Brady Hoke's Wild Ride

By Johnny Ginter on January 15, 2013 at 1:30p

College football is utterly, magnificently unpredictable. To borrow a phrase, you might as well appeal to the thunderstorm as to try to understand the whims and foibles of the maddening anti-logic that radiates from the pigskinned ball that we use to determine which team/college/state/segment of humanity is better than the other.

Brady went a courtin'

Special college football coaches break that formula, and render it useless. Jim Tressel was like a 50 cent slot machine that paid off 65 cents every single time, Nick Saban is essentially some kind of extremely efficient, tiny murderbot paid to yell at young adults, and Urban Meyer is a relentless rabid text monster that will beat you through sheer force of will and anger.

But most coaches are forced to adhere to the ups and downs of grave misfortune, and today I want to talk about the curious case of one Brady Hoke; a good coach to be sure, but not good enough, perhaps, to reach those lofty skies and satisfy the demands of the Wolverine faithful.

I'll look at eight mostly arbitrary events surrounding Michigan football, which allow me to support my wholly unbiased and scientifically-arrived-at theory that Brady Hoke is about to take the University of Michigan Wolverine football program on a wild ride.

Which might end up taking their program to new heights, or send them down into the muck and mire of the rest of the Big Ten.


The X-axis represents time (the X-axis always represents time), and the Y-axis represents the general happiness of the Wolverine fanbase. It's in scarlet and gray because I will be a dead man before I make a graph with UM colors. And again, points have been chosen mostly on a whim and represent about the highest level of scientific appraisal that I'm capable of. Just go with it.

(1) is the Kyle Kalis decommitment from Ohio State and subsequent commitment to Michigan.

Numbers (1) and (8) are both recruiting stories, which are important because recruiting is the game that fanbases play against each other when they're bored and there's no football going on. Kalis leaving OSU and Meyer to roll on up to Ann Arbor was a huge get for a new coaching staff, and signaled that they weren't gonna take no guff. Take that, fancy pants Urban Meyer, what with your Twitters and Facebooks and aggressive recruiting tactics. This is BRADY HOKE'S TOWN, and he's not giving up the Big Ten without a fight.

And then he went and lost to Michigan State and Iowa in the course of three weeks to tank any chance they might've had to reach the B1G Championship game (2).

Look, it'd be wrong to call the 2011 Michigan football season a failure on any level. They beat the Buckeyes (3) and won a BCS bowl in thrilling fashion against a decent opponent (4). But it also set unrealistic expectations for a coaching staff that is unlikely, in my opinion, to ever get over the hump to be the consistent national championship threat that Ohio State was under Jim Tressel and hopefully will be under Urban Meyer.

This was never more evident than in the 2012 loss to Alabama (5), where the Wolverines were just completely and totally outclassed in every possible facet of the game. The difference between good and great is usually the presence of an idea, and one constant in the major losses that Michigan has had is a complete absence of an idea that unifies what the team has tried to do.

Which leads us to (6), the 2012 loss to Ohio State. This is the game that leads to (8). But more on that in a second.

The 2012 OSU/Michigan game was one of the most embarrassing offensive performances of the year for the Wolverines. Granted, it came against a good defense on a hot streak, but the problems with both game planning and play calling were glaringly evident. How can you tell a future recruit that they'll reach their full potential in Ann Arbor when their starting QB for the final five games was mired in the wide receiver depth chart for most of the season and only given the shot to play because of the frequent injuries of the starter?

Michigan made a game of it in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina, but ultimately blew it at the last second in their traditional Willy Loman fashion (7). And again, what could've been a victory for Michigan and the Big Ten in general in terms of prestige was dashed in hilarious fashion as the rest of the country began to wake up to the fact that the Wolverines are indeed "back."

But "back" for them generally means moments of excellence followed by extensive periods of malaise and 9-4 seasons.

Which is why (8), the commitment of Damon Webb, a 2014 graduate of Cass Tech in Detroit, is so significant. It's not just that Webb is a possible 5-star player for 2014; it's that Cass Tech has been the pipeline school for Michigan much in the way Cleveland Glenville has been for Ohio State. So though Webb's commitment came as a shock to some, maybe it wasn't so unpredictable after all.

Because let's be honest: look at the graph! 100% incontrovertible, scientific proof that Brady Hoke (and by extension Michigan) is in a downswing from their lofty heights of the first year or so of the new administration. And if I can put together a half-assed graph in Paint to illustrate that concept in about five minutes, imagine how quickly it might've taken Damon Webb after one of these from Kerry Coombs.

For now, the balance of power has shifted in Ohio State's direction, away from the barge that is Brady Hoke and company. Could the vane swing back in their direction? Sure.

But if history tells us anything, as long as Urban Meyer is in Columbus, it might not be for a long, long time.


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spqr2008's picture

Now you have that song stuck in my head.  Curse my ridiculously spotty but sometimes perfect memory of kids music.

BoFuquel's picture

" The Joke " is due for a serious haircut and I think he won't even get a dead cat bounce this season.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

rgarrett22's picture

Love the graph. Priceless.

LouGroza's picture

Had a big chuckle at the Brady pick before ever reading a word. The story direction was on point too!

nmaxwell's picture

you could use photoshop to shrink the picture of his head to 50% of its size before attaching it to that body and it would STILL look huge

TBDBITLinWIScantSON's picture

That graph (and your Jimminy Hoke image) are hilarious. I would like to posit a (0.5), and put it slightly below (1). And that would be Hokes first introduction, when he referred to tOSU as simply "Ohio". I think I could feel the smugness factor of the UM faithful rise, as they thought they had their "Michigan Main" afterall (albeit a Ohio contrarian).
I think you should add to this, as the X-axis continues...
Also, I expect the "vane to swing back in their direction", but it will be about as quick as the vane changes in tornado alley.


CC's picture

You are correct sir.
Just look at the last 10 years, there was one year where they were clearly on top, now 1 year, 3 regular season losses, a loss to the Bucks and a bowl loss and it's back to normal.

spqr2008's picture

The Hoke image is Mr. Toad from Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, a Disney half movie (it was 45 min. long).

Denny's picture

Good scienceing, J.


Poison nuts's picture

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

gwalther's picture

Wish this kind of science was available as a GEC selection when I was in school.

Class of 2008

Unky Buck's picture

I'm only basing this off of one thread on MGoBlog, so this by no means speaks for all Michigan fans, but there is this pretentiousness about how they think that they're doing things the right way and how Hoke is the pillar of B1G coaches. I know many of us all wear homer-colored glasses at some point and have a tough time accepting the reality of the situation vs. what we actually want it to be, but it seems like they take it to a whole new level. To discount Meyer is completely ridiculous. For them to essentially say that he is a bad coach who is only riding his success at Florida is equally ridiculous. They even look down on those Michigan fans who at least see the reality in the situation. It's sort of amazing to watch.
But anyway, while we all have to admit that this shows zero data that can ultimately say that they are indeed on a downturn as it was clearly all in good fun, we have seen how this play has turned out before. They hired a coach who had a .500 record and 3 winning seasons in his 8 years prior to Michigan. While I won't discount the 12-1 season he had in his last season at Ball St, it took him 6 years to get that record and that was only able to get him to 34-38. So prior to that, he had a 22-37 record. The team showed very little improvement until 2008. He walked into Michigan with an insanely easy schedule and played in a BCS bowl against an opponent that shouldn't have been there. The team fell back to 8-5 this year and now with his track record in coaching, where do they improve? They have a nice, talented recruiting class coming in, but, by and large, many of the players appear to be overratedovervalued and they focused too much on one particular position (OL) where most of those guys won't even see the field. Obviously we'll see how they eventually perform on the field, but until I see a change in coaching philosophy with Hoke and his staff, i think 8-5 seasons are going to more of the norm than 12-1 or 11-2 years.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

dumpus's picture

I know many of us all wear homer-colored glasses at some point and have a tough time accepting the reality of the situation vs. what we actually want it to be, but it seems like they take it to a whole new level.

For the love of god, don't ever go over to Black Shoe Diaries - you'll strangle yourself with your mouse cord...

Unky Buck's picture

Haha, thanks for the warning. It was so freaking tough just reading that forum. I wanted to vomit with most of what I read. I can only imagine what goes on with a Penn State blog these days. I find most PSU fans to be insufferable as it is. I can only imagine what it's like to see them trying to be all Billy Bad Ass behind a computer screen.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Yeah, reading Mgo can be hard sometimes. Every now and then I get tempted to create an account just to respond to some of the crap they write. Then I realize it's how some of them cope with being in Ohio State's shadow.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

TheHannimal's picture

Brady Hoke was roughly their 4th choice for head ball coach. At the time, he had just about as many winning seasons as Urban had National Championships. After the whole RichRod debacle, they were more than elated to make and win a BCS Bowl. Coincidentally, during that same time, they were gifted the defense/excuse that we have been to the most BCS Bowls because "Tressel cheated.". Hoke is recruiting well but so are all things being close to equal...Urban has proven throughout his career that he can coach circles around Hoke. Mich is crashing back to reality and the reasonable fans know it. The defense mechanism up there seems to be Urban is a win at all costs coach and/or that he will leave in a few years. They can certainly make it to the Rose Bowl...and we'll be watching as we prep for the national championship game.

buckeye76BHop's picture

"But if history tells us anything, as long as Urban Meyer is in Columbus, it might not be for a long, long time."

Great article Johnny...loved it!  Especially this^^^^I've said this before and will again...Brace yourselves tTUN fans...grab something and hold on tight...because the next 5-10 years could hurt (like with no Vaseline type of hurt).  The great band Tool has a song perfect for the's called Prison Sex;-)

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

BuckeyeSki's picture

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Dougger's picture

Johnny strikes again. 
I love how the Hoke-mobile is in complete freefall after the Sugar Bowl win.

I like football

bukyze's picture

Hopefully the downward trajectory of that graph continues to go straight down, just like any scUM girl at a truck stop on a Friday night.

fear_the_nut70's picture

There is one thing I would want to caution Buckeye fans who want to espouse this opinion.  We are so quick to rush to judgement on everything, but the reality is, it really isn't until year 3 or 4 you can judge a coach as to what he will ultimately be.  I say this because a new coach often inherits personnel that doesn't fit his system, and when you are talking about the drastic difference between running a spread and a pro set as we are here, I am not sure I would want to be drawing drastic conclusions just yet.  Hoke has a possible dominant OL coming in, a possible stud QB (Morris), and my guess is that he will get Derrick Green by NSD.  This is the offensive system that Hoke wants to run, and my guess is, that Borges was hired to orchestrate.  What you have seen the last few years was making the best of players that did not fit his system, with a QB we all knew was a dynamic runner but couldn't throw, and without one tailback that we would want at OSU (and don't start talking to me about Toussaint here).  What made Hoke better than Rich Rod, besides the obvious, is that he proved he was at least competent running a system other than the one that made him a good coach. 
Now, as for the other thoughts, i read that entire Damon Webb thread at MGOblue, and you guys are exactly right--there are some downright delusional homers there that have completely detached from reality, and those of their own that tried to inject some objectivity were ridiculed and called names.  The truth is, deep down inside, they fear Urban becaues of what he IS and HAS done, while they HOPE that Hoke will become what they want.  The honest ones realize the coaching imbalance (and the talent disparity between the two states), and the delusional fans have no interest in having their greatest fears thrown in their faces.  Couldn't have happened to better class of smug jackasses if you ask me.

Doc's picture

Well said Fear.  I think flounder did what he could with what he had.  Detard was not his qb of choice and he had to live with him for two seasons.  His first year was just playing some semblence of defense and getting lucky playing us in a down year.  I will be curious what he does next season and the one after.  When he is able to play the type of offense he wants.  I don't think he'll be Saban/Meyer dominant, but he'll be a solid #2.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

biggy84's picture

The truth of the matter is that rich rod had a very good offense at ttun that flounder inherited. The offense was definitely not bereft of talent. So, the cupboard was far from bare. Flounder benefited from the talent, not hindered by it.
Moving to his preferred system plays right into the hands of what a tOSU defense is most prepared to stop. I can't wait for them to line up in the I formation with their Henne-esque Qb and run their traditional tsun offense again. After all, it worked so well for lloyd carr. 

fear_the_nut70's picture

Big, I didn't say befeft of talent.  I said he had players that didn't fit his system, that's really a different claim (I did suggest their QB wasn't the best passer and I didn't like their running backs, but there was talent there, no question).
I am NOT concerned about how we will stack up against them other than to say, it's almost as if the B1G world has flipped on us a bit--now, it might be TSUN and Wisconsin running a power pro set offense while most of the rest of the schools are using some form of a spread with a dual thread QB.  You never know how recruits will pan out, but their OL against our D line is setting up to be an epic battle.  Overall though, I think our talent generally will be a notch above theirs and our coaching two, and in most years, that should be enough for us to come out ahead.

biggy84's picture

I look forward to our steady rotation of defensive linemen going against their 5 o-linemen. Wasn't trying to be rude Fear. I agreed and enjoyed your post.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I agree about what Hoke is building via recruits - however, if you look at his record, he is barely above a .500 coach his entire career.  Urban, on the other hand is vastly superior in that arena.  Does that automatically translate into dominance - nope!  BUT - I'll put money down on Urban winning every single time in every single instance over Flounder Hoke!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

BostonBuck's picture

Statistics with a big enough sample size don't LIE. You are correct Sir, he is a .500 coach. A wierd guy. Blows off the hand shake after games. He is in way over his head and it is all down hill - implosion. Who am? No one. Not a coach or an expert. But I've been in business for a long time and wrongly or rightly think he is a fraud who got lucky with a bungled search for a coach. He can prove me wrong and I'll eat crow but I'll bet on Urban.

aznchipmunk's picture

You should make more of these.  This can turn into a preiodical (weekly?) thing.
Potential future infographic coaching maps:

  1. Urban
  2. The Vest
  3. Cooper
  4. Lloyd Carr
  5. Bo Schembechler
  6. Woody Haye
  7. Thad Matta

Go Bucks! Roll-Tide!

BuckeyeSki's picture

8. Duron Carter's Xbox time

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

BuckeyeinExile's picture

I have never been over to mgoblog before but after some of the comments above thought it would be worth a laugh and wow I was correct. I like to see myself as pretty objective but wow! One thing I did notice that struck a chord after some of the articles here the last few weeks is that over there they referenced again and again about getting back to the Rose Bowl - whoopdy do, that is a nice second place finish, it is nice to know we have aimed alot higher!

Doc's picture

Johnny, nice write up.  I think it is pretty accurate.  In all honesty this should be an on going article/or set of articles.  We can plot AACC's fall after National signing day and at the end of the season.  This may be your life's work.  This may be your ticket to infamy.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

M Man's picture

If (9) "Derrick Green commits to Michigan," where will that be on the Y-axis?  I note that the Y-axis isn't really a measurable, unless you have now developed a metric for "the happiness of Michigan fans."

JasonBuck's picture

Haha good one M Man.....but I do think it's funny how most scUM fans are hanging ALL their hopes and dreams on Green.  I actually like Smith better.

M Man's picture

Two things. 
One, I'm not hanging all my hopes and dreams on Green.  I haven't seen enough of him to even judge.  I am going off what the recruting services and gurus say.  They say he's one of the best, and is the kind of runner who is a prototype for Borges' offense.  And I say that as someone who isn't terribly keen on Al Borges.
Two, Green fills a huge position of need for Michigan.  You are welcome to think that Smith is a superior prospect.  That's fine, and it doesn't matter.  Michigan still needs some stud RB's.

BROSEPH's picture

Scientists are currently studying a group of 30 Michigan fans to develop an accurate metric for UM Happiness.

tennbuckeye19's picture

"the happiness of Michigan fans."

Is this something that exists? Seems mythical at best.

avail31678's picture

If "the happiness of Michigan fans" is the metric, can we add two more data points?  1)Right next to UM's 2011 win, slightly higher than the data point for that, add one for Denard's "eating" charade.  And 2) Right next to UM's loss to us in 2012, slightly lower in happiness, add Carlos Hyde's sarcastic use of "eating" to Denard on the sideline. 
Denard's "eating" added a bit more happiness for UM fans after their win over us, but seeing Carlos  taunt Denard made this year's victory SO much sweeter for Buckeyes!

M Man's picture

Uh uh uh...  NSFMF.  I was on record, here at 11W, disclaiming any pleasure whatsoever in that stunt.  I said I didn't like it, and I hoped we had seen the last of it.  I sincerely hope it is gone with Denard.  I expect it has.

petebuc52's picture

Well stated Avail31678..Didn't notice too many eating gestures in the bowl game either; Denard was too busy looking for places to lay down uhhh I mean he had bad footing/cleats that day ;-)

Mike413's picture

Malaise and Blue  :v)

M Man's picture

Upvoted, for spelling, neatness, punctuation and cleverness.

razrback16's picture

Appreciate the article -- this was very enjoyable.

LouGroza's picture

The equivalent to the rise of ttun.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I have a love/hate relationship with this gif.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

brglr14's picture

michigan is what they have always been with hoke. he comes from that blood line. all they preach is winning the big ten and it seems they have no higher aspiration. even in the cooper years we were better most years and just and they would gain a small measure of respect but upsetting us and winning 8 or 9 games with the occasional really good season which was 97 at this point. and thats really the only big year i remember them having and im 43. they missed the boat with this hire. other teams scare me way more than mich. and whose kyle kalis?

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


buckz4evr's picture

I think we are getting way ahead of ourselves in predicting total dominance in this rivalry.  Although I believe Meyer is 10x the coach Hoke is, Hoke has a couple of pretty good coaches on his staff that he can lean on.    
I definitely believe we will win way more than lose, but with the way Hoke is recruiting, it should be  very interesting the next few years to say the least.  The one thing we don't know is how mentally tough these new recruits are going to be.  Some teams win in spite of their coach (see Auburn).  Our coaches will beat toughness into our recruits but it also depends on how they bond together as a team.  According to Urban, not all teams have that special cohesion needed to win at the upper levels. 
I'm very excited and happy about our team going forward, I just don't buy the hype of total least not yet. 

okiebuck's picture

Science is great but I like history too;
Brady (Porky Pig) Hoke; TTUN assistant coach; then onto Ball State - decent record; then to San Diego State - medicore at best; on to meatchicken (second or third choice) for one good year and now loooking up at TOSU for possibly the rest of his tenure. Urban will even spot you the Ohio kids he doesn't want or need.
Urban Meyer; graduate assistant at TOSU; assistant coach at ND; on to Bowling Green - decent record; then on to Utah - undeafeated season; on to Florida - two national championships; then to espn; then on to TOSU (first choice) undefeated season. I would bet the ranch that year two of Urban in C-Bus will be better then Hokey's year two in whore ville. 

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Crimson's picture

Disagree strongly.
Taking BGSU from 2-9 with their last winning season in 1994 to 8-3 and 9-3 is not a decent record.

pjtobin's picture

I don't disagree. I drank way to much urban juice though. I hope that choke and like half the other big coaches start getting it together. The big can quit riding our coattails. Only time will tell. Go bucks!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad.