With the calendar turning to December and winter officially upon us, a lot is happening in the football landscape of the Great Lakes State. The Detroit Lions are battling for a Division title and a playoff birth under Jim Caldwell in his first year as the teams head coach. The Michigan State Spartans finished the regular season 10-2 and are one win short of their fourth eleven win season in five years. The Spartans are looking at a likely bid in the Orange Bowl, which was a BCS bowl under last years format. But the biggest story this week is that Brady Hokes tenure as the University of Michigan head football coach has come to an end.
At a press conference held on Tuesday afternoon, Michigan’s Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett announced that Brady Hoke would be let go and the search for a new football coach would start immediately. Hokes dismissal comes on the heels of a 5-7 season that saw Michigan missing a Bowl game for the second time in five years. Hoke recorded an overall record of 31-20 in his four seasons at Michigan, which was far from good enough for the winningest program in college football history.
In his first season at Michigan, Hoke lead the Wolverines to a 10-2 record and the first win over rival Ohio State in eight seasons. They went on to beat Virgina Tech 23-20 in the Sugar Bowl and many thought Michigan’s future was bright under Hoke. From there, things went downhill for Hoke and the Wolverines as the following three seasons saw them post consecutive records of 8-5, 7-6 & 5-7.
“I believe that Brady had enough time to produce results, and they’re just not there today,” said Jim Hackett. “Therefore I believe it’s time to make this transition.”
So what exactly went wrong for Hoke? He brought in top recruiting classes every year during his tenure in Ann Arbor, but the highly touted players he recruited did not translate to winning football teams. It is a big leap for players to make from the high school ranks to the collegiate game, but the onus must fall on Hoke and his staff as they failed to develop top recruits into the players that could succeed at the highest level. A school that was once a hotbed for NFL talent has seen only a handful of players reach “the league” under Hokes tutelage.
Was Brady Hoke in over his head coaching at Michigan, under the brightest of lights?
A friend of mine close to the Michigan program had this to say about Hoke’s dismissal.
“First thing’s first, a good man was fired yesterday. Perhaps not the best football coach in terms of wins and losses, and perhaps a man who was sometimes in a bit over his head both on the sidelines and during a few difficult press conferences, but a decent man who was well-loved by most of his players and gave his all to try and turn Michigan around. He failed in terms of not winning enough games, but for that he should absolutely not be treated with the venom and schadenfreude that a few Michigan “fans” have exhibited the past few weeks. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
I couldn’t have said it better. While one can sit and speculate about the hows and whys of Michigan Football’s demise since the departure of Lloyd Carr in 2007, the answer must lie with the head coach.
Combing the sports pages it appears that there have been about fifty candidates rumored as a possible replacement for Hoke. I am going to reserve my opinion for now, as many of the replacement candidates are either long shots or quite frankly, not the right guy for the job.