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Posted on Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Uneasy in Indy: Michigan football coach Brady Hoke would rather be on the field

By Kyle Meinke

INDIANAPOLIS — Brady Hoke was here. His team was not.

Hoke didn't like that.

The Michigan football team's head coach traveled on Friday to Indianapolis, site of the Big Ten championship game Saturday, to be honored for winning the league's Coach of the Year award. Then, just as quickly as he arrived, he was gone.

He was, after all, not coaching in the title game. Instead, it was rival Michigan State, which beat up the Wolverines earlier this year, and Wisconsin.


David Molk and Brady Hoke were pleased the Michigan football team beat Ohio State, but found their trip to Indianapolis slightly uncomfortable.

Associated Press

I asked Hoke how it felt to be here, on the eve of the first football championship game in the Big Ten's 115-year history — a festive atmosphere for the city and historic event for the conference — but have to watch his rival take the field instead.

Hoke paused before answering, choosing his words carefully. Finally, and simply: "I'll leave tonight."

Hoke has coaxed a bunch of players who knew mostly failure to become one of the nation's fastest-rising teams. Michigan is 10-2, went 6-2 in league play and ended a seven-year drought against its biggest rival, Ohio State.

But it also lost to its second-biggest rival, the Spartans. Who knew on that October day that the 28-14 loss would be the only thing separating the Wolverines from playing on this day?

They lost only once more the rest of the way, setting themselves up for a possible BCS bowl invitation, a fate they'll learn Sunday. A successful season by most measures — except Hoke's.

"This is Michigan," he exclaimed in August at the team's media day. "There aren't going to be any excuses. If we don't win the Big Ten championship, we've failed these kids as coaches."

To Hoke's credit, he's held himself to that standard, even when he could embrace the national praise he's received for Michigan's unexpected assent into national relevance.

In fact, he wouldn't even say whether he had a rooting interest in this game, even though a Michigan State victory would improve his team's chances of landing in the BCS. The Wolverines are 16th in the BCS, and need to jump two teams to be eligible for an at-large bid.

They would almost certainly pass Wisconsin (10-2) if it loses. They could still overtake Michigan State (10-2) if it loses, although that scenario is more uncertain.

Hoke just couldn't acknowledge he was pulling for the Spartans, though — just as MSU coach Mark Dantonio wouldn't pull for Michigan against Nebraska two weeks ago, when a Wolverines victory would seal his team's trip to Indy.

And so, sitting in a Westin Hotel lobby, just a block from where the Big Ten would crown its champion less than 30 hours later, Hoke lamented what could have been, and what became.

He failed.

He set two clear goals for his team: Beat Ohio (State), and win a Big Ten title. Being in Indianapolis, where there is more green and red roaming the streets than on the Christmas banners that fly from street lamps, was a visceral reminder of his failure.

Senior center David Molk, sitting to Hoke's right, himself looking sharp but feeling uneasy in a suit — "He's going to have to have someone make him a shirt," Hoke said, noting Molk's bulging neck — expressed the same distaste for Indianapolis this time of year.

"It’s a failure," said Molk, in town to be honored as the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year. "It’s a failure as a team, even though we were 10-2 and we had a great year. We beat Ohio.

"(But) we still didn’t fulfill our goals."

If Hoke's first season is any indication, fulfillment of those goals isn't far off. But, on this weekend, Michigan State took the field in prime time, and Hoke and Molk scurried out of town under the cover of night, with a bitter taste for what could have been.

"I mean, you want to be here playing for the championship," Hoke said. "We made a lot of growth, did a lot of good things with the team.

"We’re going to go play a heckuva bowl game and go win the bowl game, then we’ll get into Team 133 and start that path."

Perhaps even one that passes through Indianapolis, a team in tow.

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



Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

The Incredable Hoke has nothing to be sorry about....well maybe that little 4th an seven inces in up there. When I hear anymore, from the media, that a new coach needs three years to build his team......Bull PLOP. Coach Hoke should be first on the list of votes for coach of the Year. I know, He is his own worst critic. I admire someone that thinks like he does....This isn't about HIM, like another coach in the big ten. This is about every guy wearing the winged helmet dawning he maze and blue. Just coach Hokes attitiude in its self separates him from other coaches.

Hawaiian Neal

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

Not a big Hoke fan yet (not a big hoke detractor either). I look at the shape OSU was in and the pickup of Mn and NW while we dropped Wisc and PSU this year and it's just not enough information to say he's the greatest coach ever. It also doesn't help that there is an Ohio that he used to coach against in the Mac as he's trying to revive that thing that Woody used to do which seems a little pandering to the masses. I wasn't offended by Woody doing that because I knew it meant we got further under his skin that he did ours. The fact that it didn't bother us made him madder. I hope the world doesn't end up thinking of us as ignorant because of it. Anyway, I'll be more excited after I see how he does after VT and Alabama. That caliber of opponent is the forge a Michigan Man is measured in.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

Keep the count down clock running for Sparty in 2012, Brady Hoke. You were 1 for 1 in 2011: loss the MSU then the win against Ohio. Yes, you set the bar high and will admit it. This Michigan team came a long way in 2011. Play level was erratic early on. We had glimpses of great things and we saw reminders of what was in the two losses. Some fans had a : That's it, this will collapse attitude"...when we did lose each of two games, but were proven wrong. I will bleed Maize and Blue no matter how 2012 turns out, just as I did this past year and all of the previous years. It was gut wrenching back then but the renewed success is looked upon with humility and appreciation.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

We will lose to Alabama to open next season , but I think we will win the Big Ten in 2012!!!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

MSU lost the game with a dirty play. LOl Yes maybe a penalty, but lost on a personal foul. Your coach has no class and his mentor was a tragic hero. 2 snakes in the grass. Thanks coach Hoke for your class and respectful program Im proud to be a Michigan Wolverine!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5 p.m.

feel the same Rich.. did you notice on Wisc late TD, M.Ball was about to cross the goal line,and not one but 2 msu players came in with helmet to helmet spear type tackles, they were not going for the football, they were head hunting !! I'm surprised the officals didn't call another personal foul.. GO BLUE.. and tonights BCS selection show should be interesting..


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

and you're not there for one reason 28-14. oh the ARROGANCE!!!!!!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Whatever. You don't understand what competition REALLY means. It tears away at your gut when you lose to a rival. You want it so bad that the next time you get that chance, you have worked harder. You will understand and respect that your opponent also worked very hard and wanted it. So, you much own up to that, put aside and play with the hunger and intensity you didn't bring the last time out. Michigan WILL BE ready for Sparty in 2012. Hoke now knows what it will take to beat MSU but go all the way to the B1G Championship game in 2012. It won't be easy but it is not supposed to be, either.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

msu vs ND L 31-13 , msu vs Neb L 24-3 , msu vs ohio W 10-7 Mich vs ND W 35-31 , Mich vs Neb W 45-17 , Mich vs ohio W and put up 40 pts on the bucks.. Hoke's character vs Dantonio's thuggery no comparison !! OH the IGNORANCE !!!!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 7:29 a.m.

Writer & Philosopher Milan Kundera once said: History rolls over everyone. That includes Michigan and all its coaches, past and present. This was the first Big Ten division-based championship football game: but it came when, ironically, both of the two traditional leaders were struggling and were not "nationally relevant." Referencing the scope of history is appropriate here: Michigan State is not one of the traditional top teams, even though it has one comparable period of success to its credit (1965-66). So, "they got lucky" because the Wheel of History was not quite done rolling over Michigan - this time around. Prospects for the Wolverines look quite good at this point, with a team and coach now proven to be capable of great things. Next year, Kirk Cousins and B. J. Cunningham will be gone from MSU. Next year, Denard Robinson and Roy Roundtree will be seniors and should be at the peak of their careers at Michigan. And Brady Hoke will have the memory of being in Indianapolis as an observer - something we can believe won't happen again if he can help it.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:51 a.m.

I'm of the opinion that both Coach Hoke and David Molk would trade their personal accolades in for a shot in the game. This is the kind of character we have driving the team. The future is very bright as a Michigan fan, the success and news coming out of Ann Arbor continues to be positive. Very proud to support Team #132 in whatever bowl they play i'm certain we fans will enjoy Michigan's best effort and an entertaining event. Go Blue!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:37 a.m.

Brady "If we don't win B1G Championships,we've failed these kids as coaches" Dantonio mentions in the post game interview They left it all on the field,and they have superior coaching here.. Who called the block on that punt play,expecially when you have a great return player in Martin. Not superior coaching on that play. @mlive the sparty fans,are berating they're players,want coaches fired etc.. Its great to be a Hoke fan,and a Wolverine fan.. GO BLUE..

jeff blue

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:08 a.m.

TAKE IT TO THE BANK! Wiscy will not be in any championship game next year -- without Russell Wilson, Wiscy is only an average team at best. MICHIGAN will be there next year. GO BLUE!!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:41 a.m.

UM and Wiscy are in different divisions, so them dropping off doesn't open a spot for M.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:38 a.m.

MSU can't be called a great team because they have little to no discipline. In my mind they lost tonight because they could not stop being penalized, just as they did against us last October. It kept Michigan in the game though we lost, and tonight they lost. Same old story for them year in and year out, and while it is too bad for them, you have to look at their coach for not prepping them better re the penalties. He never made it unacceptable for them. Rather he seemed to ignore them or defend them. Penalties are a part of the game but not when it is as constant as with MSU.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:19 a.m.

Ditto MSU minus Kirk Cousins ... not sure how they replace him. They no doubt have a backup, but Cousins is the heart-and-soul of that team.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:11 a.m.

Just saw the final several minutes of the game and I am disappointed that our little brother did not win. But I am impressed with them. When MSU plays any other team than UM, I am always for them.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:38 a.m.

My turn to agree with you Don, I'm sick of Bama and Saban, he's annoying. Bama lost at home to LSU, they already had their chance and didn't get it done, give Okie St a chance. Ok St lost on the road to an overachieving team on the day that school found out the Woman's B-Ball coach and asst died and they must've had heavy hearts, that was a tough break for them.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:36 a.m.

Agree ... MSU played tough, solid football. LSU looked half asleep against Georgia in the first half. But then the giant awoke. Big question now is whether Oklahoma State goes past Alabama to play LSU for the championship. I hope so. The sport does not need a rematch of LSU-Alabama.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:03 a.m.

Wow, that was a great game and two great teams. I hope we pass State to get a BCS bid but in reality we are not even close to either of these teams. I hope we get the bid but objectively it would be a travesty and might be one more nail in the BCS coffin.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 7:40 a.m.

I agree completely - this "hope" that Michigan gets in there with the top teams in the country is over-enthused nonsense at this point. That idea defies logic (and wisdom): Hoke says himself he failed because he didn't win the BT championship. Wanting Michigan to play against even the "bottom" teams of the BCS this year is another invitation to embarrassment. right now is offering tickets to the Michigan vs Houston game: I feel sorry for Michigan if that's their matchup. I'd hate to see Hoke's first bowl game turn into a 45-14 route like last year.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:37 a.m.

Uh well, it looks like we're going to move up at least 4 or 5 spots considering how the games went today, what a great turn of events. @Engineer, I don't think MSU is a mediocre team, it seems to me we lost on the road to the potential B1G Champion. MSU is down 3 with the ball and almost 4 minutes to go, so we shall see. They beat us, we made coaching and execution mistakes in that game, we have to give credit where credit is due. Our other loss was aided by officials, who knows how that would've turned out if Hemmingway was credited with the TD against Iowa. We made big time strides this year, we're gonna make a BCS Game, the future is bright.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:18 a.m.

Agree ... MSU looked tough and gritty today. Kirk Cousins is a terrific pocket passer. I think Wisconsin is going to have a rough time with Oregon.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:08 a.m.

Coach Hoke is so refreashing. Yes losing to a mediocre state team is a failure. Hopefully next year will be better and we can shut little brother up. State has had so many gifts come their way from osu not having 6 starters to the refs giving the first game against Wisconsin and yet all they can do is gloat like they are all everything. Hoke will put them in their place. GO HOKE GO BLUE!!!!

NC Wolverine 20

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:27 a.m.

I'm very proud of Hoke and team 132, but MSU is not mediocre. And when UM beats Sparty in 2012, we will beat an elite team.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

Okay, this is without reading the article or any of the commentary yet. Now don't get mad at me my Go Blue Brethren, but I'm rooting for MSU, yeah I know, why the hell would I do that. Well for me it's simple, most MSU Fans are also Tigers and Lions and Pistons and Red Wings Fans oh my, as well. They are fellow Michiganders I gander. Even though now I'm in San Diego, Michigan holds a very special place in my heart. The heck with Wiscy. And you know what? If I was an MSU fan I'd be really ticked off how everybody anointed Wiscy to be the better team and favorite, why? MSU beat them last year, they beat them already this year too. Seems to me like Wisc should be more worried, I'm just sayin'. Especially the way MSU took it to them for most of the 1st half, let's see what happens. It's been a good day for us results wise, I wish Houston would've won, can you imagine our staff having a month to prepare for that team, Go Blue!!!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

Just looked up "classy" in the dictionary. There's a picture of Coach Hoke.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

Add "integrity" to that. I think "integrity" is what coach Hoke brings to Michigan most of all.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.


1st Down

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

I wish this team had another chance vs. Sparty...when Denard had the team driving down 1 score inside the ten...if they convert on that 4 and 1, then its a new ball game and Sparty would likely fold....but ifs and buts are candy and nuts this time of year... Houston lost today. Georgia is on its way to losing, and either OK or OK state will lose as well...thats 3 spots right there, along with the Sparty / Whisky loser.. Michigan should be able to advance a few spots and in to the BCS bowl.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

According to what I have seen on TV, Houston is out totally as an at large team. So, with Houston losing, Ga losing, Okla in the process of losing, either MSU or Whisky losing,that makes 4 teams ahead of us losing. They are saying that TCU will be the first at large because they won their conference and the BCS will probably then choose between 10-2 UM and 9-3 Baylor as the other at large. But, right now Va Tech is losing, so not sure what impact that will have on all of this of they do lose to Clemson.

Larry Weisenthal

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:45 a.m.

Baylor won big and so did TCU. If MSU loses, then that makes our loss to them even worse, from the standpoint of the computers. An MSU victory would take some of the sting away from our defeat, computer-wise. I'm worried about Baylor and/or TCU jumping ahead of us. If a Big East team doesn't get in the top 16, then I believe that TCU jumping us wouldn't matter. At least we won't get pass happy Houston attacking our sometimes vulnerable secondary.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

I think Houston's loss helps Michigan. But we'll have to see. Gary Danielson on TV -- even if LSU loses to Alabama in championship game, they would *still* deserve a share of the championship. Before the game they were saying that LSU should be in the championship game even if they lost the Georgia game. They keep citing the "body of work" LSU accomplished in the regular season. Well then ... let's cease all this silly chatter about a playoff. Because from what some are saying, certain teams ( ... SEC, wink, wink ) should get a pass based on their regular season "body of work" ... a late season loss doesn't count. Sheesh. College football dies by degrees each year.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 12:50 a.m.

I think it would help to have ok st beat ok. We won't jump ok st if they lose. But we should jump ok if they do.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

Should be a nice New yr. bowl game ahead, it would be nice to win and other than that 2011 is past tense and it's back to the drawing board which brings Mich. closer to it's rightful place of dominating little brother again. Look, the Mich. experiment, RR simply did not work. It did give Mich State a moment of glory but states glory came at the expense of the worse team in Mich Wolverine history not really something for State to really brag about. I'm kind of proud of what State has been allowed to accomplish while Mich. has been on haitus.

Wally the Spartan

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 12:01 a.m.

Hold tough Coach Hoke, see you there in 365 days playing wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship - it will be worth the short wait. I think the fact that he wants to get out of there asap shows the integrity of this fine man. No reason to parade around, he had the most wins in the Big Ten this year and nothing to be ashamed of. MgoBlueForTiM.......Brady Hoke, Big Ten Coach of the year - forever. It has been 744 days since that team down south has defeated the Mighty Wolverines.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

He took care of the most important streak this year(OSU). Next year he'll take care of the Spartans with their new QB and WR's.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Brady Hoke deserves to hold his head high in Indy because he did a great job this year. He raised the bar at U-M and has them on solid footing heading nto next year, when hopefully U-M will play the in the Big Ten championship game.