Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Jan 2011

Michigan Hires Brady Hoke

Athletic Director Dave Brandon has delivered "Michigan Man" Brady Hoke to Ann Arbor. After presumed top candidate Jim Harbaugh made the NFL leap to the San Francisco 49ers and what appeared to be a public courting of Les Miles fizzled, Michigan hired the former San Diego State head coach on Tuesday. Hoke was named the 2010 Mountain West coach of the year after guiding the Aztecs to a 9-4 record and bowl victory over Navy. His career record as head coach at Ball State (2003-08) and San Diego State (2009-10) is 47-50. Prior to that, he served as a defensive line assistant coach for eight seasons at Michigan.

The fan base is not particularly pleased.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 11 Jan 2011

16 comments, Last at 13 Jan 2011, 1:40pm by blusage


by spenczar :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:00pm

List of NFL coaches who coached at SDSU at some point (from wikipedia):
Joe Gibbs
John Madden
Don Coryell
Ted Tollner
Sean Payton
Tom Cable
Brian Billick

by Peregrine :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:25pm

Mike Smith too.

by Takao (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:04pm

3 sources of optimism for a coaching hire I hate

1. Stranger things have happened. See also Gene Chizik national championship winning coach

2. He could theoretically hire a great staff

3. He has the support of the Lloyd Carr collection of apparatchiks who worked so hard to undermine RichRod

All that said I would like to add my voice to the chorus of...


by Spielman :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:53pm

At this point, I wonder if the Wolverine fandom isn't a (Big) House divided permanently. We've got a group of RichRod supporters using cold-war era Communist terms to cast RichRod deniers as traitors, and RichRod dislikers who think the RichRod supporters are a bunch of crazy people who would have supported the guy even if he'd taken a dump on the "M" on the field at halftime of every game. This doesn't bode well for the future of Michigan football.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 7:52pm

I think people are overreacting to everything because this is new for most Michigan fans (certainly most of us who post). All this has happened before; it just wasn't recent enough that we could learn from that experience.

Tad Wieman took over for Yost and was a bumbling fool who lost as soon as Yost's players moved on. Harry Kipke got stupid after five seasons. Bump Elliott had just as many losing seasons as winning seasons. None of that was the end of the program.

Even the more recent coaches had their "flaws". Bo couldn't win the big one. Moeller used poor judgment. Carr wouldn't adapt to changing times.

Rodriguez was a good hire because he saw where offenses were going and could recruit players to match; he got fired because he didn't understand the other side of the ball well enough to know what he needed (which was a competent DC with the power to run whatever scheme he felt was best), and he didn't recruit enough talent on that side of the ball.

Sure, the Free Press tried to run him out of town from Day 1, and some people never really took to the guy, but that wouldn't have mattered if he'd won more games. If Michigan were 9-4 this season, who would care what Sharp and Rosenberg were writing? If they'd beaten Michigan State and won a bowl game, who'd listen to the naysayers?

I'm not sure Hoke is the right man for the job, but it doesn't matter now. I hope he hires solid assistants and gets the program turned around the right way. Who knows? Maybe he'll become our generation's Bo.

by Takao (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:54pm

I don't think anyone is disputing that if Brady Hoke wins BCS games that the fanbase will warm to him, but that doesn't mean that fans shouldn't be concerned about his ability to do that.

Sure, you can't ever know with these things. RichRod certainly looked liked an ideal hire and instead flamed out in 3 years so it's certainly possible that Hoke will work out well. That said, he certainly doesn't have the profile of a successful championship calibre coach. He is not a highly successful coordinator at any level. He is not a wildly successful coach either at the AQ or non-AQ level. His primary accomplishment is the creation of good teams in adverse circumstances but his Ball St. team wasn't dominant and got blown out by Turner Gill's 7-5 Buffalo team in the MAC title game.

I understand your point that we should rally around the coach and to the fans credit I think we all will, but I think a certain amount of gnashing of teeth is warranted. We were promised a national search and a top dollar coach instead we got 3 conversations with guys who ties to the program and a thrid tier coaching candidate.

I hope he does hire solid assistants. I hope Denard doesn't transfer. I hope for a lot of things, but I'm not hardly optimistic.

by Red (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:41pm

I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:43am

I don't think we're disagreeing, just looking at things a little differently. I'm not at all happy that Michigan just hired a man who apparently doesn't believe in the spread offense, but I also don't think it's permanent doom. Granted, at Michigan, short-term doom may feel permanent, but it's not. If Hoke does not succeed, he can be replaced by someone who can. (If Hoke doesn't succeed, Brandon may very well be replaced ...)

The one thing I think all of us can agree upon is that Brandon overestimated the strength of his hand. I think he may have considered retaining Rodriguez prior to the bowl massacre (which would have been decent providing that there were significant changes on defense), but the Gator Bowl result forced his hand. He wanted to make the change during the dead period so that the new coach wouldn't lose any recruiting time, which is good ... but I think that he felt he needed someone with Michigan ties (somewhat understandable, given the Rodriguez mess) and assumed that anyone with those ties would jump at the chance to take one of the most highly-visible jobs in NCAA football.

In retrospect, this shouldn't have been a surprise. Harbaugh already won a BCS bowl at Stanford, a school in an area he loves with a lot less pressure to win. (I've seen one game out there, against Notre Dame - always fun to root against - and it's definitely not the same as out here.) Miles has a BCS bowl win and a MNC at LSU; he'd have to suffer for a couple of years here before he could build up the goodwill he already has at LSU, and there's no guarantee that he could succeed here ... obviously he wouldn't be able to coach the way they apparently do in SEC country.

You are correct: we were promised a lot, and now all we have are kittens.

I think the one bright spot of this mess is that enough people should be donating to mgoblog that the next time this happens, Brian will be able to handle twice as much traffic before he starts locking the gates. You can almost measure the level of DOOM by the degree to which we can log in.

by Todd S. :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 12:25am

Winning at all at Ball State is quite impressive. I may have to start rooting for Michigan now.

by Spielman :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:38pm

Well, Whitlock will be ecstatic.

by SDSUgradMIraised (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:46pm

I've been a Michigan fan for about 35 years due to growing up there, but no more! I'm an SDSU grad and grateful to be SD resident for the past 20 years and i'm pissed! I hope Hoke fails as badly as one could fail as a head coach!!! You suck Brady!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:50am

Why are you angry? Because Hoke decided to move to a job that he felt was better? (It also happens to be his dream job.) That's how college football works. Almost all coaches want to move up, and almost all college jobs have jobs above them. Even coaches at elite schools will occasionally leave for NFL jobs.

If you're a fan of a school outside the top tier of jobs, then the reality is that any good coach you have will leave for another job. The rare exception is at a school where the coach can build it into a strong program, and even then, as Boise State and Utah fans can tell you, you still can't count on retaining your coach.

Don't bear any ill will toward Hoke for leaving ... otherwise you'll end up with two categories of coaches at SDSU: coaches you hate and coaches who were fired.

by MTR (not verified) :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 2:17am

I'm less puzzled by fans thinking Hoke isn't a great hire (though there seems to be a lack of hot candidate this season) and more puzzled by the Rodriguez diehards. Didn't he oversee the programs worst three years in decades?

by Dave0 :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 12:16pm

who's a rodriguez die-hard?

by blusage (not verified) :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 1:29pm

I agree with those above who say winning will solve everything. Had RR won, or even fielded a competent team, the Carr apparatchiks would've been drowned out. Even though he didn't, he still had a strong following. All that was missing were the wins.

As for Hoke, I'm in the faction who believes that this could be a great hire based on hiring history: Bo was unknown before Michigan, Tressel unknown before OSU, Chizik at Auburn, Carroll -- if not unknown, then unremarkable -- at USC, Meyer peaked at Florida, etc.

So there is no reason to rush to judgement based on past history -- especially past history from smaller schools where lack of physical resources, alumni and administration support factor in greatly.

Go Blue!

by blusage (not verified) :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 1:40pm

I'm not a RR diehard, but I thought it was a good hire at the time. It was also a good FIRE as well: 3 years was enough.

But let's give him a lot of credit for finding Denard Robinson. RR was the only coach willing to let him play QB. (I'm hoping DR sticks around and Hoke uses him well.)

Secondly, the RR hire got the Michigan fan base talking about the elephant in the room: the fact that for as great as we consider our school National Championships were comparitively few and far between which was mainly because our offense wasn't just old school, it was outdated.

We have a new coach now who will hopefully return Michigan's legendary defensive prowess, but the climate is now changed: he will also be expected to field an exciting, explosive offense -- like the one RR was supposed to deliver and made significant strides toward -- which was the missing ingredient in our quests for National Championships.

Hopefully, Hoke will be able to deliver.

Go Blue!