Brady Hoke talking points (some serious, some not, some conjecture, some fact):
Brady Hoke reunited an alumni base that had fractured during the RichRod reign. His Michigan Man-ness has allowed the alumni to support the team with no reservations.
Brady Hoke picked up a legendary defensive coordinator with gobs of experience who turned a motley unit of undersized players into a gang-tackling machine.
Brady Hoke is slowly putting the man-ball back in the Michigan offense.
Brady Hoke doesn't meddle in the defense, allowing Greg Mattison to pull his Baltimore Ravens voodoo tricks on a unit that was so so so bad for two years and has been quite good in 2011-12.
Brady Hoke gave Notre Dame the "chickening out" treatment after the Irish decided to stop playing UM. Attacking Notre Dame = good PR (Always).
"I felt like the right time to do it," he said. "My mom liked Michigan. My grandma liked Michigan."
And, despite his praise for MSU coach Mark Dantonio, who he called one of the best coaches he's met, he dropped a dagger.
"The best players from Michigan go to Michigan," he said.
On Saturday, that was enough to get a hug from Brady Hoke and have the rest of the U-M coaches jumping up and down.
Brady Hoke quite obviously eats sleep and drinks Michigan Football. This isn't a stepping stone job.
Brady Hoke's bluster and meatiness have made him a punch-line. The whole "Ohio" thing is immature and unneeded. And - wear a coat in 15 degree weather please.
Thanks to a couple lucky bounces and another coach's players, Hoke picked up a BCS win in his first year at Michigan, along with an 11 win season.
Faced with a tough 2012 schedule, Hoke waffled on his quarterback situation in the name of "who gives me the chance to win games." This led to a star performer (Gardner) being marooned on Wide Receiver Island until an injury forced Hoke's hand.
Al Borges tanked the Ohio State game with his playcalling. Hoke quickly defended Borges, even though it was another high-profile game in which the offense fell apart in 2012.
To a certain extent, a coach can control things like recruiting, national image, press conferences, development of players, playcalling. But how much credit Hoke should receive for certain aspects of the program is debatable. 2011 could have gone a couple different ways, record-wise, but the Wolverines won close game after close game. Greg Mattison probably came to Michigan because, well, Michigan, but Hoke hasn't gotten in the way of the defense. Recruits are coming to Michigan and then recruiting for Michigan - this is a good sign, but should Hoke get credit for that kind of panache?
Hoke, Mattison, Borges...#NoTwitter
@JeffHecklinski is the Wide Receivers coach, mentioned by a few recruits as their main contact individual at UM.
@DarrellFunk coaches the O-Line, the Wolverine unit that will be most under the microscope in 2013.
When researching these various individuals coaching for Michigan, there's an overarching concept I found: These guys all sound like friendly, let's go get a beer and talk football guys. Here's an example from Borges:
What would happen if -- let's say there's a run play that has pass component as the counter punch. If the run wasn't successful, could you still call the pass?
"Doesn't work that way. Because you have to understand the residual effect of football plays. This is very difficult for fans to understand. And I'm not being condescending, because it would be for me if I were [a fan].
"People sometimes don't understand the value of a failed play. Sometimes the defense overdefends a play and gives you another play by doing so. So you may run a run in there and it doesn't gain anything, and obviously people say, ‘Quit running the ball up the middle!' How many times do you hear that? ‘Don't run the ball up the middle!' Well sometimes running up the ball up the middle will afford you the opportunity to pull the ball out and throw the ball down the field, because people are so aggressive with playing that play up the middle. I call it the residual effect of football plays. What's the leftover effect of what we just did?
"If both plays don't work, then you probably have a problem. Either the plan wasn't good or your execution's off. There's only two ways plays fail. The plan isn't good or your execution is lousy. Overdefended, underexecuted. That's why plays fail. But you have to understand that a play, just because it fails, doesn't mean it's a bad play. It may give you something down the line. For example, if you ran the ball into the line of scrimmage and gained a half a yard. But the play-action pass off that play gained 35 yards. What's the average of the two plays?"
"Would you take that?"
I'd take that.
"Not a man in the world wouldn't. And that's why you have to understand, that's how it works sometimes. It costs something at times to get to that 35-yard gain."
That kind of confidence and openness is rare. Michigan's "family atmosphere" has been mentioned by multiple recruits and you've got to believe that starts with the coaches.
I interviewed RichRod back in 2010. While talking with folks in Schembechler Hall and talking with Rich beforehand, I can say that everyone in the Michigan program was most definitely not on the same page. This new coaching staff, led by Hoke and supported by Dave Brandon, are most definitely on the same page when it comes to a program-wide attitude.