The State of the Program

We have officially entered the put up or shut up phase of Brady Hoke’s tenure. This season, which started with so much promise, ended Saturday with more questions than answBoba Fetters. We are left to pick up the pieces of another disappointing 4+ loss campaign, and while the team is largely young (how many times have we heard that the past 5 years???) an offensive line that has been destroyed much of the year, loses its best two players. A receiving corps loses two of its top three receivers. ‎Like his play or not, you lose your top RB in terms of yards in Fitz Touissant.

While I’m not a “call sports radio and demand my coach be fired” kind of guy, I believe in excellence for my Alma mater. Both on and off the field. When Dave Brandon completed his “process”, he hired Brady Hoke, and paraded him in front of the world. Told us how he had the man that would lead Michigan for the foreseeable future. Brady stands up, talks about how he would have walked here, how Michigan is an elite job and an elite program. I mean, this is “Michigan, Fergodsakes.”  And while he is right, that it is a program that has an elite history, this program is as far from being elite as any teams in the B1G not named OSU or MSU. But no season ticket holder will argue that they don’t pay like it’s an elite program. And pricing goes up most every year. Even though most fans won’t see an increase in their ticket pricing this year, the 60% or so of them who first got a PSL this year, will get the full rate in 2014 (double what this year’s was).

Now I love Brady Hoke, mind you. Most anyone would send their sons to play for him, merely because there are few who have the integrity that Brady does (which is becoming rarer in college football).  But outside of the offensive line, few can argue that Rich Rodriguez left the cupboard far more full than when he found it, in spite of his obvious issues. Take away a 2011 season where seemingly everything fell Brady’s way, fans have been left holding the bag.  ‎A schedule where most all of their difficult games are on the road next year doesn’t bode too well. It’s time for the staff AND David Brandon to be held accountable. 8-4 and 7-5 are becoming the norm and not the exception. With annual schedules including the likes of UCONN, Akron and CMU on it, 9 wins should be the floor, not the ceiling most years. Michigan is in jeopardy of losing a generation of fans, which in terms of what’s important to the AD, a generation of future donors. Al Glick and Steve Ross won’t live forever, you know. It’s time to put up or shut up in 2014. And that starts today.

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Red Letter Games

When Dave Brandon fired Rich Rod, he laid out his measures for evaluating coaches. One of those measures was the coach’s record in “red letter games.”

“If you want to be successful at Michigan, you better win more than your share of those ‘red-letter games.’”

Brandon identified the follow opponents as red letter games*:

Notre DameWisconsin
Michigan StatePenn State
Any Bowl Opponents 

*Nebraska wasn’t in the conference at the time he made his comments but I can guarantee they would have been included in the list of schools if they were.Brady Hoke

Michigan has yet to play its bowl game but Brady Hoke’s 3 year record in "red letter games”, including Nebraska, stands at 7-11 (3-9 the over the last 2 seasons). Now that’s certainly better than the 3-15 record posted by Rodriguez but significantly below Brandon’s standard. As we sit at the end of year 3, the measures of success move from individual season analysis to multi-year, trend analysis.

Does that mean it’s time to fire Hoke? Not necessarily, and based on Brandon’s press release earlier in the week it does not sound like that’s going to happen anytime soon. What it does mean is that Brady Hoke, and by extension Michigan, is failing at one of the key trend measures in evaluating success.

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Profile for 2015 U of M Commit George Campbell

Name: George Campbell

Position: Wide Receiver

Height & Weight: 6’ 4” 185lbs.

High School: East Lake Eagles


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Mark Dantonio Press Conference Notes

Notes from Mark Dantonio Tuesday Press Conference (10/29)

Opening statement: “In this state you either grow up green or you grow up blue … Its a game we point timageo every year. Great rivalry game … They have a great football team, this game, the stakes get higher, has a meaning with bowl implications. Will be a great football game. A hard hitting game with a lot of emotion.”

On the toughness: “I’m going to worry about our football team. That game in 2011 was a tough game with a lot of emotion. Things spun out of control a little bit. We are going to play tough and within the rules and the refs have to control the game.”

On Devin Gardner: “I think that our feelings are that Devin Gardner can make a lot of plays in space and run though a  lot of tackles.  They do a lot of things that didn’t do with Denard. They run more of a power game now than prior to. A key component game will be controlling his running game and throwing to Gallon and Funchess.”

On Gardner vs. Robinson: “They are both excellent players, can’t refute what Denard Robinson was able to do in his career.”

Respect for Brady Hoke: “Just because you like someone in the family, doesn’t mean you like the entire family. I have great respect for Brady and his coaching abilities.”

On having Michigan in-state: “We’ve got great programs throughout he Midwest. We compete with Michigan every single day whether recruiting or for funding. I’ve never really thought about it like that. It is what it is. Based on my count, we’re up.”

On match-up problems Funchess creates: “A big body receiver down the field. A mismatch Tight end that can be moved around and they do. Has great hands with power. I think he’s a big part of their offense. Big time plays.”

On the four wins in a row making it a rivalry: “For it truly to a be rivalry. It can’t be one sided. When its more competitive, things take on a new meaning. Need to back up words.”

On Michigan paying for skywriting: “I did see that they had paid for it. What can you say. Why get me started. You guys know the drill.”

Anything positive from losing last year: “When you look at 2012, in all of the football games we played, they were so close. We just ran out of time. We took one on the chin vs. them and credit U of M for that. I was very proud of our team, but we came up short. I thought it was a great, tough, hard-nosed football game.”

Gold symbols on jerseys in practice: “An opportunity to look at different jerseys for next year. That was for Nike.”

On Connor Cook: “I think he is resilient. I have a lot of confidence in him. How high can he go. It will be exciting for him and he’ll have a lot of anxiety. After the first snap, you have to get down to playing the game.”

Does Michigan have an identity: “Winning. They find a way to win. Their defense flies around. They give up 90 yards a game running. A well coached team. They want to run power football. That’s toughness, they will go at you, they are right on. Football is a physical game. If you have two opponents putting on their best performances, physicality is involved.”

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Brady Hoke – Michigan State – Press Conference Notes

Brady Hoke:

On MSU: “They are a good football team. I think they’ve come a long way from earlier in the season … Their whole offense has really taken off and you can see it … Their defense is as good as any and that’s going to be a real challenge for us. Playing up in East Lansing is always a little bit of a challenge … We are excited, it’s going to be a fun week.”

On physicality: “We’ve been inconsistent in that department … I think there were 27 of them who were in East Lansing two years ago, they understand that it is physical … and it starts with the physicality that Michigan State will play with.”

Importance of this game: “It is an important football game when you look at where we want to be and where they want to be at the end of November.”

What needs to improve: “Our special teams need to get better. I don’t think we’ve punted the ball as well as we need to … Big plays, defensively, we can’t give up those big plays and we can’t have lapses … From an offensive standpoint you always want to be able to have a running game”.”

On building an identity: “There is no doubt that I think every part of this game, from offense to the defense and every fabric of whatever it is, you are going to find something out about your team.”

On Devin Gardner: “You can’t give the ball away, and I think they lead the conference in turnover margin, but we’ve got to do a great job of taking care of the football, a great job of decision-making.”

On MSU’s offense: “I think their offensive line is better, I think they are playing better together as a group. I think Langford is a very patient back … I think the quarterback situation is settled now and there’s not a question of who’s going to play and who’s not going to play.”

On MSU: “We don’t like them, either. This isn’t an admiration society. It’s a great rivalry. You’ve got two teams that are about 45 miles apart and that’s what it is.”

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