Michigan AD: Hoke Not Going Anywhere
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon on Wednesday took to the internet to defend head football coach Brady Hoke.
The Wolverines are 26-11 under Hoke, who became coach in 2011, though the team is in danger of a 3-5 finish in the Big Ten this season as well as finishing with fewer wins for a second consecutive season.
That's created speculation that Hoke's job could be at stake against Ohio State on Saturday, which Brandon moved to squelch this week.
"Brady Hoke is our coach and will be leading our football program well into the future. There is no question about it," Brandon wrote on Michigan's athletics website. "Brady has done a great job rebuilding the program and reshaping the culture to the level it was under coaches Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Anyone making efforts to stir up a coaching controversy at Michigan is ill-informed and is likely promoting a personal agenda that is not in the best interest of Michigan Football."
Brandon stressed patience while not backing down from expectations, citing Nick Saban's Alabama tenure and Jim Harbaugh's Stanford tenure as examples of dominant programs that took a few years to emerge.
The athletic director went on to predict Hoke "will finish his career at Michigan as one of the most successful coaches in our program's storied history." Michigan reporters have found the timing curious. The Wolverines are 16.5-point underdogs to the Buckeyes, according to the Las Vegas Hilton.
Also, days before the Brandon blog, Michigan's top commitment, defensive back Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J.), announced he'll visit other schools after his season ends. More than one reporter connected the dots between that news and a particular portion of the blog.
"... The only threat to our continued success in recruiting is the same old, tired tactic being used by some who wish to see us fail -- to try and scare young recruits into believing that our coach 'is on the hot seat' -- which simply isn't true. In fact, this is the same guy that was Big Ten and national coach of the year two seasons ago," Brandon wrote.
Michigan is taking a proactive approach to prevent rumors and questions from surrounding the team and shore up recruiting efforts. It's also a sign that the administration is realistic about expectations for the team in 2013, which programs with similar history have shown isn't the easiest thing to do. Rich Rodriguez went 15-22 at UM, and considering the team's youth this year and the transition toward Hoke's preferred schemes, perhaps Brandon has a point.
But if the Wolverines fall big to Ohio State as many expect, and perhaps struggle in a bowl (CBS Sports' Jerry Palm projects UM in the Gator Bowl against Ole Miss), plenty of the fan base will be disgruntled. Will they buy Brandon's arguments then?
No matter what, it seems Hoke will return to Michigan in 2014, but he'll need to do enough next year to avoid what almost certainly would be the unemployment line.