As a resident of Washtenaw County, Michigan, I’ve been informed that I am obliged to have and to express an opinion of David Brandon’s hiring of Brady Hoke to coach the Michigan football team. So here it is: Hoke has the potential to be a great coach at Michigan, or to be a disaster.
Hoke led the Ball State Cardinals to a 12-0 regular season and a national ranking. That’s a spectacularly impressive accomplishment. There are very few places at which it’s harder to find success than Muncie, and it’s hard to imagine a coach putting together that kind of season in Muncie and not being able to do it in Ann Arbor, with Michigan’s money, facilities, fan base, and tradition.
Hoke has said time and time again that Michigan is his dream job. He is not going to leave Ann Arbor for another school, and he’s not going to leave for the NFL. He’ll be at Michigan until he gets thrown out or until he retires, and this sets up the possibility of something we almost never see anymore: a coach spending decades at a single school. If he can succeed at Michigan, he’ll be there a very long time.
That’s the success scenario; here’s the disaster.
Hoke isn’t going to have a three-win season like RichRod did in 2008. He’s probably not going to have a five-win season like RichRod did in 2009. But he’s going to have a hard time winning the Big Howevermany, much less delivering the national championships that Michigan fans think they deserve. Right now, there are probably five or maybe six teams higher up the Big Howevermany food chain than the Wolverines (in approxmate order: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan State, and maybe Penn State). It’s fairly easy to imagine Hoke winning just enough games to stick around, and maybe a division championship here or there, but never really getting Michigan back to the national stage. They won’t have the losing seasons of RichRod, but may instead continue a slow slide toward football mediocrity.