Rebuilding? Michigan football coach Brady Hoke isn't buying it
Paul Beaty | AP Photo
CHICAGO -- The beleaguered Michigan football program has hired a well-respected coaching staff. It has several starters back at key positions. Its 2012 recruiting class is ranked in the top two according to three major analysts.
Clearly, the Wolverines’ resurgence back into national prominence is under way.
Not at all, according to first-year Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
"I don’t think we’re rebuilding. Period,” Hoke said before a record attendance of reporters at the Big Ten media days in Chicago. “We’re Michigan. We have kids who know they’re Michigan. So, I don’t put any stock into (the notion we’re rebuilding)."
Well, OK then.
Michigan’s defensive woes are well documented, after the unit posted school futility records three consecutive seasons.
The Wolverines were 7-6 last season, which sounds bad -- unless it’s compared to the 8-16 mark of the previous two years.
Michigan was 6-18 in Big Ten play during that three-year stretch.
But for Hoke, the Wolverines never left the nation’s elite despite sputtering under former coach Rich Rodriguez.
“This might sound arrogant, and if it is, it is,” Hoke said. “We’re Michigan, OK? We have a global education. We’re the winningest program in the history of college football. We have a tremendous staff of guys.”
That’s how he’s selling the Michigan program to recruits.
It helps explain why he’s been so prolific on the recruiting trail despite the fact he’s in his first BCS head coaching job, has yet to begin his first season in Ann Arbor and has a career sub-.500 record.
The Wolverines already have 20 commitments, the most in the Big Ten, and another greyshirt pledge from cornerback Jeremy Clark. The latest commitment, Sione Houma, is the third-ranked fullback in the country according to ESPN.
Hoke said he plans to add five or six more recruits to the class.
“We’re a long ways from having a class,” he said. “We have to do a great job of embracing those guys and do a good job of, ya know, five or six left that we need to be a little picky on.”
It’s not just about the rankings, either.
Hoke said he is recruiting guys who fit the mold not only of his pro-style offense and 4-3 defense, but also the physical style of Big Ten play.
“The lifeblood for all of us, no doubt, is the guys you bring in your program,” he said. “ We've really tried to focus on the guys that fit the mold of Michigan with the integrity and character that we want to have.
“Those guys out on the road, they work it and they do a tremendous job. But first and foremost, it's Michigan.”
Hoke said he’s put special emphasis on building a solid foundation in the trenches.
He already has commitments from the Nos. 4, 8, 12, 34 and 59 offensive line recruits in the country, according to Rivals.
“We want to be physical at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” he said. “When you look at Michigan throughout the years, that’s how we’ve played the game."