Brady Hoke on Michigan-Nebraska split 1997 national title: 'We were the better team'
Michigan football coach Brady Hoke admits he has a bias, but when it comes to who deserved the 1997 national championship, he holds zero doubt.
"We were the better team, but you're going to be biased," Hoke said Thursday in a weekly radio appearance on 97.1 The Ticket.
Hoke served as a defensive line coach on the Wolverines' 1997 unbeaten squad, the same team that ultimately split a national championship with Nebraska.
Michigan will welcome the Cornhuskers into Michigan Stadium on Saturday (noon, ESPN).
The 12-0 Wolverines defeated Washington State in the Rose Bowl, were led by Heisman Trophy winning cornerback Charles Woodson and finished the season No. 1 in The Associated Press' Top 25 poll.
The 13-0 Cornhuskers knocked off Tennessee in the Orange Bowl to give legendary coach Tom Osborne a victory in his final game on the sidelines. After the season, Nebraska was tabbed as the No. 1 team in the coaches poll.
The following season, the Bowl Championship Series debuted.
"We had some tremendous guys that represented this program well," Hoke said. "We had an awfully good football team and, obviously, people thought they had a good football team."
Nebraska's unbeaten season almost didn't happen, though, as the Cornhuskers relied on a last-second kicked-ball touchdown catch from receiver Matt Davidson to force overtime with Missouri.
The Cornhuskers ultimately prevailed, preserving their perfect year.
Hoke had a tie to that game as well. His brother, Jon, was the defensive backs coach at Missouri that season.
"If his guys would have broke on the ball a little better, things may have been different," Hoke said.