The Team

Submitted by Brian on 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.

i-robot

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.

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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.

Comments

SoullessHack

January 13th, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

UM may have more than Stanford-level talent, but it does not have the Stanford coaching staff that oversaw that team's turn-around. 

I don't think even the rosiest of Hoke's supporters would claim that 1) DB would have ever hired Brady Hoke over Jim Harbaugh or 2) that five years from now, NFL teams will be falling all over each other for the chance to offer Brady hoke millions of dollars.

bronxblue

January 13th, 2011 at 2:28 PM ^

Let's not blow smoke too far up Stanford's butt here - they have a #1 draft pick at QB and beat one team with more than 8 wins - Virginia Tech.  Also, MSU went 11-2 this year and nobody would call them an elite team.  12-1 is 12-1 and a great accomplishment, but I'm not sure this level of success would have continued.  I think that is a big reason Harbaugh left when he did - if he goes 8-5, 9-4 next year then nobody would be knocking down his door. 

SoullessHack

January 13th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

It's a clear and accurate view of the past.  Lloyd may have won a NC (partially with Gary Mo's recruits, btw) and many Big Ten championships, but once Jim Tressel took over in Columbus those days abruptly ended. 

The college football world has changed since the mid-90's.  The story of the second half of Lloyd Carr's career is the story of a stubborn refusal to acknoweldge that change as one mobile QB after another (after another after another after another) literally ran right by us.  And the story of Brady Hoke's hiring looks - at this point, with admittedly very little data - like a return to that same attitude.

BRCE

January 13th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

You had me all the way until the line about Hoke. Even data doesn't tell you much. You have to watch the games and I don't think many of us watched a lot of Ball State or SDSU the past few years.

We have NO idea if Hoke will be like Carr philisophically. Please don't put that on him yet just because he was an LC assistant and is popular with the same kind of Michigan Man idiots that Lloyd was.

MI Expat NY

January 13th, 2011 at 2:27 PM ^

I'll remember Lloyd fondly as well.  I'll also remember that the game passed him by in his last few seasons.  I don't mean that as a slight, it happens to most coaches in the end.  

I think people are over emphasizing the spread as a flashy offense meme.  There is no one system that's a flashy offense, we all get that.  The "wanting a flashy offense" idea is a stand-in for the idea that Michigan was settling for being really good, not great.  When Carr retired, many just wanted the program to continue, others wanted a fresh start with coaches that understood that if you combine great talent with great schemes, you can beat the elite.  

Some thought Carr's regime was elite, others didn't.  In my mind, the Hoke hire was to appease those that thought Carr's regime and way of doing things was perfect.  My only hope is that Hoke may know that things can be better.  

Yinka Double Dare

January 13th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

What killed me was watching Lloyd's last game.  They KNEW they'd have to put up a bunch of points to win that game so they finally opened up the offense, and many of us who were sick of "we're Michigan, eff you, we'll outexecute you and win, here's the 30th zone left of the game" saw what we had wanted to see out of them for one fleeting game of the late Carr era.  An actual attacking game plan, finally utilizing all of the considerable talent that Michigan had on offense.

It was at that point that it should have been obvious to everyone that the talent was there, but the coaches insisted on going Milton Berle with the offense -- only show enough to win.  Except in not blasting teams into bolivian at every opportunity, Michigan lost some games they probably should have won, and made some other games interesting in the 4th quarter when they should have been long-since decided.

And bringing in a MANBALL guy with an older, traditional OC worries me that we may be going back to Milton Berle offense.

Wolverine0056

January 13th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

I loved Lloyd as our coach, but I think Brian is right that Carr didn't have the type of coaches that he needed towards the end. I agree that we can run an offense like Alabama or USC and win. I think it just comes down to getting some of those big time athletes back to Michigan. Not necessarily 5 star guys, because we all know that is crap sometimes, but guys that love and want to play for Michigan. Guys that will go out there every Saturday and fight until the end. I am not saying that the current team isn't like that, but I think we can get back to being a top notch program in the B1G and the country and I think Hoke could be the one that takes us there. If not, fine but we all need to give him a chance and see where this goes.

bronxblue

January 13th, 2011 at 2:23 PM ^

I actually have no ill will toward Carr except the fact that he doggedly held onto a 1980's mindset about "we are UM and we can just out-talent you" even though things were changing.  He won a NC but the second half of his tenure was marked by disappointments and underperformance (even 2006 was exposed as a bit of a fluke).  RR wasn't perfect, but it represents a departure from an outdated model.  With Hoke, unless he suddenly recruits like Alabama or USC - which means accepting JuCos, paying players, greyshirting out of the wazoo, etc. - UM will be at a disadvantage.  And I'm not looking forward to 9-3 and a curb-stomping by Alabama or Texas in a bowl game.

BRCE

January 13th, 2011 at 2:35 PM ^

Lloyd Carr as an ex-coach is like the anti-Jimmy Carter. His legacy is mixed now. I think it's telling that Hoke didn't talk much about Lloyd in his presser. It wouldn't be smart because although some people still insist he's MR. CLASSY, he's a very divisive figure to others now. The rumors that he is a puppetmaster who cares more about his own legacy than the welfare of Michigan football won't die. Why? Probably because the things we see (or don't see) play out seem to support the crux of these very rumors.

I like Hoke as a man. He deserves a chance as a coach. But the fact that he is the A-1 star of the Lloyd Carr coaching tree speaks volumes.

zebbielm12

January 13th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

For me it was the entire 2007 season. Going 8-4 with half your offense nfl-bound upper classmen is just horrible. We're never going to have more talent than that; that was the ceiling of our program under Lloyd and his refusal to do anything except run left. He took the chains off the offense against Florida and great things happened. It was depressing.

Usc and bama are going to be more talented. That's just the way recruiting goes. Yes, michigan can be successful with a vanilla pro-style offense. But not against more talented teams, not in bowls, and not against osu. If that's ok with you, then we should have kept Lloyd, and Hoke was a good hire. I really hope I'm wrong here, but I'm afraid that I'm not.

rpel84

January 13th, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

Lloyd and his cronies are behind most of the shit and decension that RR faced.  He never supported RR and left like a bitter old man.  Face it, he helped submarine RR and our program.  "cut off the nose to spite the face"  And that Championship he won was with Gary Moellers guys.  He also did way less with a lot of talent.  I used to respect Lloyd, but i hate him now.  He is not a "Michigan Man"  and I hate that Micigan Man crap

bronxblue

January 13th, 2011 at 2:20 PM ^

If the Hoke improves immensely next year, then I will totally give Hoke credit.  But if the team wins 8-9 games and the defense improves to mediocre, I'm not going to attach that to Hoke.  In 2-3 years, sure I'll give him credit.  But we saw this with ND - Willingham and Weiss both had early success but then suffered once the upperclassmen left.  If Hoke is still beating OSU and out-performing Alabama in 3 years, then he will be judged a great hire. 

dnak438

January 13th, 2011 at 2:13 PM ^

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.

That's exactly right, and it upsets me more than any losses on the football field could.

LatinForLiar

January 13th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

As a Bengals fan, I recognize the mindset that led to firing of RR and hiring of Hoke. Mike Brown treasures loyalty and deference above all else, and wants to think he is special and better than everybody else. The group of "Michigan Men" alums responsible for this faceplant, who apparently wield far more power than I ever knew before, have shown a startling similar attitude throughout this process and are in perfect company with DB the DB.

might and main

January 13th, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

I am so pissed off at the group that worked behind the scenes to torpedo RichRod's efforts, primarily because they are absolute hypocrites, claiming to be Michigan Men but they worked against the institution just to further their own damn vision.  I won't say that I think Lloyd was behind it, because I have no idea if he was or wasn't.  I'd have a hard time believing he was.  But what I will say is that I don't give a damn who it was or what they've done for M previously, they burned their Michigan Man cards with those efforts and they can go eff themselves.  Frickin' hypocrites.

Big Boutros

January 13th, 2011 at 2:15 PM ^

the only thing I've learned since Christmas is that Dave Brandon is a gelatinous bag of smegma and I desperately hope he hears the siren song of pizza marketing before he puts his smarmy face on the 50 yard line

Josh S

January 13th, 2011 at 2:30 PM ^

I was actually in the middle of editing that, but you beat me to it.

What I was saying was:

I appreciate Brian's view. I am part of the group that is fully behind the hire, especially after the presser yesterday. That doesn't mean he will be successful, but I bet we will actually make tackles this year.

I think the debate is very positive as well as entertaining though.

mtzlblk

January 13th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

He runs live tackling in practice enough to be able to effectively teach tackling and risks injury to a still very shallow D. Not saying either way is right or wrong, as RR did not run live tackling drills all season and part of the off-season becuase he couldn't risk any further injury on the D. Hard to imagine them improving much at it if he can't/doesn't and he can ill-afford an injury to someone like Martin, Demens, Woolfolk.

Going back to biting my nails now.

1M1Ucla

January 13th, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

I guess I'll just have to get a life from now on.  I've lived and died M football since seeing my first game at age 10 in Nov 1969 -- yeah, that game.  I've never felt this uninterested Michigan football.

What ev.

connecticutblue

January 13th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

Seems like a tradeoff exists between being "Michigan" and legitimately competing for national championships. The losses to App State, Oregon, and USC were extremely painful games that I attended as a student and I think really proved that Michigan could not compete for national titles back then-and if you really analyze this situation using clearcut evidence and data, it seems like we're heading back in that direction with this change leadership. 

However clearly that direction is better than what has been happening in the last last three years and in a sense I'm glad we get to re-boot. My only hope is Hoke can prove to be more flexible and innovative than Carr and company. 

Anyway, thank you Brian for your excellent posts. You have been following this situation with a different perspective that is offered than the mainstream media with  evidence and strong opinion and it has made this blog a must read. I've been reading this for five years now and it keeps getting better and better. 

blusage

January 13th, 2011 at 2:22 PM ^

...to assume that since Hoke is a Michigan Man, and defensive-minded, and a branch of the Bo-Lloyd Michigan tree, that he can't field an exciting, explosive offense?

That's like saying you can't create a successful blog because your parents didn't.

Sorry, don't buy that line of reasoning.

InterM

January 13th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

If, that is, Brady Hoke arrived on this Earth yesterday, with no track record of what he (and the OC he's bringing in) have done to date.  Since that isn't the case, and since Brian is familiar with that record and has presumably incorporated it into his analysis (which you have mischaracterized as an "assumption"), you might want to think twice about calling someone else's reasoning "simple-minded."

blusage

January 13th, 2011 at 2:54 PM ^

I think it is simple-minded to think a coach can't learn and grow and is only as good as his past record. Chizik is a great example. As is Tressel and many others.

WIth the resources and talent Michigan has to offer compared to what Hoke had at other schools, there's no reason why his teams should not perform better than his past teams.

Sorry YOU took offense. Did I interrupt your reach-around?

mtzlblk

January 13th, 2011 at 4:27 PM ^

of course that could happen, however logic dicates that it is highly unlikely that this will occur.....Chizik is the exception that proves the rule.

The point is that a true, merit-based coaching search would have resulted in a candidate that has a much higher probability of success that would not require thenm to learn on the jobn, although it would seem very likely that there were no options that were willing to gamble with the positive trajectory of the career given the short fuse of the M 'athletic supporters'.

Going back to my reach-around now.... 

Six Zero

January 13th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

I can't help but wonder how long some of the RR loyalists floating around the site have been maize and blue.  Unfortunately, we've been suspect for four years now, and there's sure to be fans out there who have only known Michigan as what it is right now.

If there are readers out there who have only embraced UM in the Rich era, I certainly don't hold their allegiance against them.  I'd even be surprised they have NOT jumped ship by now.  I just hope they realize that what has been in that time isn't what the rest of us pledged allegiance to all those years ago.

Since the press conference yesterday, in some inexplicable way, I've just stopped looking at Michigan football as a here and now thing... less like a departure from the past and more like the closest part of a road that runs off the horizon for miles beyond sight.*

I don't know if Brady's going to be here as long as he envisions himself being here, and we're not out of the woods yet, but embracing the tradition is just good medicine right now, for better or worse.

Y'know, just cradle the baby til it shuts up.  Waaa...  Waa... wa... *snore*

*And yes, I realize what a pretentious and ridiculous analogy that was.  Thank you.