One of the problems with coaching at places like Michigan is dealing with expectations.
About a week and a half ago, I wrote a piece about Nebraska fans and their sense of entitlement that lit a fire under the Husker fan base. Most of what I said in that article could be true for Michigan as well.
There are whispers around the web that indicate that Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke may be on the hot seat. Even if he’s not actually on the hot seat in the eyes of the University of Michigan, his employer, the fact that it’s even being mentioned indicates that a considerable amount of Michigan fans and media feel like he should be.
That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
Less than three seasons ago, Michigan fired Rich Rodriguez after he was only able to win 15 games in three seasons. Obviously, winning five games a year at any school, let alone Michigan, is enough to get you canned.
Enter Brady Hoke, a midwestern guy who knows Michigan and Michigan football. Hoke has spent 14 years of his coaching career in the state of Michigan — ten of them with the Wolverines. In his first three seasons at the helm in Michigan (the third of which in still in progress), Hoke has won 25 games, been to two major bowl games and beat Ohio State once. If the Wolverines only split the rest of their games in 2013, Hoke’s winning percentage at Michigan will be 71 percent. Historically, the University of Michigan has won 72 percent of its games.
As far as beating Ohio State goes, that’s going to be a tall order for Michigan anytime in the near future and something the Wolverine faithful just need to accept. In college football, two coaches stand above everyone else in terms of their ability to recruit, develop talent and win games. One is Nick Saban. The other is Urban Meyer. A win over either should be cause for celebration init of itself. A loss to either should never be the nail in the coffin of a career.
Many will try to create a subplot for this weekend’s game against Nebraska — dubbing it a must win for both coaches in order to save their jobs. I’m here to tell you that’s only the case for Pelini — or at least it better be. Michigan supporters have to ask themselves “If we get rid of Hoke, who replaces him, wins at the same rate, and beats Urban Meyer?”
That’s the big question for any winning program who wants to improve. Do you sacrifice what you know you have for something there is a slight chance you might be able to get? Personally, I only bet on sure things and sure-thing bets are hard to find. Brady Hoke is the surest thing Michigan has had since the first half of Lloyd Carr’s tenure.
I say ride it out, let these recruiting classes grow into upperclassmen and let Hoke do his job. Michigan is back in the national conversation, playing meaningful games in primetime. Brady Hoke is the reason for that and anyone calling for him to be on the hot seat needs to step back and realize what they have — a great football coach.
In 2013, great football coaches are not easy to come by.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON NOVEMBER 8, 2013
Follow @KIAFootball on Twitter.