Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Bo's Ghost Haunts Michigan
It is often said that great empires fall because they will stubbornly hang onto dying traditions until they have completely faded away. So as the warriors of the old guard mysteriously reappear, one can't help but wonder if Michigan is holding itself hostage with the hire of Brady Hoke. There's a clear tendency within the Michigan community to feel some sort of misguided commitment to something that doesn't really exist anymore. Jim Brandstatter once said that Bo Schembechler "never compromises his principles". Yet today we transition from a coach who stuck with what he believed in to another that a jilted fan base will hope and pray becomes a carbon copy of a ghost from the past.
I shouldn't have to clarify that I am not trying to demean the Michigan tradition, but I will. I am not trying to demean the Michigan tradition. It's been a part of my life since I can remember. I have all the pictures and books and posters. I know all the players. I know all the stories and how the program came to be what it is today. When we hired Rich Rodriguez, I expected Michigan to open up its arms and welcome him into that tradition until he became an integral part of it. Instead, he immediately became a target before he was even given a chance. A target of the media, former players and sadly enough the man who he replaced. Rodriguez tried his best; just ask Brock Mealer. It was never good enough. If given proper support, I would have fully expected Rodriguez to succeed. Instead, he became a solitary scapegoat of a three year period that will likely be looked upon as the worst in Michigan Football history.
And that leaves us with Hoke. He's ironically the most unproven candidate to take the head coaching position since Schembechler. It's also ironic that he's probably the most important hire since Bo also. If he succeeds, which is certainly plausible, everybody will be happy because winning cures everything. The problem is that he has to succeed, and at a high level. By hiring Hoke, the program has officially become a prisoner of its own ways. If Hoke fails, it will become difficult to hire a satisfactory replacement without overpaying for them; especially if they have no ties to the program. It's become clear to the MSM that factions exist within the program and after seeing what Rodriguez went through it would be hard to convince established outside coaches to come to Ann Arbor.
So today when Brady Hoke is introduced as the 19th head coach in Michigan history, there will be plenty of talk about how this is a return to normal. A true Michigan Man has come back. Instead of looking at is as a return, I'll see this as the day Michigan Football successfully isolated its community and traditions to all but those who have roots in its origin.
Does Dave Brandon think we're stupid?: To say that Hoke was "Plan A" is demeaning to even the casual Michigan fan and I expect this comment to get bashed from all directions. Logic begs Brandon the following question: If he was your first choice, and he clearly wanted to come here, why waste all the time? There's a clear fallacy at play; if Hoke was his first choice, why all the Miles drama? It's clear the "no offer" comments are a weak attempt at a save face. Contrary to Brandon's belief, we're reeling on the recruiting trails and at the very least, could have avoided some of the issues that plague this class if a hire had been made sooner.
Also, why the comments about paying top dollar for a head coach and then turn around and hire a guy making less than $1 million? Again, it's not about fans needing to drop 5 million per on a coach, but there's no way Hoke will be paid nearly that much. Dave Brandon's comments following the RR firing have been inconsistent and could easily be interpreted as insulting to the fans. If this was his gameplan all along, it was a flawed one.