The Team Comment Count

Brian January 13th, 2011 at 1:27 PM

1/11/2011 – Brady Hoke 1, Internet 0 – 0-0

I follow a blog called "Fund My Mutual Fund." The title should be taken literally: the guy running the blog wants you to pledge money so that he can get a mutual fund based on his stock picking method off the ground. He's done amazingly well on a publicly-tracked simulator, has sufficient pledges to break even, and is in the process of getting SEC approval after establishing a years-long track record. He's good.

He struggles when his method (technical analysis) is battered by external events that cause the stock market to veer from a well-established logical way of doing things, which is happening a lot lately thanks to Ben Bernanke. He responds to these events by publicly reminding himself the underlying fundamentals have changed, that logic means one thing when you're talking about five years and another when you're talking about five days and that even if the market goes up for stupid reasons it's going up. Here's one from this morning. He also lacerates the country's financial honchos in sarcasm-laden posts that get a little tiresome the tenth time you read essentially the same thing. He went to Michigan, too. He might be my Tyler Durden, or maybe I'm his.

A couple weeks ago I proclaimed there was a "zero point zero" percent chance that Brady Hoke was named Michigan's head coach because I assumed Hoke's flimsy resume was only acceptable to people who really truly believe that Michigan Men are Michigan Men who make other Michigan Men, who in turn create more Michigan Men until you enter a warehouse and it's like that terrible Will Smith movie with winged helmets.


My underlying assumption was that David Brandon was a cold-hearted corporatist who would tell someone to assemble a powerpoint about head coaching candidates and take the Michigan Man stuff as merely a relevant bullet point. I was wrong. Brandon is king of the Michigan Men, and my predictive performance has lagged the market.


Not much of consequence was said at yesterday's press conference to introduce Brady Hoke—that is the way of things—but at the very end Dave Brandon started pointing and became emphatic and the world rearranged itself:

That's the athletic director version of Kurt Wermers saying "not my kind of crowd." Rich Rodriguez never had a chance after the Ohio State game. Why David Brandon decided to go on with a dog and pony show even he admits was pointless should be a frustrating mystery, but it's not. People had to be placated. This program will eat itself alive if given half a chance.

So maybe Brady Hoke is the best choice. This organ transplant will not be rejected. Given time and an upperclass quarterback or two and a defensive staff that's not utterly clueless, Brady Hoke will quickly prove himself to be the one true Notriguez. He'll quickly improve the program and get Michigan back to being Michigan.

But I think the way this went down proves that all the things rivals say about Michigan are true. This is an unbelievably arrogant program convinced its past glories are greater and more recent than they are, certain outsiders have nothing to teach it. We will enter bowl games against opponents that say "boy, that Michigan just lines up and comes after you," and we probably won't win many of them. We never have, and trying to out-execute Alabama or Oregon seems like a tall order these days.

I hoped we could be block-M Michigan without that, that we could have an exciting, modern offense that pumped out Michigan Men and maybe shredded Oklahoma for 48 points in a BCS game. I hoped we could reboot the program, keeping the things we treasure about it but maybe leaving the dismal bowl record and recent inability to compete with Ohio State behind. For a lot of reasons we can't. We are who we are.

So, no, I'm not super happy. On the field I was done with Lloyd Carr, done with punting from the 34 and running the same damn zone stretch thirty times a game, done with the premise that it's only the players who have to execute on gameday. To me, getting back to being Michigan means going 9-3 and losing to Jim Tressel. I remember thinking "this is the year" every year growing up, expecting great things literally every season until Rodriguez showed up and Mallett transferred. I don't think that now, and I can't imagine feeling like that in the future. Sometimes having an identity feels like having a ceiling.

Non-Bullets Of Explanation

That said and true, this also. On the other hand, the past is not destiny. Jon Chait provides the best possible perspective:

Selecting a coach is a lot like selecting a recruit. The resume is the equivalent of a recruiting ranking. With recruits, a high ranking correlates with success, but a correlation is only probability, not certainty. Sometimes high-ranking recruits flame out, and sometimes sleeper recruits turn into stars.

While I'm down on the hire except insofar as it appears to be the only one that would get institutional support, Hoke could surprise people. He's in a great spot to immediately improve a team that returns damn near everyone and should profit from that momentum. Rich Rodriguez was always pushing uphill; Hoke has a much easier path to positive attention.

I didn't want to say this during the many fire-Rodriguez discussions because it seemed like the most cynical thing imaginable, but cutting Rodriguez loose right now sets the new guy up to look like 2006 Ron English after he replaced Jim Herrmann and inherited Woodley/Branch/Hall/Harris: a freaking genius. We'd find out during The Horror that he was not, but for a year the guy was untouchable. Hoke is going to get all the rope left over from the Rodriguez era and then some.

So, yes, the internet has overreacted.

I will swear now. The inbox is overflowing with pleas of varying levels of politeness to get behind Hoke, stop being so negative, etc. If you phrased it nicely, I appreciate the sentiment and the too-generous belief that I have any influence over the success or failure of Michigan's head coach. I'm not going to change my opinion overnight, however, and this remains a No Sugarcoat zone. No sugarcoat. I can promise that I'll go into the Hoke era looking for reasons he'll work out (you know, on-field reasons, not "Brady Hoke is the best human" stuff), if only because of human nature. His flexibility with Nate Davis and successful deployment of Rocky Long as a 3-3-5 DC gives me hope he's not a stick in the mud, and I'm sure Craig Ross is mailing him the Romer paper as we speak.

If you called me a hypocrite for not liking the hire when I didn't like the three years of shit Rich Rodriguez had to wade through when I haven't said one negative thing about Hoke that does not boil down to "does not have a thrilling resume," please fuck off and die. Especially people complaining about how constantly negative I am when I spent the last three years as the last guy on to die on Rodriguez Hill, as a commenter whose name I can't remember aptly put it. Double especially for people complaining like that a week after calling Rodriguez a "hillbilly" because "only hillbillies leave their alma mater."

What I am negative about is the Carr-era players—like the hillbilly guy above—whose loyalty to the program stops at the water's edge. Aside from one recent Harlan Huckleby outburst, the Bo guys either shut their traps or tried in vain to support the head coach at the University of Michigan. But I've made that point over and over again. (Mike "I support the head coach x1000" Hart is an obvious exception to this and should have been the model for his teammates.) The culture that made the last three years happen is petty and arrogant and utterly fails to live up to the Michigan Man ideal it pretends to espouse, and though I'm about a day from shutting up about it because even I'm tired of it I'm not backing off.

This will be fun. I hope everyone loves Jason Whitlock columns, because we're about to get a boatload of them. As Over The Pylon points out:

In a panicked desperate move, the administration at BSU freaked out and hired an in house coordinator to quiet the fans and hopefully maintain the momentum that was building. Michigan did much the same, only the “in house” became “Michigan experience” and the “maintain momentum” became “rebuild the program”. In BSU’s case, the failsafe went 6-18. Let’s hope for UM’s, Brady’s and everyone associated with the Wolverines’ sanity that the performance isn’t also duplicated, lest they become the target of one particular columnist with a national audience, a significantly close connection to the head coach, and a nicely sized ax that could always use some grinding.

Guh. Win, Brady, or we'll all suffer. Meanwhile, if you'd like a condescending lecture Dan Wetzel has you covered.

Carty on the dude. You can hate on Carty if you want but this is probably more interesting than anything that's been written about him so far:

The thing that separated Brady Hoke from most assistant coaches under Lloyd Carr was the confidence to be the same guy in a media interview as he was when the cameras were off. Michigan assistants never talked much in those days, and when they did, most of them were obviously concerned about saying something that would be met with disapproval by their boss.

Hoke wasn't very polished or made-for-television, something he poked fun at himself. He laughed a lot more than the other assistants did, at least in public. When he did do interviews, he asked more questions than most assistants and seemed genuinely interested in how reporters did their jobs. When a sensitive topic came up, he'd simply chuckle and say, "You know I'm not going to talk about that." He didn't shy away from criticizing players or performances when he had to. I don't ever remember him asking to go off the record or take back something he said, both common practices with assistant coaches at Michigan and elsewhere.

There are a couple more paragraphs to go along with the Ann Arbor News's entire republished archive of Hokemania.

Search fiasco: somehow still growing. I still think Jim Harbaugh was supposed to be Michigan's next head coach before he backed out sometime after it became clear the NFL wanted him badly, thus resulting in the month-long post-OSU limbo and panicked search, but seriously if Dave Brandon means what he says about not offering Miles the job he traded the opportunity to not obliterate Michigan's chances with a few key recruits for some PR. If this was going to be the result Hoke should have been hired two seconds after Rodriguez went out the door—there were no serious overtures made towards anyone else except maybe Pat Fitzgerald.

Elsewhere, Or The Best In Overreaction

Braves & Birds:

My verdict on the Hoke hire depends somewhat on my view of the Lloyd Carr era.  I liked Carr as a coach and as a representative of the University, but I wasn’t upset when he retired in large part because he had not done a good job of surrounding himself with top-notch coaches.  It’s in this respect that he is no Bo.  Bo Schembechler created modern Michigan football and one aspect of his greatness was that his coaching tree was excellent.  Carr, on the other hand, doesn’t have a coaching tree to speak of.  Thus, the two obvious candidates for Michigan’s head coaching position were Jim Harbaugh – a Bo quarterback whom Carr declined to hire when he was looking for a quarterback coach – and Les Miles – a Bo lineman/assistant whom Carr reputedly did not want as his replacement in 2007.  If Dave Brandon’s much-discussed Process was designed to bring back a Michigan Man from Bo’s lineage, then that would have been fine because hiring a Bo protege can be done on merit.  The fact that the Process produced the one sickly branch from the Carr tree is the reason why Hoke’s hire has been greeted by articles with titles like "Advice for the Despondent."

One bit of Maize 'n' Brew:

This team spent the last three years building something, and I spent the last three years not simply waiting for future glory but anticipating it.  Times were certainly tough, but I could still see the payoff at the end.  The top ten offense paired with what I still believe could have been a fast, havoc wreaking defense with a couple more years of experience and depth--and probably a new coordinator.  It wasn't always easy to watch the games, and the losing streaks against rivals always hurt, but I could take the taunts and laughter from other teams fans because I believed.  That belief wasn't ever there under Lloyd.  It was always just an ominous feeling that the other shoe was about to drop.

Another bit was not happy after the hire, either, focusing mostly on the Les Miles discussion that does not and never will end up being an offer.

I have no idea how I got to Hashiell Dammit, but if you reference Straight Bangin' in your post well, that's old school:

You know it‘s a bad decision when one’s first reaction to the news is to draw easy comparisons between Michigan football and the Big 3 Automakers decline and to scramble to the Wikipedia page for the Romanovs to confirm that yes, this moment fits perfectly within the arc of a decaying empire. The emptiness that follows, however, is a bitch.

For its part, Straight Bangin' is "paralyzed." That's probably for the best.

Touch the Banner surveys the team and attempts to find out who fits. Slot receivers have to be saying "WTF" to themselves. HSR wants Michigan Replay back, but I don't think that had anything to do with Rodriguez. IIRC the producer lost his job with the IMG switchover and owned the rights to the name and possibly the music. This totally happened 110 years ago.



January 13th, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

Stop with the "ncaa violations" crap - it was clearly refuted as nothing more than a couple of excess stretching sessions and an over-zealous newspaper.  Gene Chizik and Auburn are going to be stripped of their title in a year or two, OSU had to suspect 5 players for trading school merchandise and signatures for tattoos, and a booster at USC gave Reggie Bush's family money.  Also, Ed Martin once gave money to UM basketball players.  Those are violations.  What happened to RR was a glorified witch hunt.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:05 PM ^

Guess what- Carr was done with Michigan too. He wanted to retire at least a year earlier. He'd checked out on recruiting.

And I was pretty fed up with losing to Tressell 7 out of 8 times. I'm fed up with people acting like that started with Rodriguez.


January 13th, 2011 at 10:36 PM ^

Calm down.  For your own sanity, you should stop reading this blog and confine yourself to the Freep or whatever other source better conforms to your own overblown views.

EDIT:  Did Blue in NY get the ban hammer?  'Cause that's who I was telling to calm down.

MI Expat NY

January 13th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

Do we seriously have to rehash the last few years of Lloyd Carr's tenure?  The Horror, Oregon, getting curb stomped in the rose bowl, losing 5 of 6 against Ohio State, a complete inability to stop any running threat at QB?  There was a ceiling in the later years under Carr, one that many felt was only there because of the inability of our coaches to evolve.  

Were the last few years of Carr better than the three years under Rodriguez?  Of course, but it doesn't mean Michigan was wrong to go in the direction they did, or that it was wrong to support that direction even as it struggled to get off it's feet.  

Brian isn't bashing Hoke.  He's bashing the system/process/climate that led to hiring Hoke without seriously looking at a coach that didn't come from the Michigan tradition.  He wants Hoke to win, just as we all do, but he's not ignoring the risk of hiring a guy who's strongest asset on the resume was "loves Michigan."  

a non emu

January 13th, 2011 at 2:27 PM ^

The fact is those three games stand out so starkly because of our own high expectations from those teams. The sad difference when compared to the end of RR's tenure was that the beat downs just became expected. I don't even remember all the the 20+ point curb stompings over the past few years because after a point I had just gotten numb. I look forward to a time when losing by 20 feels like a gut-punch again. 

Again, I am also not one of those who believes that RR was forced out because he "wasn't a Michigan Man" or whatever. I supported him wholeheartedly, but the losing was , and losing badly, was something I couldn't stand any more. If he had won more, or even not lost as badly, I think he is back next year.

Having said that, I doubt next year would have been any better with RR at the helm as lot of you are claiming. I doubt he gets rid of Gerg, or that defense that his coordinator had no idea running. He was a little too stubborn for that. And the less I think about our abject special teams, and turnover ratio the better it is for my blood pressure (I know that there is a line of reasoning that turnovers are random and what not, but after 3 years of the same thing, you have to agree that there was something related to the way the kids were being coached that had something to do with it).


January 13th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

The reason those three games stand out is because I never had a sense Carr had any idea how to address the deficiencies that were highlighted by them.  He could never stop running QBs - Syracuse upset them in 1998 with McNabb running around, and Notre Dame did the same that year.  Vince Young destroyed them, as did Troy Smith and basically anyone else who could get out of the pocket. 

Also, GERG was gone after the Gator Bowl.  If you think RR would have kept him, or that Brandon would have allowed it, you are crazy.

st barth

January 13th, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

I used to love Llyod Carr as a coach but since he has retired the antics of him and his Lloyd Carrtel™ have become (to paraphrase Matt Taibbi) a vampire squid wrapped around the face of M football, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like a risk to it's own legacy of glory.  The inane turf battles have turned the M into Mediocrity.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:38 PM ^

I was speaking with someone about this earlier today. Lloyd and his cronies are happy with a coach if, and only if, that coach does not threaten their legacy. Thus, Brady Hoke. I want him to succeed but I don't see any NCs in our future with him. Therefore, everyone will look back at 1998 and think of Lloyd with little hearts floating above their heads.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:38 PM ^

Last conference championship under Carr - 2004 (tied). 

.500 record vs. OSU = 1-6 in the last 7 meetings. 

bowl games - 1-4 in the last 5, with the only win being in his final game versus an 8-4 Florida squad.

I loved Lloyd Carr circa 1997-2003.  After that, he was clearly running out of steam and the team's lack of success showed it. 

And btw, you aren't a hypocrite if you question a decision and provide some coherent arguments to back it up.  You are a hypocrite, though, if you scream and berate others for not agreeing with your sentiment and for being "closed minded."  Oh yeah

screw you.

Stay classy.


January 13th, 2011 at 5:27 PM ^

You mean the '06 team that lost to OSU (at home) and then was curb-stomped by USC?  Honestly, that team played really well in the beginning of the year but that USC butt-whupping was sad.

As for '07, they still lost to Wiscy and OSU after those first two weeks.  So yeah, they showed some resilience but also benefitted from playing the worst ND team in its history after those two weeks, followed by some MAC-cakes and an easier run of the B10 schedule.

His Dudeness

January 13th, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

Bravo. You need to srsly delete some users.

I would point you in the direction of some that chose to comment on the WTKA thread.

Sorry if I mis-quoted you at all.

Some people took it to mean that you had killed babies and are deciding whether to pursue more baby killings to come.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:17 PM ^

delete anyone that disagrees with brian. form your own little group and talk about how rich got railroaded from the beginning and it's all greg robinson's fault and make brady hoke fat jokes like that tool did the other day. here's another idea. have your mathlete add up the wins the last 3 years and then add up the losses and compare the two....i wonder what type of magic you'll come up with.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

Dude you crossed the line a long time ago. No one is arguing that opposing viewpoints cant be heard on this blog. What we are arguing is that calling the creator of this blog an asshole is out of bounds and should not be tolerated.


It is pointless to have arguments about RR and BH. BH is our coach and RR is not. Some people will be happy about this, other will not. Get over it. Drop the combative schtick, have a beer, have some sex, and come back when you are relaxed.


January 13th, 2011 at 4:30 PM ^

Good Grief, shut the fuck already.

The big difference between a guy like you and Brian is come next September, he will support the team with all his emotions. A douchebag like yourself will probably boo like a baby after the first bad half of football.

Maybe I am wrong on that.

But, seriously, shut the fuck already. You are ruining the otherwise sane discussion in this thread


January 13th, 2011 at 2:02 PM ^

After all the hub-bub regarding Rodriguez's departure from West Virginia- and, to a lesser extent, Randy Edsel's abrupt departure from UConn- I am surprised that no one has discussed the "how" of Brady Hoke's departure from San Diego State. I don't believe he met with or told the team. I don't believe he mentioned his players at either Ball State or SDSU in his press conference as well.

For a guy who is supposedly all about the players, it seems like an odd oversight on his part.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:06 PM ^

i've read this blog since near the beginning but never created an account until today.

i just felt the need to support brian on this and co-sign everything he just said.  the comments and threads telling brian what he should do and what opinion he should have have been ridiculous.

brian is what makes this site amazing and it's his intelligent, well-formed independent opinions that keeps people coming back.  having a negative opinion about hoke's resume/hire and supporting the program are not mutually exclusive.  

thank you brian for all your hard work.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:07 PM ^

Thanks Brian for that post.  I agree with you that this was not the exciting hire that most UofM fans were looking for.  I too was behind RR (up until the Gator Bowl) but now that CBH is here, as you've also said, he has my full support.  

With that in mind, it does not preclude us from offering criticism and doubts and I for one think that both sides of the coin serve fans best.  

I hope you continue to provide the solid insight we're used to.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:07 PM ^

I'm always amazed at how Brian's words can summarize my thoughts and feelings so well.  I've said elsewhere that I'm excited for BH, he's excited.  My emotional investment just won't be as high in the coming years, and I won't live and die every Saturday...

I hope I'm wrong and will be happy if I am.


January 13th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

Why the hate for Lloyd Brian?  He won a National Championship, and a bunch of Big Ten Titles.  Yeah, Tressel had his number, but I will always remember him as a great coach.  And, by the way, we don't need a flashy offense at Michigan to win games.  Yes, it would be fun to watch, but as others have said, Alabama, USC, to name a few, have been fine not running the spread. 


January 13th, 2011 at 2:18 PM ^

OK, Ryanoe0610.  Assuming we don't have Alabama or USC level talent.  Do we have Stanford level talent?   They also seemed fine running a pro style offense.  I'm not anti spread, pro pro style.  I'm just saying that there is no reason to hate on Lloyd.  I loved his offense, and his teams.  Maybe it's because I was at UM 2002-2006, and he was our coach during those years, but I'm tired of hearing all the anti-Lloyd comments.