Past Michigan Wolverines football coaches didn't exactly have an easy road to league supremacy, but Brady Hoke could end up facing the most difficult and trying path of any Wolverines head man in history.
The Big Ten recently announced that it intends to throw out its traditional eight-game conference schedule and institute a nine- or 10-game docket starting in the fall of 2014.
Of course, the move is being made to accommodate incoming members Maryland and Rutgers, but it's a logical move nonetheless: The "play (or attempt to play) everybody" philosophy comes into play here.
The Big Ten released a statement saying that it may not include FCS teams in its preseason meetings, too.
That would take care of one game a year for most programs. That decision would cost the Wolverines an easy victory (unless it's Appalachian State) each fall, but it would open up a Saturday to play a higher-quality opponent—or even a conference opponent, under the proposed extension.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany released a statement saying that he's in favor of the potential change to a beefier league schedule.
After meeting with coaches and athletic directors, the Big Ten will look at nine- and 10-game options for future conference football schedules. As a conference we want to play each other more, not less, and an increase in the number of games will help accomplish that goal. The Big Ten will continue meeting with school representatives in the coming months to present a proposal to the Council of Presidents/Chancellors in June
A more robust league.
And, perhaps, the most important factor: more revenue (fancy saying for tons more dollars).
But how does this present a challenge for Hoke? He's not the only B1G coach who will face a dilemma, but he'll have his work cut out for him more so, possibly, than any other coach in Ann Arbor.
Lloyd Carr, Gary Moeller and Bo Schembechler were fortunate enough to avoid navigating through nine- and 10-game intraconference territory.
Not only will the schedule be a trick to master, but maintaining a comfortable atmosphere for his student-athletes could get complicated.
Hoke has dealt with pressure—the juggling act that comes with coaching at the Division I level—during his tenures at Ball State and San Diego State, but doing so at Michigan will surely have its share of hurdles: Strenuous travel and the mindset of athletes are among his top concerns.
Hoke addressed the issue during a recent interview while talking to reporters at a Michigan Football Alumni Dinner (via TheWolverine.com):
My biggest concern is always going to be for the student-athlete. We got home three times at 3:00 a.m. last year or later. One time at 5:00 a.m. [Dallas], and wear and tear on their bodies … because the only way you heal is with rest. They're student-athletes still.
Now, at Ball State our last year, we played in eight night games. We were playing Monday thru Friday with the MAC on TV. And then at San Diego State, we played a number of night games.
As a coach, you have to think about your players first, but you understand the trending in college football. I'm sure it would be worth it for the league to have some premier games at night from a financial package, media rights
The obvious upside of this proposed equation is exposure. The rights to these potential prime-time events could be a hearty undertaking for media outlets to obtain, thus creating a financially lucrative scenario for league heavyweights like Michigan and Ohio State.
Hoke has a firm grasp on his No. 1 job: bringing back Michigan to its previous form. He's won 19 games in two seasons and coached the Wolverines in two bowl games (1-1). He's bringing in the top-notch prep stars (No. 5-ranked class according to 247Sports) to fuel his program.
Let's see how he handles weekend trips to the Eastern Seaboard, a possible increase in late-night competition and a more rigorous league schedule—the proposed scenario will surely test his mettle, making him one of the most battle-tested Wolverines coaches to ever roam the sidelines at The Big House.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81