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.


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 4:16 PM ^

And if Hoke goes 6-7 this year because of massive attritition or injuries, then I'm going to judge him as at least as bad a hire as RR becuase at least RR went 7-6.  Context means something, and ignoring what one guy started off with compared to another is a diservice to everyone.

wut.  So what Hoke is starting off with is better than what Rodriguez started off with is your main point?  Offensively, sure.  Defensively, not a chance in the world.  It's a wash.

But you're free to say the Rodriguez hire is as bad as the Hoke hire if Hoke goes 3-9 next year.


January 13th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

...Brian has not been saying that RR should have been retained.  He has clearly stated that after the bowl game he knew RR had to go.  It is fair, however, for him to point out that the same folks who made RR's tenure here more difficult than it needed to be seem to have determined a search process that had a very narrow scope.

goblue fortwayne

January 13th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

Brian, love your blog. I've been following site for quite some time, but just now finally set up an account.

I'm not here to tell you to support Hoke. I don't really care if you do.

The issue at hand for me is your unflappable love for RR. Was the offense improving?... yes, but there were still major problems in last few games. Was the defense improving?... no! Were the special teams improving?, except for a few decent returns. I know it's been said many times on this site, but i will be redundant... THERE ARE MORE PHASES TO THE GAME THAN OFFENSE!

I know in your world, that Lloyd Carr is to blame for everything that is wrong... you probably even blame him for Bernanke's quantative easing. With the state of the defense in such bad shape when RR arrived, why wasn't that more aggressively addressed early on in recruiting.... i know, Brian, you'll probably say he didn't have enough time. Why so many small slot receivers instead? Why force a new defense on a coach in the middle of a season? Wouldn't a great coach recognize a defense lacking talent earlier than he did?

You complain about people telling or suggesting to you who you should support or whateverthe....ever. In your love of RR or your dislike of LC, you really don't sound any different!


January 13th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

"I've been following site for quite some time...

"The issue at hand for me is your unflappable love for RR"

Define "long time"?  As in "me love you long time"?  Because that's what I'm thinking.  If you'd been reading or following the site for longer than a week, you'd know that Brian had Rodriguez being removed after the bowl game.  Honestly, did you just start reading after the Hoke presser?

Brian's been highly critical of a LOT over the last three years.  Don't come on here and blow smoke up our ass and say you've been paying attention, because you haven't.  There was very little support for Rodriguez out there from before day one.  That the offense was this, or the defense was that doesn't take away from the fact that there were factions and our fanbase largely behaved like arrogant, intolerant, impatient bitches.

Now the same non-supporters / detractors from the last 3 years are out there lecturing everyone who doesn't hail Brandon's search and selection as the fairy tonic that's going to cure the last three years, and it's just sickening.

Hoke's a decent guy but we don't even know who his freaking staff is yet, and people like you are out there all panties-in-a-bunch at everyone who's not agreeing with your complete and utter optimism and faith in Brandon.


January 13th, 2011 at 3:53 PM ^

...of Carr-era players, not Carr.  (he leaves it to us to conclude what we will about the connection there)  C'mon, hasn't it sucked to be watching the beginning of an NFL game and to have to be worrying about what one of the Carr-era players is going to state as his school?  Braylon and his *&^* "Lloyd Carr's Michigan," numerous high schools, etc?


January 13th, 2011 at 3:16 PM ^

that's some of the best stuff you've ever written.  Heartfelt, honest, unflinching - I always appreciate what you have to say.  You're calling out of the factions has been spot on and refreshing.

I don't agree with everything anyone says down to the exact letter, but, Brian, you're right far more than you're wrong, you're fairer than most, and because you wear your bias on your sleeve, you feel obligated to back up your arguments with more facts than anyone I know.

Hang in there and try not to take the attacks too personally.

los barcos

January 13th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

everyone think lloyd carr is some nefarious wizard behind the scenes?  i dont understand how this was HIS idea.  lloyd carr was fired, or let go, from the athletic department by, guess who, david brandon.  why are we to assume that 1) david brandon subsequently asked lloyd for coaching advice 2) lloyd suggested hoke and 3) brandon acted purely on that suggestion.

no one knows what actually happened yet at the same time they have concluded, for no reason, that it is lloyd carr's fault .  this is absolute insanity! the man hasnt coached a game since january 1, 2008 and he's no longer employed by the university yet he's still the scapegoat for all things wrong with michigan football.  unbelievable. 


January 13th, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

While I totally agree with the sentiment you stated here, you have some facts wrong. Carr was not fired or let go. He retired. And Bill Martin was the AD at the time.

Regardless. I concur in with your basic point. Lloyd Carr was a fine coach and brought a title to Ann Arbor. He shouldn't be dragged through the Mgoblog mud everytime the program hits hard times.


January 13th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

I'm not saying our bowl record was stellar but I don't think we were terrible. We lost to some really good teams.


07: Beat Florida off their national championship year and they would go on to win a national title the following year.
06: Lost a close one to the defending national champs, USC, with 2 Heisman trophy winners on the team.
05: Lost a close one to Nebraska. Uncalled for.
04: Lost to Texas by 1, who went on to win the national title the following year.
03: Lost a close one to USC in rose bowl and a Heisman trophy winner
02: Beat a great, fast Florida team.
01: Lost to a 11-2 Tennessee team that almost played in the national  title game if not for being upset by LSU the last game of the year.
00: Beat an NFL loaded Auburn team
99: Beat an NFL loaded Alabama team
98: Beat a good Arkansas team
97: Won national title over Washington state
So 4-1 v. SEC schools prior to the RR years. (I was a RR supporter)


January 13th, 2011 at 3:39 PM ^

Talk about revisionist history

2007 Rose Bowl we got owned by a 2 loss USC team when we had a ridiculous amount of NFL talent; I was there. 2004 Rose Bowl vs. USC wasn't that close either.

2008 vs. Florida was obv a great win and Lloyd broke out a ton of tricks, and ran a lot of spread style formations, I think partially because it was his last game. But we went 8-4 that year with a lot NFL talent Michigan has seen. 

You've got a tough job proving that point-you really need to go a ways back (2002?), to find some clearcut bowl success. Obviously Rich Rod had no success but let's be honest about where this program was at: pretty decent but not a national contender. 


January 13th, 2011 at 5:29 PM ^

06: Lost a close one to the defending national champs, USC, with 2 Heisman trophy winners on the team.

You're off a year on USC. They lost the national title to Texas the previous year, and both Leinart and Bush were already gone. John David Booty was their QB and CJ Gable their primary RB. The game also wasn't close.


January 13th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

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

Really?  I guess I was imagining when you took an innocuous comment from Hoke - his line that teams probably shouldn't use zone schemes exclusively (a sentiment RR himself appears to share, given that we used some man blocking now and then) - and turned it into a "Hoke hates the spread" rant.  Or the whole "Denard is totally gone if Hoke's hired" speculation.  Or you know, the banner that mocks the guy. 

Hey, you vented a little, which is normal.  But don't act like you were being some benign voice of reason here. 


January 13th, 2011 at 4:32 PM ^

Ummm...I'm sure Brian has his reasons to be bummed about Hoke (which I think really boil down to "he's not RichRod" or "he isn't a "read option coach"), but if the "resume" was the reason to be negative about Hoke, why was there a second of love for Pat Fitzgerald???  Fitz is 33-29 without NW playing the sacrifical creampuff out-of-conference.  Hoke is 47-50 with his program often in that role.  Those are fairly similar numbers (53% v 48%).  

I think it's fine to have concerns about a coach (if you didn't previously rip others for "not giving RR a chance"), but "fuck off and die"?  really?

p.s.  jmblue, you forgot that we "threw in the towel" with this hire... 


January 13th, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

After the well over 500 times I have seen it  written, I am still waiting for 1 person to correlate immediate dissatisfaction with Rich's hire and cotinued dislike for him, to the product he put on the field.  Auburn recruited and won in the face of heavy dissatisfaction for their new coach by it's fan base. Hell USC is recruiting very well in the face of fan dislike and the loss of 10 scholarships a season for 3 years.  What about Mac Brown when he took over Texas?  Everyone down there thought he was a light weight.   Even the shower teacher at Tennessee rattled off a big winning streak and made a bowl in a tough league at a school where no one wanted him.

Rodriguez didn't get support because he lost, not the other way around.  The same crowd can't argue that off the field stuff doesn't matter and that Hoke needs to prove it on the field, then argue that Rodriguez "never had a chance" because of the off-field climate he endured. Either it is a big deal or it isn't.  It most likely isn't and history supports that. Winners have foresight about the job they select, then they get the job done and build support.

This site is the greatest Michigan sports resource by a long shot.  Still, the two areas that this blog falls flat are the the excuse that "Rich got screwed by Michigan people" and the attacks on people who spent last fall questioning where the hell he was taking us.  Suddenly when those topics come up, people who claim to be all about "data" and "numbers" become reliant on tales of boogeymen and nefarious ex-coaches and their supporters for torpedoing their guy.

If we expanded our point of reference to other schools, we'd likely find Rich Rodriguez didn't take that much more shit that any other coach who was underperforming at a place with high expectations. And if he did, a  great counter-attack would be to go recruit a defense and coach an effective special teams. That will shut everyone up. He would have received all the glory and more that comes with success at a place like this too. 

Hoke going home a widely popular figure tonight or next month, translates to nothing of substance if he can't apply his knowledge and skill set to create a winner. He'll just eat his crap sandwhich from the fans and Michigan men later in his tenure if he loses.  He has the same opportunity that Rich Rodriguez had in terms of resources and the Michigan name.

This isn't even exploring the topic of what Rich Rodriguez could have done differently in his approach and preparation to adapt to this University and project a persona that would have won him, rather than cost him support.  Mac Brown came to Texas and was ready with an extensive understanding of a fan base that is even more parochial than ours. Bob Stoops same thing at Oklahoma.  They knew they had to win first and foremost, but they weren't arrogant enough to the think that they could worry only about that. They covered all the bases off the field and satisfied the people that could make their lives easy or hard.

Another topic for another time. But we really need to get over making excuses for Rich Rodriguez performance as coach.  He didn't strike me as the type of guy that spent a lot of time falling back on them.


January 13th, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

Honestly, how many have argued that Rodriguez's win-loss record wasn't the main reason he was fired, or that his win-loss record would have been materially different if only the fan base had supported him?  Clearly, if the win-loss record hadn't continued to turn around and head in the right direction (as it had begun to do), he was gone at some point.  The only real debate was, when do you make that call?  If you mean to contend that the degree of support (or lack thereof) didn't influence the outcome of that debate, we'll have to agree to disagree.  IMHE, without all of the "Michigan Man"/"bad fit" noise, Rodriguez likely would have gotten another year to show what he could do -- and, by the way, gain more support from the fan base if he succeeded.

might and main

January 13th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

Look, I was not a blind RR supporter.  In fact, when he was hired I had some great misgivings, all focused on the character issues.  But over time I came to believe he was a genuine good guy working his ass off for M.  I believe he made a LOT of BIG mistakes here.  The D, the special teams, even the crap about not embracing the tradition and culture enough.  But my overall opinion of the guy was that he was a good guy who was actually doing the stuff that we all want to say is "Michigan Man" material: being humble, working your ass off, focusing on the academics, representing the institution with integrity, blah blah effing blah. 

The difference between what you cite above with Mack Brown and Gene Chizik, etc., is that here at Michigan there was a group of powerful people on the inside who were *actively* working to torpedo RichRod.  That's not anywhere near the same as having a fan base upset because you've got a different accent or even because you aren't winning enough. Of course I can't prove this, but I firmly believe someone on the inside was behind the damn Freep BS investigation.  Someone tipped off Rosenberg and Snyder about the CARA form crap.  And I don't know if you can overestimate how much that BS set back all of RR's work.


January 13th, 2011 at 3:36 PM ^

I have only tried three times to write how I feel about Brian's thoughts on Hoke, but everytime I end up zig zagging in every direction on my thoughts, that no one would understand what the hell I was saying.  I summerize:

1) Brian has every right to be frustrated about the Hoke hire.  We've all seen this show before, it's very safe.  This is a settle move for Brian, it says 8-4 is ok to him.

2) Michigan IS Michigan and it's different.  It takes a "Michigan Man" to understand this.  RR never really got this. RR didn't have to be from here to get it, but for some reason he never understood what Michigan is about.  It's more than x's and o's, and w's and l's.

3) I didn't like the RR firing, but I love the Hoke hiring.  I think Hoke "get's it" and where I think he will be different, is that he WILL go for it on 4th and 3 from the 35.  He WILL try to win instead of trying not to lose.  He WILL trust his offense to get the first down, and if not, he WILL trust the defense to stop them.

4) Hoke may not be the most qualified coach, but he was the most qualified coach for Michigan.

5) "This is Michigan for Godsakes"

I'm still all over the place, and could go on forever.  There is a lot of emotion when it comes to Michigan and what it stands for, and it is difficult to think clearly when emotions are controlling your thoughts.


January 13th, 2011 at 3:42 PM ^

I think the reaction to Brians reaction says a lot about how far this blog has come in three years. Brians response to this means a lot to a lot of people on both sides of the aisle. At the risk of bringing in the politics, didn't Obama just talk last might about the importance of tolerance and humility in our public debate?

Seems like a good idea for mgoblog now too.

Go Brian and Go Blue


January 13th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

I've never questioned Brian's or anyone else's right to have an opinion that Hoke is a questionable hire. It's certainly not a sure thing. But then again, most of us, myself included, though RR was a sure thing.

My main contention with the Brian and the "RR-is-God" faction is how anyone can see watch what was on the field this year and think that we were somehow on the road to being a national power. It wasn't happening, at least not anytime soon.

I guess the question is, assuming you were right and we were on the right track, how long were you willing to wait for it to happen?


January 13th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

My main contention with the Brian and the "RR-is-God" faction is how anyone can see watch what was on the field this year and think that we were somehow on the road to being a national power. It wasn't happening, at least not anytime soon.

This is exactly how I feel.  I was a Rodriguez supporter, die hard even until October 31, 2009.  That was when the first doubts really sneaked in.  I knew we were in serious trouble at other points, two massive collapses to Purdue, the UMass disaster this year, Bowling Green being in the game at half time, the whole end of the year.  Still, I never flat out convinced myself he had to go until Mississippi State.

I step away from the keyboard and think, well, shit, Rodriguez is a great coach, great person, and he gave us some very enjoyable players.  But the man had an abysmal conference record, gave far too much fodder to the national media, and really, at the end of the day, wasn't improving.  That defense and that offense really weren't that good against good teams.


January 13th, 2011 at 4:53 PM ^

I guess the question is, assuming you were right and we were on the right track, how long were you willing to wait for it to happen?

One more season and if it's still not happening (7-8 wins and getting trucked in the losses), then send Rich on his way and I think nobody has room to complain.....and Brady Hoke would've still been available to take over.

Braylon 5 Hour…

January 13th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

I think there are 2 main issues here when it comes to Lloyd Carr..

a) His conservative in-game management that many (including me) feel made us consistently underachieve, despite having great talent

b) His deterioration as coach in the 2nd half of his tenure

SO I guess my questions on Hoke are...

1) Can he bring in equivalent talent/do a similar job to Lloyd?

2) Do we have any idea what Hoke is going to be like in a game scenario? Just because he will run a style similar to Lloyd doesn't mean he can't run it more aggressively, or play more to win versus not to lose.  

I really don't know much about Hoke's in game coaching, but I think that Carr really set the standard for conservative coaching, and I really doubt that Hoke would be at the same level, no matter what system he runs. 


January 13th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

I agree with many of Brian's points. It's weird, I liked the analogy about the ceiling.  I sometimes feel like Michigan may in fact be the room with the lower ceiling.  Not a bad thing in and of itself. And it's alright that we don't know any better because that's the home we've always known and it's comfortable to us physically and mentally. 

Rodriguez's approach at Michigan was very new and possibly full of arrogance on some level itself. He failed in his charge and deserved to be fired, but I still find it unfortunate that RR, a decent, good man who was a successful football coach and obviously cared tons about his players and their families, was not afforded the same kind of welcome, support and inclusion by former players and the media that we are all seeing on display this week for Brady Hoke.  Maybe I'm different from others, but that's probably going to stay on my hard drive for a while.  With RR in the rear view mirror,  I'm sure one day soon we'll learn from Rich Rodriguez and his staff about their personal perspectives and experience at Michigan.  I hope MIchigan invites Rodriguez back to future events, anniversaries, fund raisers and keeps him part of the Michigan family in some respects.  I wonder about this.

By hiring Hoke, Brandon wanted a Michigan football program closely resembling that of Lloyd Carr: 9-3 regular season on average, bowl game invites, pro-style offense churning out NFL draftees, tough defense, competitive team performances vs. rivals, a few B10 championship games in Indianapolis combined intermittently with one Top 5 finish  every 4 or 5 years - Sometimes very good. Often disappointing. Never dominant. That's what Michigan football has been (pre-Rodriguez) and probably where it's headed again under Hoke.

In other words, familiar territory for most UM fans.  Maybe that's good and OK.


January 13th, 2011 at 4:57 PM ^

...but I still find it unfortunate that RR, a decent, good man who was a successful football coach and obviously cared tons about his players and their families, was not afforded the same kind of welcome, support and inclusion by former players and the media that we are all seeing on display this week for Brady Hoke.

Agreed. Honestly, when the search started, I was hoping for another year of Rodriguez with a different DC if we couldn't get Harbaugh. RichRod's offense with even an AVERAGE defense? That sounded pretty good. But the more I hear about Hoke & the level of acceptance he's already receiving here, the more I think this might not be so bad. Rodriguez, even if he'd won, wouldn't have been "one of the guys," which proved cancerous from the beginning. Hoke's hire has already seemed to bring everyone back together somewhat -- shifting the team from "us against the world (past players included)" to being a big Michigan family again.

RichRod may have had a higher ceiling (now we'll never know), but a little stability across the program feels pretty nice for a change.


January 14th, 2011 at 8:36 AM ^

I love RR and have many times written and said that I hate how he was treated. But it seems to me that how he acted when he arrived probably soured a lot of people. In other words, the choices he made early on probably had more than a little to do with the level of support he had as time went on.

I also have a few friends and acquaintances who were "Bo's Boys." What is clearly in evidence is how much pride they have for the reputation he built, at least as much as the winning. RR not only didn't take stock of that reputation, and realize how important it was to all of us who cheer for the Maize and Blue, he really didn't seem to care all that much. At the root of alumni players' disdain for RR is probably more than just a little of that attitude.

Go back and watch the presser where RR was introduced to the media. Afterward, he was met in the hall and asked more questions. His tone, body language, and choice of words suggest a guy who thought he was coming into some back water burg, and he was really going to show these hicks how they do things in the big city, boy. When asked specifically about Ohio State, he all but shrugged his shoulders and said, "we have a lot of rivalries." My first thought was, "I understand the desire to not minimize anyone, but, c'mon. Do your f-cking homework, man. You're becoming the steward of the winningest program in college football and are charged with getting it to the next level, not trying to make it relevant in the first place."


January 13th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

I enjoy this blog immensely but Brian, you seem way off base in a couple of respects:

1. Repeatedly criticizing Brandon.  The firing of Rodriguez was appropriately timed and the coaching search was thorough and as timely as possible.  Rodriguez was only fired when it became evident after the bowl game that he had not made significant improvement this year.  Moreover, the timing did allow a MUCH lower buyout.  In addition, an earlier firing would have left Michigan without a head coach for some time since the two most high profile candidates would not be available until after their bowl games.  As for the timing of the hire, again I don't see how things could have been done differently.  He made an effort to pursue the two other most prominent candidates and he ultimately hired the best man available - only 6 days after Rodriguez's firing.

2.  Constantly knocking Hoke.  Your first mistake was making the ridiculous assertion that Hoke had no chance at the job.  Your second mistake has been to overlook Hoke's considerable qualifications and accomplishments, even calling his impressive resume "flimsy."  I wouldn't call turning around 2 totally crappy football programs, being named MAC coach of the year and then MWC coach of the year and building a SDSU team into one that would literally have kicked Michigan's butt a "flimsy" record.  And you can add in his extensive assistant coaching record including a stint on Michigan's National Championship team and the strong endorsement of essentially all his former players, including the very best (Brady, Woodson, etc.) In what alternate universe is this a "flimsy" record??

Every coaching hire is a gamble but objectively, Hoke looks like a good, if not great, hire.  I would have preferred Harbaugh but he had his heart set on the NFL.  Miles, as we all know, has major baggage. Other available options appear to have been coordinators without ANY head coaching experience.  Keeping Rodriguez did not appear to be a better option.  His three year record was absolutely horrible.  He set all the wrong Michigan records and his defense was getting worse every year.

Brian, I ask that you make the appropriate mea culpas and try to be more objective.  I look forward to a bright future for Michigan football - beating Ohio State and competing for national championships.  I also look forward to reading your interesting blog.   


January 13th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

1. Repeatedly criticizing Brandon. 

Until this week Brian has been president of the Brandon fan club.  He is not anti-Brandon.  He was disappointed by the execution of this firing/hiring.

The firing of Rodriguez was appropriately timed and the coaching search was thorough and as timely as possible. 

Timing of the firing was fine, but just announce Hoke that same day if you're not offering Harbaugh or Miles (I'll take Brandon at his word).

2.  Constantly knocking Hoke...In what alternate universe is [Hoke's] a "flimsy" record??

ESPN inhabits the same alternate universe.  When they handicapped the coaching search they questioned whether Hoke had Michigan-worthy credentials.  I think we're all hoping Hoke proves his doubters wrong, but doubt is not irrational, and not a failure to be "objective."


January 14th, 2011 at 1:55 AM ^

Just pointing out a few facts.

My response to your response:

1.  Brian has repeatedly criticized Brandon regarding the coaching search - and without an adequate rationale or suggesting a better approach in my humble opinion.  Brandon couldn't announce the Hoke hiring the same day as the Rodriguez firing since he was still pursuing and evaluating multiple candidates.  Maybe he could have saved a few days but since none of us knows what went on behind the scenes, it's impossible to reach that conclusion.

2.  So now ESPN is the gold standard, the experts on coaching searches?  Gee I never realized that.  I wonder what their credentials are.   We are all equally capable of analyzing the records of various candidates.  And I doubt their credentials are as noteworthy as those of Brady or Woodson.  I listed a tremendous amount of  evidence in Hoke's favor - and against the idea of a "flimsy" record - and I hear absolutely nothing to support the assertion of a "flimsy" record.  Hoke's been a success EVERYWHERE he has been.  Not middling, not just so-so, not "flimsy" but a success.   He's turned crap into gold - not overnight but eventually.  I rest my case.

It is not "objective" to ignore all the evidence and call a record "flimsy" without ANY reasonable rationale.  It defies all logic. 

As an aside, did you have a better candidate in mind?  Does Brian have a better candidate in mind?  A candidate with a better college head coaching record (a "flimsy" record of turning around two programs and earning coach of the year honors in two conferences) who wants the job and who doesn't bring serious ethical baggage with him?

Please enlighten me.



January 13th, 2011 at 4:56 PM ^

7 of his 9 wins this year were against teams with losing records in a crappy conference with one great team, and one team that seemed good until it got run out of the stadium two straight weeks. Run that around your head for a couple of minutes. His record is flimsy. 12-1 at Ball State... woopdee doo. What was his follow-up. How did he do the next year? Hmmm. He left while the leaving was good. We have no idea what he'll do with success.

That's not to say that he won't be successful. But as Brandon should know from running a large corporation, you don't take a flyer with a man with no upside. What's the great upside to Brady Hoke? That he has passion. If I hear one more time he has passion I think my head will asplode! Lot's of people have passion. Now if you take a flyer on someone who is a well known co-ordiantor, sometimes it can work out and the risk is there.

This was a basically riskless decision, made so late as to kill Hoke's chances at having a decent recruiting class. Hell Brandon screwed Hoke. Let's count the people Brandon screwed by waiting. Isn't it wonderful that Brandon knows AD'ing so well as to do it completely differently than the rest of college football.

Finally as to the Michigan man thing... How many who are applauding the "Michigan Man" return are actually Michigan Men themselves. I hate the term walmart wolverine, but my guess is there's lots of 'em who are really glad a Michigan Man is back at the helm.

At the end like Brian noted, let's hope it works, cuz we all love Michigan. If it doesn't, let's pray that before Hoke is let go, Brandon is canned and we actually have a good search for an AD. One who actually has been an AD elsewhere and who has a good network of relationships built up in college athletics. Something tells me if we spent more time on developing the Athletic Department administration, we'd have less problems with coaches!