Michigan Football Recruiting: Will Brady Hoke Continue Reign over Mark Dantonio?
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Insults have been a part of the Michigan-Michigan State football rivalry for many years.
What's surprising is where the chatter comes from.
Followers of the rivalry recall when Michigan State coach Darryl Rogers called Michigan fans “arrogant asses” and Wolverine tailback Michael Hart called the Spartan football team “little brother.”
Hart's 2007 comment followed Michigan's sixth consecutive win over the Spartans. It didn't sit well with new Spartan coach Mark Dantonio.
"If they want to mock us, I'm telling them, it's not over," Dantonio told The Michigan Daily. "They can print all that crap they want all over their locker room. It's not over. It'll never be over here. It's just starting."
It's been claimed that Dantonio's rant turned the tables, but in reality it turned out that Michigan hired the wrong football coach.
As a recruiter, Rich Rodriguez neglected the state of Michigan. While he lasted in Ann Arbor only three years, Rodriguez landed seven of the State's players ranked in Scout.com's Top 10 while Dantonio signed 13.
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When Brady Hoke took over in 2011, he vowed to change the landscape. "Our lifeblood has to be in the Midwest and it has to be in Michigan," Hoke told Rivals.com.
In the two-plus years since, Hoke made a huge difference. Dantonio's only been able to land seven of Michigan's best players, while Hoke signed 14.
It wasn't anything new for Hoke. A Michigan assistant from 1995-2002. Hoke and his assistants were about rebuilding relationships with Michigan's high school coaches.
Whether it was Cass Tech or Catholic Central, Michigan would soon become familiar again.
In fact, Michigan invaded perennial Michigan State stronghold Farmington Hills Harrison in 2012 and signed two players—Mario Ojemudia and Devin Funchess—while the Spartans landed only one.
"That's the way we used to build it when I first got here, Michigan assistant Fred Jackson told ann arbor.com. “Obviously Bo (Schembechler) knew what the hell he was doing. And then Gary (Moeller) and Lloyd (Carr), that's what they did."
So the old system is working again. With their added success in Michigan, the Wolverines were able to assemble Scout.com's No. 4 and No. 2 classes in 2012 and 2013.
Even before Hoke's invasion, Michigan State's classes rarely got high marks by the recruiting services,
“It’s not really where you come in at, I think that’s the thing that we talk to our recruits about a lot,” Dantonio told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s not really where you come in at, it’s where you finish. ...We should be the experts if we’re taking these guys. We need to be concerned about the guys that we’re taking, not the guys we’re losing out on, and that’s been the basic idea and premise here that we’ve started with and we’ve always tried to do that.”
There are many different ways to measure the value of a recruit or a recruiting class. Hoke can “out-recruit” Dantonio every year according to the recruiting services, but there’s only one measurement that matters, and that’s on the scoreboard.
So far, each coach has one win apiece with hopefully several more to come.
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