Is the success Brady Hoke enjoying due to his skills in football or management?

Submitted by mGrowOld on September 23rd, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Speaking from the experience of 30 plus years of managing people both relatively successfully (current model) and unsuccessfully (younger version) I can say that Brady Hoke is running a virtual management clinic on the football team.  He may or may not know as much about schemes and formations as other coaches but I defy anyone to look at his work as a manager since he was hired and not be impressed. To summarize some of the major things every textbook on management recommends and I've noticed he's done to date:

1. Surround yourself with superior talent - Clearly the hiring of Mattison was the big win for the staff but his remaining subordinates have excellent resumes themselves.  Hoke was not afraid to put together a team that would challenge his football knowledge and direction.

2. Delegate authority - Once your staff is in place it is the excellent manager allows them the autonomy to make decisions without interference.  I get no sense of Hoke "meddling" with either Borges or Mattison on player personnel decisions or play calling.  He lets his coaches coach.

3. Be willing to make the "Big Decision" quickly and decisively - At the end of the Notre Dame game Hoke made the call to go for the win but gave the play calling decision back to Borges.  By all reports Hoke made the call to run the play very quickly, thereby giving Borges time to decide on the right play without the added pressure of time winding down.

4. Motivate the troops and stay connected to your employees - At my company we call the CEO the "Chief Encouragement Officer" and he acts as such.  Much has been made of Hoke not wearing a headset but I like it because wearing a headset puts you in contact with your coaching staff but blocks out the players.  Hoke can talk to his coaches anytime he chooses in a moment's notice but by remaining headset free he's able to walk among the team, motivate, challenge and encourage as necessary.  A great manager never loses connection to the people doing the job.

5. Accept criticism but deflect praise - While criticism has been sparse to date thanks to our quick start, whenever questions are raised at press conferences that are critical to the team's performance Hoke takes the blame fully and without reservation.  Conversely, when praised, Hoke is quick to push the credit down to either his coaches or his players.  Again a hallmark of an excellent and confident manager of people.

Hoke has yet to be tested by tough times but based on what I've seen so far I think he'll do ok.  I am very impressed by Hoke's managerial skills and think they will serve him (and the team) well as the season progresses.




September 23rd, 2011 at 7:25 PM ^

You forgot:

6. When prostyle QB is lacking for your pro style set, go back to the Denardian Well and thank RichRod for all your offensive gains.


September 24th, 2011 at 9:18 AM ^

This is a very thoughtful post about Hoke as a manager. Thanks, mgrowold. Lots of good points. However, I'm tired of hearing about how Hoke is supposedly deficient in his knowledge of football and schemes. How did that idea come about? We really have nothing on which to base it.

My only supposition is that it's the collective compromise to the "we didn't really want Hoke" mindset that originally predominated the board. He said and did (and hired) all the right things after, so we decided he wasn't the greatest at coaching football, to support our original ideas, but he's a master at delegation so we love him and he'll be successful. The other rational I can come up with is his overall head coaching record of 47-50 before Michigan, which may be due to taking years to turn around truly horrible programs.

I think it's quite possible he actually is extremely talented at coaching football and he's wise enough to know to surround himself with the best and trust them to do their jobs. Certainly, he could be both. Again, time will tell all. But I think the idea that he's not a great football mind should die until otherwise brought to life.


September 24th, 2011 at 10:13 AM ^

I'm very interested to see how he handles the aging of his veteran coordinators. I don't see Mattison coaching more than another 5 or 6 years and I'm very interested to see of we can restart another good coaching tree so transitions are less gut wrenching.


September 24th, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

Always something for us faithful fans to worry about and discuss for the future!

I expect this is a coach that can groom or select good choices. He comes off as kind-hearted and genuine brawn, but I'm convinced at this point he's quite the brain, as well.