Coach Hoke: The Numbers Thus Far

Submitted by Swayze Howell Sheen on January 2nd, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Some time back, I created a small diary (click here to see it) which broke down the wins and losses of UM coaches in the modern era. The gist of it was simple: group wins and losses based on the size of the margin of victory or loss, and see what happens.

A few things stood out from that earlier post:

  • Bo's first six years were ridiculous. His teams almost never lost! We'll likely never see a run like that again.
  • Carr and Mo were quite comparable to the rest of Bo's career (excluding those six magical seasons).
  • Carr's (very) slight atrophying was showing up in a few more close wins than what had been the norm.

Although I wanted to wait a few more years to do this, well, boredom set in, and thus again you get the Graph(TM), with Hoke's first two years included:

The Graph

The graph breaks down each year into seven different groups: big wins (by 15 or more), medium wins (by 8-14), close wins (by 7 or less), ties (from when these used to occur), and close, medium, and big losses (the same margins apply).

There is also a summary graph for each coach (again breaking Bo into two groups, the first six years and the rest):

Cutting to the chase, we can observe the following:

  • Hoke has restored one big part of the Michigan Expectation: a large number of relatively easy wins (dark blue part of the bar). Indeed, he already has 13 of these comfortable victories in just two years; RichRod had only 6 in three years.
  • Hoke's current win percentage is in the expected ballpark (around .730, just short of the .750 we saw for Bo after '74, Mo, and Carr).
  • Hoke isn't getting blown out a lot (also unlike the RichRod era, alas); an actual defense helps with this.
  • Hoke's "close win" percentage is more like Carr's; a sign of the times, or a hint at future troubles?

Of course, all of this is quite premature, and the next few years will help us better understand how the Hoke era will likely proceed. And while 8-5 is OK in a given year, it is clearly not OK in the long run (at least, given the expectations we all have from decades of winning). Thus, as Hoke builds the team into his vision of Michigan Football, will he achieve at the level of Coach Carr (five seasons with at least ten wins, including one Mythic National Championship)? Will he continue to win the games we "should" win by large amounts? Will he secure his fair share of Big Ten Championships? Or (dare I hope) will he put together a run unseen since the legendary early days of Bo? Only time will tell. 

My own feelings: having a real defense makes it all possible; stout defense makes most tough games close, and easier games into blowouts. If the offense starts to click, and "Good Borges" becomes the only Borges we see (particularly as the "right" parts are brought in via recruiting), it seems like Hoke is on his way to a successful career at UM. 

What are your thoughts?

 

 

Comments

DonAZ

January 2nd, 2013 at 10:56 PM ^

I think Hoke has clearly established himself (and of course, the program) into the upper ranks of the Big 10.  He seems on his way to being a reliable 8 or 9 game minimum winner each year.

The next level up is to be the kind of program that can win the big games on a semi-consistent basis.  I'm not sure Hoke and Michigan has quite got to that level yet.  Yet.  But I suspect that time is coming, and coming relatively soon.

The intangible about Hoke's teams is they seem never to fold.  As you point out, there are few blow-out losses.

All the signs are pointing up for the Maize and Blue.

Vasav

January 2nd, 2013 at 11:04 PM ^

This is a really interesting post, and the data is very nicely presented, so kudos to you. I think you do a great job of defining where our expectations ought to be.

I think both Rod and Hoke cannot be fully captured by such a small sample size - their first three seasons are something like an "interview" period. As you state, 8-5 is not acceptable, but just as Rod's first two years can certainly be blamed on a transition, I think this year is certainly a victim of the circumstances Hoke walked into (and last year was influenced as well).

In year 3 it became clear that despite his offensive wizardry, Rod's defenses were bad and not getting better. I think for Hoke, while his third year isn't as critical as it was for Rod, we'll have a great idea what his ceiling is as a coach. We've got a young but highly-touted group of offensive linemen who'll be teamed with a veteran group of backs and a veteran defense, most of whom have proved their worth. While I agree whole-heartedly on your thoughts regarding the defense, I'm cautious about the offense - I think the drop in Denard's passing and the running game were because of the interior line. I know there was a shakeup there, but ultimately it does concern me that we lost only a single lineman from last season and saw the production drop that much.

That said, Funk and Borges have a track record for knowing what they're doing. I'm hoping that while our young O-Line may struggle next season and keep us from smelling Roses, we'll see a unit that's gelling by the end of the season, and poised for great things in 2014.

Bluestreak

January 2nd, 2013 at 11:32 PM ^

I believe one of the keys to seeing lower number of wins is the rise of the SEC. In general, there seems of be a rise in the quality of teams in other conferences. Hence the bowl games are generally more competetive than they used to be. It is also a product of tougher out of conference schedules.

 

Also recruiting bases have gradually shifted southwards hence the southern teams are doing better than they did in the past.

treetown

January 2nd, 2013 at 11:41 PM ^

The large victory margin in the early Bo era must also take into account that the conference schedule was a true round robin and they were fewer non-conference cupcakes. That shows the tremendous superiority of the Wolverines over most of the Big Ten (except OSU) during that time.

maizenbluenc

January 4th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

I believe in Bo's Lasting Lessons, Bo commented on the scholarship reductions from 105 to 95 to 85, and how that changed redshirt policies, etc. I am guessing when the scholarship numbers at schools like Michigan and Ohio State dropped, other schools started picking up the 40 players and thus it was possible for those other schools to be competitive at least cyclically.

By the time I passed through Ann Arbor ('83-'87), Bo had shifted into a cycle of years of strength and occasional building years. I believe the reduction in scholarship numbers caused this uneven distribution in talent and experience on Bo's teams.

Of course the game evolved too.

EGD

January 5th, 2013 at 2:39 AM ^

There is no doubt that the Title IX scholarship reduction, together with cable TV coverage, fundamentally transformed the college football landscape.  The 105 limit was implemented in 1973, after Title IX was passed in 1972.  The limit was reduced to 95 in 1978, and then down to 85 in 1992.  I don't think it's any coincidence that the degree of parity throughout college football rapidly increased after 1992.    

maizenbluenc

January 5th, 2013 at 8:41 AM ^

three to four loss seasons pretty much rolled in with phased NCAA scholarship reductions due to Title IX.

The difference now is the SEC is operating somewhere in the 105 - 95 scholarship range with oversigning and everyone else is not. It will be interesting to see how competitive the bulk of the SEC remains as there new rules kick into effect over the next few years.

PeteM

January 3rd, 2013 at 12:08 AM ^

By next year Hoke will have more his own players.  We'll also see how much our offense was dependent on Denard.  I expect a 9-10 win seaon, but my real concern is whether he can beat Urban Meyer.

maineandblue

January 3rd, 2013 at 12:43 AM ^

I think Hoke has changed the tide on the rivalry. Hell people in Ohio are starting to believe him. Never in a million years I would have thought that. Selling Michigan jerseys is a good start.

But seriously, I like Hoke. Still don't understand what Borges was thinking in the second half of The Game and was ready to call for his head after that game, but I trust Hoke to figure it out and lead us to dominance. 

SC Wolverine

January 3rd, 2013 at 8:19 AM ^

As we think about Hoke at the two year mark, I am reminded again of why four years really is the only acceptable time to assess a head coach's performance.  I felt this way about Rich Rod, too, but his defenses were such an embarrassment that DB did the only thing possible in making the change after 3.  So I agree that next year will be pretty telling, and I am looking forward to a team that seriously challenges for the Big Ten title.  But year 4 will be fully-Hoke model that is revved up to full steam.  I think we will be very pleased with a Bo-like program that cranks out a regular 10+ wins.  Alot will be riding on the OL class that came in last year, but I think Kalis and Co are not going to disappoint.  

Tater

January 3rd, 2013 at 8:29 AM ^

In Bo's first years, the scholarship limit was 115.  Michigan had great personnel, but players had tuned Bump Elliott out, and were more interested in the "Den of Mellow Men" than beating Ohio State.  The rest of the Big Ten basically sucked.  

Bo and Woody were able to play power football and succeed because they were bigger and faster, and more motivated than everyone else.  Michigan's second string would come in and run over the first string of a lot of Big Ten teams during those years.  Alabama couldn't even pull that off in the 85 scholarship era.

As for what Hoke has restored at Michigan, the main thing is that the saboteurs and whiners are happy now and are no longer telling midwest coaches not to send their kids to Michigan. That will keep what is being referred to here as "recruiting disasters" at certain positions from happening.  Also, Hoke's conservative style, while it won't produce many undefeated seasons, will keep Michigan from being blown out when they lose.  

Michigan now has their Lloyd Carr v2.  Expect an average of 3.5 losses per year, happy boosters, and a full Big House with lots of money coming in.  The majority has spoken, and they want MANBALL.  "Michigan football" is back.

In the 15-25 years that I have left in a reasonable projection of life span, I would like to see one undisputed National Championship for the Wolverines.  I just hope that somewhere, among all of the inevitable 3 and 4 loss seasons, Brady Hoke can pull off one "miracle season and take an NCAA Championship trophy back to Ann Arbor.

unWavering

January 3rd, 2013 at 9:08 AM ^

I don't understand your train of thought.  Do you think Nick Saban is a particularly aggressive coach?  I don't, yet he rattles off 0 to 1 loss seasons like it's his job (oh wait, it is).  I don't understand why people think 'MANBALL'=3 to 4 losses every year, just because that's what happened when Lloyd was here - even though that's not entirely true either.  

Hoke is currently recruiting at a higher level than Lloyd ever did, and has proven that he's a much more aggressive coach and is willing to take risks that Lloyd did not.  Just because he flies the Schembechler flag does not mean he's Lloyd Carr 2.  I think the assertion that he is is lazy and wildly incorrect.

Wolfman

January 4th, 2013 at 7:32 AM ^

is a true statement, but '98 was coming off a NC and the classes Hoke are pulling in occurred far quicker than the aforementioned Carr. Borges' job will become easier now that he will be able to concentrate the same type of coaching toward all his qbs from here on out, and should we be fortunate to get a player of DR's caliber in the future, he  will more than likely be used in the manner Bo used some of his more dimutive players, i.e., Jamie Morris, et.al.,  but with the difference in Bo and Borges's offensive philosophy, expect more use of such a talent in a slot position, and that is how it should be given the way the game has evolved. Think Stevie Breaston.

Defense will be solid and should evolve into those resembling Bo's with teams needing to march 80 yards where there was always a high risk of an offensive mistake, thus normally leading to comfortable margins of victory or a defensive play that salted close games away.

What we really need, and haven't gotten yet under Hoke is that commitment from a Day One superstar RB. When that occurs, along with having a capable qb, expect the offense to take tremendous strides forward. His OL recruiting has been tremendous which will make our average backs better, but a great runner will be extraordinary should these OL produce at a level projected during their recruitment.  

ashea

January 5th, 2013 at 12:31 AM ^

I think Hoke will be fine but he has benefited from the black hole in the depth chart for the o-line and an NFL DC.  You're not going to find another elite football program with such an opportunity to play early at oline.

Concerning the 1998 class, you have to credit Carr for coaching the NC team as a lure for recruits.  Winning is part of recruiting.

I like what Hoke has done so far but you're right, no elite RB (meaning coveted nationaly).  Most of his recruits are regional and number of the Ohio recruits were spurned by ohio from the onset.

Hoke's elite QB is a die-hard UM fan who was going to Michigan seemingly no matter what.  I'd like to see him win some battles for the skill players in addition to what he's done so far before crowning him successful beyond Carr.

Soulfire21

January 3rd, 2013 at 11:13 AM ^

And by Hoke's conservative style are you referring to a fake punt play on your own 37 with 4 yards to go on 4th down?  Or how about that fake FG?

I think you're very, very wrong, but that's just my opinion.  It's been stated above, but Hoke is recruiting at a higher level than Carr, the defense is in great hands with Mattison, etc.  Remember, Hoke and Co. only have 1 full recruiting class of theirs in, as freshman, so it is irresponsible to look at this season of 8-5 and assume it will be the normal.

jmblue

January 3rd, 2013 at 1:58 PM ^

I have no idea how you could have watched Michigan play the past two years and think that we have another Carr on our hands.   Even in the OSU game, where everyone is upset with the "conservative playcalling", we did things like go for it on our own 43 and repeatedly put in a wildcat QB (I don't mean that as a knock on Denard, but when he is physically unable to throw, that's what he becomes).  Two days ago we repeatedly sent pressure on South Carolina's last drive; Carr would have gone prevent.  (Granted, Carr's method might have resulted in them scoring with more time on the clock, but overall I don't like that approach.)

 Hoke has shown a flexibility and aggression Carr very rarely did.  People need to get past the fact that he happened to serve under Carr.  He's his own man.

 

An Angelo's Addict

January 3rd, 2013 at 9:34 AM ^

I'm hoping Hoke will transcend the 8 and 9 win seasons to really push us for national championships on a consistent basis. Unfortunately we really need some elite players at the skill positions, Greene would be a huge get. Some blue chip wide receivers would make it more possible

hfhmilkman

January 3rd, 2013 at 9:53 AM ^

I also agree the sample space is way too small.   When you are comparing a coach with 2-3 years of work verse ten years local events and luck will not weigh out.   For example Hoke did not have PSU and Wisconsin on his schedule.   Combine that with the decay of Iowa and the destruction of Illinois and I think you can make a case that the Big10 was a much stronger conference three years ago.   R^2 was also stuck with a debacle at QB his first year, a true freshmen his 2nd, and a raw but talented sophmore his last.   Compare to Hoke who has been able to make a go with junior, a senior the first half of this year plus Gardner on the back half.   All of these things even out.  How well will Hoke do when he Dcoordinator is only human and not a God?  Mattison will not be there forever, though it would be nice.

Since some people are putting in predictions for next year if we do not bring in a top RB, next year will be very tough.  A lot of people are assuming the RB problems are completely on the line.  If we go back to 2004 Michigan was also struggling.   Somewhere in the 1st half, Lloyd Carr inserts Mike Hart and the rest is history.  Furthermore, look at any game from 2004-2007 and compare when Hart played verses not playing or being hurt.   It is the same line yet one RB was succesful and everyone else was not?

So before we run our graduating senior linemen under the bus let us put things in perspective.  Next years young uber recruits will only do as well as the RB.  So pray for Green.

 

 

hfhmilkman

January 3rd, 2013 at 10:03 AM ^

I also agree the sample space is way too small.   When you are comparing a coach with 2-3 years of work verse ten years local events and luck will not weigh out.   For example Hoke did not have PSU and Wisconsin on his schedule.   Combine that with the decay of Iowa and the destruction of Illinois and I think you can make a case that the Big10 was a much stronger conference three years ago.   R^2 was also stuck with a debacle at QB his first year, a true freshmen his 2nd, and a raw but talented sophmore his last.   Compare to Hoke who has been able to make a go with junior, a senior the first half of this year plus Gardner on the back half.   All of these things even out.  How well will Hoke do when he Dcoordinator is only human and not a God?  Mattison will not be there forever, though it would be nice.

Since some people are putting in predictions for next year if we do not bring in a top RB, next year will be very tough.  A lot of people are assuming the RB problems are completely on the line.  If we go back to 2004 Michigan was also struggling.   Somewhere in the 1st half, Lloyd Carr inserts Mike Hart and the rest is history.  Furthermore, look at any game from 2004-2007 and compare when Hart played verses not playing or being hurt.   It is the same line yet one RB was succesful and everyone else was not?

So before we run our graduating senior linemen under the bus let us put things in perspective.  Next years young uber recruits will only do as well as the RB.  So pray for Green.

 

 

timot

January 3rd, 2013 at 11:59 AM ^

In Bo's first six years he rarely played ranked teams outside of Ohio and the Rose Bowl opponents. ND was not on the schedule and the Big Ten outside of Ohio was not strong at all. In those six years, Bo was 2-3-1 v. Ohio and 0-2 in the Rose Bowl. In those six years Bo did not have a bowl game in four seasons. When the scholarship limits came into effect, the team played ND every year, the Big Ten became more balanced and Bo had to play in a bowl game every year, the performance suffered.  I think Carr's record is more impressive given the much tougher schedules, increase in games played, scholarship limits, a national championship and a bowl challenge each year.