Hoke post-Brandon firing: "Maybe I just don’t care anymore."

Submitted by SAMgO on October 12th, 2018 at 9:53 AM

Angelique had an entry in this morning's "The worst team I ever covered" in The Athletic to discuss the 2014 football team. The whole entry is fascinating, including Hoke having a preseason premonition that that year would be his last, but this paragraph really stood out:

After Brandon’s departure, Hoke, who would hold pressers on Monday and a short update on Wednesday, seemed to be a little more at ease when talking to us. In fact, they seemed to be some of his best pressers. I walked with him toward the podium on Wednesday and I told him just that, that he seemed more relaxed and the pressers were more information. He looked at me and said, “Maybe I just don’t care anymore.” That comment took me by surprise. But maybe he knew what was coming. Maybe, somehow, he knew in April.

Good riddance.


True Blue Grit

October 12th, 2018 at 11:12 AM ^

"Hoke was Trash"?  That's really harsh.  Go and read Section1.8's post above several times.  The man cared a lot about his players and the school from all we can tell.  And he worked very hard to make things better here after the previous coaching debacle.  Was he the right man for the job?  Obviously not.  But let's be thankful for his efforts on behalf of the program.  


October 12th, 2018 at 12:25 PM ^

While I would not have hired Hoke, I don't think it was a massive stretch or anything. If not us, he would have likely landed another P5 job within a year. Someone like Cal or Colorado would have scooped him up after the job he did at Ball State and SDSU. 

He was in over his head but he really built the foundation of our future success as a recruiter and built some truly awesome defenses. I think he truly loved his job and I think, while hindsight is 20/20, that his biggest flaw was trusting some highly touted but ultimately mediocre offensive coordinators. 


October 12th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

Hoke was a great recruiter who was overwhelmed as the HC of a major program.  SDSU was his ceiling; he was done in by the Peter Principle.  But it was a significant stretch to hire him, especially when so many good spread coaches were available and the personnel was set to succeed as a spread program.

If David Brandon had been remotely intelligent, he would have brought in a spread coach and Denard would have won at least one Heisman.  Michigan may have won a National Championship with him.  Hoke did what he was hired to do.  David Brandon was the real villain.

It is David Brandon's fault that OSU and PSU are dominating the Big Ten with spread offenses that, according to the alums who make decisions concerning Michigan football, "won't work in the Big Ten," while Michigan is still rebuilding from the David Brandon Debacle.



October 12th, 2018 at 10:03 AM ^

He knew his fate was sealed at that moment and it's hard to put 100% of yourself into something once you know you're done.  Think of how you'd react if you knew you were getting fired and there was nothing you could do about it.

Hoke's allowed to be a human being.


October 12th, 2018 at 12:32 PM ^

Also, "I don't care" was probably "I don't care to be guarded about my answers in pressers" not "I don't care about the football team or my players." This was a guy that had just gone through the ringer in front of the press as Brandon and his cronies huddled behind closed doors for 72 hours trying to find a way to spin things. You can't really blame him for not giving a shit about carrying the water for the AD to the media after that.


October 12th, 2018 at 12:56 PM ^

I agree. He also might not have cared if he said something that caused a bit of an uproar in a presser, because his firing was a foregone conclusion. 

This is after DB was defenestrated, which means that Michigan had a minimum of 5 losses by then (given Angelique’s wording, it’s probably after the M00N game). Everyone knew it was over. And Hoke didn’t have Uncle Dave peering over his shoulder anymore. 


October 12th, 2018 at 10:05 AM ^

As a coach that has been fired before and you know your walking the plank, what do you want him to do? The guy gave it everything he had and it never meet the Michigan fan base expectations. Brady loved Michigan and he's never said a negative word about the program or the institution. I don't think the good riddance comment is needed. I would welcome him back to AA whenever he wanted. He left the program better then he found it IMO. yes you will point to the record being worse then RR in the last year but that cupboard was very full for JH because of Coach Hokes hard work on the recruiting trail. 


October 12th, 2018 at 10:12 AM ^

1. The Michigan head coaching job isn't a charity case. I love Michigan too, but when you're in that position it's not enough. The fanbase rightly has performance expectations that he fell far short of while raking in a lifetime's chunk of change.

2. He should have cared for the players. Devin Gardner deserved far better than that 2014 effort, there was no fire and no creativity at all. Just a mailed in season from the start.

3. If he really Would Have Walked To Michigan, he should have cared for the school. Gamedays were a shell of their normal selves that year and he took a lot of the spirit away from the University that Harbaugh has since restored. Recruiting does nothing for that when you're outwitted on the field.

Hail Harbo

October 12th, 2018 at 11:02 AM ^

Unfortunately Hoke succumbed to fan pressure following the 2013 season, fired weight challenged and old Al Borges to bring in the youthful and fit Doug Nussmeier.  And that, gents, is when the 2014 season was lost.  One might argue or rationalize that it was Brandon that fired Borges and hired Nussmeier, but the point remains.


October 12th, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^

I remember Hoke being asked about the Borges firing and sounding curiously evasive, which made me wonder if Brandon really did dictate it.

Agree at any rate that it was a disaster.  Borges and Gardner sometimes clicked and produced great performances.  Nuss never could figure out how to use Gardner at all.


Honk if Ufer M…

October 12th, 2018 at 4:39 PM ^

From what we could see on the field Nuss was terrible, and I'm not defending him in general, but I remember talking to someone I knew well that was involved with the program about the ways we were or weren't using Devin, and the play calling.  I don't remember exactly what I was saying or asking about, but something about opening up the offense, why we didn't in some situation or why we don't try blah blah, and they responded by saying "they tried that in a scrimmage during practice and Devin threw SEVEN int's"

I wish I remembered more specifics and the exact time period, but remember when DG got so shell shocked that he couldn't even throw at all anymore and was just pushing the ball and aiming it like in darts? Maybe that started after that practice, I don't know. But it's hard to figure out what to do with a qb who has lost all confidence in himself and is in fear for his life and limb on every play because of so little help from his line. 


Coincidentally, just this week Devin was on TKA referring to how a qb is affected mentally after getting rocked too many times. He was talking about something current but obviously was speaking from his own experience.


October 12th, 2018 at 3:15 PM ^

Hoke's WR recruiting was a pretty mixed bag.

Darboh and Chesson were obviously good recruits, as was Funchess.  So he deserves credit for them (even if he thought Funchess was a TE).

OTOH, the 2013 WR class was awful: Jaron Dukes, C'sonte York, and Da'Mario Jones. 

Then in 2014 he signed Drake Harris.  Tt's hard to fault Hoke for signing an in-state 5-star who Sparty wanted and perhaps Harris' career would have gone better had it not been for the injury problems, but ultimately the guy was not a productive WR.

I will say, Hoke's problems at the WR position seem to have been different than his problems at other offensive positions.  With QB, RB, and OL, the problem seemed to be identifying and signing the right guys.  They brought in plenty of four and even five-star guys.  But lots of them wound up not being very good despite their lofty rankings.  I mentioned Drake Harris above, but even just looking at the five stars you also have Derrick Green, Shane Morris, Kyle Kalis, Patrick Kugler, Ty Isaac...  Sometimes I think the reason Hoke was able to get as many highly-rated guys as he did is because other top programs genuinely didn't want them.  

At WR though, Hoke and his staff at least seemed to pick out and pursue the right guys.  Apart from Darboh, Chesson, and Funchess, Hoke also had a brief commitment from George Campbell, pursued Artavis Scott, would have signed Aaron Burbridge if he'd had the grades, and led for Laquon Treadwell for a long time before the bagmen got involved.  So I don't think Hoke's WR recruiting was as bad as some of his other offensive failures.

That 2013 class though.  Woof.




October 12th, 2018 at 10:13 AM ^

I wanted Hoke to succeed in the worst way.  I really, really liked the guy.  I could not stand Harbuagh, and was glad Michigan hired Hoke instead.

However, the moment my tune changed and i stopped trusting Hoke was during a must win game at Nebraska in 2012 i believe it was.  Michigan was ranked, and the game was a big game for us.  Denard was hurt.  Hoke played Russell Bellamy instead of Devin Gardner because "Gardner did not practice that week at QB" (Garder was a transitioned WR at that time if you recall).  

Now, i can see putting Bellamy in their 1 series.  Maybe 2.  But holy fuck stubborn Hoke REFUSED to pull him and replace him with Gardner, even after missing his first 10 attempts, and finishing with 3 of 16 for 38 yards and 3 INT's.  Hoke (bellamy) single handidly lost that game (a very winnable one at a very important time).  That was the moment i lost TOTAL faith in Hoke, and knew i should have bit my toungue, put my pride for Michigan aside, and wanted Harbaugh as coach isntead of Hoke.  It was the WORST decision i have seen by a coach.  (ok, playing Morris is probably first). 


October 12th, 2018 at 10:34 AM ^

I remember that as well, but I think his reason for NOT playing DG in that game was justified. Devon hadn't been practicing at QB and asking a guy to step into a position he's not practiced for some time is probably asking for a major slobber-knocking. Turns out it didn't matter in the end.

I think the more indefensible thing was not practicing DG at QB when it was clear to anyone with a pair of eyes that Russell Bellamy was never going to be a QB that could play at Michigan. How you make that decision is absurd.


Space Coyote

October 12th, 2018 at 11:05 AM ^

This perspective I thought was always highly flawed by hindsight.

Hoke was doing what he thought was best for winning. Denard was the starting QB. Gardner moved to WR and was immediately the top WR on the team. As a coach, you don't play expecting an injury to the point of removing your best WR to sit on the bench the majority of snaps and get limited reps during practice (and Gardner needed reps at WR because up until that point he had been playing QB).

It backfired in the Nebraska game, no one doubts that. But you never really know what you have until someone is under pressure. Bellamy very easily could have looked adequate in practice. Many really liked what they saw from him the previous Spring Game. That he got thrust into his first real game action at Nebraska, at night, against a top 25ish team and a top 25ish defense, it was a terribly tough first action to be under. The solution is not taking a guy that wasn't practicing at that position, the QB position of all places, and telling him to run the offense is completely unfair. Unfair to that player, unfair to the team. You just don't do that. You don't play a guy who isn't practicing QB at QB in a game.

It's complete hindsight to look at that as one of Hoke's major blunders. That itself is one of the most easily and justifiable things that you can defend about Hoke's time, yet it gets brought up because it's easy to say in hindsight. There are many other blunders you can point to that are much worse.


October 12th, 2018 at 12:16 PM ^

I did not approve of the Hoke hire when it happened but after he brought in Mattison, went 11-2 with a Sugar Bowl win, and pulled a strong recruiting class for 2012 I felt that I had been wrong about him and looked forward to continued success.  Then I continued to support him until the 2014 Minnesota game.  

Obviously the worst thing that happened that day was putting Morris back in after his concussion.  But Morris never should have been out there in the first place because DG was a far better QB.  Benching your QB for the backup is the kind of bush league idea that drunken Lions fans come up with.  When Hoke did it as HC of Michigan, I lost all faith.

Then that weekend turned into the ultimate clusterfuck and I figured I never should have abandoned my Hoke skepticism in the first place.



October 12th, 2018 at 1:09 PM ^

The idea that Hoke could have thrown DG into a road night game against a good Nebraska team and won the game is absurd. Frankly, I think people strongly overrate Michigan’s chances of victory even if Denard had stayed healthy. The offense was doing very little, and Michigan under Hoke (and Borges) demonstrated little aptitude for turning things around and winning a tough road game at any time in that era. 


October 12th, 2018 at 2:05 PM ^

Actually I think Michigan had been outplaying Nebraska in that 2012 game up until Denard's injury.  When the injury happened, M was trailing 3-7 but had been consistently moving the ball. 

I checked the offensive UFR from that game and see that M had missed a FG on one earlier drive, and the injury happened on an eight-yard run that set up M first & goal with a chance to take the lead.  Certainly there is no guarantee that M scores on that drive or eventually wins the game with Denard.  But I do think the chances would have been in M's favor. 

Ultimately it doesn't matter.  The wheels would have still come off after Denard graduated--and maybe we don't even win that 2013 game against ND if Gardner didn't have starting experience from 2012?


October 12th, 2018 at 3:12 PM ^

That drive, late in the second quarter, was the only real drive Michigan had produced all game. The previous drive that produced any yardage was keyed by a PF against Nebraska. Given how pitiful the offense had become under Borges, projecting: A. A TD on that drive; B. Further offensive success in that game, is highly speculative. 


October 12th, 2018 at 3:30 PM ^

Ha ha.  Right, I mean, we are discussing counterfactual scenarios in a football game from 2012.

M's first possession in that game was a 3 & out.  Then they had drives of 11 plays (missed FG), 5 plays (punt), and 10 plays (FG) before the drive where Denard was knocked out.  That last drive started on the Michigan 26 and Denard went out after the seventh play, with the ball at the Neb 8.  

Obviously nobody knows what would have happened, had Denard remained in the game. But Michigan's offense was still respectable in 2012, and could still put up lots of points on bad defenses well into 2013.  



October 12th, 2018 at 10:15 AM ^

I dont take his comment negatively... he is responding to a reporter, and Angelique is a ball breaker....Lloyd couldn't stand her... he even digged into her with her own parents who were visiting from Ohio...  saying her birth 'had to have been the worst day of their lives'... he was part joking but that indicates his angst for her, who constantly harassed Lloyd about Navarre, about not being allowed in locker room, etc... Good for Brady...  there is nothing there...


October 12th, 2018 at 10:28 AM ^

I wasn't a fan of Hoke by any means, but this seems like a guy saying he no longer cares about trying to prove himself/keep up The Fort with the media.


October 12th, 2018 at 10:35 AM ^

The guy was in over his head. He probably knew what was coming, and he probably knew he wasn't going to be able to stop it. There is no crime in that. Sometimes when we know an outcome is inevitable, we just accept our fate...


October 12th, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

Now until the end of time, our OL coach should be a midwestern guy....  for west coast guys Funk and Drevno, failed here, because of the clickishness of the midwestern coaches..and they couldn't break into that...  and it led to us looking for OT afar, and they flipped at last minute to go elsewhere.

There are been a ton of Midwest OL that should have been ours...  Fisher in TC is one...and all the guys ND gets, because of the above..  Warinner isn't a good recruiter but hopefully we start to get our OL again.