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Posted on Fri, May 11, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

Michigan's Brady Hoke ranked 24th-best coach in country; trails 3 in Big Ten, Brian Kelly

By Kyle Meinke

Brady Hoke inherited a Michigan football team that had won 15 games in three years, and went 11-2 in his debut season. He was named Big Ten coach of the year, and has attracted the nation's top 2013 recruiting class according to Scout.

But Sporting News isn't quite as high on him when it comes to the national coaching hierarchy.

Steve Greenberg and Matt Hayes posted their head coach rankings earlier this week, and pegged Hoke 24th in the country.


The Sporting News ranks Michigan's Brady Hoke, above, as the 24th-best college football head coach in the nation.

Melanie Maxwell |

He trails three Big Ten coaches, including his top-two rivals: Ohio State's Urban Meyer (No. 3), Wisconsin's Bret Bielema (No. 12) and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio (No. 13).

Alabama's Nick Saban, whom Hoke will face Sept. 1 in the Wolverines' season opener, is ranked No. 1.

Sporting News said this about Hoke: "Kind of hard to believe, isn’t it, that Hoke was a sub-.500 coach pre-Michigan? But he slowly built Ball State into a prime MAC team, then turned San Diego State around more quickly. His first season in Ann Arbor was a mind-blower. It seems Hoke has improved throughout the first decade of his career—and that he’s exactly the right guy at the right time for the Wolverines."

After only one season at Michigan, Hoke filing in behind Meyer and Bielema is sensible. Those guys have won for a long time, while Hoke has done it for only one year at at BCS school. And remember, while the turnaround last year was impressive, Hoke was a below-.500 coach before joining the Wolverines.

Meanwhile, arguments can be made for both sides between Hoke and Dantonio.

Dantonio has owned the Wolverines the past four years, and put together back-to-back 11-win seasons. He also beat Hoke in their only head-to-head matchup.

But Hoke also scaled to higher heights at Michigan last year, taking it to a BCS bowl -- and winning it, matching Dantonio's career bowl wins at Michigan State (and the Spartans haven't been to a BCS bowl under him).

Michigan also has soundly beaten the Spartans on the recruiting trail since Hoke's arrival.

So, some will take Dantonio, others take Hoke, and each side has a case.

But there are other coaches Sporting News ranked ahead of Hoke who are curious selections, most notably Notre Dame's Brian Kelly. He's ranked No. 18, despite losing 10 games in his two seasons with the Irish. He's also come under fire several times, for everything from frequent player arrests (and lax punishment for offenders) to sideline tirades.

He had impressive tenures at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, and could still do the same with Notre Dame. But he certainly hasn't done enough to merit a spot ahead of Hoke at this point.

The top 25 coaches, according to Sporting News:

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
2. Chris Peterson, Boise State
3. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
4. Les Miles, LSU
5. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
6. Chip Kelly, Oregon
7. Gary Patterson, TCU
8. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
9. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
10. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
11. Bill Snyder Kansas State
12. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
13. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
14. Mark Richt, Georgia
15. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
16. Mack Brown, Texas
17. Mike Leach, Washington State
18. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
19. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
20. Lane Kiffin, USC
21. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
22. June Jones, SMU
23. Chris Ault, Nevada
24. Brady Hoke, Michigan
25. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
(The rest of the rankings can be found by clicking here.)

Is Hoke too high, too low or just right? He probably should be ranked ahead of the likes of Mack Brown (who is 13-12 the past two years), Mike Leach (who hasn't coached a game at Washington State), Brian Kelly, June Jones and Chris Ault. But overall, it seems about right.

Where would you rank Hoke?

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


brett barnes

Sun, May 13, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Brady Hoke is the #1 coach at MICHIGAN, and that is all that really matters. Urban Cryer couldnt handle the pressure at florida, so how will he handle it at ohio??? Please!!!!! Dantonio, I believe is a good coach, but coaches for Sparty...nough said!! Bielema has a top notch program at the moment, but forgets what got him there in the biggest moments. Kelly??? Uhhm, ok??? Whatever! Which brings me back to...Brady Hoke is the #1 coach at MICHIGAN! And nothing else matters!!!


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

hoke would be number 1 on the list if it was a hotdog eating contest.


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Your?? You probably meant you're. I wouldn't expect you to know the difference.


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 12:47 a.m.

I dont always talk to ohio grads(your not).But when i do i ask for large fries.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

OK, I'll play the game: Hoke should be a Top 15 and near the Top 10. This coming season will really determine where Hoke will stand with his peers. No doubt he's off to a great start and has a good track record before he came to Michigan. Head football coaches at major colleges are paid the big bucks to win and win again each year.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

I'll reserve judgment until Hoke's recruits are playing. Last year he had a few Of Carr's but mostly Rodriguez recruits. If his recruits can consistently achieve then Hoke should be rated higher. The same goes with Urban Myers, until he coaches his recruits and can prove they can win, then maybe he should get the high ranking.

Joe Kidd

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

It's too early to judge Coach Hoke with other Big Ten teams. And I do not give a hoot about rankings anyway. One thing I like to point out is that MSU has gotten the benefit of scheduling which really helped DAntonio. Two seasons ago they did not play OSU, and last year, they played OSU while four primary players were still on suspension. Why the suspension included a league game is beyond comprehension, it gives a team a huge advantage in the standings. And they have to face it that at bowl selection time, the people doing the selecting considered Michigan the better team. I will give MSU more a lot more respect if they extend their wins vs Michigan once more and even more if they even things out over the years. We need to give them an embarrassing loss this year I think to call them little bro again.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Joe, MSU has a lot of starters returning while UM is just now building under Hoke. I don't think UM needs to embarrass the Sparty's by any means...just beat them.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

The funny thing is, Hoke could care less if he was ranked #1 or #110. He will continue to do his job and do it well regardless of ranking. Besides that, Hoke understands that it's not all about him, and he has hired arguably the best staff in the country both in terms of recruiting and coaching to help him get it done.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

I completely agree, AZ. In addition, we can be sure that this "ranking" was hacked together just to stir the fans during the off season. That's a football reporter's JOB during the off season. It's only worthwhile because, in this case, it's so preposterously WRONG. LOL!


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

RE: "So, some will take Dantonio, others take Hoke, and each side has a case." - There's a case for Mark Dantonio being the better HC??!! Since WHEN? Mark Dantonio's 5-season record is .675! He's coaching at a school which has a 103 year .541 average!! On top of that: three of his last 4 wins over Michigan came BECAUSE Michigan was enduring a 130 year record LOW win-loss ratio! Is that the "case" mentioned in the above article?? ROLF! Dantonio advocates - a U.S. Senator pointed out not long ago: You can have your own opinion but you cannot have your own facts!! As for this Sporting News "ranking" - the same facts apply. Too bad you guys at Sporting News didn't even take the time to look some FACTS up before posting this sham. A few of the coaches they list above Hoke: have no better records and are JUST as untried at the top level as Hoke is. So the statement: "looks about right" is also a BIG JOKE. Someone ought to have this "ranking list" made into huge signs to be put up at all the entrances to Michigan Stadium - with a big question mark overlaid. At least the Michigan ticket holders could go into the stadium laughing themselves silly while making their way to their seats. Brady Hoke is ranked 24th best coach in the country?? Yeah, right!! LOL!


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

I don't know, how anyone can rank Hoke yet. He had a pretty soft schedule, and if Michigan State would have played with discipline; they would have destroyed Michigan. Even as a Buckeye, I am not ready to put Meyers at third. Ron Zook came to Champaign with much hoopla, result, dud (I am not a believer in the spread- keeps the defense on the field too long). I am laughing at the commentators, who sit on "the BCS win." Everyone in the country, knows that Sparty should have been there, and that it was a financial decision, by the Sugar Bowl people. U of M, will always be the "coaches kid" in the NCAA, and get every break. I think we will find out this year, if Hoke is legit. Alabama? Ohio State without scandal? A good MSU? We shall see.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Bogie: Even as a Buckeye, you have to grant that Michigan had its worst-ever three seasons under RichRod and those Buckeye wins over Michigan don't really mean that Ohio had a "tough schedule" when it came to beating Michigan. Ohio had ONE lousy season last year, be happy that your team has a great overall record and is a true rival to Michigan. Zook @ Illinois: didn't they manage to beat Ohio at least one year when Ohio was ranked in the top ten? But you're right: the real lesson with examples like Zook is that, even great coaches will have mediocre results trying to coach at mediocre football programs. (Same applies to MSU's Dantonio: he cannot sustain even his modest .675 record in the long run because Spartan football is basically unable to sustain a great program.) Sugar Bowl: MSU "should have been there"-??? There comes a time when bowl committees have to ask themselves: do we put a perennially mediocre team like MSU in our bowl game or go for the team which has the MOST national TV appearances BECAUSE of perennial national importance and appeal? Would MSU vs V Tech have created a bigger audience? I don't think so. Michigan has a huge fan base across the country. (I know it's true; when traveling I wear my Michigan cap and get "Go Blue!" salutes in national parks and in airports. NEVER hear "Go Buckeyes" or "Go Spartans" when people wearing same-team gear are around. Really.) Sugar Bowl: of the two teams, which team's presence made that a bowl game worth watching? Virginia Tech??!! LOL!


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Bogie, whatever the schedule was, they did much better against it than they did in the previous three seasons. The demolition of Nebraska as well as dominating most B10 opposition showed VAST improvement over what Michigan had been doing previous to Hoke. I agree, the book on Hoke hasn't been written after only one season, but to discount the night and day improvement of Michigan last year by saying it was due to a 'soft schedule' is not accurate, imo. Michigan was 100% better under Hoke last season and was able to not only beat, but in many cases DESTROY teams that they could have never even competed with in the previous three seasons.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

The rating is okay with me cause you all know it's just someone's imagination. Mich. fans know they got a deal with Brady as in the right fit at the right time. Brady's laid back demeanor and late start as a head coach especially at Ball and San Diego did not earn him Brownie points and hey, that's all fine because I remember a few decades ago when Mich. hired a Miami of Ohio coach and the head lines read, "Bo Who".


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

Where is Jimmy Johnson on this list? Only guy who had phenomenal success and championships in both college and the pros. I hope Brandon at least reached out made an offer to Jimmy to bring that hair of his to the western sideline in the Big House.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

Reserve judgement on Hoke until he is able to win consistently.......he may be a one year wonder....and let's be honest, the bowl win against Va Tech was a bit on the lucky side.......


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Don't forget that 8 of Michigan's 11 wins were absolute blowouts, including the 45-17 beat down of Nebraska. Yes, there were some tight ones, but Hoke had 8 in the bag with no problems whatsoever. There will always be those 2-4 games per year that swing your season from a good one to a great one, and fortunately Michigan was able to prevail in the majority of those games last season.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 6:53 a.m.

Notre Dame = luck Iowa = ref screwed Michigan over and cost us game several times Michigan State = 7 personal fouls takes Denard mentally out of game in the middle of a 40 mph wind trash tornado in East Lansing's garbage dump of a stadium VT = The Hokies play terribly. Michigan plays less terribly. Michigan wins. Conclusion: Brady Hoke had one lucky game, 2 terribly unlucky games, and a game where his team played slightly better than a team that played horrendously. By my count, any luck that occured was clearly offset by enough crap that it evens out to a net loss.

AA native, ND fan

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:48 a.m.

But it's true stuff, Terry Star21. I don't think Hoke will be a one hit wonder, but Hoke did have an awful lot of good breaks last year in addition to good coaching. In the ND game alone, Denard fumbles and picks it right up and walks in for a TD. During another series, a ghost caused Tommy Rees to fumble, Michigan recovers and prevents sure ND points (that's not to take away from ND's complete meltdown, but you get my point). I think he will be great at Michigan, but there are a lot of one hit wonders out there or who have done elsewhere and then can't get the job done at a bigger job.

Terry Star21

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

That's funny stuff......

David Vande Bunte

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

Mack Brown, Texas (Texas won 3 less games than Hoke) Mike Leach, Washington State (didn't WSU finish 4-8, in last place in their division last year?) Brian Kelly, Notre Dame (umm...not only did he lose to Hoke, but ND won 3 less games) Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech (GT won 3 less games than Hoke) Lane Kiffin, USC (Really? Lane Kiffin?) Kyle Whittingham, Utah (Utah won 3 less games than Hoke) June Jones, SMU (SMU won 3 less games than Hoke) Chris Ault, Nevada (Nevada won 4 less games than Hoke) Now, these kind of rankings are pretty meaningless, they don't mean diddly squat in the grand scheme of things...but some of those names seem fairly ridiculous to be placed above Hoke.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 6:48 a.m.

If you're only as good as your last season, than Lloyd Carr was the worst coach in FBS history because he lost to App St in his final season. Can we stop with the garbage melodrama and just admit the past matters? I'm pretty sure people will remember Lloyd Carr for his national championship and fundamental belief in developing character in young men, not his loss to App St just because it was his last year on the job. Just stop. Also, Joe Paterno was clearly a mediocre coach too.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

I'm willing to grant Lane Kiffin at least a little latitude ... he took over a USC program that was in a pretty bad place and he's created a pretty good team. And I will forever admire what USC did against Oregon last year. If ever anyone wishes to see the value of effective interior D-line action, watch that game. The Oregon offense simply could not get traction with someone in the backfield on nearly every play.

David Vande Bunte

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

You are only as good as your last game. (or season).


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

Mike Leach just got to WSU, he was at Texas Tech until ESPN and their spoiled little broadcaster ran him out of there. He is a good coach. The poll is not about last season, it is about a body of work over time. that being said, how is Mark Richt even in the discussion.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

David, thanks for the reality check. This poll is rediculous.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Brian Kelly might be the most overrated coach in the game. He hasn't done anything since he has been in south bend to warrant this writing. Frank Beamer should be higher on consistency alone.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 6:41 a.m.

ahem... 2 years at Notre Dame with the cupboards completely chocked full of talent by Charlie Weiss. Let's be honest. Everything Charlie Weiss lacked in coaching he made up for in recruiting and Brian Kelly is still terrible 2 years down the road.

AA native, ND fan

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.

Don't think Kelly is the most overrated coach in the game, but he sure is on the hotseat. This rating is clearly based upon his past overachievement everywhere else he's been, not his underacheivement this past year at ND.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.


Terry Star21

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

Pre-polls are pretty much like the people here giving there opinions - wide variation. And yes, I'm no different (although more authoritative than most). First off, urban meyer has no business on this poll, you're only as good as your last year, so he would be on the medical list poll. Then brian kelly should not as well, he has not shown us anything yet with the talent he has. Then, bret bielema belongs but closer to 22th place. Give mark dantonio credit, he's arrogant and obnoxious but he can do the job with a lot of luck and good fortunes, 24th - maybe. The final selection, Brady Hoke would be answered by his peers - he would be 12th. (Although clearly #1, let's fly under the radar and enjoy). @ Ted, you are so right - but then being the best at the end of the season when it counts, must not be one of the qualifications !


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

Lol, right. More authoritative than most. That's funny. And if coaches are only as good as their last year, then I guess in the basketball equivalent of this list, Coach K isn't in the top 25 because his team was ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Authoritative, indeed.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 6:38 a.m.

Hoke had a lot of lucky breaks? Not so much. Notre Dame was a game that Michigan had no business winning. Iowa was a game that Michigan had no business losing. Beyond that, Michigan either dominated every opponent, e.g. Nebraska, or deserved their loss, e.g. Michigan State. Virginia Tech was the only other close game and they played HORRIBLE and Michigan deserved that win simply based on the fact that VT was just that bad. I don't see that as luck. The same thing applies to the George vs. Michigan State game. The Bulldogs basically handed the Spartans the victory. That doesn't mean MSU is any less deserving. I just don't see where the "lucky breaks" really came into play. Any luck was offset by crap penalty calls, trash tornadoes, or scoreboard malfunctions.

AA native, ND fan

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Ok, some homerism here ^^. Guess that's to be expected, but... Hoke may end up being the best of the bunch, but you can't judge that based on one season. Look at Weis' first year at ND. I remember Herbstreit saying he was the best coach in the country... look how that turned out. Yes, Brian Kelly has underacheived at ND so far, but he's overacheived everywhere else. I can understand his current ranking, though it may be on the downswing. I think Hoke will end up being pretty darn good at Michigan, but he needs more time. He had a lot of lucky breaks go his way last season (not taking away from his good coaching job), but let's see how good he is when things even out. 12 might be right down the road (or higher), but it's too high for now.

Ted Bundy

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Urban Meyer, Mark Dantonio, Bret Bielema and Brian Kelly please raise your hand if you won a BCS bowl last season?


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

Andrew, are you in the livingroom with Hoke and the recruits when he's speaking to them? Are you listening in to the phonecalls, reading the emails/texts/correspondence between the coaching staff and the recruits? No? Then you have no clue what he's selling them on. You're making up your own story and believing it.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

zeeba. . . if meyer picks up the ugly stick that jt laid down then meyer will get his walking papers to. . . you got the UGLY right. . . jt cheated, covered-up and mislead everyone for ten years!! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

Zeeba, you obviously know nothing about Hoke's recruiting philosophy. He and his staff are honest with recruits by telling them the best players, whether freshmen or seniors, will see the field and that they will have to compete for their playing time.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Time will tell whether Hoke's recruiting will endure. Right now he's selling the program to a bunch of kids eager for early playing time and to be part of the Michigan revival. Will he keep getting those gaudy numbers if he loses 4-5 games this year, as seems likely with their tough road schedule and losses in the trenches? If Urban Meyer picks up the ugly stick that Jim Tressel laid down? If Dantonio runs the streak up to 5 or 6 games? We shall see.


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

these pre-poll's don't really mean anything at this point. . . i lost my cliffsnotes on this but if memory servers me, coach HOKE is killing dandy dan on recruiting and this will show up on the football field very soon! HERE'S the threat!! GO BLUE!!!!!!

Terry Star21

Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Very good point Ted, these pre-polls are nothing more than rolling dice. Hoke is the best, ' he's the threat'....


Fri, May 11, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

Give me a break. Beating Northwestern was more impressive than beating Vtech. Vtech would be a middle of the road BigTen team. What a hollow victory that was. Anytime anyone talks bad about Hoke, the UofM fans immediate response is "BCS Bowl win". Winning that game did nothing to make Hoke a better coach than Dantonio.