Michigan Football: Has Brady Hoke Taken Back Seat to Basketball, John Beilein?

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIJanuary 26, 2014

Winners of five of the past seven against Michigan State, John Beilein’s Michigan Wolverines are taking care of business on the basketball court.

Despite bowing to Louisville in the 2013 national championship, his team is riding high after its 80-75 win Saturday over No. 3-ranked Michigan State in East Lansing; it's in first place and should be formidable come March Madness. 

Losers of five of the past six on the football field, Brady Hoke’s Wolverines aren’t competing with the Spartans—or anyone else.

If this past fall's 29-6 pummeling was a sign, another in-state series victory could be two or more years down the road. To this dismay of fans, Hoke's beaten Ohio State once, and "The Game" has lost some of its appeal.

Today, it's Spartans vs. Buckeyes that settles Big Ten championships. 

At the moment, Hoke is the No. 2 or No. 3 football coach in the Great Lakes State. Making matters worse, he's not even No. 1 in his own yard, a rarity for a Michigan football coach. 

Nope, that spot belongs to Beilein. 

Needless to say, the post-Rich Rodriguez rebuilding phase hasn't gone as planned. 


Beilein's Doing it Better

While Hoke stumbles, Beilein crafts a program.

Success hasn't been instant. Since arriving in 2007, Beilein's had to work for it. Like Hoke, he struggled for the majority of his first three years. Implementing his system and taking control allowed for a turnaround in Year 4. 

It's been relatively smooth sailing ever since. 

With a bright future in sight, Hoke coached his way to a win in the 2011 BCS Sugar Bowl. All was well, and more greatness was on the way. 

Or so most thought. 

Instead of following with another round of revival, Hoke went 8-5 and 7-6.

Beilein needed four years, and if Hoke is to follow suit, he must win at least nine games this year or take a back seat to the round ball.

Of course, 135 years of tradition won’t allow football to take a true back seat, but that doesn’t mean Hoke won’t slip to No. 2 at his own school.

But maybe that's already happened. 


Troubling Times?

Saturday, Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press reported that releases were granted to Thomas Rawls, Josh Furman and Richard Ash. 

Neither of the three played much. Losing Rawls, though, hurts depth at running back, especially if Michigan refrains from taking one in 2014.

Transfers happen. Not everyone makes it through. However, the recent spurt of releases paired with decommits from George Campbell, a 5-star 2015 wideout, and Damien Harris, a 5-star running back, is alarming. 

Meanwhile, the Spartans are gaining interest. So much, in fact, that the once-unattainables are eyeing East Lansing. That trend was supposed to be a limited byproduct of the RichRod era, but it hasn't been. 

Despite a 7-6 finish in 2012, Dantonio is proving that he's built a steady 10-win power capable of taking the Big Ten each fall.

No wonder Malik McDowell and Ohio State-commit Jamarco Jones have announced visits, per Allen Trieu, special to the Detroit News. McDowell visited East Lansing this past weekend, and Jones plans to in the near future. 

Instead of "Michigan lands 5-star" headlines, it's "Beilein, Wolverines notch third win over top 10 team." With national signing day around the corner, Hoke can't afford anything but his public's full attention. 

But it's too busy watching basketball. 


Memorable 2014

Jabrill Peppers. 

That's what Michigan and Hoke have going for them. 

As the 247Sports' No. 1-ranked athlete, the Paramus Catholic (N.J.) Heisman-winner-in-the-making has the potential to skyrocket Michigan football. 

Of course, that's the line tagged to a high-end recruit each year; such optimism should be approached with caution.

But Peppers really is special. He's gained "praise" from former NFL player/coach Herm Edwards, per Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com, and he's dazzled Deion Sanders. Greg Mattison has a rare talent to work into the defense. Conversely, Doug Nussmeier has another option on offense. 

Extremely versatile, Peppers could be a backfield option due to thinning stock, or he could fill in as a receiver. Corner and safety aren't his only homes. 

January is the month of the Hoke recruit. They'll certainly bring talent to Ann Arbor, but Drake Harris, Noah Furbush and Michael Ferns don't seem to be top priorities—Beilein's bench is getting more looks. 

Being a two-sport power says a lot. Beilein's doing his part to get the Wolverines on par with the Buckeyes and Spartans.

Hoke's not having such luck. 


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


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