[Editor’s Note: From now until Big Ten Media Days, we’ll be reaching into The-Ozone’s 23 years worth of archives and each day we will be posting a story from yesteryear. Big moments, small moments, big games, bigger games, and the random recruiting updates about guys you haven’t thought about in a decade or two.]
January 12, 2011 | This is a column written by Tony Gerdeman following the hiring of Brady Hoke to be Michigan’s head coach. Wolverine fans weren’t happy about hiring a head coach with a losing career record, so this column was meant to tell those fans that, yeah, you’re probably right and he’s probably not great, but at least you got rid of RichRod. — TG
Hoke: Maybe Not Perfect, But a Step Forward For Wolverines
Well, Michigan went and did it—they finally found somebody who actually wanted to coach their football team.
Enter Brady Hoke. He was an assistant coach under Lloyd Carr from 1995-2002, where he learned at the foot of the master that surliness is next to Godliness. He then took over Ball State in 2003 before moving on to San Diego State for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Overall, Hoke has a 47-50 career record as a head coach, but over the last four seasons, his teams were 32-19, which is a .627 winning percentage. In other words, he’s been pretty strong the last few seasons.
Some Michigan fans will tell you that this hiring is their worst nightmare, but they’d be wrong. They’ve been living their worst nightmare for the past three seasons. The hiring of Brady Hoke is merely waking up from that nightmare only to realize that they’re still stuck rooting for Michigan.
My initial thoughts on the hire are the same as everybody else’s in many regards. It’s not a home run, but it is a base hit that keeps the inning alive. Ultimately, however, somebody else may have to drive in the winning run.
For me, Hoke is Lloyd Carr 2.0. He’s been called a safe choice, like going to a Chinese buffet for the first time in your life and filling up on pizza.
But the second coming of Lloyd Carr isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, isn’t that what Michigan is striving for, a coach who can win nine games per year and sometimes maybe eleven?
You know, like an elitist Wisconsin.
I have no doubts that Brady Hoke can get Michigan back to where Lloyd Carr had them. The problem, however, is convincing Michigan and their fans that the standard eight or nine wins per season might actually be exactly where they belong.
While I don’t hate this hire for Michigan, my basic problem with it is that it was done with blinders on. Coaching candidates could have been standing right next to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon and he wouldn’t have even seen them if they didn’t have some tangential Michigan or Big Ten ties.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed lately, but there’s a bunch of good coaches in the SEC and the only one Michigan looked at eats grass like normal people eat Tic Tacs.
There’s good coaches out West too—one of them was even in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday (Ed: Chip Kelly), but Michigan only looked at Jim Harbaugh. Now don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that Harbaugh would have been like hitting back-to-back Grand Slams, but Dave Brandon couldn’t seal the deal on the most perfect fit the state of Michigan would have seen since Chet Lemon’s afro met his Tigers cap for the very first time.
The loss of Harbaugh, however, is not Brandon’s fault. It’s Harbaugh’s. Or maybe it’s Rich Rodriguez’s. After all, it’s always fun to pin all of the blame for lack of performance on the previous regime.
Lloyd Carr may have left a bare cupboard (he didn’t), but at least he didn’t strip the copper like Rodriguez did.
Now fans are worried that Hoke won’t have a spot for Denard Robinson and the 2011 Heisman candidate will transfer somewhere that can better utilize his talents. But smart coaches are able to find ways to utilize supreme talent when they have it. Smart coaches don’t go chasing off elite quarterback prospects when they take over a new job.
Fans are upset right now because they lost out on Harbaugh and Les Miles. What they should be happy about, however, is that they are finally free of Rich Rodriguez.
By 1:30 pm tomorrow, after Hoke’s introduction at the University of Michigan, he will have won over a substantial amount of luke-warmers simply by stating repeatedly that it’s time for Michigan to get back to being Michigan.
Nothing fires up the masses like reminding them how great their best days were, regardless of whether or not those days were actually all that great to begin with.
Remember your favorite bicycle? Yeah, it was basically a piece of crap, but you still remember it fondly, don’t you? Remember your favorite dog? It had six different dads.
Right now one of Hoke’s first responsibilities will be to get everybody in one of those reminiscing type of moods. The kind where you sit around the kitchen table talking about the good ol’ days until three in the morning.
He will need to bring everybody together, but at least he has a working knowledge of the way the University of Michigan works. When Rodriguez got to Michigan, he opened up the instructions and they were all in Korean.
Hoke knows what people want to hear, and he also knows how to say it. More importantly, he wants to say it.
Michigan fans may not be happy with Hoke, but they need to keep in mind that he’s the one who actually wanted this job, and he wasn’t shy when it came to talking about it.
Yes, Michigan finally got their Michigan Man.
Now they just have to come to terms with it.