Good-bye to a Great Man

Submitted by Ron Utah on October 25th, 2014 at 8:18 PM

The End.

Embracing Mark Dantonio for an extended congratulatory message, I have little doubt that Coach Hoke whispered something graceful, complimentary, and kind.  I also think he said something else.

Few things make Mark Dantonio smile.  He is the grumpy cat.  But beating Michigan has always been one of them.  That's why it was surprising to see Dantonio look so distraught after today's win.  The interviewer had to ask him if he was happy, and, finally, Dantonio smiled.  He was so aware of his unusually grumpy (even for him) face that he said, "It may not look it, but I'm happy."

I believe Coach Dantonio--who has proven himself to be one of the nation's best college football coaches--was actually sad.  Not about beating Michigan (he'll always relish that) but about the final postgame handshake with a man he wants to hate but simply can not.

"Real recognize Real"

I believe Brady Hoke is a great man.  Despite not being able to produce a coherent offense in four seasons at Michigan--even with an MNC-winning OC--he has still continued to reel-in top talent on both sides of the ball.  This, in my opinion, is almost wholly attributable to his genuine love for the young men he coaches.  He cares about them as people, not just as football players.  He is concerned about their character, not just their statistics.  When Jabrill Peppers committed to U-M, he said, "Real recognize real," referring to the sincerity of the coaching staff.  I unreservedly agree completely with John Beilein: Brady Hoke is the type of man I would want to coach my son.

The Shane Morris concussion issue did not make me doubt Brady's concern for his players' well-being.  It wasn't a coach who didn't care about a player's health; it was just another symptom of a coach who couldn't manage the myriad details involved with running the winningest program in college football.  If Brady knew there was any real possibility of Shane being seriously injured by playing, he would not have played him.  That wasn't the problem.  The problem was he didn't know; he wasn't aware, and that problem has extended to field on too many occasions.

Brady's last UTL was a win

It's a small miracle that this team continues to play as hard as it does.  The defense, once again, played with heart and character against an extremely efficient MSU offense.  Their never-say-die attitude lasted well into the fourth quarter.  The whole team fought tooth-and-nail to squeak out a win against a below-average Penn State team.  I believe this Michigan team, like all teams, reflects the attitude of their leader: high-character, high-motor, high-intensity...and imprecise.  Over and over today small things made big differences: passes just a bit off, receivers dropping the on-target efforts, runs just a bit too impatient, a quarterback feeling pressure when there was none, a tackle just missed.  These are not new problems.  It's not youth, it's imprecision, and it has plagued our team (and especially our offense) since Hoke's arrival.  And these small things have added-up to big numbers in the loss column.  And so Hoke must go, and I am calling for his replacement as loudly as anyone.

But let's never forget that this man's character was enough to inspire Greg Mattison to come back to Michigan from the Ravens.  This man was charismatic enough to lure Doug Nussmeier to Michigan.  This man is genuine enough to pull-in the highest average recruiting class  in the country, even though he can't win at Michigan.  Let's always remember that while Coach Hoke did not cut it on the scoreboard, that his integrity is an example of what a Michigan Man should be.

Denard Robinson's mythical talent, combined with freakish turnover luck, was enough to propel MIchigan to an 11-2 season and a Sugar Bowl victory.  And let's give credit where credit is due: Hoke and Mattison field competent defenses, and, with more time and a developing team, I think Brady could probably keep Michigan in bowl games for the foreseeable future (after this year).  But that's not good enough.  That's NOT Michigan.

Chris Spielman--somewhat surprisingly--said it well: "I believe Brady Hoke is a good man and a good football coach...but the results aren't good enough."  And I believe that part of Brady's message to Mark Dantonio tonight wasn't just congratulating him; it wasn't just genuine admiration of how well Dantonio runs a team (in almost the exact way Hoke would like to run his team); it wasn't just well-wishes for the rest of the season.  It was good-bye.

I think Brady Hoke knows his time is up.  I think he told Dantonio as much tonight after the game.  And I believe that Brady Hoke is such a good man that even Mark Dantonio, who hates all things Michigan with an immeasurable, dyed-in-the-wool passion, was nearly brought to tears by a Michigan Man's farewell.

I'm excited about the possibility of a Harbaugh, or even someone not quite as perfect.  I'm eager for a coach that is demanding, detail-oriented, and relentless in his pursuit of victory.  And while I'm quite certain we can and must find a more capable coach to lead our program, I'm just as sure we won't find a better man than Brady Hoke.

I wish him and Laura all the best.



October 25th, 2014 at 8:24 PM ^

Yeah okay. 

Dantonio's smiling the way you would smile at a child mis-telling you a joke you've heard numerous times before. 

The dude has given up on multiple games this season and then made a weak show of pretending like he's trying to win. Not sure how real that is. 

And I'm sure Mattison and Nussmeier's salaries had nothing to do with them being here. 

But whatever, if we need to call Hoke a "great man" so we can get him out of here, fine. 


October 25th, 2014 at 8:26 PM ^

especially faculty and admin people feel the same way.  I mentioned this on another thread that a faculty who used to be on the atheltic advisery board and is still well connected told me that we should not be surprised to see Hoke back next year.  He said unless he loses control of team and does something that would reflect poorly on school, he will have a lot of support for coming back next year.

Ron Utah

October 25th, 2014 at 8:32 PM ^

I upvoted you because I am glad to learn about the high respect for his character, but he should not be back next year, for the same reason a math professor who is a good man should not continue to be a professor if he can't help his students learn math.

Hoke should be fired, even if he is a high-character, likeable guy.  He is not good enough at his job.


October 25th, 2014 at 8:52 PM ^

go than to stay.  If he comes back UM's ticket sales will suffer grieviously and the school will continue to be mocked and scorned.


I can't see a majority of faculty or administrators supporting  contnuing with what is clearly a poisoned atmosphere that is bringing the school only shame. Michigan is protective of it's reputation and Hoke is sullying it with his team's poor play the past two years.

Michigan is a laughingstock and most alums, administrators, and faculty know that. 


October 25th, 2014 at 9:07 PM ^

not correct.  Many of them are not happy with the amount of money paid to coaches and many believe that big time football has a way of undermining the academic reputation of the school.  I am a faculty at a school with a small-time football program.  Any attempt by the admin to upgrade our football program and move to higher divisions has never received more than single digit support from the faculty council.  

By the way, the faculty who told me that there is strong support for Hoke, is a season ticket holder and never misses a game.  He thinks Hoke will turn it around. 


October 25th, 2014 at 9:19 PM ^

and I never said what was "most important to the faculty". What I did say is that many faculty and administrators cannot ignore the atmosphere around the program.

Michigan football is an integral part of UM's identity. Faculty and administrators here know that. From the constant references to the fight song to the use of Bo's "The team"  speech to the use of the winged helmet on a wide variety of things Michigan football is interwoven with the rest of the university. Comparing your small school to Michigan is a not a good comparison.

Besides it isn't faculty or admins who have great influence. It's wealthy boosters who do and it appears that they may have abandoned Hoke. 


Mosty faculty probably could not care less about football so their opinion matters not. Administrators would support Mussolini. They are bureaucrats and they support whomever is in charge. Their "opinion" is to toe the company line.


October 25th, 2014 at 11:08 PM ^

My Mom taught there for almost 30 years. I graduated from SNRE.

Most faculty I met didn't care. They vaguely wanted UM to win, but we're irked at the attention the football team got. Some openly sneered at Bo and his idea of a meritocracy. There were some huge fans, but most I met just didn't care/were negative.

Football was very politically incorrect for them.

So them not caring about big blues current plight doesn't shock me.

That said... Most had very little contact with the athletic dept such that they'd know a coach at all well, let alone support him.

And, I don't know that their opinion would matter. My mom was a very highly respected, tenure prof who was often published in her field and wrote several successful big money grants. If she and her peers said "Bo must go!!!!" I think they'd be told thank you for your opinion. Bo makes big money too and brings his own money in.


October 25th, 2014 at 11:44 PM ^

He will not be back next season!  He said he would no longer coach if he did not reach his goal of winning the big ten. Next season would be his last season and there is no way in hell that Hoke is going to win the B1G next season! So, why in hell would you waste another season on a coach who is incompetent at coaching at this level!


October 25th, 2014 at 8:32 PM ^

But he is a poor football coach. From the moment he was hired, it was a "rah-rah" Michigan Man move that set the program back. 11-2 was a horrible mirage, and sadly, I remember telling my brother after the Sugar Bowl victory that it would be the high point of Hoke's career. That dumb luck and Denard saved made them 11-2 instead of a more deserving 8-5. 

He's overmatched. Outcoached.  Hasn't developed any of the talent he brought in. I could see him as a DL coach or a recruiting coordinator. But not as the head coach of Michigan. Yet here we are. 

I watch Devin Gardner and wonder what could have been. I bristle when people make excuses for him and talk about how he should be supported despite the obvious regression of the team. It's sad. I have felt that Hoke is like Rod Marinelli -- players coach and a great line coach. The aw-shucks personality endears him to the masses, but it can't save him. In his words "It's Michigan for Godsakes." I do feel he's been authentic, but winning is what we've come to expect from Michigan football. 

Brian posted this almost seven years ago:

After today and the last two and a half seasons, it's amazing how spot on it was. 


October 25th, 2014 at 8:37 PM ^

We do not know him personally so we should stop calling him a "Great Man".    We know he can't coach football all that well based on watching his teams over the last four years even though he had just about everything possible in his favor.   That is really all we know and that is how we should remember him.





October 25th, 2014 at 8:37 PM ^

This is very classy and glad you posted. In fact I generally agree for the most part.

I just find it amazing though that any criticism of Brady Hoke has to be caveated by he's a great man. RichRod was and is a great man also. He was never given that treatment by "fans" of this program. He was treated like shit. RichRod is just as good a man as Brady Hoke but is also a heck of a better coach even if the results here were about the same. I say that 2011 season was equal parts RichRod's players, Mattison and Hoke coaching up the defense, and sheer dumb luck.

Anyway, it's water under the bridge as I agree that RichRod's results were not good enough though think he could have been given his fourth year that Brady was granted. My main point is why the heck do we have to call Brady Hoke a Michigan Man when people were posting that sad picture of RichRod and Rhett leaving in a car and gloating. The hypocrisy by our fan base at large, not even calling you out but again those people who call Hoke a good man but not RichRod, is astounding.

Again good post and I guess I'm glad the fan base is learning from our mistakes. We've certainly gotten plenty of practice of dealing with a program underperforming.


October 25th, 2014 at 8:43 PM ^

Dantonio is unhappy because he knows that it won't be as easy for him anymore.  Michigan has to have learned from their treatment of Rich Rod and their insistance of only eating fruit from the Inbred Michigan Coaching Tree.  

Dantonio knows that the incompetent David Brandon will soon be gone and that Michigan will soon hire a a coach with a track record of success.  He also knows that there won't be any "Michigan Men" helping him build his program this time around.  

Dantonio knows that he is about to lose his rivalry game auto-win.  


October 25th, 2014 at 9:38 PM ^

His golly gee'ism hides an underlying arrogance that should not be ignored. When he was passed for RR, he very publicly mocked him at the annual golf outing to sympathetic ears and guaranteed an SDSU win against a "soft" UM team that ended up being his best. He is no different, no more above scorn than any of UMs coaches in the past 20+ yes.

You Only Live Twice

October 25th, 2014 at 9:44 PM ^

Your diary post has given me stuff to think about.  What the hell did Brady whisper into MD's ear??  When did MD become sensitive enough to care??

You're probably right that Brady Hoke might be thinking this is his last year.  He knows what the fan base reaction is likely to be after today.  And yes he has run probably one of the cleanest CFB programs in the country if not THE cleanest.  That was part of his mandate.

I hope I'm wrong but it doesn't seem that clean is valued any more.  Only wins.  Can we have both??

Blue X2

October 25th, 2014 at 10:04 PM ^

He has taken nearly $16m from this university and has been a colossal failure. He was paid to do a job and he failed miserably. I would not call him great. If I failed spectacularly at my job I would not expect to have anyone call me great.

He has irreparably damaged these players. Many came here with dreams that are now shattered because of his incompetence.

He has damaged the brand of the university he says he loves.

He is not "great". If be had the character you say he would resign rather than continue to damage this program.

The Dude

October 25th, 2014 at 10:54 PM ^

There are so many things wrong about what the OP writes. I won't comment anything but the most BS part of this stinky writing..

"I believe this Michigan team, like all teams, reflects the attitude of their leader: high-character, high-motor, high-intensity...and imprecise."

Um...what? I see indifference and incompetence. He probably is nice, but that just makes him a nice guy. Based on the results on the field he hasn't inspired much. 



October 26th, 2014 at 5:38 PM ^

Yeah.  Because only the indifferent play on a broken fucking foot.  Or coughing up blood.

Jesus Christ, you don't like Hoke; we get it.  But maybe you shouldn't shit on the players in your rush to condemn everything about him.


October 25th, 2014 at 11:48 PM ^

The flip side of all the talk of Brady's greatness and benevolence should be the reminder that he's among the most well-paid coaches in America. The fact that there has been so little development of the players is a huge indictment of the man earning $4m/year. 

I wish him all the best, and hope that the huge pile of cash shoveled out to someone who claimed he would have "walked to Ann Arbor" will keep him and his family happy. He didn't earn it, but well done convincing the powers that be that he deserved it. He has every right to try to get as much as he can for himself, but let's try to avoid tripping over ourselves to praise him.

A $4 million dollar coaching job this was not.


October 26th, 2014 at 12:54 AM ^

No reason to question his character.   The fact that he had so much composure during his tender goodbyes with Dantonio after the game reveal him to be a much better sportsman than I could have been.  And as an aside, Dantonio should have been smarter than to put an exclamation point on the embarrassment with 28 sec left.  He has all but gauranteed himself a new, and undoubtedly more competent adversary for the next go round.  And, you can only milk the little brother BS for so long.

Every freakin reason imagineable to question Hoke's competence. He accomplishes much much less with a lot lot more to start with than a wide majority of his peers. 



October 26th, 2014 at 4:17 AM ^

The conjecture about Hoke's character and what Dantonio thinks of him aside, what suprised me in the OP is the idea that this team "continues to play hard".

Don't get me wrong, I think they are playing as well as they can under their current coaching regime, but that doesn't happen to be "playing hard", IMO, or maybe I just watched the game from a different angle than the OP did. What I saw was our players very literally getting pushed around on the field. On almost every play some burly MSU meat and potatoes farm boy would shove our boys off the huddle, away from them, or just for the hell of it as they walked past each other. And our boys just stumbled away. Now, I'm not saying I want to see a brawl on the field; no one enjoys the idea of getting punched; but I would have liked to see even the smallest amount of 'fire' there. The smallest incling of pride instead of just a stumble and lowered head would have went a long way in turning me to the OP's opinion of a "hard playing" team, but that's not what I saw. I saw a team defeated. In every way. Broken spirits that MSU took full advantage of by whipping them even further while they were already down. To me, that is the most incredulous and damaging part of Brady's tenure here. He's taken the fight and the bite out of his/OUR team, and that is unacceptable.


October 26th, 2014 at 6:35 AM ^

Well said...sometimes you simply aren't up to the job. Running a very visible iconic football program and getting the results expected by the fanbase is not something most coaches can do.  I wish nothing bad upon Coach Hoke...I suspect he is a good guy with good values.  I just wish him a goodbye after the last game of the season in Columbus.


October 26th, 2014 at 8:19 AM ^

"I believe that Brady Hoke is such a good man that even Mark Dantonio, who hates all things Michigan with an immeasurable, dyed-in-the-wool passion, was nearly brought to tears by a Michigan Man's farewell."


Are you serious?  If anything it was Dantonio's tears of joy at beating us ...  AGAIN.



October 26th, 2014 at 10:42 AM ^

Coach Hoke is a nice guy. He has integrity. Those are important qualities.

But he is not a great man. John Wooden was a great man. Vince Lombardi was a great man. Dwight D. Eisenhower was a great man. Bo Schembechler was a great man. George Allen was a great man. 

A truly great man brings out the greatness in other people.

Brady Hoke does not do that. He is a nice guy. He has integrity. When all is said and done, he let us down.



October 26th, 2014 at 12:14 PM ^

What does it mean that he's a great man? The OP focuses most on how likable he is - a nice quality, to be sure, but not one closely associated with greatness.

To me, character isn't about being likable. It's about what you do when the chips are down. In the Shane Morris incident, Hoke made a bad decision that put a kid's health at risk. He then failed to appropriately take responsibility for it. While I don't think one lapse should be presumed to define someone's character, I also don't see why the moral dimension of this incident is off limits for criticism. It was a moral failure as well as a bureaucratic failure.

There seems to be a gulf in opinion between those who have met Hoke in person and those who have not. Those who have tend to think very highly of him. For those of us who haven't, all we get to see is how he interacts with the media. As we know, Hoke refuses on principle to say anything substantive to the media. In general, I'm somewhat sympathetic to that stance, but in the case of Morris's head injury, the situation demanded a cogent and appropriately serious response, which he failed to provide.

From where I'm standing, I see a football team in disarray, and a guy who refuses to say anything to the media. Is there a great man there? I don't know. There's no way for me to know. But I do know he's not the right man for the job.


October 26th, 2014 at 6:25 PM ^

I feel the same way. He's a great human being, but he just wasn't enough of a coach to make it at Michigan. I hoped he would rise to the job, but it didn't happen. I wish him all the best. I know it must be hard for him to have his dream job crumble around him. He won't get this opportunity again.

Red is Blue

October 26th, 2014 at 5:34 PM ^

Being "great" is defined in terms of accomplishments.  Hoke is not great.  He is apparently nice, genuine, and law abiding, but that does not make he well accomplished, or great.  In fact, my guess is that many "great" people are not nice.  It is hard to drive to excellence by telling everyone, well I appreciate how hard you tried.

Frieze Memorial

October 26th, 2014 at 11:42 PM ^

I just want to know why.  Why is he so bad as a head coach?  What on earth is going on behind the scenes that makes them so bad at football?  Why don't they seem to care on the field?  Do they all secretly hate him? 

All these positive things listed by the OP, all true (I guess).  But why do they add up to failure? It doesn't make any sense!  I can believe if he was a mediocre coach that we'd just be kind of bad.  But we are spectacularly bad.  Like, trying as hard as possible to be bad.  Why? 

CO Wolverine Fan

October 27th, 2014 at 1:08 AM ^

I agree, but this is too big an investment to be run by sentiment.  If Brady came this way I'd offer to buy him lunch for the chance to meet him, but FBS football isn't a contest to see who the most affable guy is.  I do not want Michigan to hire Harbaugh, but there are outstanding coaches who care about the kids.  Brady has had four years, and the end result has not been satisfactory.  I'd bet even he would fess up to that.  May God bless him and his family, and I say that with sincerest honesty.  But it is time to move on.


October 27th, 2014 at 8:22 AM ^

This is a nice elegy for the Hoke era, but this idea that it was Hoke's charisma and passion that lured Greg Mattison and Doug Nussmeier to Ann Arbor and nothing about them being made some of the highest paid coordinators in college footbal is a bit tired.

Further, with all due respect to Coach Beilein, if I had a son with the potential to make it to the pros someday, I would want him to be coached by a person who is going to develop that potential.  There are a lot of talented players on this Michigan roster right now and I don't think their potential has been as well-served as it could be by the current coaching staff.

Lastly, if there can be a positive take-away from the Hoke era, let it be the death of the "Michigan Man".  We've spent far too long romanticizing this image of what a coach at Michigan should be when all really that should count is that he wins.  Not necessarily win at any cost, but attaching all these mythical, superfluous, WWBD (What Would Bo Do), attributes to the coach is just idealized bullshit.


October 27th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

It seems to me that a great person would have the quality of objective analysis of his performance of whatever he is doing and if he is not doing a good job, then he should take the high road and negotiate terms of terminating his contract in a manner that does not detrimentally impact his employer.

In this case, if he hangs on until he is fired, then it would seem that he has damaged that institution that he claims to honor.