Michigan Football: How Long Is Brady Hoke's Leash?

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Michigan Football: How Long Is Brady Hoke's Leash?
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Brady Hoke's 19-0 streak at The Big House was snapped this past Saturday by Nebraska (17-13).

It's not going to get any longer, that much is almost certain. 

No, after dropping games to in-state rival Michigan State and Legends Division foe Nebraska, Michigan coach Brady Hoke probably doesn't have a whole lot of room left for error. 

Of course, the Wolverines wouldn't un-cuff Hoke from his position during the season. And it's not even certain that his position will be in jeopardy.

It is all speculation at this point.

But there is logic behind that speculation, and betting people should place a wager on Hoke's seat warming up should his team fail to deliver inspiring and gutsy performances from this point forward. 

Grade your confidence in Hoke, with "A" being fully confident.

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The 29-6 loss to the Spartans, the fifth in the past six meetings, was alarming. Hoke's team, not to mention Hoke himself, appeared grossly underprepared for one of the season's pivotal matches.

OK, it was an embarrassing defeat, but it could have been rectified by a hyper-week of X's and O's prior to meeting the Huskers.

But that didn't happen—again, another smudge on 2013, but this time the setback submarined Hoke's unbeaten streak at home; his 19-0 run ruined after Team 134's 17-13 loss to Nebraska, a team facing an uncertain future without star quarterback Taylor Martinez. 

How many defeats this season will it take for Hoke to be further questioned?

How many more close calls with the real "little brothers" of college football—the brave lower-tier programs willing to take a beating on national television all in the name of exposure and money—will it take for Michigan to reconsider its relationship with its head coach? 

That topic is being tossed around locally and nationally by just about everyone, from the mid-sized newspapers to the big-time personalities of sports media. 

The Oakland Press' Pat Caputo, also of 97.1 FM-Detroit, thinks Hoke's time could be near. 

Jason Whitlock, a well-known columnist loved or hated for his controversial takes, blasted the Wolverines earlier this past week, calling into question the true makeup of Team 134, a group that he admitted to not being fully familiar with. 

Over the weekend, after facing a shroud of criticism from Michigan-based media members for his harsh words, Whitlock announced that he has confidence in Hoke, one of his closest friends. He never said that he didn't have confidence in Hoke in the first place, just that he didn't have it in Hoke's players.

 

Are You Supporting Team 134's Coach?

Facebook has pages devoted to propping Hoke. But some don't come across as the, "yeah, we're winning, go Hoke!" type of page. It's more like a "hey, hang in there, coach...we're with you...but we're getting kind of impatient" page. 

Comments vary—it's an attempt to rally fans, that's for sure. But it appears that even Joe Fan is nearing a breaking point. 

Compelled to lend a hand after the loss to the Spartans, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon let it be known that Hoke was the "right guy" for the program, according to the Associated Press. 

Did he sense a little tension? He didn't publicly promote Hoke after losing to Penn State. Getting beaten by another "State" did the trick. 

Nonetheless, all of this qualifies as a form of support, which may not last much longer if something doesn't give.

Hoke has said that he has to coach better—about 12 times after losing to Nebraska—and quickly accepted blame for his team's shortcomings. He's not in denial. He knows that times are tough. But the tough get going, or something like that...right? 

Expect louder calls from the stands should Hoke lose this weekend to Northwestern. Three consecutive letdowns would add to the already snowballing momentum of the anti-Hoke contingent. 

 

Enough Time?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hoke's had top-10 recruiting classes since taking over Michigan in 2011, the year that he coached Rich Rodriguez's talent to an 11-2 record and Sugar Bowl victory. In 2012, Hoke's team went 8-5. This year, it's 6-3 (2-3 Big Ten).

He's lost two of three to Michigan State. He's 1-1 against Ohio State, and will most likely be 1-2 come Nov. 30. 

Hoke has some of his own in the system, but his top guys are from the RichRod regime—Jeremy Gallon, Fitz Toussaint, Taylor Lewan and Devin Gardner, just to name a few. 

When will his players make noise? 

Blaming Rodriguez must stop. The excuse of "Rodriguez left the cupboard bare" is getting old, and it's simply not true. Granted, the O- and D-lines weren't stocked up to par, but his guys won 11 games with a new coach.

He mismanaged talent that was left by Lloyd Carr and couldn't get his own to rise above.

Subsequently, he was asked to leave. But not before holding a Josh Groban-inspired event in order to save his hide. 

Hoke is getting higher-caliber talent, on paper, than Rodriguez had. Where's the excuse now? 

When Hoke pulls a kumbaya, you know that he knows his time is limited. Don't expect that to happen anytime soon, though. Michigan probably won't can him after this season. He may have to clean house and pick up new staffers. 

It all depends on how the Wolverines finish the season. Three losses prior to making a so-so bowl game could prompt Brandon to change direction with another head man of Michigan Football. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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