Big Ten Breakdown 2012: Michigan Wolverines, Part 1, Overview
How one year has turned the tides in Ann Arbor.
At about this time last year, most predictions for Brady Hoke's maiden voyage ranged from middle-of-the-road—such as Bleacher Report's Joel Greer's prognostication of 8-4—to relatively dire—Locksmith Sports' prediction that UM would finish fifth in the Big Ten West.
It's hard to recall even one prediction in which UM fared better than eight wins, unless said prediction was made by a homer that was basing his prediction less on hard information and more on emotion. (Incidentally, I was on the eight-win tip).
In fact, any respective reader would be hard-pressed to find a prediction that had UM winning less than nine games. Unless, of course, said "analyst" were an Ohio State or Michigan State fan.
Which begs the question, is this year's Michigan squad as overrated as last year's squad was underrated?
With a Heisman candidate at quarterback, an experienced O-line, a returning defensive back seven, special teams that have a clue what they're doing and a second-year head coach as competent as Rich Rodriguez was inept; certainly, the accolades are appropriate and the Wolverines are back on the road to glory.
Nevertheless, it is still Hoke's second season, and with Dantonio setting new standards in East Lansing and a new sheriff in town in Columbus, it is premature to hand Hoke and his Wolverines the gold star.
2011 Record: 11-2
2011 Conference Record: 6-2
2011 Home/Away/Neutral Record: 8-0/2-2/1-0
2011 Record vs. Ranked Teams: 2-1
Record Last Five Seasons: 35-28 (52nd-winningest FBS program over that period of time)
Conference Record Last Five Seasons: 18-22
Home/Away/Neutral Record Last Five Seasons: 24-14/9-13/2-1
Record vs. Ranked Teams Last Five Seasons: 4-16
Best Record Last Five Seasons: 11-2 (2011)
Worst Record Last Five Seasons: 3-9 (2008)
Number of Coaches Last 10 Seasons: Three
Brady Hoke was born, grew up and went to high school in northern Ohio.
Despite his background, Hoke claims, via the Canton Repository, that he has been a Michigan fan since he was 10 years old.
He went to college at Ball State University, where he played linebacker and lettered from 1977-1980.
After graduating, he began his coaching career at the high school level, before becoming the defensive line coach at Grand Valley University in 1983.
In 1984, he moved on to Western Michigan where he was the defensive line coach under Jack Harbaugh. Current-Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and current-Michigan special teams coordinator Dan Ferrigno were also part of the WMU staff.
Hoke became the linebacker coach at Toledo in 1987 and remained there until 1989, when he became defensive line coach at Oregon State under Dave Kragthorpe and later, Jerry Pettibone. During Hoke's time in Corvallis, the Beavers went 15-50-2, making them the ninth-worst program, in terms of winning percentage, in the country during that stretch.
In 1995, Hoke became the Michigan defensive end coach under Gary Moeller and was promoted to defensive line coach in 1997. In 2002, head coach Lloyd Carr named Hoke the "associate head coach," though admittedly, that could mean just about anything. It seems like a glorified title to retain an underling who has a number of options.
If that was the case, it didn't work. It 2003, Hoke became the head coach at Ball State.
When Hoke got there, BSU hadn't had a winning record since 1996.
His first three years were disappointing, as his Cardinals only posted 10 wins. In 2006, Ball State was nominally better, finishing at 5-7.
However, in 2007, things began to turn around. BSU won seven games, which was good enough to secure a bid to the International Bowl.
In 2008, Hoke's Cardinals had a record-setting year. They went 12-0 in the regular season, which was, by far, the program's best record ever.
They also secured their first victory over a BCS opponent—yes, that opponent was Indiana, but it was still a win.
Finally, they found themselves in the top 25 for the first time in school history.
Unfortunately, the season ended with a loss in the conference championship game. Nonetheless, Hoke's star was bright.
In December 2008, he was hired as the head coach of San Diego State. The Aztecs hadn't had a winning record since 1998, and they went 4-8 in Hoke's first season.
In his second season, Hoke improved to 9-4, with all four losses coming by less than a touchdown; two of them to ranked foes.
This leads us to 2011, at which time Michigan found itself with a head football coach vacancy.
The Wolverines went through the who's who of coaching candidates, with Michigan blog Maize n' Brew voicing the unequivocal opinion that "Brady Hoke can't be Michigan's only option. Nor would he be Michigan's best."
As it happened, Maize n' Brew's feelings summed up the opinions of much—though by no means all—of the Michigan faithful, but it didn't matter.
On January 11, 2011, Hoke was named (via ESPN) the 19th head coach of the storied Michigan football program.
The rest, as they say, is history (via Dave Mayo at mlive.com).
Coming next Monday, an overview and breakdown of Michigan's offense.
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