|Denis Porov/The Associated Press|
Most Michigan fans had visions of Jim Haubaugh on the Michigan sidelines. And while I agree that Harbaugh would have been a fantastic hire, there was the lingering effects of his Michigan student-athlete comments he made 3 years ago. Don't underestimate the power of those words, and the lasting impression they left on the brass at UofM. I won't say that was the reason Harbaugh was never a serious candidate, there is obviously a lot of details I'm not aware of. But clearly Jim's star was on the rise, and he took his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at coaching at the highest level, and made the most of it.
And I don't blame him for that. I won't curse his name because of it. In my eyes he's still a Michigan man, and worthy of that title.
Once the Harbaugh hangover cleared up, all eyes turned to Les Miles. Why? He had name recognition, he was a Michigan man, he had all the things Dave Brandon laid out as his criteria last week. I personally wasn't such a huge fan of Miles, but I was ready to buy into him because it just seemed like a lock.
I won't speculate too much as to why Miles decided to stay at LSU. Was he even offered the UM job? Maybe he's just happy at LSU? Why shouldn't he be? I'm sure they made it worth his while. He's done pretty well by LSU as being considered for the Michigan job.
I didn't like the Miles discussion because frankly, I think Les has peaked at LSU. He's won on the biggest stage and has proven himself a winner in the world's toughest conference. He has nothing left to prove as a coach. Is that really the guy you want to come to Michigan to try and rebuild a winning culture? I have no doubt Michigan would have been pretty good under Miles, but maybe not as good as we could be.
Enter: Brady Hoke. Maybe the first, and ultimately the final choice to be Michigan's head man.
Hoke's name popped up 3 years ago when we hired Rodriguez. I didn't know much about him at the time other than he'd had some success at Ball State. But at the time, Michigan wasn't in the mood to gamble with a relatively untested Michigan man. We were in the mood to go out and get the sexy name. Bill Martin hired Rodriguez based on his success running a scheme that should have never some with 100 miles of Schembechler Hall.
After going after the big name, paying out the wazoo to get him (and fire him), only to ultimately find out that you just can't fit a square peg into a round hole, Michigan is finally ready to go back to the winning formula that has brought success to Ann Arbor for the last 40 years.
What I like about Brady Hoke is that first and foremost, he's a players coach. Just listen to what his players have to say about him. He's the kind of guy that kids would run through a brick wall for. It's cliche, I know, but you hear it.
He's the kind of coach that knows how to coach, and win in the Big Ten. He's a defensive-minded coach. He's like that because he knows that defense wins, not only in the Big Ten, but everywhere.
Unlike Harbaugh or Miles, I think Hoke is going to come in here, assess the talent we have, and adapt his schemes to fit what's here. At SDSU he ran a hybrid of the spread, west-coast and peppered in pro-style system. I do think that Denard can have a chance to shine in a Hoke offense. Will he be brave enough to stick around and find out. We'll see.
I guess what I like most about the Hoke hire, is that Michigan didn't follow the beaten path to get a coach who either needed top dollar to want to come here, or has already proven himself somewhere else. Michigan got a relatively successful coach with strong Michigan ties, a midwest guy, and a guy with still plenty to prove at the highest level. He's eager to win, he wants to do it at Michigan, and Michigan has always been his dream job.
For my perspective, Brady Hoke has a ton of upside. Is there still a lot of uncertainty? Of course. It's always a gamble when you hire a new coach...I don't care if it's Bill Belichick or Urban Meyer. But Michigan went the route of bringing in a guy who WANTS to be at Michigan. I applaud the move.
I said from the outset that I support Dave Brandon and trust him to make the best decision for Michigan. I think he did all Michigan fans proud with this hire. I will give Brady Hoke my full support while he's the coach at Michigan. I did the same for Rodriguez.
We'll see how well the many factions of the Michigan fanbase accept Hoke. It will be tough at first, especially after the Rodriguez debacle. But I think we owe it to him to come together at a Michigan fanbase and rally behind our new coach. Otherwise, this ship will never get off the ground.
Welcome Coach Hoke. And Go Blue!