After the disaster that was the Rich Rodriguez era in Ann Arbor, athletic director Dave Brandon selected Brady Hoke from San Diego State to lead the Maize and Blue back to glory.
While Hoke was clearly not the high-profile coach some were looking for Brandon to go out and get, he fulfills one major requirement that not many others do: he is a Michigan man.
There are certain qualities that come into play when you talk about Hoke as a Michigan man. He originally was hired to coach the defensive ends under head coach Gary Moeller in 1995, who resigned following a disorderly conduct arrest. New head coach Lloyd Carr then appointed him in charge of the entire defensive line in 1997, the year of Michigan's last national championship.
To extend the Michigan tradition further, Coach Carr was an assistant coach in Ann Arbor under the illustrious Bo Schembechler. So Hoke is only one generation removed from the most revered man in Michigan football history.
Hoke's link to Schembechler was shown right away—during his first press conference in Ann Arbor, when he quoted Schembechler's famous "The Team" speech. According to Lynn Henning in the Detroit News:
"(Hoke) is straight from the Bo Schembechler-Lloyd Carr schools of football control. Practices are closed, and media are to be kept far behind the moats. His preference is football over just about anything else planet Earth offers, and his players love him. Not because he's soft or cuddly or sympathetic to the tackle they just missed. Rather, it's because they believe in him and the football he coaches."
Now that he is settled in Ann Arbor, one question remains: how will he restore Michigan football to the place it used to be? The first place to look is recruiting.
Hoke has widely been considered a great recruiter and has successfully turned around two struggling programs (Ball State, his alma mater, and San Diego State). Through his time at both Michigan and Ball State, he is comfortable recruiting in the Midwest and will be able to sell Michigan as more than a football team. Hoke lived in Ann Arbor from 1995-2002 when he was coaching under Carr and therefore has an understanding of his surroundings.
He will sell recruits on three things: hard work, tradition and pride. He will have them work hard every day, in practice and in games. He will preach to them about the tradition of the Wolverines, and he will most certainly show them the pride he has to be back in Ann Arbor, working at his dream job.
While it will take a few years for Michigan to revert back to the glory days, the hiring of Brady Hoke is an excellent step in the right direction.
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