Unverified Voracity Wishes To Be A Fierce Pragmatist

Submitted by Brian on January 17th, 2011 at 4:04 PM

The Clans. This is an awesome post that you must rush to read right now drop everything. Look:


You want to know where you fit. Everyone does. Everyone thinks they're a fierce pragmatist. Seriously, check the comments.

Mike Hart is the master. If Mike Hart is serious about going into coaching after his NFL career is done and eventually returning to Michigan, he's already got the bit about expertly defusing tricky questions down pat. Via a recent radio appearance:

"I think that any Michigan man that would've came in would be hard to be mad at because I think people have been complaining so bad these last three years that – 'Hey, we want a Michigan guy here. We need a Michigan guy. Rich-Rod doesn't respect the traditions.' (For) guys that have been saying those things, Coach Hoke was the perfect hire because he brings back that Michigan legacy."

I eagerly await the day he's cut. No offense, Mr. Hart, it's just… you know.

and the hoke-footed balloonMan whistles far and wee

Needs moar tremendous.

Not much of substance, but I'm not a big fan of the Vick comparison. When Vick got to the NFL he was shepherded in a run-heavy, simple system that wasn't very good. It takes time, and while Denard will progress I think it'll take more than a year. There will be a larger post on this later.

Calling Brandon a liar. Is what LSU's doing:

"He was offered more than 4 million to become the Michigan coach," LSU Board of Supervisors member Stanley Jacobs said Friday. "When he said no, they came back and offered him more. And he said no again."

Miles is apparently set to sign an extension that does not raise his salary. It'll be interesting to see what happens to the buyout. Miles has made a lot of money already but seemed to be lacking in job security early this year when LSU was surviving by the skin of its teeth. He may not have leveraged the Michigan job into more money, but he may have leveraged it into making it very difficult to get rid of him if LSU fails to live up to expectations next year, which is totally going to happen because LSU fans are expecting a national title.

I can see Miles doing this because he's 57—a primary reason he should never have been considered for the job in the first place—and knows this is his last head coaching job at a premiere school. He's probably eyeing retirement in the not too distant future and would like to make sure he chooses the "when."

As for the Michigan side of things, I'm not sure what to believe. It would be stupid for Brandon to waste time playing footsie with Miles when he had no intention of tabling a serious offer, but it would be stupid to table a serious offer. So I guess it doesn't matter. The LSU guys think this game of semantics is silly:

"Well, if Hoke was his first choice, he could've signed him up prior to ever talking to Les or Harbaugh," LSU chancellor Mike Martin said. "Don't you think?"

One way or the other, they're right.

You are heartfelt but uninformed, LSU chancellor. Brandon, meanwhile, set to compounding his arrogant father-knows-best press conference by putting this out later in the day:

"I got inundated with advice," he admits on WDFN-AM 1130. "A lot of people with very good hearts, and who care a lot, and with a lot of passion, came at me with their point of view. And I respect that, and I certainly tried to show them a courteous reply whenever I could because those passionate people are what make Michigan football special.

"However, most of them are very uninformed, and in most cases, they were recommending people they had never met. Or been in the same room with. Or ever had a conversation with. And interviewing a candidate for an important job like this is about sitting down and talking about specific issues, and getting to know them at a completely different level than blogs and statistics and images that, in many cases, are shaped by PR more than reality. [ed: the noise you heard was my irony meter exploding.]

"So, I didn't pay a lot of attention to those recommendations – even though they came from people with good hearts, they just weren't all that helpful."

This falls in line with Brandon's comments during the press conference that "all that glitters is not gold" when it comes to some coaches and that "the hype or the PR doesn't match the real person." To me, that came off really, really poorly. I was pretty sure everyone was in the same boat—I especially liked the bit at the end that signaled the program's return to barely tolerating its fans—but apparently not. The Wolverine Blog says to give credit to Brandon for "putting himself on the line," which he's certainly done by making his decision on explicitly faith-based grounds. I'm not so much with the crediting bit.

One, attempting to paint the internet's problem with Brady Hoke as a matter of "statistics" is… well, the main statistics people have problems with are "record: 47-50" and "age: 52," neither of which is a particularly advanced metric. 

Two: does this relate in any way to Brandon's passive-aggressive comments about Jim Harbaugh when Rodriguez was fired? It doesn't seem very leader-y to take shots at the people you interviewed and didn't hire. It implies everyone other than Brady Hoke is not fit to coach Michigan, and attempts to dismiss an awful lot of evidence that suggests Hoke is kind of a desperate hire by saying "you have not sat across the room from this man."

It's not reassuring to envision Brandon's interview process. Braves and Birds blows up this line of reasoning from Brandon real good; suffice it to say that Brady Hoke would have to be vastly worse than expected to sink to the level of Brandon's performance over the last two months. It looks like we'll have tangible evidence of that in two weeks.

EXPLICIT SECTION: Here's the tedious section in which I explain this is not a criticism of Brady Hoke but the athletic director that hired him at a terrible time for not particularly good reasons and told anyone who said words to that effect that they were "uninformed."

I expect Hoke will have enough success at Michigan to stick around a while; when he retires whether he was a good idea is likely to be a matter of heated and interminable debate. I hope I am wrong and am willing to give Hoke the proverbial "chance." I hope that Dave Brandon sets the world record for smug pats on the back when Hoke retires. For the record.

BONUS: Expect to read this disclaimer dozens of times!

Etc.: Brabbs gets good news re: cancer. Indiana: ugh. Rodriguez stuff goes for ridiculous sums.



January 17th, 2011 at 5:09 PM ^

The new CEO stopped blowing off board members when they said "Yo, our pizza sucks and gives folks the squits.  We score below Chuck E. Cheese in a national survey.  WTF?"


January 17th, 2011 at 5:12 PM ^

One, attempting to paint the internet's problem with Brady Hoke as a matter of "statistics" is… well, the main statistics people have problems with are "record: 47-50" and "age: 52," neither of which is a particularly advanced metric.

A lot of folks on this blog have spent the better part of three years explaining the reasons for Rodriguez's failure to win at Michigan. Not excuses, legitimate reasons. A head coach's ability is only one factor in determining the win loss record for a team. So if we believe Rodriguez is a good coach despite "15-22" (and I think I do believe that) is it unreasonable for the AD to suggest that there needs to be a deeper look at Hoke than simply saying "47-50"?


January 17th, 2011 at 7:36 PM ^

He does, obviously. Although I don't put a lot of stock in the Glenville State portion of that record.

My point is only that W-L record is not attributable entirely to a single factor. Ball State and San Diego State might be harder places to win at than Glenville State or West Virginia.

Again, I think RRod is a good coach. I thought he should have gotten more time. All I'm saying is that the prevailing wisdom here is that he failed to succeed at UM due to many factors that were beyond his control (not entirely, but substantially). It's possible that Hoke had situations at his two head coaching gigs that simply weren't the sort of places where you could reasonably expect much more than a .500 record.


January 17th, 2011 at 7:53 PM ^

Five of the six guys who preceded Hoke at Ball State had .500 records or better; two of them broke the .600 mark. (Only one of the five coached for fewer seasons than Hoke, so it wasn't a sample size issue.) The sixth guy was Bill Lynch, and he's yet to demonstrate that he can win anywhere.

Of course part of it could be more the specific environment in which he was coaching (i.e. president, AD, etc.) and not just the university as a whole; that's really difficult to quantify, though, and certainly in non-AQ conferences, such forces would be easier to overcome, in a sense, simply because your competition is weaker. If MSC and Brandon were to hamstring Hoke, he might as well quit on the spot, because he'd have no chance to win in the Big Ten. It's considerably easier to put together .500 records in the MAC, even if you are working for a bunch of morons.


January 17th, 2011 at 8:36 PM ^

Your points are all perfectly reasonable.  And Brady may end up being the next great coach.  But people cannot make his resume something that its not.  A very average HC record, no coordinator experience anywhere, including Michigan.  I'm all for looking at this thing "glass half-full", but its hard, no impossible, to argue that Brady would have even been considered BUT FOR his time with Michigan. 


January 18th, 2011 at 12:22 AM ^

is actually more impressive than any other portion of his resume.  For all intents and purposes, he built the Glenville State program from scratch. 


The team was literally as bad as you can imagine when he took over.  They were not only winless the season before, but had been shut out 8 times.  They had something like two dozen players on the team who had never played organized football before attending Glenville State.  In his 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th seasons there, they won at least a share of the conference title.


I don't care what level you coach on, you don't accomplish this kind of turnaround, and maintain it, unless you can coach your ass off.


January 17th, 2011 at 7:51 PM ^

RR crushed foolz as an OC at Tulane and Clemson before getting the WVU coaching gig, where he won multiple conference championships and BCS games and was 4 points away from the MNC game.  Hoke has never coordinated or won a conference championship as a head coach and only been HC in 2 bowl games, that were not exactly big ones...


January 18th, 2011 at 10:27 AM ^

He's a good coach. He's a good coach that went 15-22 at Michigan, for a lot of reasons.

But Hoke not having a winning record at Ball State and San Diego State doesn't convince me that he's not a good coach. I don't know enough about the state of those programs when he took over-- talent level, administrative support, etc.-- to know whether his 47-50 record is better or worse than the average coach would have had in the same situations.


January 17th, 2011 at 5:16 PM ^

I don't fit the graph, I am between Fierce Pragmatist, Bo Clan, and The Rebellion. Sort of a Han Solo type I guess.

As for the selection of Hoke: last time we got down to third or forth choice after missing / not even talking with Les Miles (and Harbaugh was not on the radar yet - or at least in the bad zone based on recent feather ruffling comments), and we went with a hot name with distant (not very well promoted) Michigan ties. The average Joe fan base, MSM and Lloyd Carr crew threw up all over it for three years.

As Dave got down to third or forth choice, he went with an unproven, but Michigan rooted Hoke, over ??? (We don't know, and maybe no one big name wanted to take the risk of stepping in.)

So at the very minimum, hopefully Dave wins over the masses. I am also hoping Hoke is like the unproven Jim Harbaugh before he was hired by Stanford, with a more self-effacing personality.


January 17th, 2011 at 5:19 PM ^

He was laughing real hard and saying, "I think Hoke is a great hire for you guys."  Awful.

Then he says, "Seriously, I was worried you might get Miles."

Maybe he's uninformed but this Hoke hire is painful and I have not come back for this kind of stuff.  What do you say to that?  Its hard to say with confidence, "We'll see you in November!"


January 17th, 2011 at 5:20 PM ^

work out.  He has said so many inconsistent things I can't separate the truth from the lies.  I suspect he timed the RR firing to save money 1.5 milli of the buyout. 

If Hoke is a loser in three years we should get a new AD to find a new coach.


January 17th, 2011 at 5:21 PM ^

May be somewhere in between. It is very possible - common even - to make an offer without making an offer. For instance:

Brandon: "I've been authorized to offer as much as $4.25 million to our next coach. Does that number interest you?"

Miles: "Is that more than $3.75 million, cause that's what I'm making now? Are you sure? This stuff is so confusing".

Totally agree with Brian re the arrogant, defensive approach of DB to explaining the hire. All he has to do is say, "My criteria were A, B, C, and D. And when I measured all the candidates against those criteria, Brady Hoke came out on top." Instead, he's making it look like it was a Daddy knows best, gut reaction hire, which is not the way to unite a fan base behind a candidate with a not entirely impressive resume.


January 17th, 2011 at 5:22 PM ^

I'll admit that after RR's 3-9 disaster, I wanted him gone.  He was dishonest about fitting an offense to the players skillsets, and after that season he proved that he was nothing more than a system coach.  We wasted two more years on a guy who couldn't adapt, which is ironic.


January 17th, 2011 at 11:05 PM ^

I think he evaluated the roster and came to the conclusion that the offense was going to be ugly that year no matter what he did with it, so he chose to throw the underclassmen into the fire so they'd have a full year of experience the following season.


Obviously just a guess on my part, but based on the "talent" that offense was working with, I can't imagine some other scheme would have produced even one more win.

El Jeffe

January 17th, 2011 at 7:16 PM ^

Nononononononononononononooooooooooooooooo. Nooooooooooo. Nooooooo.

A thousand times no. This is a critique, and a fair one at that, of Bill Martin, not of Rich Rodriguez. Rich Rodriguez has never not coached a spread short of the first few practices at Glenville State College. He is a spread coach. When you hire Rich Rodriguez, this is what you get. Punto.

Frankly, for this reason I think it is fair to argue that RR is not a "great" coach in the sense that he is not flexible. Perhaps he should be more of a football omnivore. He is great at one thing, but not multiple ways of playing offense (unless you count a Shaun King-style spread as different from a Denard-style spread).

You can certainly argue that RR should not have been hired, and given the fucking incessant crying and sniping from the alumni and former players, I am starting to think this would have been the right choice. I was overwhelmed by how petulant, entitled, and impatient the fan base can be.

Finally, everyone I have read who has a worthwhile opinion on this matter argues that you should not phase in the kind of offense RR runs, but rather take your lumps early with the expectation of a long-run return on your investment. Even if you call bullshit on that argument, it is nevertheless true that RR doesn't know how to coach anything else because he has never coached anything else. What would be the point in having him coach an offense badly for one or two years and then start the business of doing what he was hired to do?

Answer: no point.

Please let the "RR should have run a pro-style offense until he had his players" meme die in a fiery furnace of fire and flame and burning fire.


January 17th, 2011 at 8:02 PM ^

because then you spend 2-3 years teaching your offense multiple schemes. If you primarily get better through repetition, then it makes more sense to put reps into fewer plays/formations/schemes. You lose out on some of the experience your returning players have in the schemes they've run before, but that will happen unless you run the exact same scheme your predecessor ran. (To a much lesser extent, it happens with the transition from HS to college ball.)

To be honest, I don't think most people give a damn about the type of offense as long as it works. There was a lot of wailing, moaning, and gnashing of teeth because the offense took three years to put up decent numbers, and even then it did so in fits and spurts (although those were significant when they happened). If the offense had been better, I doubt the old guard would have said much about it.

I agree with you that complaining about the offense RR brought is not the right place to start. IME, a more accurate criticism would be that RR doesn't know what to do about defense. He took the offense to "Hey, not bad at all" in three years, which wasn't exactly what we wanted, but it wasn't bad, either. However, while that was happening, he was expecting Jeff Casteel to have the defense improving at the same rate, except, er, that's not who was running the defense for him.

And apparently Casteel was leaving notes on his desk like "look up this DE from Ohio" and "we need this DB from Pennsylvania", because his defensive recruiting and retention also left a lot to be desired.


January 17th, 2011 at 5:26 PM ^

so.. what faction is someone who was a rr supporter up until the penn st. game.. then was like ugh, ok I give up.. then during the coaching search was like.. really? wtf.. and now that we're with Hokeage is like let's give him a shot, seems like a good dude...


January 17th, 2011 at 5:38 PM ^

1.  I don't care for snippets from radio interviews.  Too easy to be taken out of context.  That's why guys like Tiger learn to be robots, because some jerk is gonna take a five second splice from a half hour interview and exploit it as the guy's entire world view.


2. That said, I don't see the same things Brian sees in the quote chopped out of the Hart interview.  Hart is making an observation that Hoke has the ability to unite split factions.  Don't see him saying it's right or wrong, just that it is what it is.  The Hart quote seems quite balanced and sensible.


3.  Hoping to see the guy cut?  Get a grip.

Pibby Scott

January 17th, 2011 at 6:10 PM ^

i think brian was saying he hopes he is cut so he can begin his coaching career at the U of M sooner rather than later. 

and that mike hart "understood" the culture at michigan as being probably detrimental to the RR project and is able to say so without "saying so" and thus smearing the regime that produced him. All of which makes him a deft public speaker. 

Blue X2

January 17th, 2011 at 5:40 PM ^

Great post Brian. 

I have been thinking this for the last week.  Who could have imagined that Brandon's search process on the surface looks as bad as Martin's three years ago.  Let's compare some key points based on the criticism we had of Martin:

1. Waited to long to hire a new coach.  Remember we all compained that Martin waited too long and screwed the recruiting class.  Like Martin, Brandon waited too long if he planned all along to broom RR.  I do not believe his statements that he was waiting till after the bowl to examine the entire season.  This is also a lie.  He was talking to Harbaugh for a month and failed to close him.  In contrast, Martin talke to Miles for several days and failed to close him largely thanks to Herbstreits bombshell.  Advantage Martin.

2. Created a tough situation for recruiting.  True, Martin knew Lloyd was leaving and waited too long.  But RR was announced as Michigan's new coach on December 17, 2007 giving RR 6 weeks to recover the recruiting class.  As we all know, Hoke was announced on January 11th, a full 3 1/2 weeks after RR giving Hoke only 3 weeks to try to save the class.  Advantage Martin

3.  Ultimately hired a second rate coach.  Martin tried to hire Miles and probably would have closed the deal if a) Herbstreit did not blow the story creating a firestorm of pressure on Miles, and b) Martin did not go sailing.  RR was Martin's second choice but had an outstanding record prior to Michigan and was one of the hottest coaches in the country.  Howeva, Brandon failed on his first and second options (although he claims he never actually offered JH or LM the job, contrary to reports).  He hired his third option who was a guy no other major program would have even considered and had a losing record prior to Michigan.   Advantage Martin 

So in summary, Martin botched the search but ended up hiring a coach with a much better record a full 3 1/2 weeks earlier than Brandon.  I know we are "uninformed" but on if you thow out the MM BS on the surface Martin executed better than Brandon.  Of course we all know how that turned out.  Let's hope that Brandon has some insight and Brady Hoke is the best hire ever.

Hope is not a strategy.


January 17th, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

Is this a joke?  Here's the upshot of Bill Martin's wonderful hiring process: he hired a man who went 15-22, landed us on probation for the first time, was never accepted by much of the fanbase, and got mercifully let go after three years.  Advantage: Martin?  It'd be pretty hard for Brandon to do worse than that.

El Jeffe

January 17th, 2011 at 7:22 PM ^

I didn't think the post you responded to was the cat's ass, but you get the difference between a process and the outcome of a process, right? I mean, that's what everyone is saying here, I think. The Brandon process was facacta from the get go, and it is still too early to tell what the outcome would be.

Something blind squirrel something nut something something.


January 17th, 2011 at 10:35 PM ^

"This is also a lie. He was talking to Harbaugh for a month and failed to close him."

Jesus. Wake up. FAILED TO CLOSE HIM?????

What did DB screw up--not offering $10/mil year? Harbaugh opted for the NFL, he WANTS to be an NFL coach. Probably better to know this now than three years later when JH leaves UM for the NFL.


January 18th, 2011 at 12:35 PM ^

DB has a lot of other people who report to him, not just the football HC.  He has to make sure they believe he is acting in good faith, and if he had just out and out fired RR after the OSU game everyone that works for him gets the message that he can't be trusted.  That would undermine all of UM athletics at a deep level.


January 17th, 2011 at 5:47 PM ^

Brandon's comments came off as extremely defensive.  When you attempt to rebut the other side at the beginning of your introduction of the new HC, which Brandon did with his "all that glitters is not gold" comment, you pretty much know there's going to be criticism out there.  He's trying to protect Hoke, who for all we know was option #5 or option #1 because Brandon is with the old guard. 

But whatever.  It's over.  Hoke is the coach.  The last thing this program needs is yet another faction that becomes strong enough to undermine a coach from within.  Rodriguez wasn't given a fair shot, though he did make some critical errors on his own.  We cannot do the same thing with Hoke.  He's been pretty flexible so far.  Let's hope he keeps it that way.


January 17th, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

I like the post, Brian.

I think Brandon handled the entire situation poorly, but right now I'm in the camp that we should just move forward.  Some People didn't like Martin because he was a little too "conservative" in how he handled UM's affairs, and some people don't like Brandon because he is a little cavalier and lacks the humility you'd like to see in a guy who has only been in the position for a couple of months.  Personally, I could care less about what the AD for UM is doing - I just want the teams to play well and for the kids to stay out of trouble.  That falls on the coaches, and I have faith that Hoke will be a decent hire and UM will compete nationally again.  But right now, I'm done talking about the AD and flimsy rationalizations.

Wolverine 98284

January 17th, 2011 at 6:07 PM ^

Assumption 1:  Hoke's hire was 'desperation'.  Could be true based on National Signing Day looming and the next assumption.

Assumption 2:  The 'good-hearted advice recieved' by DB was 'uninformed'.  Could be true based on the next assumption.

Assumption 3:  There were conversations with Miles.  What was the content of these conversations?  Probably, since Miles was tapped into the coaching scene, that Michigan was toxic and no 'hot coach' was going to come to Michigan.

As Brian asked (paraphrased), has RR been damaged more by Michigan or Michigan damaged more by RR?  Until the toxin is removed, Michigan will not be a desirable destination.  I hope DB has learned to thank the 'advisors' and then tell them to "get the hell out of his office."

Heinous Wagner

January 17th, 2011 at 6:11 PM ^

I fully expected some kind of response from the Tigahs. Brandon's shots at the presser about "big names" and "all that glitters is not gold" seemed like a well-aimed kick to the Lesticles. 


January 17th, 2011 at 6:20 PM ^

Brian, my favorite thing about this blog is your genuine brutal honesty.  You also have to realize that your voice has started to carry outside of this place.  Right after the Hoke hire, Rittenberg posted a list of links and quotes on his ESPN blog from "immediate reaction" columns written by both national and local MSM guys.  He included a link to yours, along with the quote declaring this "will always be a stupid hire, and was the worst coaching search in UM football history."   Like whoa.  Rosenberg (lame) wrote a column today, attempting to make a counterpoint to those who cite the 47-50 record as their reason for labeling this a bad hire.  Maybe it's not a direct reponse to you, but definitely to your line of thought.

My point is, your audience isn't just a handful of computer geeks anymore, people HEAR you man.  Whether they or I agree with you doesn't matter-- this is your blog, and it's a testament to its success that your thoughts get out to so many. But combine that success with you continuing to be the person that got you here, and you have now essentially admonished Dave Brandon in public.  The U-M AD, a former regent, and a man who has a lot of success on his resume. Be prepared to take heat back, and frankly, DB has every right to respond when words like "stupid hire" and worst in UM history" are used.  (And imho he may have been doing just that during the Q/A portion at the end of the intro presser). For better or worse, he's the only person who can tell us everything that went down during the 2-day job discussion with RR, and the subsequent 6 days of flight tracker head asplode nuclear bomb liquor bender madness.   Until he does, he's right, we're all "uninformed." 


January 17th, 2011 at 7:00 PM ^

was less about whether or not this was a "stupid hire", than about Brandon's public attitude toward those who question his choice. "I've got all the info, and you don't, so STFU and buy your season tickets" is an approach which is pretty much guaranteed to piss off a vocal segment of the fan base, and it's unnecessary at that. As I said in a comment below, it wouldn't take all that much for Brandon to explain his thinking in a straightforward, respectful manner - and it's exactly what a good leader and executive should know to do in this situation. Brandon clearly has let some of this criticism get the better of him. CEOs rarely get anything like this amount of direct feedback - people are just too afraid of them - and DB may not have the necessary skin thickness yet.

And FTR, Brian's "Hoke Reax" post came out after Brandon's initial presser, and so I think you might have gotten the cause/effect relationship between Brandon attitude and Brian "The Rebel" response backwards.


January 17th, 2011 at 7:46 PM ^

Whether my purely speculative "cause/effect" idea is crazy or not, my timeline is correct.  Press release announcing the hire came on 1/11, Brian's "Hoke Reax" post came that evening, the intro press conference with Hoke and DB was on 1/12.

I agree that in his position of leadership, DB could have shown a little more restraint with his behavior at the presser.  My point is, if you're going to use the terms that Brian did to describe Brandon's professional performance at his JOB, as an "outsider" do you have the right to expect a polite response?  DB can be as defensive and pissed off as he wants,and it doesn't bother me, because it doesn't change anything.  The guy's standing up for himself.  And if anyone in here is going to stop buying tickets because of it, I'll take them.