Given his team's inability to improve week to week, Brady Hoke is about as far as a coach with a winning record can get from the Coach of the Year discussion.
However, Michigan's head man certainly earned a gold star with the way his team handled Saturday's clock-expiring, field-goal scenario.
A star that might go unwarranted to the casual fan, but to coaches, players and those who understand the precision required to navigate the choppy waters of a dying clock, Hoke's team's execution was nothing short of amazing.
This is an obviously under-celebrated small victory for those sitting in the corner of Sunday-Friday game prep and the devil being in the details, which Hoke pointed out to MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner after the game.
"That tells you about the discipline of these guys playing together," Hoke said. "How they got on the field, how the guys who weren't on the (field goal) team got off the field.
"It might be the best single play I've ever seen, because it was a team play."
Hoke is certainly not wrong here. After all, there were 19 bodies operating in concert to pull that play off.
Sure, the average Joe might scoff at a field goal being a great play, but that Joe is not there in spring ball, at fall camp or during the week. That Joe is not there when, around the nation, teams confuse personnel, burn timeouts, take penalties and blow opportunities because of substitutions.
This is not a case of guys standing on a special teams launch pad with a punt team coach there to count heads. This is not a case of players lining up after a TV timeout with the kickoff return coach helping them figure out which scheme they are going to run.
This is not a high-pressure, game-winning field goal coming out of a kicking team timeout or even an opponent's timeout in an effort to ice the kicker.
This situation was not even as simple as having everyone run off the field and a new 11 run on the field to set up the kick.
The amount of moving pieces in this scenario stacked the odds against Michigan and for the Wolverines to triumph was something quite unique.
The clock ticking down, the offensive linemen who had to stay in the game for the field-goal team, the offensive linemen who had to get out of the game, the other players—receivers, quarterback and running back—who had to get off the field after trying to make a play, the receiver who had to double as the holder for the field goal after running down the field.
Oh, and the kicker who had to set up to try and tie the game.
Pre-snap, with 18 seconds to go, eight Michigan ballplayers know that they have to get to the sidelines if the ball is caught inbounds. That is something that has to be on their minds, in addition to their responsibilities for the current play. The three red stars are players who stay in the game for the field-goal try.
Center Graham Glasgow (No. 61), right tackle Michael Schofield (No. 75) and wide receiver Drew Dileo (No. 9) have to remain in the game, albeit at different spots, for the field-goal attempt. Schofield moves from right tackle to left tackle, Glasgow goes from center to right tackle and Dileo moves from receiver to holder.
Or, in real terms, Schofield goes from the 50-yard line to the 26, while Glasgow has to move from the 47-yard line to the 26. Dileo is nowhere to be seen, but he must get from outside the frame on the left side of the field to the right hash at the 34.
All while the clock is running.
Eight guys out means eight guys in. Three more offensive linemen enter the game: Kyle Kalis (No. 67), Erik Gunderson (No. 69) and Quinton Washington (No. 76). Defenders Joe Bolden (No. 35) and Brennen Beyer (No. 97) enter the game to play the wing backs.
Kicker Brendan Gibbons and long snapper Jareth Glanda get into the ballgame to make it seven.
And then sophomore AJ Williams (No. 84), a reserve tight end, is the final piece of the puzzle. Almost pushing the Wolverines to the brink by getting on the field a bit late, Williams and Dileo are the last pieces of the puzzle for Michigan—sort of.
Guard Kyle Bosch (No. 65) is responsible for the last transition that has to happen for things to go off without a hitch.
Michigan gets it done. The Wolverines get eight guys off the field and eight other players on the field to replace them. Michigan gets Dileo, Schofield and Glasgow to their correct marks as well. The field-goal team gets set and Glanda snaps the ball in the nick of time.
This season has not gone the way the Wolverines have wanted, or expected, it to go. Saturday's struggle with Northwestern was a clear reminder that Michigan is just not a very good football team—especially on offense.
As folks dissect Brady Hoke, moments like the end of regulation on Saturday have to be given the proper praise.
Michigan showed that its players—especially the young guys that make up that field-goal unit—know what they are supposed to do. For Hoke, the goal is to get his team to execute like the field-goal team: making the move from knowing what to do to being able to get it done.
When offense and defense go from knowing but failing to knowing and succeeding, that's when a team has success.