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Posted on Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke dangles Rose Bowl carrot to seniors

By Kyle Meinke

Nestled near the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains is one of this country's greatest shrines to college football.

And no one on the Michigan football team has played a game there. At least, not for Michigan.

So during a leadership summit with the U.S. Navy SEALs in Southern California last week, coach Brady Hoke detoured to Pasadena for a day to give 22 of his seniors a taste of where, exactly, they were leading their teammates.

The Rose Bowl.


Michigan football fans haven't watched the Wolverines at the Rose Bowl since the 2006 season. Brady Hoke took a group of 22 seniors on a tour of the stadium last month to "whet their appetite a little bit.". file photo

"You always want to have a vision, and that's all part of it," Hoke said Thursday after the University of Michigan Men's Football Experience camp. "That's what we're trying to give our kids. They haven't been there, so it's something to whet their appetite a little bit, and understand what it takes to get there, to some degree."

Michigan hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since it finished the 2006 season there against USC. It lost 32-18.

In fact, the Wolverines have lost their past three Rose Bowl appearances. They haven't won a game in Pasadena since New Year's Day in 1998, when they beat Washington State 21-16.

That game clinched Michigan's only national championship since 1948 -- and Hoke was on the sidelines for it as the Wolverines' defensive line coach.

Hoke said he revisited the Rose Bowl because it's important for his senior leaders to get a feel for the prize that awaits if they fulfill their goal of winning a Big Ten title.

"It's always a mental thing -- the game's mental," he said. "On game days, it's from the neck, up. It really is. S,o we always talk about the mental aspects that it takes to be successful as a team."

For the bulk of the trip, the 22 seniors went through a leadership seminar and arduous work out with the SEALs. Hoke's relationship with the unit began when he coached at nearby San Diego State, and he's brought that connection to Ann Arbor.

He hosted servicemen on campus last year, and issued personalized tridents to each of his players. They hung in the players' Schembechler Hall meeting room throughout the season.

Hoke said he was honored to have his seniors work directly from the SEALs, who are known for being highly disciplined.

"It was a great culmination for (the seniors) to be with some guys who really understand mental toughness, who understand pressure," Hoke said, "and being there Memorial Day weekend was really special."

Will the players benefit this fall from the trip?

"You hope so," he said. "We're going to find out."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

Nice place to visit but this team is NOT going to play there! Where's the threat?


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:43 a.m.

Brady Hke is a "genius"...that's why he went 47-50 at Ball State and SDSU. Dream n. There is n Rose Bowl in sight for the "Hkies" Where's the threat?


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

Great only concern would be BIG AL eating the dangling carrot along with the string attached to it!! TiM. Go Blue!! Go Hoke!! Go BIG AL!!!


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

This is why I love Coach Hoke.

Terry Star21

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

Brady Hoke is a genius. One of the most important learning lessons for these young student athletes is, to have a goal. Know what the finished prize looks like. 'Vision' - too cool. This team know's what the Big Ten trophy looks like, they know Paul Bunyan desperately wants to come home where he belongs and know the 'vision' of the Rose Bowl - all very achievable. MgoBlueForTiM.....know the prize, seize the prize..


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:44 a.m.

Take a look at Paul Bunyan....he's not going anywhere soon! Where's the threat?


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Just a brilliant move. Brady Hoke just keeps showing that he understands what it takes at Michigan. Getting there will be a whole other thing, but he has now shown them the prize. I'm sure that ALL of the wolverines would be tickled to not go to the Rose Bowl if it meant the national championship, but I would say that the Rose Bowl is a pretty great prize for a great season. Hoke knows how to get these guys' attention. Kyle: How is not an NCAA violation to do what he did, though, taking the seniors to the Navy Seals?

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Say what you want, this is part vacation for the Michigan men. Sure, they prepare hard. Still, there are trips to Disney World or whatever, and other distractions. Esp. with USC, maybe they don't play their home games in the Rose Bowl, but it's still "home." Imagine MSU playing a national championship game against USC, and playing it in Michigan Stadium. It's not State's home field (hardly!), but it IS a clear home field advantage for them. Of course, the bottom line is that you have to win the B1G, first of all, and then you have to be better and play better during the Rose Bowl game. If you can do the first, you should be able to do the second. I think we now have the coaching staff and the Brady Hoke fire, (not to mention pretty good recruiting!), so I think times have changed here and at Pasadena.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

I have to love this coach! Shades of the movie Hoosiers. Or, as Yogi once said "90% of the game is physical, and the other half is mental". GO BLUE!

Scott Laux

Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

We lose at least two out of three in the Rose bowl. The jet lag, playing a team in heir own time zone or on their own field in the case of USC. I'd much rather see Michigan stomp on an SEC team.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

SEC, your referring to the worst team and coach in Mich. history bar none. All the decent Mich. teams have held their own against SEC teams in the last few years just ask Florida and Alabama about their losses to decent Mich. teams.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.

I'm sure you would love to see UM stomp an SEC team...but last time you guys got embarrased by a 3rd rate SEC team...guess you should keep your dreams though...


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

USC does not play home games at the Rose Bowl, but at the LA Coliseum. The main reason they were thumped by USC last time was not the reasons you mention but because of better coaching and aggressive style on both sides of the ball. I agree with you on the other points, they do have an effect, but the time zone is irrelevant as they are there for about a week before the game. With the Rose Bowl at 5 pm ET, I don't think that's bed time for most college age people.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

I used to take my dog their and play catch just outside the main gate out in the grass, nice setting. The swap meets were good there also. I have to go there for some reason since my Mich. Wolves rarely make the trip.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

I agree RWBill. Mich. needs to get back in that game. Yes, the appeal may not be there for younger folks but in my opinion the lack of appeal for younger folks is due to lack of exposure. If Mich. doesn't get back to the Rose Bowl soon a whole generation of young Mich. fans will miss the opportunity to witness a great event in their lives and the grand daddy of all bowl games bar none. I've been to a few Rose Bowl games and the parade and game are Magical.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

It's a beautiful setting, and southern California still has a magical attraction for Great Lakes natives. The Rose Bowl was the first post season college game, a creation of the visionary Fielding H. Yost, who convinced the Pasadena Rose Committee to host an exhibition game against the school he had just left, Stanford. For any midwesterners over the age of 30 the Rose Bowl still has unmatched appeal. I'm not sure if younger people who have grown up with emphasis on the BCS have the same reverence for the traditional Big Ten - Rose Bowl relationship.