Wednesday Recruitin' Braces for HOKEMANIA

Wednesday Recruitin' Braces for HOKEMANIA

Submitted by Tim on January 13th, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Without knowing what Brady Hoke's coaching staff is going to look like, it's hard to say exactly what will happen with Michigan's recruiting. I'll maintain the status quo from last week for now, assuming most of Michigan's non-Florida recruits are going to stick. Hoke has already said he'll honor their commitments.

The Commits

So I'm not redundantly linking the same article over and over, AnnArbor.com article is here.

hayestwitter.jpg

MI RB Justice Hayes took to Twitter to say he'd stay a Wolverine no matter what. The AnnArbor.com article confirms it.

MI OL Jake Fisher is "rethinking" his commitment. Though Fisher had previously said he picked Michigan for the total package, not just a coach, he'll make sure he doesn't like Michigan State, Oregon, or Notre Dame better.

FL OL Tony Posada, per AnnArbor.com, planned to stay with Michigan before the hiring.

OH OL Jack Miller said he'd stick with the Wolverines even before Hoke was hired, and his buddy, OH DT Chris Rock is solid, along with him ($). Video on Miller:

MI DE Brennen Beyer's coach told AnnArbor.com that he'd consider opening his commitment.

MI LB Desmond Morgan is "definitely solid" to Michigan:

“It was more than just the coaching situation,” Morgan said of deciding to accept a scholarship at U-M. “It was the school, it was the atmosphere, the education and the history, the tradition.”

TX LB Kellen Jones said, pre-hiring, that his commitment was firm (AnnArbor.com). He told Tom that he's still a Wolverine as long as the staff still wants him. There had been rumors of a decommitment in favor of Florida. He's still planning to take a couple visits, so keep an eye on him.

OH S/CB Greg Brown is already a student in Ann Arbor.

FL S/CB Dallas Crawford probably shouldn't even be considered a Michigan commit anymore, and he now favors Miami (YTM). It would be a surprise to see him end up in Michigan's class. I'll remove him from the commitment list, but leave him on the board.

MD CB Blake Countess will not decommit, but he's waiting to speak with Hoke ($, info in header).

CA K Matt Goudis has been replaced in Boise State's recruiting class by Jake Van Ginkel, but he'll visit Miami (YTM), and it sounds like he's looking to give the Canes his commitment "no matter what the Michigan coaches have to say."

It looks like Fisher, Jones, and Goudis are the only current commits (Crawford not included, of course), that are serious flight risks.

Finishing The Class

Hoke has said there will be no recruiting visits this weekend (though a couple unofficials may be a possibility), so there should be a pair of huge visit rosters over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for those.

Sam Webb talks Hoke's recruiting in the Detroit News. A few new prospects to keep an eye on with the change in coaching staff: CA DT Christian Heyward and CA DT Mustafa Jalil. With Michigan's need at defensive tackle and Hoke's background, they could see opportunity. Also mentioned in Sam's article is CA WR Devin Lucien, who Hoke recruited at SDSU. He plans to visit Ann Arbor, and Michigan has a good chance at him.

Aside from defensive tackle, losing Tate Forcier makes quarterback a huge area of need in this class - especially with Denard Robinson mum on whether he definitely plans to stick around. San Diego State has one quarterback commit, 3-star Californian Chad Jeffries. The 6-3 pocket slinger is SDSU's highest-rated commit to Rivals, and if Al Borges plans to continue with pocket guys after Denard leaves town, rather than adapting scheme somewhat, Jeffries could be a possibility.

IL OL Chris Bryant has pushed back his announcement ($, info in header). He'll now decide the 28th instead of the 21st, giving him time to get to know Michigan's new staff. Tom says Michigan still leads.

NC WR/LB Kris Frost committed to Auburn last week, but the Tigers still haven't accepted his commitment. If they can't find room for him in their class, he'll consider Michigan again.

SC WR Hakeem Flowers will announce a commitment on January 23rd. Oregon, LSU, and Michigan are his final three.

NJ TE Jack Tabb had planned to announce yesterday, eliminating Michigan from the running, but now will announce tomorrow ($, info in header), with the Wolverines back on the table.

MI CB Raymon Taylor still plans to visit Ann Arbor. He's visiting Indiana this weekend, and the Hoosiers will try to regain a commitment from him.

Mini Happy Trails

NJ S Sheldon Royster has eliminated Michigan ($, info in header).

Happy Trails to FL RB DeVondrick Nealy, an Iowa State commit. The new staff likely would not have pursued Nealy.

MD DT Darian Cooper removed Michigan from his list, but with a defensive line-oriented head coach, it'll be interesting to see whether Michigan can get back in on a kid like him.

Happy Trails moments should be coming fast and furious as Signing Day approaches.

Reminder: 2012 updates are on hold until after Signing Day.

Presser React: Kovacs, Lewan, Beckmann, Moeller

Presser React: Kovacs, Lewan, Beckmann, Moeller

Submitted by Tim on January 12th, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Quotes from a few people of note at Brady Hoke's introductory presser.

Jordan KovacsIMG_2229.JPG

"Obviously, we had a tough year defensively this year. I think it's important that he comes in and establishes a strong defense."

"I just wanted him to be passionate about the game and passionate about this University. I've obviously loved this University my whole life, and I can tell this guy has as well." Hoke is passionate and intense, and that's important.

"He realizes the importance of the front seven, and I think that's where he's going to establish... that's where our team is going to be made, and we're excited about that."

The team had a brief meeting and lunch at the stadium with Coach Hoke. "The first thing he talked about was championships." Michigan has 42, and they want to make it 43 soon.

The coaches will make their pitch to Denard, as will the players. "He's a great quarterback, and he'll fit any system." Kovacs doesn't know what Denard plans to do.

Obviously, we've got a heavy heart for our past coach, for Coach Rod. He's a great guy and a great coach, but at the same time we've gotta pick it up, we've gotta move forward, and focus on next season."

Kovacs researched Hoke a little bit when he heard that he'd be a candidate. Looked into his coaching history, but never met him until today. "I like what I've seen."

Taylor Lewan

Everybody has only nice things to say about Coach Hoke. "Nobody has bad things to say about this guy." Everybody needs to support him, whether he was their choice or not.

On Ohio State: "Everybody's seen Harry Potter, right? That one guy... Voldemort or whatever? It's kinda like that." Everybody knows what a big deal the rivalry is.

Hoke brings a fresh start: "The sky's the limit. We have the opportunity to do so much." Though the players haven't had a chance to meet him one-on-one, they're excited.

"This is not a usual University. They expect so much out of you and what you do." There's a lot of pressure here, and Coach Hoke is already handling it well.

On getting all the players to stick with the team: "I think that's the biggest thing possible." The seniors have impressed upon everyone else the importance of sticking together as a team. They've gone through a change before. Last time, "not everybody bought into the whole thing," but now the team is closer because of it.

Coach Hoke has a personality that grabs everyone's attention when he walks into a room.

Frank Beckmann

Hasn't had a chance to talk to the players yet: "From what I hear, they're all excited about it, and I look forward to chatting with them too."

Gary Moeller

"That is a good, good fundamental football coach... He's a worker. There's no question about that." Moeller remembers when he was around the Michigan summer camp.

Photo Gallery

Various Hoke Items

Various Hoke Items

Submitted by Brian on January 12th, 2011 at 3:18 PM

hokeObligatory @ right via HSR.

Coaching bits. Rocky Long is officially the new head coach at SDSU, so Michigan will need a new DC. He will bring his strength coach Aaron Wellman, so kiss Barwis goodbye. ETA before he's hired at Pitt: six seconds.

Who did what who with what and the when. I have a request in for a rundown of the Borges years at Auburn with a good friend who is the world's #1 Auburn fan, but they sort of just won a national championship so that might take a little bit. Over at Maize 'n' Brew they have a breakdown of Hoke's years at Ball State from a BSU alum. On offense they started off with a "disaster" of a pro-style offense that got the first coordinator canned, whereupon Stan Parrish was brought in:

Coach Parrish junked the previous offensive scheme almost completely. He still employed two tight ends due to Steinhaus and Darius Hill being two of the biggest weapons on the offense, but also used a lot more three and four wide out formations and the fullback ceased to exist in the offense. Ball State ran a balanced, one back attack with Joey Lynch and the Nate Davis excelling at quarterback, MiQuale Lewis at running back, and Dante Love at wide receiver/running back/quarterback.

So Hoke has some flexibility when it's clear that whatever you want to do isn't actually working, but… yeah, seems like the default impulse is to line 'em up and waggle them three times a game.

On defense, Hoke kept the same guy through his six years but "was the defacto defensive coordinator" by the end of his tenure because Smith was kind of not so good. They moved from the 4-3 under that Greg Robinson actually knows how to run to a Big Ten default 4-3:

For the first four years of Coach Hoke's tenure, Ball State ran a defense that the media mostly called a 3-4 defense, but I think would be more accurately described as a 4-3 under defense. The last two seasons, when Coach Hoke was basically running the defense, Ball State mostly used the 4-3 defense, although the 4-3 under defense was also still used.

Hoke grabbed Long at SDSU, obviously. Depending on who you talk to Long invented the 3-3-5, which is what the Aztecs ran. Flexibility there, though not a whole lot of success. Even in the epic Ball State year that got him out of the MAC, the Cardinals got bombed for 45 points in their two year-ending losses. This year's SDSU team was better on offense by every metric than defense. For a "defensive-minded" coach his success seems based on having a couple quarterbacks that were pretty good.

Fluffwar 3000. Anyone doubting the media 180 should have listened to the press conference, wherein questions were gently peeled by the assembled masses and placed in the most pleasing spot on Hoke's tongue, whereupon they dissolved in a haze of gruff footbaw talk. I think I heard someone say "he's dreamy" at one point. This will be annoying for people irritated at the way Rodriguez was treated but is an asset for the program. Everything is black or white, you see.

We should hold a competition for most Charmin-soft headline over the next six months. Candidates so far:

And a candidate for most least correct:

These are all exactly what you'd expect, so there's no need to read any of them. Our brief period as a rogue program has ended, and the worst-case outcome of the next few years in the media is a bunch of clucking at fans who aren't satisfied with how much better Brady Hoke's record is than Rich Rodriguez.

Save Drew Sharp, of course. He was the lone guy to fire off a negative question amongst the general fawning, that directed at Michigan's aspiration to win conference championships instead of national ones. I wonder if he asks his wife why she didn't aspire to marry a human being instead of Marvin the Paranoid Android.

The truth. Michigan's situation is odd. They are a 7-6 team with pretty good yardage numbers that has an easier schedule next year and a boatload of returning starters, so they should be better, possibly a good bit better. But they're transitioning coaches and if Denard stays are probably going to make an awkward transition in offense exactly at the point where this year's crater of a recruiting class will start hurting them badly. So Lamarr Woodley's right:

“I mean, hopefully they’ll look good next year, but it will probably take a while for them to be adjusted,” he said. “I don’t want to go into that Michigan State situation, where they’re hiring and firing.

“We have to stick behind coach Hoke and give him time to bring in the guys he needs for his formula."

Michigan will have to be patient, because a tenure much like Charlie Weis's is a strong possibility: good results early, falloff once this class and the last one come home to roost, many grumbles about early success being vapor. Michigan will (should?) have an upperclass Devin Gardner instead of freshman Jimmah and some semblance of an offensive line, so the rough patch might not be awful. It's likely to come.

(Yes, exactly zero players said things like this for Rodriguez.)

The upside. I think this is both praise and condemnation:

Spoke to a bunch of coaches here in Dallas at AFCA who think Brady Hoke will do well at Michigan. They kept using the word "solid" a lot.

Calling a coach "solid" is like calling a girl cute. Also, this

@mgoblog You may have gotten your Dantonio, for whatever that's worth.

…is the exact same thing. It's hard to envision Hoke not having the same sort of dismal record against the USCs of the world if he's going to rely on recruiting nowhere near as well and out-executing, as Michigan State found out the hard way against Alabama.

Meet the Drew Sharp of San Diego. Brady Hoke had been so openly coveting the Michigan job that even San Diego State's athletic director was all like "he gone," but there is a lone wacko out there willing to point and scream "Rodriguez":

Hoke never purchased a home in San Diego. He rented in La Jolla. He wasn’t staying here forever, and even he no doubt is surprised by how fast this happened. He hadn’t done much of anything, which he admits.

But in the end, it wasn’t so much betrayal as it was deception. It’s hard to say San Diego State is better off today, but if Brady Hoke couldn’t be stand-up about this thing, sneaking around in college football’s increasing shadows, maybe the school’s better off.

A witch! Burn her!

At least there's that. The Mathlete's PAN metrics are pretty easy to understand ratings that go into more detail than wins and losses and as the coaching search progressed he threw up numbers for most of Michigan's candidates. The Hoke graphs are the single most encouraging thing I've seen about the hire, as it does show almost constant improvement across eight years. Ball State, with Hoke in blue:

hoke-1

San Diego State, with Hoke in maize:

hoke-2

Arguing about how fast the improvement happened at Ball State is secondary to the fact that it did improve consistently, though I tend to hold the post-Hoke implosion against him since I'd rather see a smoother glide path to incompetence as the program you put together gradually falls apart. That looks like "Nate Davis graduated so let's GTFO."

This goes here.

Etc.: Guy who won right to attend press conference is a Michigan engineer who wrote a script to enter him millions of times. Michigan engineers: good. Guys who program MGoBlue.com: not Michigan engineers. DocSat: "After three years of attempting to transition out of that mindset into something smaller, faster, sleeker and newer, Hoke is a sign that the Wolverines have declared defeat and decided to turn back home. That will make a lot people happy, but only if the wins eventually follow."

Hoke React, No Swearing

Hoke React, No Swearing

Submitted by Brian on January 11th, 2011 at 6:42 PM

ON THIS DAY MY HAIR IS VERY APROPOS

So this isn't two thousand words of swearing as promised. That requires some level of verve to pull off and I'm out of that. I'm depressed and waiting for the other shoe to drop and far too sober. A few things:

"This is not Brady Hoke's fault." Repeat 1000x. This is not Brady Hoke's fault. He seems like a nice enough dude. It seems unlikely he actively participated in the submarining of Rich Rodriguez. Unlike everyone else ever associated with the Michigan program with even the most thinly plausible of resumes, he actually wants to be the head coach here. So that's nice.

This is a stupid hire. It will always be as stupid hire and David Brandon just led the worst coaching search in the history of Michigan football. He managed to chase off half of an already iffy recruiting class, hired a Plan C coach on January 11th, probably ensured the transfer of the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and restricted his "national search" to people who'd spent at least five years in Ann Arbor. Michigan just gave themselves a year of USC-level scholarship reduction voluntarily.

What are the chances that the best available coach is a 52-year-old with a 47-50 career record and no experience as a coordinator? Why weren't a half-dozen coordinators with time and results on their side given the opportunity to interview? Why did Brandon waste time with Les Miles, a guy on the downside who may not have even gotten a serious offer? After learning a hard lesson about program continuity with the last hire why did Michigan hire a guy who professes to hate the spread 'n' shred a day after two spread teams played for the national title?

I'd rather have Rich Rodriguez entering year four with a new defensive staff than this, a total capitulation. Does anyone remember Tressel's record against Lloyd Carr? 5-1. Change was necessary. It didn't work, but that doesn't mean you go back to the stuff that required change.

Michigan should still be better next year. It depends on what goes on with the offense. Calvin Magee has already been hired at Pitt, so don't get your hopes up about tempting Denard by keeping the offensive staff that matters (QB coach and OC) unchanged.* The defense should be much better simply by virtue of returning approximately ten starters if you throw in Troy Woolfolk and not dragging the devilishly handsome corpse of Greg Robinson around. At the very least Hoke should have a quarterback, even if it's redshirt freshman Devin Gardner.

A completely average coach should be able to take 20 returning starters on a 7-6 team that sees the schedule ease considerably and get to 9-3. That's good, because that's probably what we hired. If Denard's out the door all bets are off except "will Brian cut down or across?"

*[Tony Gibson immediately found work at Pitt, too, which is amazing: the most maligned position coach on RR's staff is unemployed for ten days while most of Carr's coordinators fled to the NFL to be an assistant (to the) position coach. The exceptions are Stan Parrish, who is on a quest to rack up the worst winning percentage as a head coach in CFB history, Greg Mattison, who left voluntarily for an equivalent job at Notre Dame and shouldn't count as a pro, and Ron English, who got hired by Kragthorpe.]

Prepare for the media 180. This hypothetical 9-3 will cause the media to fall all over themselves declaring Brady Hoke the polar opposite of Rich Rodriguez (lazy media meme #1 is already underway) and whipsaw Michigan back to the positive side of the media ledger, whereupon that period where Michigan State could literally have 20% of their football team descend upon innocent bystanders in back to back years while Michigan gets painted as the Program Out Of Control will end with authoritah. Sportswriters—even the good ones—love nothing better than holding themselves above the outraged plebes, arguing that whatever they think is foolish.

We're unhappy, so they'll defend Brady Hoke to their dying single-sentence paragraph. This would have been a fascinating dynamic to watch if Miles was the guy. Seeing Rosenberg paper over Miles's oversigning hijinks would have been hilarious/infuriating. Since it's Hoke it will just be generic "why can't you be happy going 9-3 every year and beating OSU 30% of the time, I mean look at Rodriguez!"

Prepare for the program alum 180. Judging from twitter, Michigan guys in the NFL are happy, so there's that. At least we won't have Mark Bihl advising recruits to go to Michigan State and Dhani Jones walking into David Brandon's office and demanding a firing. Thanks for your support, guys! Your loyalty in this tough time is appreciated.

This is actually Hoke's main asset relative to non-Michigan candidates: the program won't be actively hoping he fails. This is not an insignificant bonus relative to Rodriguez.

The Gene Chizik plan is dodgy, temporary, and requires a bucket of money and amenable prospects. All right, so maybe we can hire the next Gus Malzahn and the next Ted Roof and import JUCOs like Nick Fairley and Cam Newton. This is lazy media meme #2, because lol those crazy fans, amirite?

Problems:

  • Who is Gus Malzahn? Texas just blew their coaching staff up and hired Manny Diaz and the Boise State OC, so they're off the table. It is January 11th. Next up is… I have no idea. Honestly, if you were going to poach an up-and-coming coordinator your best option on defense is none other than Scott Shafer, and on offense there isn't anyone, really. I'll believe Michigan has hired Randy Shannon as a DC six months after it's announced, but that's what this plan requires: hiring Randy goddamn Shannon as DC at a million a year.
  • JUCOs are not available, and I'm not sure anyone can wave a towel like Trooper Taylor anyway.
  • We hired a manball advocate unlikely to stick with the bits of Michigan's team that kind of worked, and his defensive coordinator is going to be the head coach at SDSU.
  • To date Michigan's pay packages for assistants have been pathetic. Brandon promised that would change. He also promised a national search and hired a guy who will probably be one of the lowest-paid coaches in the Big Ten.
  • The figurehead approach leaves you vulnerable to having your quasi-HC poached, as West Virginia found out when Doc Holliday was hired by Marshall and Auburn will find out soon enough. If you can plug and play Cam Newton that might work, but Michigan can't.

Also, Chizik was an established ass-kicking BCS coordinator who led the nation's #1 scoring D at Auburn, was 5th in yardage allowed in back to back years, won the Broyles award, and then went to Texas to win a national title opposite Vince Young. He didn't really need Roof. He had Gene Chizik. He did not immediately turn Iowa State into a team of ninjas but Chizik was a better hire than Hoke even absent the ludicrous money that went into his staff. Hoke's never even been a coordinator, and his results as a head coach are less than a slam dunk.

I am all in for being wrong. Or not really so much wrong as properly skeptical in an environment where success turns on a blade of grass and real games are few and far between and randomness is so important. Kenpom just put up a great post today about +/- and its general lack of usefulness as a stat because of its immense noise—college football has a lot of noise. It is possible that Brady Hoke was just unlucky or unprepared and that his last three years are more representative of his talent than his first five. I won't become what I hate, Emperor Palpatine.

With the dual boosts of a pliant media and cooperative network of former players plus a program that should find itself on an upward trajectory instead of a downward one, everything's set up for him to look like the white knight who "saved" the program and ride that to something approximating success. Michigan's just thrown in the towel on being a national power but this could be Nebraska after Callahan instead of Notre Dame after Davie.

It's Hoke

It's Hoke

Submitted by Brian on January 11th, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Official Release:

Hoke Named Michigan Football Coach

ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced today (Tuesday, Jan. 11) the hiring of Brady Hoke as the 19th coach in the 131-year history of Michigan football. Hoke arrives in Ann Arbor after spending the past eight seasons as a head coach at Ball State (2003-08) and San Diego State (2009-10).

“We are pleased to announce the hiring of Brady,” said Brandon. “He is a terrific coach and will be a great ambassador and leader for our football program. We look forward to having him build a championship program on the field and in the classroom.”

I cut the blah blah blah bits since the second paragraph details Michigan's accomplishments when he was a position coach on the staff.

The Worst Part About All Of This Is Hoke Rhymes With "Joke" And "Choke," Thus Providing A Steady Stream Of Hur Hur Hur Posts From Teenage Fans Of Rivals

The Worst Part About All Of This Is Hoke Rhymes With "Joke" And "Choke," Thus Providing A Steady Stream Of Hur Hur Hur Posts From Teenage Fans Of Rivals

Submitted by Brian on January 11th, 2011 at 1:22 PM

NOTE: Logins are disabled due to crushing levels of traffic.

image

Next stop for the Dominos plane is an airport approximately 90 miles from San Diego. Touchdown is scheduled for about 6 PM.

UPDATE: Local paper has picked up on this and put some meat on the bones, at least sort of:

The agent for San Diego State head football coach Brady Hoke has been in discussions for Hoke to possibly become the next head coach at the University of Michigan, a source close to the situation said.

Trace Armstrong, Hoke's agent, has declined comment. Hoke and other SDSU officials have not returned messages for several days.

Hoke was in the Los Angeles area Tuesday recruiting for SDSU. Meanwhile, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon has planned to fly to nearby Orange County for a meeting Tuesday.

So… he's in LA, where Brandon is apparently meeting him. It's unclear how much of this is solid, but… yeah. Probably solid. This "national" search is national in the sense that people who played or coached at Michigan comprise a nation, which they do not.

UPDATE II: Despite the newspaper article above I have two sources saying that the Domino's plane is now being used by, you know, Domino's, and is no longer ferrying Dave Brandon around. There is a conference called ICR going on that starts tomorrow in Dana Point, California and features a presentation by Domino's at 8:25 AM, so the above newspaper article may be speculation or wrong or this is false hope and Dave Brandon is in some other jet.

UPDATE III: Our respite was brief:

SDSU Coach Brady Hoke recently visited with Michigan, source says

If we're seriously talking to him he's all but announced since he'll take twenty dollars and donuts twice a week to coach at M.

A World Held Hostage: Mailbag

A World Held Hostage: Mailbag

Submitted by Brian on January 8th, 2011 at 6:48 PM

paul-chrystgus-malzahntom-bradley

On the candidate pool:

Several respected people, yourself included, have correctly bashed the concept of a "Michigan Man" being a criteria for coaching this job (especially since there are so few actual Michigan Men qualified for the job despite a 38-year era to cultivate it).  But what about the feeling that the new coach must be a proven head coach at a decent school?  Isn't that a bit elitist of our fan base and narrowing the field substantially?

Obviously having someone with a great track record in a BCS conference reduces the risk substantially, but we just spent 3-years learning that it doesn't eliminate the risk completely.  Conversely:

  • Florida has been the best program in the country the past few years and just hired an coordinator with no head coaching experience and no ties to the program.
  • That same coordinator was being groomed to take over at Texas, another national power, despite only being their DC for two years.
  • Nebraska is one of the all-time winningest programs and has returned to respectability (after a similar coaching debacle) by hiring a coordinator with no head coaching experience.
  • Wisconsin has been a force in the conference since promoting a DC who had minimal experience.
  • OSU has been one of the elite programs in the country after hiring a Div-1AA coach.

What makes us as a fan base require the candidates to be proven commodities at a big school?  What about plucking an up-and-coming coordinator from somewhere who will work their tail off because it is their first job?  Why aren't their names like that on all the list of candidates being thrown around? 

When I put together a list of the six plausible-if-they-'d-come candidates a few days ago they were all D-I head coaches, but I was basing that off Dave Brandon's assertion in the press conference that they'd be looking for someone who's currently a college head coach. I'm not necessarily advocating it myself. In fact, with everyone on that list off the table or a real longshot to start, it's time to move on to hot coordinators at BCS schools.

You want a guy who is in the right age bracket with a track record of excellent performances on his side of the ball under a head coach that either specializes on the other side of the ball or is more of a CEO type: Pelini, Muschamp, and Bielema all fit that profile. So did Chip Kelly, Bob Stoops, and Mark Richt. That's probably four of the fifteen most prestigious programs in the country plus knocking-on-the-door Oregon and Wisconsin. Hot coordinators aren't just for the middle of the pack.

Who's out there right now?

  • Gus Mahlzahn, OC, Auburn. Turned down Vandy job for payday at Auburn but there's only so much you can pay an OC and Vanderbilt's a deathtrap he was probably using for leverage more than anything else. Obvious con is that he's a real Southerner from the South and this will set off fainting spells across the land.
  • Brent Venables, DC, Oklahoma. A slight violation of the principles above since Stoops is a defensive guy but he's getting up there and has probably removed himself from the day-to-day operations enough that Oklahoma's consistently excellent defense is largely Venables. He's young (40) but has seven years as a DC under his belt. Midwest connections are lacking.
  • Paul Chryst, OC, Wisconsin. Interviewed for but either didn't get or didn't take the Texas OC job, but has made the Wisconsin offense terrifying. At 45 about ready to move up after almost a decade as a successful OC. Downside: hard to think of a more extreme mismatch with Michigan's offensive talent. Actually five years older than Bielema so it would take an implosion in Madison for the fact Wisconsin's his alma mater to be relevant.
  • Tom Bradley, DC, Penn State. I mean why not at this point, right? Bradley's interviewing for jobs left and right and if he's not actually the new guy at Pitt he clearly seems willing to move on. He's been the defacto head coach at Penn State for years, has been the backbone of their consistently excellent defense, and could bring along a big chunk of staff with him. Caveat: he'd have to agree to an exorbitant you-can't-go-home-again buyout.
  • Bud Foster, DC, Virginia Tech. The backbone of the good bit of Virginia Tech. People have tried to pry him out of Blacksburg forever and he hasn't gone but they've been offering DC jobs, not the head chair. A glance at his stats is ridiculous: the last five years VT has been sixth nationally or better in yardage defense. Is 51, so if he's ever going to be a head coach now's the time. Has interviewed at Pitt.

That's a list not far off the list of head coaches with one important difference: Michigan's likely to get one of the above. Again, if Brady Hoke was a former Penn State assistant would he be more attractive than those guys? I prefer someone with a 20-year timeframe who's proven he can assemble half of a conference championship-caliber team in the BCS to someone who, you know, hasn't.

Malzahn might bring scoffs about Midwest ties and Southern oh noes and whatnot but look at him:

gus-malzahn

This man is kind of a dork. In certain shots he looks a bit like Alton Brown. The latest bit of fluff on him from Pat Forde deploys the phrase "impregnable earnestness." He's also 45 and was the guy in charge of three wildly different, wildly successful offenses in five years as a coordinator. The fourth and fifth years were not quite as amazing but still saw teams rocking Chris freakin' Todd and freshman Mitch Mustain at quarterback finish 18th and 29th in total offense. Brandon mentioned offensive flexibility in the press conference. Mahlzahn offenses have been run-mad (2006 Arkansas and 2009-10 Auburn), pass-mad (2007 Tulsa) or both (2008 Tulsa).

There will be questions about recruiting and ties and whatnot but with Harbaugh gone we're now picking between questions, and I prefer "will this guy with an awesome offense that fits Denard like whoah be able to recruit and find a DC?" to "how long will a pro-style rebuild take and how much of my soul will die watching Denard play for someone else?"

I mean, who would Jeremy Foley hire?

Brian,

Why not Mike Gundy? Other than the presser blowup and the whole leaving your alma mater thing, he'd seem like a good hire.

Mark

He's a man and he's now 43, so he's in a good spot as far as longevity but I didn't throw Gundy on the list because the blowup seemed like it would be offputting in the aftermath of Press Consumes Rodriguez Alive As Family Watches In Horror. Meanwhile, T. Boone Pickens will match anything Michigan can put out there and there is the whole alma mater thing. I didn't think he was plausible since the situation was "Pat Fitzgerald except the school can pay him."

In the name of equal time, section in which Hoke is defended:

Brian,
How you could advocate Patterson over Hoke is absolutely beyond me.  Patterson has no ties whatsoever to the midwest.  He has only recruited Texas, yes his schemes are fundamentally sound but as we saw with RR there is way more to football than that.  I wholeheartedly disagree with you on that one.  Give Hoke as much time as Patterson has had in the Mountain West and he will have as much success. 

Dave C.

Seriously? How on earth are we supposed to expect that a guy who's had two years in eight above .500 is as good of a coach as a guy with 8 of 10 above .500, most of them featuring eleven wins—TCU has won 11 games six(!) times under Patterson. He's vastly more proven than Hoke, whose single comparable season ended with blowout losses against Buffalo and Tulsa. Patterson just beat Wisconsin. There is absolutely no comparison between their resumes.

"Ties to the midwest" are somewhat important, but a couple local assistants can help smooth over any minor recruiting bumps and shouldn't outweigh a record of 98-28 over ten years. Ten years! Averaging 9.8 wins per year! Flargabargaegabarb.

Despite my antipathy for him it's not like Hoke is a guaranteed failure. However, it's hard to see him not providing another awkward transition period and then being at the tail end of his career by the time he gets something up and going. The upside is low, and frankly I don't want to return to whatever philosophy Carr had at the end of his career when OSU zoomed by him and Michigan flailed about with no answers. Michigan is in this situation because the Carr coaching tree doesn't exist and his version of bringing in Bret Bielema (a wildly successful DC at Kansas State) or Chip Kelly was to gradually force out Terry Malone in favor of Mike DeBord. Look at what Mack Brown's doing at Texas and compare it to the way Carr went out.

I want nothing to do with anyone who was a part of that unless someone else has employed them in a similar capacity because it's clear who you know became more important than anything late. Michigan cannot go home again and would be making a mistake by trying.

Unverified Voracity Batters, Dips

Unverified Voracity Batters, Dips

Submitted by Brian on January 6th, 2011 at 4:43 PM

Alabama_Bear_Bryant_al17_large

Understand decades of on and off mediocrity because no one is that dead guy

"Understand Michigan." Desmond Howard was busy blowing this up on the teevee a coupe days ago but that doesn't stop everyone in the world from writing columns about how the new guy "must understand the Michigan way" or "came to Michigan three years ago as a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt in an athletic department of blue blazers." Or the university must "regain its identity."

All of this gives me hives. We have learned that someone who naively enters and expects everyone to be nice, as Rodriguez did, is in for a rough time. All things being equal, Michigan should go with a Tresselian non-speaker who regards the media as cancer and bores everyone to death.

This is different than chasing some sort of mystical "Michigan way" that needs to be recaptured. The guys with a connection to the Michigan way before that meant always losing to Ohio State with occasional fun Horrors thrown in are either Jim Harbaugh (not coming) or Les Miles (plain slimy*). The Michigan way is dead, literally and figuratively, and Michigan needs a new way. They seem poised to repeat the mistakes Alabama did as they fruitlessly tried to replace Bear Bryant, ("Mike Shula has a vague connection to Bear! That's the ticket!") except in this case the most OMG BO hire would be awesome but isn't interested.

If Harbaugh isn't coming, just go outside again instead of shoehorning a guy into a spot he doesn't deserve and putting him behind the eight ball from the start.

*[Protests about this will fall on deaf ears. LSU just got hit with much more important NCAA violations than Michigan did. Miles cut a kid who had been on campus for months, offering a "greyshirt" he had never discussed with him. And he 1) cut a quarterback with a form letter, 2) refused to speak to that quarterback about the form letter, and 3) baldly lied about the kid at SEC media days. He's a media firestorm waiting to happen and he might bring Gary Crowton and he might make my head explode by letting the clock run out in the fourth quarter and he's reaching the age when coaches decline precipitously. Hoke is vastly preferable.

LSU fans currently making snarky posts about how awesome he is will be coating him in batter and thrusting him into a deep fryer at the first sign of weakness.]

Meanwhile, exiting… Brock Mealer on Rodriguez:

"He's just always been (portrayed) as a villain, and he's nothing like that," Mealer said. "He's one of the greatest guys I have ever met in my life, and I wish people would just acknowledge that. As little as I know about football, I know his character is much different than people played it out to be."

Someone punch Jeff DeFran in the throat, thanks. It didn't work out and there's plenty of blame to go around but Rodriguez was probably damaged more by Michigan than vice-versa. Is there any coach in recent history who's been fired and still has fans hoping he succeeds wherever he goes next as the media gleefully jumps up and down on his grave? Multiple people who were at the Brandon presser described the mood as "celebratory," or words to that effect.

As of yesterday, no Patterson contact. At least not according to Dennis Dodd:

Gary Patterson had not been contacted by Michigan for its opening as of Wednesday night according to a source close to the TCU coach.

Patterson, fresh off a 13-0 season and Rose Bowl win, is thought to be a candidate for the job left open after the firing of Rich Rodriguez by AD Dave Brandon. Brandon said earlier Wednesday he expects to move quickly to fill the vacancy but arguably the hottest coach in the country had not gotten a call 12 hours after Rodriguez had been let go.

Suboptimal. Or lies, I guess.

Speaking of oversigning castoffs. Michigan doesn't have a coach but the Blade is reporting that a Mike Marrow wants to transfer in. Marrow was a three-star fullback who redshirted at Alabama and then moved closer to home to "deal with the deaths of three grandparents" but could not get eligible at Eastern Michigan and now is looking for a new home. Marrow's two years removed from playing time and has a skillset duplicated by Stephen Hopkins on a team with plenty of RB depth and desperate need on defense—the chance he actually ends up at Michigan will depend on how shattered this recruiting class is on Signing Day. So welcome Mike Marrow, everybody.

Hoke in, Denard out? Hoke on the Oregon offense, which I will remind you is the OREGON OFFENSE and is playing essentially the Oregon offense in the national championship game:

When asked recently about the influence of Oregon’s offense, Hoke subtly revealed his disdain for the tactical shift Michigan experienced under Rodriguez. He is convinced that modern spread option offenses can be counterproductive to the core values of smashmouth football and are, therefore, to be avoided.

“Right, wrong or indifferent, when you’re zone blocking all the time -- when you’re playing basketball on grass -- you practice against that all spring, you practice against it all fall and then you’re going to play a two-back team that wants to knock you off the football,” Hoke said. “I don’t think you’re prepared.

“I think there’s a toughness level (required in college football). I still believe you win with defense. That’s been beaten into my head a long time, but I really believe that. The toughness of your team has to be the offensive front and your defensive front.”

(Oddly, that article is by Tim Sullivan. Not that Tim Sullivan.)

If you're eager to get Michigan started on a painful transition away from the offense they just painfully transitioned to, Hoke's your man. If he's hired we'll get some soundbites about flexibility but they'll be about as convincing as Tommy Tuberville's strained "hhhhyyyarrrrr" upon his hiring at Texas Tech.  If there are coaches out there comfortable with the spread offense that's proven itself kind of good across college football they'd be preferable to a guy who professes disdain for "basketball on grass" and doesn't have the track record to suggest he's anything more than average at the other stuff.

And he's not even right. Three of the top four yardage defenses in the country play opposite offense that are pretty much basketball on grass: TCU, Boise State, and West Virginia. It's a bit different if you look at FEI but something like half of the top ten plays opposite a full-on spread: WVU, Missouri, Virginia Tech and Auburn are spreads and Clemson, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Nebraska use a fair number of spread concepts.

I'm not sure you were paying attention. Who's surprised Rodriguez is fired? No one except his players:

"Definitely I'm surprised," said Gordon. "I have a lot of love for Coach Rod. He's the guy who brought me here. He's a guy I definitely respected and I loved him as a coach."When asked what his future plans are, Gordon replied, "I'm here. I came to school for Michigan."Said Gordon: "Yes it is surprising, but it is what it is. You've just got to move on."

This explains something about or secondary.

The batphone rings. ALERT THE MEDIA

I followed Mr. Robinson for one day, which started at 7 a.m. with treatment for his swollen knee, followed by weightlifting, classes, an interview with ESPN Radio, more treatment, meetings, practice, a third round of treatment, dinner and study table. When he walked out of the academic center at 10 p.m., two adults who had been waiting all night for him in the parking lot approached him to sign a dozen glossy photos. I went home exhausted—and I hadn't done anything more than take notes.

FETCH THE DEEP FRYER

(Also that's a John U Bacon story on what went on inside the program that will become an undoubtedly fascinating book.)

Etc.: Penn State denies Bolden a release because Paterno doesn't have enough quarterbacks without him. This will end well. How Gary Patterson's undersized defense shut down Wisconsin. Yes please. Ever notice how it's always Carr's old players talking crap about Rodriguez publicly as the Bo guys remain mum? Nevermind! Of course Lynn Henning thinks Hoke is a great idea. John Niyo says let's wait for a new coach announcement before we hand Brandon over to LSU fans to be battered and fried.

Non-Hoke Options: Extant

Non-Hoke Options: Extant

Submitted by Brian on January 5th, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Note: New banner thanks to Six Zero.

I didn't think we'd be here. I thought Rodriguez would get year four or we'd be having a press conference introducing Jim Harbaugh today, but the bowl game happened and Harbaugh spurned us, apparently to coach mercenaries at AT&T PNC Citi Invesco Parkfield because all that stuff about bleeding maize and blue turned out to be so much bullshit. But we're here.

It's either this or self-pity. I already binned all the Smiths songs yesterday and am all out of high-concept emo posts. So. Contrary to what you may have heard, there are people other than Brady Hoke coaching college football and some of them also win games. A brief list of people a "national search" might turn up as people to kick the tires on:

The Same Mid-Major Names That Come Up Every Year For Naught

The Ps currently dominating wack (get it) leagues: Chris Petersen at Boise State and Gary Patterson at TCU, plus Utah's Kyle Wittingham. The latter two will be in BCS conferences next year.

Chris Peterson Chris Petersen, Boise State
Age:
46
Record: 61-5 in five years with the Broncos.

PROS: 61-5 in five years as a head coach. Relatively young. Trick-play happy and ballsy. Runs a passing spread that seems adaptable to Michigan's current offensive talent. Nice-seeming dude who would not throw the local media into a conniption fit.

CONS: Both previous Boise State head coaches to light out for greener pastures have been miserable failures as they go from way more resources than the competition to less. Petersen took over a monster program already and has had it humming along just fine but did not build it. No recruiting ties to the Midwest.

ACQUIRABILITY: Michigan could more than double the 1.5 million he's currently making. Would it matter? Petersen's had his name up for dozens of jobs and seems content in Boise.

Gary Patterson, TCU
Age:
50
Record: 98-28 in ten years

PROS: Took over for TCU in 2001 and has had a decade at the helm of the Horned Frogs. After a 6-6 start his teams have won ten games in seven of nine years and just finished an ass-kicking 13-0 campaign that ended with a Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin. Turns out awesome defenses on the regular. Runs passing spread like Boise and should be able to adapt to Robinson and company.

CONS: Also took over a team that was already pretty good at 10-2 the year before. No Midwest recruiting ties.

ACQUIRABILITY: Salary unknown since TCU is private but certainly Michigan could offer a major bump. TCU is moving to an auto-bid conference next year and is poised to own it, but it's the Big East, AKA "probably no better than the Mountain West." Like Petersen, obviously should have gotten a bigger job already but has not, suggesting he is in for the long haul at TCU.

whittingham Kyle Wittingham, Utah
Age: 51
Record: 58-20 in six years.

PROS: Slightly less awesome record than Patterson but did put together that 13-0 team in 2008 that beat Michigan and stomped Alabama in the BCS. Team fell off slightly to 10-3 the last two years. Was the DC for a decade before his move to the top job. Nice guy. Runs same passing spread the two guys above do.

CONS: Same story: took over a program with many advantages relative to its peers already poised at the top of the heap. Urban Meyer came in and the Utes went 10-2, then 12-0 when Wittingham took over.

ACQUIRABILITY: Wittingham makes 1.2 million a year, though entry into the Pac-12 will give Utah the funds to greatly increase that. Same story with the guys above: if he's still at Utah it seems like that's because he is not inclined to leave.

Guys We Would Instantly Make Villains By Hiring Them

Charlie Strong, Louisville
Age:
50
Record: 7-6 in one year

PROS: Architect of killer Florida defenses for almost a decade and annual subject of "why on earth won't anyone hire this guy" posts because he's also an awesome recruiter—Louisville picked up Teddy Bridgewater after he decommitted from Miami—and an all-around nice guy. Good shot at keeping and properly deploying Denard.

CONS: Bolting Louisville after one season would seriously damage his rep and give folks the same old story about how Michigan's coach has the audacity to change jobs. And oh by the way has only one season under his belt. No Midwest connections.

ACQUIRABILITY: Makes $1.6 million a year, so Michigan could pay the man. Unfortunately the conventional wisdom says there's little chance Michigan (or anyone) could pry him from Louisville given his long struggle to find a head job and Louisville's willingness to finally give it to him.

dan-mullen Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Age:
38
Record: 14-11 in two years.

PROS: Dismantled Michigan with rushing-based option spread 'n' shred and would make Denard at home. Hot young name seems to be large chunk of Florida's monster run under Meyer since the offense took a huge step back after he left despite returning the Tebow Child. Found Manny Diaz and deployed him as the defensive ying to his yang.

CONS: Brief track record as a head coach. Only two years under his belt, so a lesser version of the Strong issue.

ACQUIRABILITY: Born in PA and went to school on Staten Island(!) so not exactly a born-and-bred Southerner. Hadn't ever coached in the South until Meyer went to Florida. Just got a large contract from MSU that now pays him 2.65 million, however, bumping him from last to sixth in the SEC.

patfitzgerald2 Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Age:
36
Record: 33-29 in five years

PROS: Young, enthusiastic former Northwestern legend sits next to "football" in the dictionary. Personal acquaintances describe him as "model of excellence." If it works out, could work out for a very long time indeed. Runs spread 'n' shred based on Randy Walker's that fits Denard like a glove.

CONS: Ripping someone away from their alma mater again would get things off on the wrong foot. Hasn't actually, you know, won that much. Even if you forgive him for his 4-8 opener because he was thrust into a terrible situation, since he's gone 6-6, 9-4, 8-5, and 7-6, and that was with epic buckets of luck on his side. He has outperformed his predecessor, FWIW.

ACQUIRABILITY: Salary is unknown because Northwestern is private. Michigan could add a lot to it. Even so, Fitzgerald is a NU icon and the CW is that he "hates" the rest of the Big Ten schools. Since a large portion of that hate rests in the fact he's never experienced what it's like to be at a Big Ten game where the majority of people are rooting for you I think he'd have to consider a move.

Guys Who Would Definitely Move And Not Be Villains

Hoke.

In Order Of Preference

  1. Dan Mullen – youth, experience in tough conference, fantastic track record as assistant, excellent DC hire, offensive continuity.
  2. Pat Fitzgerald – youth, Big Ten and Midwest ties galore, spotless media image, offensive continuity.
  3. Gary Patterson – most accomplished of the mid-major guys, should provide access to Texas recruiting.
  4. Charlie Strong – would rather roll the dice on him than the other two; DC experience in SEC seems at least as indicative of future success as HCs at massively advantaged schools.
  5. Chris Petersen – somewhat leery of Boise State's track record elsewhere..
  6. Kyle Wittingham – Wouldn't be displeased with anyone but I'd rather have other guys on the list.

Does Hoke approach any of these guys? Absolutely not. If he'd been a Michigan State assistant no one would have ever brought him up.

Rodriguez: Not Dead Yet. Technically, Anyway.

Rodriguez: Not Dead Yet. Technically, Anyway.

Submitted by Brian on January 4th, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Note: if you can't log in the site is under heavy load and we are trying to keep it up by disabling logins. if you can log in the site is feeling happy, if briefly.

notdeadyet\

Get on the cart.

All right, to recap what you've probably already read: Fox and the Free Press jumped the proverbial gun and there has been no official word that Rodriguez is done for yet. Insert condescending clucking about legacy media's insatiable desire to be first at the expense of being right. The 7 PM meeting tonight has been moved to 4 tomorrow.

What does it mean? Eh… probably not much. Sources very close to the AD are incredibly tight-lipped and most of the information out there is coming from outside the department (or, if within the department, may not be that close to the decision-making process), but if we've learned one thing it's that no decisions will ever be made.

Except they probably will. The massive favorite in the rumormongering is none other than Brady Hoke, which goddammit. I'm not writing things about it now because all of it could or would get thrown back in my face in the event Brady Hoke is not a complete failure but rest assured I'm thinking all of them and how.

Items you probably haven't read elsewhere yet:

  • A parent of a Michigan player had a chance run-in with John Saunders, Craig James, and some other ESPN folk who said Harbaugh is "still in it," for whatever that means.
  • Players are shooting the news(?) back and forth to each other on twitter. Whether they're all basing it off apparently not-quite-founded news reports or they've got something more to go on is unknown.
  • Excellent source that provided the Hoke "not an option" quote has been forced to backtrack, unfortunately, and says he is "in play potentially" now even if he wasn't on the list of viable candidates to start. Also an announcement of the new guy is "likely within 24 hours," but no idea on his end as to who that might be. As always this stuff shifts with the wind so take it for what it's worth.

I still cling to the belief that Michigan would not look at a 53-year-old with one decent season and one undefeated MAC campaign (undefeated until Ball State played Buffalo in the championship game, anyway, and then imploded against Tulsa, and then the mighty foundation Hoke had wrought imploded in a pile of balsawood splinters) after Indiana and Minnesota had both said "thanks, but no thanks" to the same guy, let alone make him their head coach. Especially if the inane rumor that Hoke's first hire is going to be his brother—we've had plenty of virtual nepotism already without the real thing intruding—is true and blah blah blah.

Unfortunately, I don't have much information and am relying on the common sense and logical deduction that have served me so well mocked and haunted me the last three years. I promise you this: if Brady Hoke is actually hired small children should not read the site for a week following because every other word will be swearing. This is in no way a joke.