Holy Smoke Hoke vs. Good Joke?

“Those who stay will be champions.” Although this idea may be a tough sell to the current University of Michigan Football Team, there is much statistical evidence to support this famous Bo Schembechler quote. However, as of recent, there has been much tension surrounding the performance of the 2014 football team. Students and alumni alike are enraged by the team’s current standings. Over the past four years under Coach Hoke, Michigan football has slowly decreased its win percentage. Recently, the Wolverines suffered another embarrassing loss to bitter in-state rival Michigan State. Throughout the past seven years, the Wolverines have gone 1-6 against the rival Spartans. To top it off, the Wolverines suffered  brutal losses to the likes of Notre Dame, Minnesota, Rutgers, and even Utah. Many believe that Brady Hoke will be canned by the end of the year. In Hoke’s defense, some have claimed that Hoke has only had four seasons to settle in and develop the football program; it takes some coaches over ten years to grease their perspective squads into a well oiled machine.  Due to the growing popularity of football, maybe success can only be evaluated in the long-run. As coaching replacement rumors escalade, I think there needs to be a fair assessment of Hoke’s performance. After all, how is it justified to punish a coach who has not even had enough time to see his own recruits graduate? According to Hobbes, it is not. Yet, many people favor Locke’s idealisms: the government deriving its power from the consent of the governed. In this scenario, Hoke serves as the impartial judge focused on self-preservation. Also, the governed has the right to overthrow the authority when they believe their rights have been compromised. Pertaining to Michigan Football, fans believe that its Michigan’s birthright to be successful in the sport of football. Hoke’s failure to consistently win games and beat rivals gives Michigan Football fanatics every right to moan, groan, and shout “Fire Hoke.” Before making a decision on what form of social justice would be appropriate to administer upon Coach Hoke, let’s further evaluate some important statistics that could either save his job, or make him jobless.

In his theories of social contract, Hobbes argues that people must sacrifice liberty for securit, …”and therein to submit their wills, every one to his will, and their judgments, to his judgment.” In order for security to be attained, an absolute monarch must exist to provide equal protection to citizens. Because people fear death and seek this security, the monarch is not to be held accountable for any decisions he/she makes. In other words, the people are the ones who made a covenant with the monarch, not vice-versa. Thus, according to Hobbes, it would make no sense to condemn the person who was openly given power to provide security. Once that power of authority is given, it cannot simply be taken back or overlooked as a “mistake.” In defense of Coach Hoke, the University of Michigan, with all of its advisors and decision-makers, chose Hoke to be the coach of the football team because they believed he best represented the program as well as provided security because of his ability to establish a winning football program. How can you criticize a man for his performance as a coach when he was hired by the University? If anything, blame the institution for not choosing the right man for the job, not the man himself. In my opinion, Brady Hoke could very well be the right man for the job. Here’s why:

Brady Hoke’s Credentials – 4th Season as Head Coach

Overall Record at Michigan: 31-18

Bowl Games: 2014 Buffalo Wild Wings, 2013 Outback, 2012 Sugar

Bowl Record: 1-2

  • Big Ten Coach of the Year 2011: During his first year, Hoke won over ten games. This was only the second time this has been done by a Michigan Coach.
  • 1 of 8 coaches in College Football History to take a team to a BCS game during the first season as Head Coach

How Other Great Coaches Compare to Hoke

Winning Percentage:

Bo Schembechler: .796    – 247 games coached

LLoyd Carr: .753    – 162 games coached

Brady Hoke: .634     – Only 49 games coached

Bump Elliott: .547     – 95 games coached

If you compare Hoke’s winning percentage to other great Michigan Coaches, he falls in the middle of the pack. In my opinion, this is quite impressive considering how much more competitive college football and recruiting has become.  Michael Oriard elaborates on this concept in his Bowling for Dollars article: “While public attention is always on these top programs, the bottom ones face the most brutal challenges. An infusion of an extra $100 million or $150 million into a couple of conferences—for facilities, coaches’ salaries, academic tutors, and all of the rest—increases the advantages for a few and raises the ante for the other conferences desperate to stay competitive. The programs with the highest revenues can cherry-pick the best athletes…” In other words, Hoke and his program have to compete with several other teams in many different conferences in recruiting top talent. Despite these difficulties, his past three recruiting classes have boasted 5+ ESPN top 300 recruits. The recruiting class for 2015 already has major top prospects, such as a #3 nationally ranked tight end and a #10 nationally ranked athlete. Thus, Hoke’s recruiters have done a wonderful job of selling the program to players in order to obtain top tier talent that can return Michigan Football to greatness. Michigan even copped a 5 star recruit in Jabrill Peppers; Peppers is Michigan’s first 5 star recruit since the Lloyd Carr coaching era.

As a student, although I do not enjoy Michigan Football’s current streak of atrocity, I do not find it just to punish authority figures at the University because of a single athletic team’s downfalls. Yes, football is a big deal at Michigan and great strides should be made to restore Michigan’s reputation as a powerhouse. However, should heads roll as a result? At first, both alumni and students were thrilled with the addition of Brady Hoke; people rejoiced after the 2011 season when Hoke’s Wolverines went 11-2, defeating a mighty Virginia Tech squad in the famed Sugar Bowl. Now, one lackluster season is making people beg for a replacement. Hoke has done many great things for the program and players seem to appreciate his calm demeanor. Sure, some aspects to Hoke’s coaching style could be tweaked. However, it would be completely unjust to fire a man who has already led Michigan to three Bowl Games in his first three seasons as coach, especially when he’s recruited a top 24 recruiting class since becoming head coach.

In my opinion, both Hobbes and Locke could be applied to the situation. In regards to Hobbe’s social contract, Brady Hoke does not deserve any animosity from players, students, or alumni; he is simply doing his job to the best of his ability. Unfortunately, if Michigan Football doesn’t return to the fast track of consecutive BCS Bowl appearances, Locke’s social contract will most likely be upheld by the University, for “whenever the owner, who has given nothing but such a tacit consent to the government, will, by donation, sale, or otherwise, quit the said possession, he is at liberty to go and incorporate himself into any other commonwealth; or to agree with others to begin a new one.”

And to all those students out there who are quick to gripe about the football team and refuse to attend games because the  team is struggling, here’s a quip from Bo: “When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing.”









2 thoughts on “Holy Smoke Hoke vs. Good Joke?

  1. I liked the way in which you presented this article and related it specifically to this class. I believe you’re right in the fact that our administrators who essentially work as representatives for Michigan alumni and students made the decision to hire Hoke, so we have no real justification for complaints. However, I believe that Hoke has not done as well as you make it look in this article, in fact I think many of the statistics you provide could be used against him. For example, you point out the fact that he went 11-2 in his first season, but one could argue that this team was a mere product of Rich Rod. Rich Rod was the one who recruited and developed all of those players before Hoke got there (the offense ran by Hoke was also more RR’s style because D-Rob was so explosive). So if you take away this season he is just 20-16, which is unacceptable as a Michigan head coach. Another one of your points is that he has brought in top recruiting classes, this is great but he has not done anything with these recruiting classes which can be seen as a failure to develop. In other words, he has done a mediocre at best job at Michigan, and as U of M fans we should not settle for mediocre as we are always striving for excellence in every other aspect at this school.


  2. As someone who has stuck with our team and attended the entirety of every game this season. I definitely appreciate what you are saying in this post. However, I do understand why Hoke is taking a fall for this. Although we do have some of the top recruiting classes, it is necessary to follow through on those and coach these players and get them up to a level where they can hold their own against some of the top ranked teams in college football. Also while recruiting is important it is also important to keep those recruits/commits by winning games which Hoke is in my opinion (and the opinion of several commits) not doing enough of. During the game vs. Maryland on Saturday, a fourth player, Mike Weber, decommitted from u of m. Now although Hoke is good for recruitment, this years season sure won’t help him in the future and a new coach may be what it takes to get the Michigan Football team back where it belongs. On Top


Comments are closed.