Across the nation, there were many raised eyebrows when Brady Hoke was named head football coach of the University of Michigan. Many thought Brady was not the “big name” that Michigan needed to turn things around.
Yet, most true-blue Michigan fans and others in-the-know would agree, Michigan didn’t need a big name…they just needed a good coach. And that’s what I believe we have now with Brady Hoke and here are my reasons why.
MIDWESTERN AND MICHIGAN ROOTS
Brady Hoke was born in Dayton, Ohio. His father played at Miami of Ohio and was coached by Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. For most people, that fact alone would be pedigree enough to someday earn the head coaching job at the University of Michigan, but in this case it was only the beginning.
Brady played his college football at Ball State in Indiana. His leadership skills were noticed early as he was named captain of the 1980 team.
The “Hoke” began his coaching career in 1982 at Yorktown, Indiana as the defensive coordinator and the offensive line coach at Yorktown High School.
Brady’s college coaching career started in 1983 when he accepted the position of defensive line coach at Grand Valley State in Michigan. A year later he moved on to become Western Michigan’s defensive line coach under the tutelage of Jack Harbaugh, a position he held until 1986.
From 1987 to 1989 Brady Hoke coached the linebackers at Toledo in Ohio. Brady Hoke then left Toledo, Ohio and the midwest region and accepted an assistant coach position at Oregon State of which he stayed on until 1994.
After the Oregon State stint, Brady Hoke returned home again and was hired on as an assistant coach at Michigan in 1995. Brady also coached the defensive ends for two seasons and was soon promoted to defensive line coach and held that title until 2002. In 2002, Lloyd Carr named Brady Hoke associate head coach, the only coach on Michigan staff with that distinction.
In 2003, Brady Hoke made the decision to leave the Michigan family and advance his career by accepting the head football coach position at Ball State, his alma mater. He remained at Ball State until 2008. But during his final year, Brady Hoke molded and guided the Cardinals to their first ever 12-0 undefeated regular season and an appearance in the MAC title game held at Ford Field in Michigan.
It was due to this success that Brady Hoke began earning his national reputation as being a quality coach, and the Michigan pedigree only helped. In 2009, Brady made another move to advance his skills and increase his notoriety in the coaching world when he left the MAC Conference and accepted the head coach position at San Diego State University of the Mountain West Conference.
In 2 years time, Brady Hoke guided the Aztecs to their first post-season bowl win since the 1969 season when San Diego State beat Navy 35-14 in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl.
In 28 years, Brady Hoke held only two jobs without Midwestern ties…the assistant coach job at Oregon State and the head coach job at San Diego State.
Brady Hoke knows Midwestern views and values. He is a blue collar man that respects friends, family and tradition. He knows what that means to us. It is important and he gets it!
Since taking over at Michigan, Brady Hoke has reached out extensively to the Wolverine community. On the Friday before the spring game, Coach Hoke invited 375 former players to attend a “team meeting”. An estimated 250 players accepted that invitation. Braylon Edward’s — one of the former players in attendance — was quoted as saying that coach Hoke’s message stressed “tradition” and “the legacy of Michigan football.” One of the main reasons the former players were invited was to pass on, get involved with and/or educate the current players on the tradition and legacy of Michigan football. Brady took this action on his own.
Many other players such as Butch Woolfolk have also been impressed with Coach Hoke’s enthusiasm and style. Ron Bellamy, a former Michigan receiver said Brady’s meetings and practices had a “Bo Schembechler/Lloyd Carr atmosphere.”
It doesn’t stop there. Since being hired, Brady Hoke has reached out to the community in other ways. Coach and a number of staff members attended the “Sound Mind Sound Body Camp” at Southfield High School, in Southfield, Michigan this summer. They assisted the players in the classroom and in the field.
The camp featured 700 kids throughout the Midwest and Detroit. This camp was not just about football drills. It was designed to help the athlete prepare for college. It gave them a free ACT prep course, as well as academic and football support throughout the years to come. Coach Hoke not only cares about the athlete, he cares about the person. He knows only a small percentage of student athletes will make it to the NFL, so he wants to make sure the athletes are educated and informed so they may move on successfully in life after football.
Coach and his staff continue to reach out to former players.
The Michigan staff conducted meetings called “socials” that were held in various cities around the country. The meetings were informal with no agenda. Coach Hoke is trying to get ideas on how to make Michigan Football better and how to bring the football community back together. This was another Hoke idea.
His wife are family are also contributing to the community. Brady Hoke’s wife Laura, is a co-chair on the Michigan Women’s Football Academy. The academy, among other things, helps fund and support the patient and family during the trying times of cancer treatment. They help with treatments not covered by insurance. This was a sold-out event but the work goes on throughout the year. Laura and family have been active in other community events.
These are just a few examples of how Brady Hoke has reached out and contributed to the Michigan community that he cares so much about.
Coach Brady Hoke’s recruiting prowess is being recognized around the nation. As of August 15th, Michigan had received its’ 22nd verbal commitment for the 2012 class. There are some big names in that class as well, such as 4-star recruits OL Eric Magnuson out of California and OL Kyle Kalis from Ohio. At the time of this publishing, ESPN ranked Michigan’s recruiting class fifth in the nation and first in the Big Ten. Maxpreps.com says Michigan has the number one recruiting class in the nation for 2012.
In addition, Michigan already has a verbal commitment for 2013 from highly rated quarterback Shane Morris from Warren De La Salle. Coach Hoke is paving the way for many successful years ahead for the Michigan football program and his results already prove recruiting quality players will not be an issue.
And if that were not enough, there is the rest of the coaching staff that Brady Hoke has put together that has also been instrumental on the recruiting trail. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison too has been singled out by many of the top defensive recruits as one of the reasons for them being excited to join the family of Wolverines in Ann Arbor. What a team!
The recruiting train is rolling and will continue to gain momentum as the years go on.
As for the actual football…remember, Brady Hoke has tasted the national championship champagne at Michigan before as coach during the 1997 title run. He knows first hand what it takes to build a winning program.
Brady at heart is a defensive minded coach, stressing the defensive line and the offensive line as one of the more important pieces of the puzzle. It’s evident by Coach Hoke’s recent recruiting strategy that being a dominate force on the offensive and defensive line will be key to any future Michigan success.
Brady Hoke’s offense will be going back to the basics with a fullback, tight-end, power running game and the quarterback taking snaps from under center.
He is preaching toughness, effort and accountability to the players.
Coach Hoke has been working diligently with the defense this spring and summer. I expect the defense will be more aggressive and take more chances. It will have the stop-the-run first approach. There is no denying the fact that last year Michigan’s defense was one of the worst in Michigan history — in the history of college football even! That will not continue.
MICHIGAN FAMILY FIRST
We all have been guilty — I’m sure — of piling on Ohio State over their recent woes. Coach Hoke is using a different approach. He is using the scandal as a teaching tool for his players and staff. He is educating his team “on a daily basis on the different things” that may distract a college athlete.
Coach Hoke and his staff also play a major part in the senior leadership program. Coaches and players meet and talk about life, football and the influence that the seniors have over other players, families and fans. They stress to the players how important it is being the senior class and they emphasize what the last year of eligibility at Michigan can be and should be all about.
These are the kinds of values and teachings that players respond to. Players are not just pawns in a chess game. Brady Hoke and his staff care about the Michigan football “family” and they care about each and every player the coaching staff has the honor to lead and develop. The maturity and leadership is now firmly in place.
Not only is Brady Hoke a great organizer and football mind, he is a great speaker and motivator. One of his many strong traits is his ability to communicate with his players, coaches, media and fans. Upper-management at Michigan believes in and is committed to Brady Hoke. A six year contract tells that story. Coach Hoke isn’t going anywhere for a while if ever at all.
Before the spring game, at the Friday “team meeting” Coach Brady Hoke said the following, “There are too many legacies out there, the tradition…this will be the 132nd season, it’s the winningest program in college football. There are too many good things that go on here at the university, that go on in Schembechler Hall for us not to be united and arm and arm and locked in together. It comes down to everyone understanding the vision and the direction and us being Michigan.”
Brady Hoke has been mentored by Bo, Lloyd and the other Michigan greats and that makes him a true “Michigan Man.” Brady Hoke is Michigan football, he is us!
To this Michigan fan that says it all.