With Team 135 set to kick off the season in 11 days, Fergodsakes.com wanted to review where Brady Hoke ranks, according to the numbers, in the pantheon of Michigan football coaches.
Brady Hoke is 26-13 as Michigan’s Head Coach. Among the nine coaches who have been Head Coach of Michigan football for 39 games, Hoke’s 26 wins ranks tied for seventh.
The immortal Fielding H. Yost leads the way with 38.5 wins (Yost had 38 wins and one tie in his first 39 games; for purposes of counting wins, ties are counted as half of a win). Michigan coaches averaged nearly 30 wins in their first 39 games; the median number of wins in their first 39 games is 31 wins.
Coach Hoke got off to a great start at Michigan, going 11-2 in his first season. Somewhere along the line his trendline tapered off. Where did Hoke stop “keeping up with the Joneses?”
There are three factors that have contributed to Hoke not keeping pace with Michigan coaching legends of the past. The first is the miserable last six games of the 2013 season, starting with the game in East Lansing against Michigan State. Including the bowl game, Michigan was 1-5 in those last six games. Prior to that, Hoke’s trendline was actually tracking above that of Michigan coaches of the past, and was tracking right along with National Championship coaches of the BCS era.
The second factor contributing to Brady Hoke’s record not keeping pace with Michigan coaching legends of the past is the remarkable success of Michigan football. As Head Coach of Michigan football, Hoke has a winning percentage of 0.667 through 39 games, yet this ranks in a tie for seventh out of nine coaches who have coached at least 39 games for the maize and blue. Of the nine head coaches with 39 games under their belt for Michigan, five have won national titles; another is named Schembechler; two others are Gary Moeller and Bump Elliott; and one is Brady Hoke. With Michigan as the leader in total wins in all of college football, Hoke has some incredibly high standards to try to live up to. The college football landscape has changed in the last few decades, and there is more high level competition in any given year than there ever was before. There are incredibly talented players in every NCAA football program. I’m not sure the same could be said for the Yost era, or even the Schembechler era.
The third factor is the Rich Rodriguez Effect. Rodriguez was 15-22 as Michigan’s Head Coach. He coached a total of 37 games for the Wolverines, and his win total dragged down the average number of wins by Michigan coaches through those 37 games. But starting with Game 38, Rodriguez’s record no longer factored into the trendline of wins by Michigan coaches simply because Rodriguez never coached 38 games for Michigan. In short, Hoke’s trendline is now comparing to the more successful Michigan coaches – those who have been around for at least the same number of games as Hoke (39 games entering the 2014 season).
This 2014 season, Hoke’s fourth with Michigan, will be interesting in terms of Hoke’s trendline. Fergodsakes will be tracking it throughout the year.