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Posted on Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Brady Hoke says he 'failed as a head coach' in 2011, emphasizes Big Ten title or bust again in 2012

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan football coach Brady Hoke says he 'failed as a head coach' in 2011, and remains focused solely on the Big Ten title in 2012.

Melanie Maxwell |

On paper, Brady Hoke's rookie season as the Michigan football team's head coach was historic.

He had three more wins than Bo Schembechler earned during his first season, two more than both Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr and became the first Wolverine coach since Fielding H. Yost (in 1901) to record 11 victories in his debut season.

On paper, it was spectacular.

In Hoke's brain, though, it was a dud.

"We failed, because I failed as a head coach," Hoke said of his 2011 campaign Sunday at the team's annual media day event. "We have to do a better job of coaching and preparing those guys on a weekly basis on how we're going to play the game of football."


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Hoke's initial message to the media when he took the job in January centered around the Big Ten championship. Anything else, he said, was a failure.

During his first media day last August, he offered the same message, despite the fact that he was trying to mold a team that had scored just six Big Ten wins in the past three seasons.

And a year removed from an 11-2 campaign, that saw him equal those six league wins and bring the program its first BCS bowl victory in more than a decade, Hoke's still going with the same line.

Big Ten title or bust. Anything else is a waste of time.

"If we don't win the Big Ten championship, (it's a failure)," Hoke said. "We know what the goal is, what the expectation is.

"If we don't meet it, then we've failed. It's pretty cut and dry."

Since taking over a program that suffered historic struggles under former coach Rich Rodriguez, Hoke -- whether he wants to admit it or not -- has been able to bring back a certain level of respect when it comes to the Michigan football program.

The Wolverines weren't found on any national polls entering last season, but finished the year as a top 10 club. They'll also start 2011 with their highest national ranking since 2007, and have been picked by the league's media members to win the Big Ten.

Hoke's not a big fan of prognostication, but did admit he spoke with his team about those early projections.

"I'd be lying if I said we didn't talk about it," he said. "We said (the media) doesn't know much, and it doesn't matter."

Entering year two, Hoke's mission remains the same.

He's in it for hardware, not respect or national admiration.

During his first news conference as the team's head coach in January 2011, he memorably boasted "this is Michigan, for God's sake," when asked if he thought his program didn't command the respect it once had.

He's done plenty to help restore some of that luster in one season, but still maintains it never really went anywhere in the first place.

"I don't know why anybody wouldn't respect (this program)," Hoke said. "When anyone says 'this is Michigan,' (they're talking about) 11 national championships and 42 Big Ten championships."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.


Old Salt

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

In my book you did great last season coach.I look forward to another good season..Go Blue..

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Lsu/Sec fan. Way to win the conference championship and lose the bowl game! Every time you write something it's relates to LSU, negatively. No wonder you don't respect your own team/school. It must be very painful knowing that your team's success to due to an ex Michigan coach. Fear and self loathing is no excuse to attack a great University like Michigan. Hopefully you will work through your issues and learn to accept your lot in life. TiM Go Blue!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

I didn't just buy a new 40-inch TV w/ DVR to watch Michigan fail, that's all I know. But maybe the article is right to say that there's still a way to go for Michigan to regain respect - which was lost during the Rodriguez Dark Age. (maybe a Hole of Infamy statue of Bill Martin should be put up in the basement of the Athletic Dept.) Win the Big Ten - Go Blue!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

Silly article, silly discussion.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 2:40 a.m.

here here! I agree also. go get them big 10y titles...and then lose in the rosey bowl! Keep up that great um tradition!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

I never gave a hoot about bowl games. I liked Bo's idea, win the Big Ten, go to the Rose Bowl. To end your season in November and come back after three idle weeks is a guarantee of a poor game. It's nice to win but winning the big ten is the ultimate goal. Too much controversy over standings and bowl games makes those games a distant second as a goal.

Ted Bundy

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

Keep paying those players, oversigning and forging high school transcipts! $EC tradition!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

You must have been hanging out at the "diag" before you bloviated your ridiculous comments. Look forward to reposting this at the end of the season. Good Day


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

Dantonio needs to learn something from Joke? Dantonio's teams have the best record in the BIG 10 over the past 4 years (26-6), past 3 years (19-5), past 2 years (14-2) and in 2011 (7-1) . Hoke is a JOKE!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

Don't forget the scheduling bonuses: MSU did not play OSU in 2010 and in 2011 played them first while five top players were still on suspension courtesy of the NCAA. To avoid upsetting the league standings that should have been four games. Will give MSU credit for a fine run, but unless that continues this year, I believe it is over and things will go back to normal.

Ted Bundy

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Where's the BCS?


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

Dantonio, Ya need to learn something from Hoke. TiM

Terry Star21

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:02 a.m. finishing the season. In football, much like NASCAR, the prize and credit is earned for the finish. In Hoke's first year he finished higher in the BCS final poll, the USA Today final poll, earning a better bowl, and winning a BCS bowl. Not even counting the infinitive distance Hoke is ahead in leadership, dignity, personality and intelligence. Sparty could learn. The sparty coach is worried and with good reason ('Where's the Threat') and his downfall will only get worse. Look for him to self destruct and hop to the NFL. MgoBlueForTiM....look for a Hoke 'teaching lesson' in October.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11 p.m.


jeff blue

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

Hi All, Not sure what to make of this -- although this story is very "BO like". If my memory is anything, Bo said before each season "Our goal is to win the Big Ten". Bo didn't talk much about national championships or winning bowl games (usually, the Rose Bowl). It really was about winning all of the Big Ten regular season games in those days. Of course, usually that meant beating OSU was the hardest thing. Brady did win against a very poor OSU team in his first year, but he lost road games to Iowa and MSU. The fact is, this is not the same Big Ten of 1989: We have 12 teams, not 10 PSU program is in shambles OSU program is still on probation Strange teams have risen up: Wisconsin, MSU and even Iowa. And we cannot forget about a slow, but tough Nebraska team. We live in a new time for Big Ten Football. Wisconsin is virtually guaranteed to make it back to the B10 title game -- no PSU and no OSU in the mix. Michigan has a much harder road, battling: Nebarska, MSU, and even Iowa or Northwestern. We have a very tough schedule in 2012, and our physicality is suspect at this time. Time will tell. JEFF GO BLUZE

Bruce Kennedy

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

It's funny that LSU and Alabama boasts of it's national prowess and in reality it's the B1G football philosophy, and more specifically Michigan's and MSU's philosophy, that has brought them such fame. Les was a Bo disciple, not to mention a Michigan alumni, and Nick came out of MSU, but of course if you want to get technical you could say he comes from a MAC background. But let's stick with facts Michigan owns the SEC. Sure they've been beaten by SEC teams, but not nearly as much as they have beaten SEC teams.

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Running one's mouth when he doesn't get his facts right. Michigan WON it's last bowl game (and LSU lost their bowl game, in state, vs a team it beat already.) Michigan has a huge advantage vs all SEC teams (20-5-1) and LSU/SEC Fan refuses to acknowledge that simple fact. Maybe he should go check how many SEC championships LSU has won over the years. I'll help, one last season. Now SEC fan go see if you're close to Michigan in conference crowns. Bowl games? What's Michigan's record vs the SEC in bowl games? Why don't you man up and answer a simple question? Fan, you're becoming a non-factor with these inane and banal comments. I think I'll ignore your posts until you come up with something a little less grade school. TiM Go Blue!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 5:17 a.m.

Running ones mouth, must be an sec thing


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 2:42 a.m.

I think you are correct. It was all about winning enough big 10 games to get a share of the conf. title. Then go lose in the bowl game! must be michigan thing...

Howard the Duck

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Winning the B1G would require Michigan to do something it hasn't done for almost 1800 days...beat the team from East Lansing!


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Yes, I'm sure that's what it is.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

You missunderstand my name theway. Or is it thewrongway?? My names means for our beloved Blue to GOBIG!!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

Kentucky is "Big Blue".


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Though I believe MI will beat Sparty this year, your statement is false. Your overall big 10 record is what determines who goes to the championship game.

Ted Bundy

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Oh geez.. sparty: "Look at me! Look at me!"


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 5:27 a.m.

How long has it been since MSU won enough that they didn't feel the need to count days? 40, 50 years?


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

There are two less teams eligible for the Big Ten championship this year.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

Both in the other division unfortunately.

Joe Mize

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

Sweet that will make an actual Big Ten championship


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

I imagine that some folks might think this is a pretty lofty goal for Coach Hoke to set when you look at the talent we lost from 2011. I think Coach knows exactly what he is saying and I doubt Coach Hoke would set the bar so high if he didn't think his team had the talent to back it up. One more thought, I believe Fitz will be a man on a mission when the season starts for Fitz.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

Well, we'll see how much he thinks he "failed" when his contract is up for negotiation.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Oh yeah cause Hoke's clearly "all about the money". He didn't even care to discuss pay when the job was offered. Get a clue, then comment.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

I agree 100% with Hoke.