The University of Michigan hired Brady Hoke in January 2011 to replace Rich Rodriguez, with the hopes that Hoke could reignite the Wolverines’ once-proud football program. Hoke called the opportunity in Ann Arbor his “dream job,” and with his impressive résumé, which included turning around and rebuilding the football programs at San Diego State and Ball State, everything seemed to be headed in the right direction for Michigan.
Hoke got off to an impressive start, leading the Wolverines to an 11-2 overall record, which featured wins over rivals Notre Dame and Ohio State, as well as a Sugar Bowl win in his first year on the job. He won both Big Ten Coach of the Year awards that year and had massive success on the recruiting trail, bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the country. As it turns out, his first year on the job would be the only year that Michigan reached double-digit wins during the four-year Brady Hoke era.
Hoke’s second season on the job (2012) in Ann Arbor began with incredibly high expectations and ended in disappointment. Michigan entered the season ranked No. 8 in the country, but after a blowout loss to Alabama, the eventual national champions, Michigan never fully recovered. The Wolverines finished the season with an 8-5 record, with losses to rivals Notre Dame and Ohio State and an Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina.
Hoke’s third season leading the Wolverines (2013) can best be described as the definition of mediocrity. They finished the season with a 7-6 overall record after a 5-0 start to the season. Michigan was blown out by its in-state rivals, Michigan State, and again suffered a loss to Ohio State. What was even more alarming was the fact that the Wolverines struggled to a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten Legends division, while Michigan State went on to post a 13-1 season and Ohio State went on to post a 12-2 season.
Hoke was in the hot seat from the beginning of his fourth and final season as head coach of the Michigan football team. The Wolverines struggled with consistency all year and finished the season with a 5-7 record. 2014 will be the first time since 2008 and only the third time since 1975 that Michigan will not be playing in a postseason bowl game. Hoke’s firing became official on Tuesday night, and Michigan is now searching for the 20th head coach in its storied program’s history.
The Brady Hoke era for the Michigan Wolverines football program will ultimately be looked back on with disappointment. After an explosive start to what seemed like a match made in heaven, the excitement quickly fizzled and turned into feelings of disdain.
Hoke will likely land on his feet with a job at a non-Power 5 conference school; Michigan also owes him $3 million. New Michigan Athletic Director Jim Hackett — former A.D. Dave Brandon resigned amid the Wolverines’ struggles on the football field — will be tasked with finding the right person to lead the winningest college football program in NCAA history back into national title contention.