come back two years ago to coordinate this offense for Brady, do you think he would have had the first clue what to do with a player like Denard? The fusion cuisine was imperfect at times, but Al at least got a team on the field that could score with almost everybody Michigan faced.
Myself, I see this team returning to Year 1-6 of the Carr era. A team that consistently competes for the conference championship, wins it a lot, and competes well again OOC competition, wins bowl games, and is in the National Title picture year in and year out. Given the dilution of talent in the B1G outside of Columbus, I think the comparison to Oklahoma / Texas in early 2000s is pretty apt. The Game is going to become major league huge in the near future.
The thing is, we really don't know how good/bad Borges is yet. When I ask myself who is Borges, I am still compelled to go look at San Diego St. replays as much as the last two years of Michigan.
Let's face it, Al would not have recruited at least half of the players he had on offense the last two years, as much as we love most of them. I think he adapted to them phenomenally, but it was still an awkward fit at times. We have yet to see what Al will do with Al's own guys.
This year will tell us a lot more, but there is a caveat here: He'll have more of his own guys, but it'll be like a team of his own guys that are de-facto freshmen and sophomores.
So it will be a case of where we move from not being sure what Al is about because he does not have his guys, to still not being sure what Al is about because he has his own guys, but they are not fully developed/experienced.
You can tell from listening to Borges' comments and reading items like Heiko's interview that Al has a clear plan in mind of what he wants to do, and it's not a simple one. Until he has his own guys that he also gets to develop in his system for a few years, you won't be looking at the finished product.
We are not a patient bunch, but that's where we are . . . we waited two years to find out, but we are still two more years away.
Nobody is suggesting Ball State?
I find the OU-Texas rivalry to make the most compelling comparison, based on what we've seen so far. Or, perhaps the Va Tech - Miami rivalry from the late '90s, now that the lower echelons of the B1G are melting into a pool of mediocrity.
I like this piece, though--hope to see it regularly.
This seems a little downplayed. Brian doesn't even give a mention to Hoke recruiting in a manner that he would not have believed possible three years ago. (And should he be so sure that Hoke wouldn't have recuited Gardner?) Admittedly, this year's performance will be pretty telling, although the Mathlete is right about the roster still being a year away from full-strength. I also appreach BiSB's analogies -- probably pretty close. I would still offer the following as a slightly different take
1) The recruiting data is building a case for extraordinary talent coming to Ann Arbor. Hoke & Co's recruiting performance alone should cause everyone to raise expectations a notch. Together with Ohio, this is likely to create a massive talent gap in conference.
2) One key will be player development in producing a 2-deep that overwhelms all but the better teams week in and week out. This is how I remember the Bo years. One tail whipping after another until the deciding games at the end of the season. I think the intensity of competition that Hoke & his staff are creating in this program is likely to create a steam-roller that will pretty easily win 9 games or so each season.
3) Hoke still has to deal with the road record. If he can shore up this current blight on his UM record, there is every reason to believe that we will be in the national championship race late in the season most years.
He was talking about Denard. He inherited Denard as the starter.
Ah, I see that. And I acknowledge that the chances of Hoke recruiting Denard to play QB are zero. Thanks for the correction.
Where is Heiko? Trapped in Borges' office?
a.) Becoming a doctor, or
b.) Still in California, where he likes to remind us he is hanging when we're discussing torrential downpours and whether it's worth risking them to see a baseball game.
Like others -- Love this feature.
Second -- I never before connected "BiSB" with "Blue in South Bend."
Third -- The obvious parallel historically would be Hoke is building what Bo did upon his arrival. But for a contemporary comparison I think it's more like what Saban is doing at Alabama ... minus the championships (yet; crossing fingers) and the truckloads of 5-stars (again, yet; crossing fingers).
What I mean is this: Saban's approach at Alabama strikes me as the opposite of flash and gimmick; it's all about execution of a small handful of key things. Saban, love him or hate him, is a master at the craft and he's very understated about it. His teams, generally, do not suffer the player problems teams like LSU and Florida have. When interviewed, Saban's players speak of knowing their roles and working as a team.
I view Hoke building something very similar, and it's very Bo-like in its philosophy.
The Pelini at Nebraska thing doesn't quite connect with me because the hope was he'd be Osborne 2.0, but he doesn't have the Osborne temperament. Hoke does.
There's an element of this in Urban Meyer as well. The missing X-factor in my mind is the depth of the sincerity. With Hoke it seems to go to the bone; with Meyer it's hard to tell.
Urban Meyer is the Don Draper of college football ... he's a cypher; very good at what he does but what's really inside we can't tell. Hoke is the opposite. As recruit after recruit has said, what you see is what you get. He's real, through and through.
The other thing about Hoke vs. Meyer is that his personal life seems much more synched to the demands of coaching than has been the case with Urban. (I say that without any malice.) In the long run, these things matter an awful lot. I personally hope Urb has a long run at Ohio, in large part because I think it will be fun to see Brady beat him regularly and in any case the competition will be good. I saw an article by Urb's daughter in USA Today that is encouraging: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2012/11/17/urban-meyer-daughter-grades-dad/1711047/. But still this is a real question mark for Meyer.
Second -- I never before connected "BiSB" with "Blue in South Bend."
I am known by many names. Some day I shall start going by my actual name: Carl Tabb.
I found myself searching for BiSB answer first. Not sure what that really means other than he's become a very competent contributor to the front page, IMO.
Two BCS Championship Game appearances: 2005 win over Oklahoma and 2006 loss to Texas
The Associated Press 2003 National Championship
The Associated Press 2004 National Championship
Seven consecutive Associated Press Top-4 finishes
Six BCS bowl victories
Seven consecutive BCS bowl appearances
A national-record 33 consecutive weeks as the Associated Press No. 1-ranked team
A winning record of 97–19 (83.6%)
A winning record of 14–2 against traditional rivals Notre Dame and UCLA
A NCAA record of 63 straight 20-point games
Twenty-five 1st team All-Americans
53 players selected in the NFL Draft, including 14 in the first round
Three Heisman Trophy winners: Carson Palmer in 2002, Matt Leinart in 2004, and Reggie Bush in 2005
Four Top-5 recruiting classes
34 game winning streak (2003–04)
Win streaks for home games (21) and Pac-10 home games (17)
A 25–1 record in the month of November
I would be very happy with a "Pete Carrol" career*
*minus all the vacated wins and scandals, obviously
Can I join the Council on Rhymes, or at least the Borges fan club?
Hedging, I put us closer to Mark Richt's Georgia program, except with far less frequent misdemeanors and without Richt's pious sanctimony.
There is no evidence that Mark Richt, a born-again Christian, has been anything but a good coach, a solid citizen, and a generous philanthropist (something he plans to do exclusively upon retiring from Georgia). To claim that his refusal to swear and his high character (look at how quick he is to discipline miscreants on his team, his refusal to oversign, etc.) is "pious sanctimony" is completely out of line, and is one of the most mean-hearted things ever written on this blog.
in the Charlie Weis sense, not the "ESPN First Take Tim Tebow Jesus Good Bad EMBRACE DEBATE" sense.
I mean that he's always quick to point out how much holier Georgia is than the heathens around him, even though his players are just as likely to accrue Fulmer Cup points as any other school--more because the Athens police department is not about to overlook things.
Can you picture Hoke making disparaging comments about other Big Ten teams? That was a Penn State problem too. You can be the good guys without going around telling everybody you're the good guys. That's all I meant. I don't think Richt's religion means anything since he doesn't use it as a shield to excuse himself like Tressel or Dantonio and it's not the only thing that informs how he runs his program.
I think UGA is one of the few SEC schools that doesn't oversign.
You can be the good guys without going around telling everybody you're the good guys. That's all I meant.
That's a very fair point. It properly removes the supposed source of righteousness from the discussion. I've not followed Richt that closely, but if in fact it's a pattern of his to build up Georgia by disparaging others, then it's not a very compelling mechanism. That's true regardless of what one may claim as the pedestal upon which they stand.
Can you picture Hoke making disparaging comments about other Big Ten teams?
No, I really can't. Or more precisely, I picture it requiring a great deal of provocation. Even then I can't picture his comments being really inflammatory; probably more an expression of his own personal disappointment rather than a condemnation of the other.
Have I mentioned before that from what I know of Hoke I really admire the man?
First, I'll stipulate my bias as a Georgia fan. That just means I probably follow Richt a lot more closely than you do (as per your own admission). I've never seen anywhere in print where Richt has disparaged a competitor either by name or by implication. In fact, in every interview I've read with recruits who were recruited by Georgia and either signed with us or didn't, to a man, each recruit made a point of saying that Georgia stood out as one of the few teams that didn't negatively recruit.
With that said, I'm sure I've got red and black blinders on, so feel free to prove me wrong with a link.
Being nominally religious and by no means evangelical, I freely admit a deep skepticism of overt religiosity, particularly in sports. But Richt seems to walk it like he talks it, and, frankly, does considerably more walking than talking.
but I am pretty sure what Seth was talking about was public statements to the press and not negatively recruiting high school kids when he said Richt made disparaging remarks.
Again, I don't have the links, but I remember at least one occasion I heard Richt try to "toot his own horn" by pointing out the recruiting practices of others in the SEC.
I agree with Seth and would even take it a step further...If you are the type of person that wants recognition for things you've done I would rather you just point out your own accomplishments than try to garner positive recognition by painting others in a negative way. I have nothing against Richt at all, and don't follow him in the least bit, but as stated above, I heard him at least once try to focus attention on his fellow SEC coaches for poor recruiting practices. Does that make him a bad man...no, but it is what it is.
That's informed largely from these sources:
- Oversigning.com, who giddily print everything Richt says about oversigning. Richt's method of doing so is usually directly at Alabama.
- My best friend married a Georgia fan, and she tends to repeat Richt's sentiments.
- We have a relationship with a GT blog
- I remember when he was taking shots at Spurrier.
I was down in Athens for a game last year with Brian and EDSBS and Braves & Birds and holy hot damn that was a fun experience. If I could root for an SEC team (all together: "other than Vanderbilt") it'd be Georgia.
"if Al Borges fails to adapt enough to today's game (with his increased recruiting of tights ends of all sizes, ..."
So you are saying "today's game" is a spread the field game? Am I missing something? Kinda thought we went through that stage at Michigan. Today's game tends to be more of the Stanfords/Bama's/Georgias/LSU/OSU I would contend. Man Ball doesn't have to be I-formation Iso's.
I hope modern Manball looks a lot like our 2008 Capital One Bowl offense and not like our 2007 Rose Bowl offense. I do think it will look more like the former.
That would be awsome. That team on that day had their sh#^& together. They looked like they could have beaten pretty much anyone.
Yeah, who knew an offense full of NFL draft picks could actually move the ball and score a lot of points? Certainly we fans had to wonder. As much as I loved watching the UM coaches spread UF out and pass the ball all over the field while mixing in healthy doses of Mike Hart, it frustrated me to no end that they hadn't been doing that all along. Lloyd-ball took at least 10 years off my life.
"if Al Borges fails to adapt enough to today's game (with his increased recruiting of tights ends of all sizes,..."
I'm confused by what this means. If you look at the NFL, using the TE or multiple TEs in the passing game is becoming very fashionable. Just look at what the Patriots are doing with Gronk and Hernandez. Bill Belichick doesn't make stupid choices to play it safe. He is cutting edge.
It is pretty clear to me what Borges is going for.
Throwing the ball to multiple very large men that can run is good in theory and in practice--especially out of run formations.
This is what I was thinking as well.
I was reading Ace's update, and I saw the quote you have as well as this one:
Brady Hoke and his coaches, meanwhile, are sticking to a decidedly old-school style of football, especially on offense—this as the rest of the country trends towards high-tempo variations on the spread-and-shred.
I'm not convinced the trend is towards "high-tempo spread-and-shred," at least not as it is personified by schools such as West Virginia or Oregon.
The thing that changed my mind about the pure spread-and-shred was USC's defeat of Oregon in 2011. What stood out in my mind was how USC's defensive front was getting into the Oregon backfield and disrupting the development of the spread plays. (I think LSU beat Oregon in the first game with a similar strategy.)
What I wonder is whether or not we've witnessed the adaptive evolution of the defense to spread offenses. A spread offensive line that can't keep dominant defensive players out of the backfield had better be really good about getting plays off quickly.
So I wonder if the adaptive response of the offense is to pull back somewhat on the spread elements to provide a degree more protection to the backfield? And it's not so much a full swing back to early 1970's football, but rather what you allude to -- the smart use of TEs to accomplish backfiend protection and multiple receiver options for a QB.
If memory serves, Urban Meyer spoke of there being a trend away from pure spread when he had his broadcast booth stint. He said it was because of defensive adaptation. Alabama plays a game more like what Michigan is crafting. And I believe I recall Muschamp at Florida indicating that's the direction he's going.
including the part you left out: "with his increased recruiting of tight ends of all sizes, I'm optimistic this won't be the case." Ace is predicting the same thing you are -- that based on the recruiting, Borges is going for the "cutting edge" approach that is "becoming very fashionable" in the NFL. I don't see what's so confusing about what Ace wrote.
I didn't know if the TE comment was a positive or a negative and hence my confusion. Apparently, some took it as a criticism.
The phrase you bolded clears up my confusion. I agree with your interpretation. Thanks.
So 5 out of 5 Michigan bloggers think Michigan will end up looking awesome. Sweet. Book It.
Michigan will be good, but I don't see them being much different going forward than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. Lots of really good seasons with great, historical ones sprinkled in enough. Gut feel, UM misses out on a lot more 4-team playoff berths than they receive.
That will be true of almost every team.
Each top conference will only get to send one team most years. I don't think the SEC will be sending two every single year. No team, even Alabama, is going to win their conference every time. There are too many variables.
If it's late November and we are still in the mix to be able to go to the playoff, then I'll be happy. We'll have a shot. We won't always make it, but we had a chance.
Love the Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire reference. LoL
I think the competition on the B1G or lack-there-of will allow us to be highly competitive for championships in the years when schedule, injuries, and luck align. There are two major questions in my mind that will determine exactly what the Hoke era becomes over the next several years:
- How good is Borges? We're starting to get talent and he seems to be creative at times, but the jury is still out.
- What is the "after Mattison" plan? I love the idea of a bone crushing defense full of talent, but at some point Greg's age is going to catch up with him and we need a transition plan.
For future topics, perhaps we can speculate on some of the biggest questions facing the team next year. I also like asking the question, "If you were Hoke, what three changes would you make for 2013?" You can also ask that with Brandon's job instead of Hoke's.
As a topic for "Hoke Points" I'd like to see the best all-time ranked recruits at Michigan for each position. What would a team of those recruits look like? Boom, bust, excitement, etc. Maybe doing the same thing for the entire B1G would be interesting.
Borges and Mattison are as big (if not bigger) parts to the equation when trying to figure out how BH will perform at UM. As to your Mattison comment, I really thought/hoped that Montgomery was being groomed to take over as DC once Greg left, but that didn't seem to pan out.
Now that he has left and Manning has taken his spot I have the same hope for him. If Mattison can mold Manning and teach him all he knows (or at least try to) than we would be left with a still young (from a coaching perspective) entusiastic DC who can relate well woth recruits and is energetic as hell. I would like to see our next DC be a young up and comer and if he was trained under GMAT I don't know how he could be considered anything other than that. I guess time will tell (hopefully a LONG time).
I would like to underscore how important this year is in determining the fate of BH as coach at Michigan. And I think this will largely be based on how we do against OSU this year. Hoke was playing with house money last year, but if we lose to OSU this year, things could start to look grim for BH. If we look ahead to 2014, that OSU team will be absolutely stacked. Let's assume we lose to them in Columbus in 2014 for arguments sake. So, what we will have is after 4 years of Hoke, only one win against OSU (one of the worst OSU team in most people's lifetimes) and likely no B10 championships. Based on Hoke's own expectations, he would clearly be failing as Michigan's head coach and have no house money to play with. He would therefore, need to knock it out of the park in 2015. Pressure will be on.
So, that's why this year (in particular our performance against OSU) will be the determining factor is deciding if Hoke is the next Bo, or Hoke is the next Weis.
You make some valid points but I think the teams overall record needs to be included as to what the perception of Hoke will be. If they ring up double digit win totals the next two years, the lack of big ten titles and maybe a dismal 1-3 record against OSU will leave a sour taste in some mouths but I think most will see that the program is headed in the right direction.
A 1-3 record against OSU, no big ten titles and a couple of 3 or 4 loss seasons might have people feeling differently.
Having a better overall record with some big bowl wins could mitigate a lackluster OSU performance, but overall let me ask you this. Would you rather have:
1. Lackluster 3-4 loss seasons, but beating OSU on a regular basis (beating OSU in Columbus from time to time, and not losing to them in AA)
2. Great 1-2 loss seasons (maybe a BCS bowl), but losing to OSU on regular basis.
At this point I would rather have #1. We have dug ourselves into hole with OSU over the past decade. They are on the upswing again and if we can't hold our ground, I don't know if I could handle another run they had in the 2000s. We have the talent, and BH "gets it", so if he cannot at least hold home field with OSU, then I think we should begin to look elsewhere. It would be a hard decision, but we have to set a standard and expectation. If a person cannot live up to that expectation, then we need someone who can. No one person is above this expectation.
Hmmm...I would always take the 1-2 loss season over the 3-4 loss season regardless of who the losses were against and I live in Central Ohio so I would have to bear the brunt of the "LOLZ UM SUX!" stuff that would surely follow with my preference.
Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
We could be 3-1, 2-2, or 1-3 vs. OSU with Hoke....after this season.
(Man I'm glad they fixed the divisions.)
I agree with Mathlete that alot of future success could hinge on this season. Even though this is Hoke's 3rd year as HC it is really the 1st year the team will begin to resemble his plan. 2014 & 2015 should be the seasons that this team is ready to start stepping up on a national stage.
Remember how the 11 win season provided alot of recruiting momentum for the next class, well, Hoke was managed to assemble an even better class on an 8 win season. If we 10+ wins this year, there is potential that this team and program could explode on to the national scene. However, if there is some faltering this year and we post another 8 winner, that could dampen some of the rosy expectations we are predicting or at least delay the process.