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?