Grantland: A Letter to Brady Hoke

Submitted by Daniel on August 23rd, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Back in January, Grantland published a Michael Weinreib story describing "The Big Ten's Faux Success," talking about how Michigan 2011 was "one of the emptiest 11-win seasons in college football history."

Now, there's an article by John Brandon with a letter to Coach Hoke (scroll down to see it). It starts well:

Coach Hoke,
Everyone down (or over) here in non–Big Ten country is rooting for you.

Which is just refreshing to hear. The rest of it continues in a similar vein, though the author doesn't seem to consider the rebuilding of The Fort.

It is nice to see some love for Coach Hoke from a relatively unbiased observer, who even manages to sneak in some digs against the current coach of the Ohio Buckeyes.




August 23rd, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

He was replying to mine.  Also, it was not meant as political at all.  It was a metaphor.  How about this instead?

The guy with the super cool and smoking hot wife that brags about nailing a bunch of skanks.  I'm also picturing this ficticious man to have a motorcycle.



August 23rd, 2012 at 11:51 AM ^

I was actually thinking about this recently while watching a promo for OSU's ESPN special. The media loves coaches that give them the access they need, and when they love coaches they write nice pieces and make the coach seem great in all sorts of ways. The media loves Urban Meyer right now, for that very reason. He's letting anybody and everybody in to check out practice and it's generating a lot of hype for his program. The fact that the media loves Brady Hoke despite the return of The Fort is really a testament to his great personality in my opinion. I remember on day one he was trying to learn all the reporters names and adress them personally, and it's because of things like this that we get so much hype out of so little actual access. Not that I wouldn't rather have it the other way (I'm starving for practice reports), but it's interesting.


August 23rd, 2012 at 12:16 PM ^

Rich Rodriguez disproves your original thesis that the media loves a guy who gives them access. 

I think the writer summed up Brady's popularity quite well. He's not the typical current stick-up-his-ass college coach. He's down to earth, quick with a joke, treats everyone well, looks like the guy who fixed your car last week ... He's an everyman, and a damn good football coach. What's not to like?


August 23rd, 2012 at 6:48 PM ^

I met Brady Hoke at a fundraising event. I went up to him to ask for a picture at the end of the evening. He had to take a phone call from a recruit. I figured that he would just blow me off so I just started walking towards the exit. Once he got off the phone he sought me out. He explained that it was the last opportunity to legally speak with the kid and genuinely wanted to take a picture. He had me at "this is Michigan'" but this interaction really set the hook. He is a huge personality that fills up a room with positive energy when he enters. What a change from RR. We are lucky to have him.


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

Meh. The fact is, we're going to hear this crap about easy schedules every other year, since we get ND, NEB and Ohio all at home every odd-numbered year.

The fact that we play all those teams on the road in even numbered years more than makes up for it, but don't expect any acknowledgement of that fact from the haters and critics.


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

This article is by John Brandon.  The OP makes it seem like Weinreb has a chance of heart, but it's two different guys.  Nice link in any case. Though I think it (understandly) comes off more as "we all hate Ohio State" more than real Michigan love. But who can't get behind that?


August 23rd, 2012 at 2:42 PM ^

That wasn't my intent. Just pointing out the wording was unclear, and that I didn't know it wasn't the same guy till I saw the byline. And after seeing that, I understood what you meant. I was just initially surprised because though Weinreb gets some love in these parts, I'm overly not impressed with his work.  And this didn't seem like him at all. (Because it wasn't, obviously).

Section 1

August 23rd, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

"one of the emptiest 11-win seasons in college football history." 

Two words.  Boise.  State.

I find it hilarious that in years past, the nation regarded a Boise State win in the early season over (an overrated) Virgina Tech as some sort of conclusive proof that Boise State was 'fer real.' 

But a Michigan win in a season-ending bowl game over Virginia Tech is a mark of "emptiness."


August 23rd, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

I dsicount Boise as well but for them to win so much over the period they did I have to give them some credit.  However, VA Tech has been extremely over rated.  Didnt they lose Montana or something?  Always ranked so high and then lose so many game to bad teams. 


My top 3 over rated teams are (in no particular order)

VA Tech




August 23rd, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

In order to be overrated,  you must first be rated. Rutgers is not rated, but for that one time they almost tied for the Big East with Ray Rice. That team finished its season, if I remember correctly, in the International Bowl. 

As the other responder said, the list of overrated programs must begin with Florida State or the list itself is overrated. 

Leaders And Best

August 23rd, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

After joining the Big Ten, I don't think any team put a bigger dent in the PSU & Paterno legend than Michigan (pre-PSU scandal).

Take anything he writes about Michigan with a grain of salt. Especially post-PSU scandal.


August 23rd, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

Michael Weinreib's column is guilty of a very common fallacy in sportswriting: the assumption that if two good offenses are contained, then the game sucked. What in fact happened in the Sugar Bowl is that two pretty good defenses stepped up for the occasion, and made the offenses and special teams look bad by comparison. VA Tech having to repeatedly settle for field goals wasn't just a product of poor offense: our defense prevented them from reaching the end zone. And our running game was bottled up because VA Tech had good enough cornerbacks to leave them on islands with 8 or 9 in the box: no running game will look good against that. There aren't many casual fans who can watch a defensive slug-fest and get much enjoyment out of it (I actually enjoyed the first iteration of LSU-Bama last year for its amazing defense, but I suspect there weren't many others who did). But for someone who's purportedly an "expert" at watching and discussing football to miss that something more than sloppiness was at work in the Sugar Bowl is disappointing, and diminishes that "expert's" credibility in my mind.

Deli Cuts

August 23rd, 2012 at 12:34 PM ^

Funny how when SEC teams are involved in a low scoring game it's an "epic defensive slugfest" regardless of how poorly the offense is executing but when teams from other conferences have a low scoring game it is "sloppy poorly executed offense" again regardless of offensive execution.


August 23rd, 2012 at 12:46 PM ^

two good defenses will make the offenses look sloppy and incapable.  We saw what good defense can do in the Sugar Bowl.  Unfortunately, we also saw it against MSU last year.  In both cases, I think Michigan's miscues were the product of good defense (plus, cheap shots and a trash tornado in one of the two instances).


August 23rd, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

Your analysis of the game hit it on the head.  Maybe the difference in the game is when you have your CBs one on one, it opens up one on one battles for your receivers.  The Sugar Bowl MVP won a couple of those, and got us TDs instead of FGs. That was the difference in the game.  Credit the defense too...where as there was a lot of bend, ours never broke. VT's broke a couple of times.

But then I love defense. I liked the LSU-Bama game. If you've watched enough football, you can generally tell when it's good defense and not bad offense. Doesn't mean you have to LIKE it. Nothing wrong with liking shoot outs. Just don't assume the opposite is "bad" football.


August 23rd, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

Um....I must be missing something.  I clicked on the link and read the article in Grantland which to me anyways was little more than a slam-fest at how crappy Michigan played and that not for the stupidity of the VT coach and punter combined with the duplicity of the reply operator we should've lost.

Where is the positive Brady/Michigan love referenced in the post?  It sure isnt in the article linked by the OP.

EDIT - I found it........Damn driver was talking to my accountant and I missed the darn thing with all the commotion unloading here at the beach house.


August 23rd, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

"Michigan State and Wisconsin are solid, but if they're winning the conference (as they have been), then the conference isn't going to national championship games."


August 23rd, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

This was my favorite line in the article, too.  It exposes Wiscy and MSU for what they are: two OK programs who have temporarily risen above the level of mediocrity, but can't make it over the hump to true "elite" status.  

I am very glad to see a non-Big Ten writer come to this conclusion.  I'm sure Sparty and Bucky aren't too happy, though.


August 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

This was my favorite part of the whole article. haha These two programs especially have enjoyed success at UM's demise. I think that both can see the wrtiting on the wall and it makes them worry a bit. That's probably why Dantonio hides behind his smirk and smart ass comments and Bielema hides behind his tactics of running up the score against inferior opponents. It is going to be interesting to see which(if any) B1G teams can either hold onto their success or gain more success when UM and OSU are back to full strength.


August 23rd, 2012 at 1:21 PM ^

"You are a CEO, because it's required for success, but you don't seem like one." - from the article, regarding Hoke

It's been talked about before, but this sums up the matter quite nicely. He's a very unassuming, genuine person, and I think many people inside and outside of the Big Ten find this rather refreshing. Even though he gets major attention, he doesn't ask for it as some others try to do. Perhaps more importantly for the team, he seems very clear in his expectations and very grounded about his estimation of where they are at when it comes to progress, and this is sort of echoed in the CTK videos when you hear the consistency of the message from the players themselves.

It's great to hear praise for Hoke coming from other conferences / regions outside the Midwest. Thanks for sharing this!


August 23rd, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

Sure it's pandering, but I'll be damned if I don't love it all the same. Although I'd say Hoke will likely be in more than just a couple of those playoff games before he's gone.


August 23rd, 2012 at 2:12 PM ^

"Of course, none of this means the Big Ten is "back," and none of this means that Michigan is back, either; the Wolverines didn't even win their own division within the conference. Yet nobody carries the flag for misguided Big Ten pretension quite like Michigan does, so let us permit the Wolverines their moment of glory before Urban Meyer squashes their dreams for the next decade."


What a tool.


August 23rd, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

What bothers me the most about the "one of the emptiest 11-win seasons in college football history" perspective is that the comment completely neglects the fact that it was Hoke's first year.

For purposes of comparision, here are a few other first-year records:

  • Nick Saban (LSU) 8-4
  • Nick Saban (Bama) 7-6
  • Mark Dantonio (MSU) 7-6
  • Urban Meyer (UF) 9-3
  • Jim Tressel (OSU) 7-5
  • Gene Chizik (Auburn) 8-5
  • Jim Harbaugh (Stan) 4-8
  • Mike Gundy (Ok St) 4-7
  • Les Miles (LSU) 11-2 (fine, that's also really good, but I'm still glad we didn't hire him)

The fact Hoke was able to go 11-2 with the team (and the situation) he inherited is nothing short of impressive.  The idea that he does not get universal praise for this accomplishment blows my mind.