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Posted on Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Top 5 thoughts on Brady Hoke's first week as Michigan football coach

By Pete Bigelow


Michigan football coach Brady Hoke arrived on campus last week, and he did his best to set a tone in his first press conference.

Lon Horwedel |

The question was chum in the water for Brady Hoke.

Something about a faded football program hiring a second-tier coach, and what did he think about that combination?

“Who said that,” Michigan’s new football coach shot back. “And I’m being serious.”

“ESPN,” came a meek reply.

Hoke laughed and then answered the question, playing to an audience full of former Michigan football players and coaches starving for a chance to thump their chests.

“God bless ‘em,” Hoke said. “They have a job to do and they have an opinion they might have. But this is an elite job and will continue to be an elite job. This is Michigan, for God’s sakes.”

It was the line of the day on a busy Wednesday. Here’s a look at other leftovers in my notebook from a busy week overall from Michigan football:

1. Recruiting to-do list In convincing Denard Robinson to stay at Michigan, Hoke crossed off the first item on his to-do list with remarkable ease. Could his second-most important recruiting salvage involve a kicker?

In normal years, that might sound ridiculous. But in a season in which the Wolverines are coming off a 4-for-14 season on field-goal attempts, the team needs a kicker who can make an immediate impact.

Chaminade Prep’s Matt Goudis had verbally committed to Michigan, but will visit Miami following the coaching change. Maybe Michigan doesn’t need to retain Goudis. But it needs a kicker in this class.

2. Point to ponder Speaking of special teams, it will be interesting to see whether Hoke employs a full-time special teams coach on his staff. For at least two years, the Wolverines have seemed to cry out for such a position coach.

Rich Rodriguez did not have anyone who filled that role his first two seasons. In his final year, assistant coach Tony Gibson held the dual “defensive backs/special teams” titles, a move that backfired on both sides.

At San Diego State, Hoke employed Dan Ferrigno as a tight end/special teams coach, a division of duties that seems to make more sense.

Hoke hasn’t said whether he’ll have a special teams coach in Ann Arbor. Given his past use for one and Michigan’s previous troubles, it sure seems like a good idea.

3. Big Ten coaching hires Here’s a look at how the Big Ten hires its football coaches:

Five had been hired after head-coaching stints in previous positions: Ohio State’s Jim Tressel (Youngstown State), Minnesota’s Jerry Kill (Northern Illinois), Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio (Cincinnati), Illinois’ Ron Zook (Florida) and now Hoke.

Four of the conference’s coaches were internal hires: Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Purdue’s Danny Hope, Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.

Two arrived by other means: Indiana hired Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz came from an NFL stop with the Baltimore Ravens. Just two had previous stops west of the Mississippi - Wilson and Hoke.

4. Turnover time The Wolverines have finished last in the Big Ten three years running in turnover margin. They were -10 in 2008, -12 in 2009 and -10 in 2010.

Winning the turnover battle hasn’t been Hoke’s strong suit the past two years either. Although his defense forced 16 turnovers this past year, the Aztecs gave it away 22 times for a -6 margin.

In 2009, San Diego State finished last in the Mountain West Conference, coughing the ball up 25 times while forcing just 15 for a -10 margin.

At least give Hoke credit for this: His team got better from his first year to second.

5. Foundation of toughness “This is Michigan, for God’s sakes” might have been the sound bite of his introductory press conference. It made for a nice summation of what Hoke is all about, but he articulated that further with this quote:

“The character teams are the ones that play together, the ones who stay together, the ones who are accountable to each other, and we are going to be a program this is going to be accountable,” he said.

“We are going to have a foundation of toughness, because I don’t care what position you play, this is a tough man’s game.”

A foundation of toughness. Defensively speaking, it’s what the Wolverines have been missing for a long time.

6. And finally ... When athletic director Dave Brandon announced the firing of Rodriguez, he was seeking some stability after three tumultuous years.

“I think that his three years can somewhat be defined by three years of turmoil,” Brandon said. “It seems like it was one thing after another.”

The hiring of Hoke seemed to stop that slide. As far as first impressions go, Hoke came across as a guy you inherently want to like.

That topsy-turvy momentum continues for Rodriguez. Here’s a guy who donated more than 400 items of Michigan gear to the Salvation Army, which raised thousands of dollars by selling them Saturday.

Yet people have ripped him on message boards for ditching the gear this week. In his departure from Michigan, the guy raises a lot of money for charity and still can’t catch a break.

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2551, via e-mail at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

Har, Har and more Har the guy hasn't won a game yet and you poor kids have crowned him the next coming of RR, Har, Har what a gut buster. You kids would root for Bugs Bunny if he told you what you wanna hear, Har, Har, Har my daily laugh. This poor coach hasn't got a chance to please you brats.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Finally someone who gets it. Coach Hoke is going to be at Michigan for a long long time. The players already love him and are going to play there butts off for him. He has something RR never had, toughness, enough said.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

Tress's first goal every year is the Big 10 championship whiuch would mean the Rose Bowl

Dave O'Hare

Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

I'd have to agree with previous posts in that I don't like to hear about our main goal is to play in the Rose Bowl. This game is only relevant 1 in 4 years, that being when it is the BCS championship. We need to be talking undefeated or BCS championship at least. Go ask Tressel what his goal is and I can almost assure you he won't mention the Rose Bowl.

Jim Lisi

Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 11:17 a.m.

Mike Singletary for DC!


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 10:33 a.m.

The only way Mich. will become elite again is if they did away with the SEC. Way to much talent/speed/size/etc. etc.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 10:11 a.m.

Correction: Since the BCS began there have been 11 teams that have won the NC in 13 years; only 2 teams have won twice - LSU and Florida.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 10:09 a.m.

Craig Lounsbury "The notion of winning a mythical national championship as a goal is built in to the goal every win all your games. If your a Big 10 team and you run the table you will almost for sure be in the BCS mythical championship game." It is smart to focus week to week on winning the next game, an not to focus on any other teams or games, including a possible NC game down the road. It is also smart to have a goal of beating your rivals and winning the "red letter" games, and to win a BT championship. If you take care of these things better things will come down the road. Without these you cannot get to play for more. If your only focus and goal is to win the NC, that could seriously backfire because that means you probably have to be perfect year in and year out to be considered "successful". Since the BCS began there have been 12 teams that have won the NC in 13 years; only 2 teams have won twice - LSU and Florida. With the mindset of "Crystal only", that means for example that Oklahoma has been a failure 12 of the last 13 seasons, even though they have been one of the better programs in this time period. They were ranked in the Top 5 6 times, Top 10 9 times and in the Top 25 10 times, they had 1 13 win season, 5 12 win season, and 3 11 win seasons, and have won the Big 12 South 8 times and won the Big 12 championship 7 times. Yet with the unrealistic "Crystal only" goal every season they are "failures" in every year but one? In the "Crystal only" mentality, every one of these HC's have been a "failure" year after year in the BCS era except in one year: Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Pete Carroll, Les Miles, Jim Tressel, Bobby Bowden,... and the rest of college HC's and teams have all been "failures" every year. It is good to set high goals, but at the same time winning the NC every year it a very unrealistic goal and an unfair measure of success.

Jim Nazium

Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 6:10 a.m.

@rabidwolverine So you're saying RR wasn't Trying to Donate his items for a good cause? He drove out there with Bad intent and it just luckily turned out to be for a good cause? Did he tell you this or something? LOL I stand by my original comments on this subject, like I said, Get over it. Defensive Backs is a great topic, I hope we get a top notch coach in this area and some help recruiting here as well. I read an article recently comparing how many OSU Defensive Backs have gone pro over the last 10 years or so compared to U of M and they had like 16 or something compared to our 3 or so. ( I don't remember the exact numbers but it was something like that ).


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 2:39 a.m.

DonAZ, could you give us an example of what makes you think Rich Rod didn't teach "true character"? What exactly is "true character" anyway? Being a hard worker? Being a team player? Supporting your teammates? Being polite to the media? Having a positive attitude despite negativity surrounding your team in the media? Because the players on this team have shown nothing but fantastic character (with Tate Forcier being the one glaring exception) for the last couple of years. But let me guess: Tate's attitude is Rich Rod's fault, and the other players' attitudes are good DESPITE Rich Rod, right? I'm sorry, but attitude reflects leadership, and these kids have fantastic attitudes. That is one thing I don't think anybody can argue with.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

I hope Coach also looks for speed as well as toughness on defense because in todays college football you have to have speed on defense. Lets face it none of these kids get to be seasoned veterans and they are going to make mistakes. Speed is the equalizer that makes up for these mistakes.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

Anyone know who is on the short list for defensive coordinator? maybe I missed an article on the subject. Thanks and Go Blue


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

Plus, beware the slavish pursuit of the BCS championship. It drives team to the edge of legal and moral boundaries. Cam Newton is leaving Auburn partly because there's little left to prove, and partly because there's more to his "pay for play" background than we know. Florida brings on wave after wave of recuits who set new records for arrests. Hoke said it best: "Our mission here is to build character, because character leads to success in life and on the field." Rodriguez had an apparent singular lack of focus on the development of true character. In a few years I predict not one Michigan player will speak with a choked voice about his time with RR at Michigan. Hoke will win his games, and likely the Big 10 championship. He might compete for a BCS here or there. But I won't hold my breath for that. Or for any Big 10 team to do that. The elite players needed to do that are focused on football factories without much in the way of honor, integrity or discipline. They are, in short, guns for hire for schools willing to be whores to that end.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

The notion of winning a mythical national championship as a goal is built in to the goal every win all your games. If your a Big 10 team and you run the table you will almost for sure be in the BCS mythical championship game. But lets be real it isn't actually a national championship, that can only happen on the field of play. There are two undefeated teams left so the "champion" has yet to be determined.

Rabid Wolverine

Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

We aren't ripping on him for donating his stuff. It raised money for a good cause. He put salvation army into the GPS and that was the first one to come up. He didn't proactively decide to donate to the wayne store due to what happened in the community, but it came as a nice coincedence to the community. Let's not dub him a saint on his way out for a convenient coincedence. Hoke needs to do some recruiting for a dang kicker/punter because neither kids seem to be able to do their jobs. We cannot win games without kickers.

Jim Nazium

Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 8:12 p.m.

Wow, a guy donates his personal property to charity and gets ripped for it, "only in America".... how sad. Try moving on. Hoke has his work cut out for him and I think he'll do a decent job. It was exciting to see and hear all the former players including NFL'ers with their endorsements for him. It will be interesting to see who he can get on his staff.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

It's gong to take more then good coaching to fix our special teams(well field goal kicking) it has been said already we have to go out an hire a full-time coach that knows what he is teaching and we should be okay there is some talent there..


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

While I don't agree with Theo, as winning Big Ten championships and Big Ten games mean a lot, I do believe it is foolish for Coach Hoke not to include "Win National Championship" on Michigan's list of goals. I agree with his "Win the Big Ten before you win a National Title" logic, but from my experience, if one fails to set a goal, especially when the ambition is lofty, one will rarely achieve it. This is my only criticism of Bo. His goal every year was to win the Big Ten, and the majority of his seasons ended with a Big Ten championship. Winning a National Championship, on the other hand, never made it on to his list of goals because of his justifiable criticism of it. Unsurprisingly, his teams never won one. While I appreciate the principle of his argument, I've always been taught to continue to shoot for the top even when I disagreed with the stipulations to reach it. I hate to quote Nike, but, you just do it. Goal-setting is very powerful. Coach Hoke, even if it doesn't change your team's routine in even a single way, set the goal. Go Blue!

1st Down

Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

Well Pete was one of RRs biggest supporters so it is not surprising to see him still dwell on RR "not catching a break". However, we all know that RR did it to himself. The worst coach in over 130 years of Michigan football (record and in conference record), a whole list of failures, terrible recruiting of smurfs, tons of personal issues and baggage... "cant catch a break"? not when that guy kept doing it to himself. Hokemania wont be like that at all. Youll see.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

D21 "Can't say the same for :)" Yes, why is RR in an article about BH's 1st week? Wasn't there already 2 other articles about the RR donation?

1st Down

Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

Is Theo really Drew Sharp? Fact is that 15-22 is not anywhere near to "Crystal". lol... and btw Drew, you need to win your conference before you have any shot at the National Title. Go Blue.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

Shhh, Theo212 is slowly developing a puppy crush on Hoke and getting over RR at the same time. Can't say the same for :)


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

1bit - Izzo is another good example of that, however, they are the exception, not the norm.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Theo "Big 10 wins/championships mean nothing." If that were true your man crush friend would still have a job.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

The country does not believe Michigan is an elite program. Michigan had a chance to change that perception by hiring Harbaugh. Hiring Hoke is just more proof that perceptions are correct. Any program can hire a coach from a second rate program with a with a mediocre record. I'm sorry, but it's true.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

@Theo: Based on your often humorous posts, you are very much in the camp that only RR could bring Michigan to the national championship. And here you say it's not about B10 championships. Well, you can't have one without the other.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

I think that his three years can somewhat be defined by three years of turmoil, Brandon said. It seems like it was one thing after another. The hiring of Hoke seemed to stop that slide." The only thing that creates significant turmoil is losing on the field. I guarantee if the next three years under Brady Hoke are no better on the field than the last three years were there will be no shortage of "turmoil", some of which will swirl around David Brandon's choice.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

Brady Hoke seems to be the guy no one thinks will bring anything better then a 9-3 record something lloyd carr basically only could do unless you take his 1997 season which wasnt even all his recruits and his best season in 2006, but he was a great coach who knew MICHIGAN football and got players to the NFL. I see BH winning more then carr and bigger games then lloyd did too. Everyone might not see it besides theo that rich rod has excellent athletes on both sides of the ball we just need a passionate DC and position coaches. BH preaches Defense he will have no problem turning this D around i see us being ranked around the mid 60's on total defense which sounds great from where we have been the past few years. and for the offense that returns everyone but our left guard we will definately be one of the more elite offenses in the nation even if rich is gone. GO BLUE!!! and matt goudis has commited to miami


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 10:43 a.m.

Let's come together and agree to support Brady Hoke, and just be patient with what he has to accomplish. He was left more than a mess than Lloyd left Rich Rod (in my opinion only). GO BLUE!! I do think that was an admirable gesture for Rich Rod to donate his Michigan gear, in order to raise money. He got that right at least. I wish him the best. Now, let's get back to the business of being Michigan Football. GO BLUE.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 10:36 a.m.

I saw a comment that "we're all about Crystal now." What does that mean? If it means a more sophisticated style of play, you need to be informed about something. If you think the spread offense is so innovating, watch the Michigan team from the 40's. Back then it was called the single wing instead of the spread. So much for innovation, huh? Football is blocking and tackling, running and kicking, passing and catching. All the fancy offenses and defenses don't stand up to a good fundamentally sound team who plays smash mouth football. Linemen on both sides of the ball are supposed to have blood on the bridge of their noses, on their knuckles and in their eyes. They're looking to knock the snot out of the other guy. Michigan has gotten away from that. I want the other team to fear Michigan like it did in 1997 and earlier. As a former player, I want Bo style defense back, and a smash mouth offense.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 10:28 a.m.

Yeah, he donates his used crap to be auctioned off for a worthy cause and now we want him to be a nice guy for that?


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 10 a.m.

Did anyone hear that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was on the list of potential Michigan coaches and declined an interview? That would make Coach Hoke a #4 choice. May only be a rumor; just curious.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 9:56 a.m.

@NB4B This was a nice gesture. So let's match his class with our own. Some of those who post here want to use negative comments to keep the WCiMFH pertainent to current and future discussions. Don't give them the opening. People will be helped and that's the biggest factor to all this. Smile, nod your head approvingly and support the future of Michigan football. If someone bad mouths our new coach, the AD, or the University jump in with both feet and put them down. I'll be right behind doing the same. We won. Go Blue.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 9:39 a.m.

@WalkingJoe - That or it's just a publicity stunt? Seriously, let's move on!


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 9:20 a.m.

I agree with the writers comment bout Rich Rod giving away his Michigan stuff to the Salvation Army. When I heard about it I was impressed, he could have just thrown it in the trash. Instead he gives it to charity to raise money for the needy. Just shows the guy is not the total jerk that some so called Michigan fans thought he was.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 9:02 a.m.

That was like Obama's state of the union.


Sun, Jan 16, 2011 : 8:45 a.m.

It's Michigan for God sakes. Somehow that got lost during the previous hire and with the so called coach the last 3 years. What Rich Rod aka crybaby Theo's, Taters and prtageblu's king did to the defense and special teams alone will take at least 2 maybe 3 years to rebuild. Brady, get a kicker first, a dominate DT and DE and a LB in that order, PLEASE!