Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reasonable editorial on Hoke

If you follow my Twitter, you read me basically slitting my wrists publicly on the Internet yesterday after the Brady Hoke hire. Wet Owl was also unimpressed. But with a day to decompress and think about things rationally, I figured it was appropriate to lay out a few thoughts that were OMG HEAD ESSPLODE!

First and foremost, I support Brady Hoke, but I also reserve the right to be violently pissed off about this whole situation. As was one of the memes that undid Rich Rodriguez, this fanbase needs to be unified in its support of its head coach. Rodriguez was a martyr to this cause and Hoke will reap the benefits. Regardless, I will support Hoke from the moment he gets on campus and hope that he succeeds. I do however, hold serious reservations about the success of the program under the David Brandon reign. I don't really know how to quantify the FAIL of this coaching searching, but I've made my feelings on Brandon abundantly clear here.

To that end, Hashiell Dammit is pitch perfect:
This was a decision made out of fear. Fear that the thing you love is dying. Bo left a legacy that defined the second half of the 20th century for the Michigan program. It no longer exists, of course, but it was a damn beautiful thing. Rather than accepting its passage or sending it off with a grand farewell a la HST, the men and women of Schembechler Hall are puttering around an empty house making sure that the coasters are on the coffee table just how Bo liked it and that every Thursday pot roast is served just how Bo wanted it. When there are dozens of coordinators and assistants available that are of vastly greater quality (I mean, I just randomly thought of Clemson’s D-Coord Kevin Steele and checked, and yup, he’s loads better than Hoke) and you choose to go with the distant relative, you are a craven organization.
I suggest you read the entire post. He's right, though: Brandon, and more broadly the entire fanbase, was afraid of never returning to Schembechler-like glory and as such, acted rashly and without reason. Now Hoke is the head coach at Michigan.

Hoke had to be the head coach, though. He was always Brandon's choice, and in retrospect, it was obvious. Brandon's criteria (a defense-first coach with head coaching experience and ties to the Midwest) wasn't so much a way to slim the field of candidates as it was to justify his decision. His candidates--Hoke, Miles, and Harbaugh--were all coaches that would appease the masses on the outset, but only one of them was really a reasonable option. Brandon knew this and played to the fear of the masses. After the last three years, few people balked at Brandon's description that was clearly outlining Hoke; or at least a Carr clone, something that the fan base could probably agree that Michigan doesn't need again.

The concern surrounding Hoke is that he appears to have fallen directly below the coaching tree from which he grew. It's difficult to see the upside for Hoke. He doesn't appear to do either offense or defense exceptionally well, settling instead for base formations and hoping to out perform the opposition. This is what doomed the end of the Carr era and why he always lost the big games. Like we saw in the National Championship game a few days ago, a brilliant tactician is supremely important. With Hoke flatly refusing the spread offense and arguing that it can't work long-term in college football, it's clear that Hoke is not such a tactician. As such, it's difficult to see the team ever eclipsing the late Carr years. But for now, this will be enough to appease the masses until a time comes when Hoke has lost enough to Tressel and people demand his replacement.

In the coming days, I'll be reviewing the performance of Hoke's teams through the years. The early returns are fairly promising, but a closer inspection of just how everything breaks down is necessary.


Backusduo said...

I'd be interested to see you disect the TCU game where they put up 35 points despite only managing 7 first downs, or the Bowl game, where they put up 555 yards of total offense against Navy, or how three turnovers cost them the upset against Utah in a game they dominated.
I too am dissapointed, and as I look at stats, more then underwhelmed at the defense Hoke had this year, but I'm all in for Michigan and looking to see things turn around in AA before I'm 40. Look forward to seeing you take a look at what he does and why we should be optimistic.

Anonymous said...

"He doesn't appear to do either offense or defense exceptionally well..."

Scoring Offense: 19th (35ppg)
Scoring Defense: 36th (22ppg)
Passing Yards: 12th (295ypg)
Rushing Yards: 48th (161ypg)

Chris Gaerig said...

Backusduo: After pulling the stats on all Hoke teams last night, it appears that turnovers are a huge factor for his teams and he shows significant fluctuation from year-to-year. I'll take a look at specific games in the coming weeks if I can find any torrents of them.

Re: those stats. Those are from a fairly successful year this year. We have a much broader data set to pull from and I'll lay it all out tomorrow. Perhaps most interestingly, his defenses appear to suck. There will be charts and maybe a graph or two if you all play nicely.

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