Two of a Kind

By Ramzy Nasrallah on April 30, 2013 at 11:30a
hoke weis

The debate over whether Brady Hoke would be another Rich Rodriguez-mismatch for Michigan should have ended at his introductory press conference.

Unlike his predecessor, Hoke knows exactly what he’s operating in Ann Arbor. He also understands what he’s selling and against whom he’s competing. This is all positive, because Hoke flaming out like RichRod would be counter to Ohio State’s interests, as a weak Michigan helps nobody outside of East Lansing.

Separate from all that, Hoke failing at Michigan is a vacuous, misplaced dream.

He is the archetypical Michigan Man, Ohio roots and all. Hoke was the perfect hire – it's been my position since his hiring, it was my position following last season when it was evident the Wolverines would slide a bit in 2012 and it's my stance until further notice.

"Hoke is a great coach and an even better program steward," I told a couple of Buckeye fans I met last week at Caesars Palace. "By all accounts he's a great guy too. You'd be better off appreciating him. He's good for the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry."

"That's what I was afraid of," sighed the shorter fan, whose name might have been Michael. "I had hoped Rodriguez left them in too big of a hole to climb out of so quickly."

"Nah, anyone can coach Michigan to nine wins," said the taller one. "And Hoke is nothing like RichRod. He's more Charlie Weis."

That comparison was new to me. "Charlie Weis? Why, because he's fat and you don't like him?"

"No," he said casually. "Look it up."

Look it up. These two bachelor party bros I had run into in Vegas didn't know me and I didn't know them, but of course I was going to look it up. I sternly told my iPhone to remind me to do so after the haze of Sin City was in my rearview.

Over the weekend that reminder appeared as scheduled, and I pessimistically set out to uncover how the turgid, cheating jackass whom Notre Dame fired in 2009 could in any way resemble the peer-appreciated blue collar illuminato who resuscitated Ball State, San Diego State and now Michigan.

I saw no similarities aside from both men being conspicuously chubby – in America, where almost everyone could lose a few pounds. So I searched. And I was amazed.

That lanky sage at Caesars was an accidental genius or a master troll. Either way, because of him I now realize the tenures of Weis at Notre Dame and Hoke at Michigan at this point are virtually identical.

# of letters in name Four (two vowels; the e is silent) Four (two vowels; the e is silent)
US PRESIDENT at BIRTH Eisenhower Eisenhower
Attended college in Indiana Indiana
Spouse's name Maura Laura
Caloric intake Surplus Surplus
Dream job Yes Yes
predecessor fired Yes Yes
...After X Games 36 (fired before bowl game) 37 (fired after bowl game)
Sideline attire Polo Polo
Shirt size Tent Husky
5* & 4* PLAYERS in first FULL RECRUITING class Two 5* & Ten 4*s Two 5* & Ten 4*s
5* & 4* PLAYERS IN 2ND RECRUITING CLASS One 5*  & 12 4*s One 5* & 16 4*s
5* & 4* PLAYERS IN 3RD RECRUITING CLASS Three 5* & 16 4*s Trending that way
inherited popular Quarterback Yes (Quinn) Yes (Robinson)
recruited blustery quarterback Yes (Clausen) Yes (Morris)
BCS BOwl in first season Yes (Fiesta) Yes (Sugar)

On paper, anyway. Hoke has not treated his post as gracelessly as Weis did. Calling Ohio State Ohio may lack accuracy or any real insult, but it's colorful and gamesmanshippy. His sound bytes are harmless. He sounds like you. He sounds like me.

Conversely, Weis once said of Notre Dame's chief rival, "I've never lost to (then-Southern Cal coach) Pete Carroll and I'm not going to start now." Carroll ended up 5-0 against Weis, winning by an aggregate score of 198-85. Despite his bluster, Weis never beat Carroll as a head coach.

He also said, following a home loss to Michigan State in 2005, that Notre Dame "would never lose to the Spartans again on his watch." Michigan State beat the Irish again the next time they visited South Bend as well as the year after that.

Time after time, Weis inserted his pre-diabetic foot into his self-important piehole and embarrassed countless Notre Dame fans who then had to absorb the consequences of his priggishness each time they punched in at the car wash. It was a brutal period for adopted scholastic pride.

The only real chagrin Hoke has given Michigan fans is that they're unable to enjoy fat jokes the same way they did when Weis was next door. They're no longer funny – just infantile and lacking the sophistication of calling Ohioans cooler poopers.

We really don't need to relive Weis' infamous and catastrophic run at his alma mater, despite how invigorating it is for all decent people to reminisce in that glorious era. But as he entered his third season, his coaching demise was merely an outcome that was hoped for, not guaranteed. The only thing guaranteed was the $40MM Notre Dame is still paying him through 2015.

No one is crediting Rodriguez for Hoke's fast start, just as Ty Willingham received zero praise for the roster Weis inherited. Fortunately for Michigan's athletic department budget, Hoke isn't being rumored for NFL jobs the way Weis was. He'll be on the Wolverines' sideline for a long time.

Still, these similarities – while immensely entertaining to me – are just anecdotal, not unlike the false kinship between Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy (and if you're wondering which coach would be Lincoln and who is Kennedy, the answer is Weis is William Howard Taft and Hoke is Grover Cleveland).

It may break your heart, but the larger anecdote will flame out spectacularly when Michigan's win total easily exceeds Notre Dame's (Weis went 3-8 in year three) in 2013.

But the truth is that despite the numerous coincidences, Hoke will turn out nothing like Weis, much as he was never anything like Rodriguez. Aside from his decided phlegmatic advantage, he's just a much better coach.


Comments Show All Comments

DMcDougal24's picture

"Great article, Remus"
-Coach Hoke
For real though, the chart of similarities between Hoke and Weis is hilarious, especially the shirt size.

Boxley's picture

Ahhhhh, the tales we see during the off-season.
I greatly miss the Bourbon tales, uhmm I mean 'The Situational" series. I learned more about drinking there in the 12 plus weeks than in four years of college.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Sarah's picture

I used that same Kennedy/Lincoln link in my Skull Session today. Coincidence?!

Well, yes. (Ramzy can be Thomas Jefferson, who admitted Ohio to the Union. I'll be James Madison, since I'm the same height as he was.)

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Wow - total coincidence. Another one of our same-brain moments.

yrro's picture

Well.. the perfect hire, given that their first choice dropped them like a bad habit to go coach in the super bowl.

Hovenaut's picture

"Surplus Caloric Intake"

Let this not be the last time we read those words.

How very fatt.....flattering.

osu07asu10's picture



Caloric Intake: Surplus

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, that maniacal guy laughing in his cube at work...

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

meddler's picture

Here's to the next ten-year war: May it define my mid-life.

Location: Ann Arbor

jthiel09's picture

The comparisons and the humor sprinkled in there (Shirt Size: tent, Caloric Intake: Surplus) have yet again made me "that guy" at work where people can here me laughing in my cube. 
Thanks Ramzy, another well written and equally hilarious article. 


toad1204's picture

You had me at tent

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

Evansvillebuckeye's picture

Little known fact - when Hoke's ancestors immigrated from wherever it is such people are bred, their name was shortened at Ellis Island (as with many people) - thus the Hocakes became the Hokes - lending more truth to the saying - you are what you eat....go Bucks!!

bucknasty13's picture

That's absurd.  There's no way they're dropping cakes...

Hoody Wayes's picture

Fortunately for Michigan's athletic department budget, Hoke isn't being rumored for NFL jobs the way Weis was. He'll be on the Wolverines' sideline for a long time.
Not necessarily. Regarding Hoke, I know of a growing schism within the MClub. This predates his first season and has much to do with failing to get Les Miles and getting RichRod. Of course, the tag team of Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman earned their share of the blame for the bad Wolverine football that ensued. And while many alumni are glad those two are gone/going, they have fixed their gaze upon Hoke - an uninspiring choice to many. These folks think it's possible he will face Ohio State three times in the next two years. I hear if he loses all three - he'll be out. This faction longs for former-Schembechlerite Dave Brandon to bring back another guy who played for Bo and Blue: Les Miles. 

penult's picture

I think he was implying that at least Michigan isn't in a position where it needs to pony up for a big contract, which could backfire later, to keep their coach as Notre Fame did with Weis.

nickma71's picture

Michigan didn't slide in 2012. 2011 was an aberration. Schedule and a lot of luck, not to mention motivation from the change in scenery. And I don't like seeing him pick up recruits. I just hope he is a failure like Weis at developing talent. And I don't care about what is allegedly good for the Big Ten. If they go 0-12, I will enjoy every second of it.

NC_Buckeye's picture

This. ^
The 2011 Michigan team lucked their way into a BCS bowl playing the weakest VT team I can remember. (VT lost twice to Clemson -- the same Clemson that was annihilated by WVU in the Orange Bowl to the tune of 70-33.)
That same Michigan squad lost at MSU and Iowa and were an incomplete pass away from losing to Fickell's squad in AA.
And I agree with Nick. When the Wolverines suck, the air is crisper, the stars shine brighter. Screw the B1G's perception. It's already in the crapper.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Brilliant comparison! Hoke won't go 3-9 in his third year like Weis did at ND, but this will be the year that the grumblings out of AA start to become audible.

canzior's picture

Lol seriously?  Have you seen that schedule?  10 wins is likely 

BuckeyeNation's picture

Anyone remember the Super Friends cartoon from the late 70's? My first thought when I seen that main picture was...
"Wonder Twin powers, activate"  

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture


"Wonder Twin powers, activate" 

That was actually the working title. Dumped it because of excessive corniness and "two of a kind" intersected with the genesis of the story, which happened in Vegas.


Doc's picture

And here I thought you were making a Sistine Chapel reference.

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Maestro's picture

"Wonder Twin powers activate!!!"
"Shape of a giant douchebag!!!"
"Form of a slightly smaller giant douchebag!!!"

vacuuming sucks

Hovenaut's picture

"Form of,

A open, yet customer free Golden Corral."

"Shape of,

An industrial-sized sno-cone machine."

Maestro's picture

Oops, didn't see yours first Hovenaut.  Well done.

vacuuming sucks

Menexenus's picture

(and if you're wondering which coach would be Lincoln and who is Kennedy, the answer is Weis is William Howard Taft and Hoke is Grover Cleveland).


Real fans stay for Carmen.

okiebuck's picture

Considering meatchicken's first two choices; Les The Hat and Hairball turned them down cold;  I guess you could say Hoke is a good "program steward" but a great coach; pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez; spare me the hyperbole. Urban will OWN him for as long as he's coaching TOSU; you can take that to the bank.  

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

Poison nuts's picture

Earlier this year, I was talking to another member here about the OSU basketball team. After the Indiana home loss, he guaranteed me that OSU wouldn't even make it to the tourney. He said they would lose almost every game from there on. Although I disagreed completely, he told me I could "take it to the bank". I think Urban will do very well against the rival, but guarantees give me the willies...Here's to you being right.

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

IBleedSandG's picture

Shirt size: Tent | Husky