COACHING SEARCH: Brady Hoke

In the coming days and weeks, Hoosier Nation will look at some of the potential candidates for Indiana's vacant football coaching job. Today, we look at the person who most think should be at the very top of Fred Glass' list - San Diego State's Brady Hoke...

The second-year San Diego State coach has compiled a career mark of 46-50, but that doesn't tell the full story of the success he's enjoyed during his seven seasons as a head football coach.

His head coaching career began at Ball State, where he – oddly enough – took over after the school dismissed Bill Lynch after the 2002 season. After four sub-.500 seasons, Hoke led the Cardinals to a 7-5 mark in 2007 and then a 12-1 record during an '08 campaign that saw the Cardinals climb the No. 12 in the national polls. Ball State went to back-to-back bowl games in 2007 and 2008, a first in school history.

That success opened the door at San Diego State, where he inherited a team that had gone 9-27 in the previous three years under former Iowa quarterback and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Chuck Long. After a 4-8 season in 2009, Hoke guided the Aztecs to an 8-4 record this year in the Mountain West Conference and was recently named the conference's coach of the year. They'll be making their first bowl appearance since 1998.

A native of Kettering, Ohio, and a Ball State alum, Hoke's coaching journey has also included D-I stops as an assistant at Western Michigan (D-Line/Special Teams, 1984-86), Toledo (OLBs, 1987-88), Oregon State (DL/LBs, 1989-94) and Michigan (DL, 1995-02). During his Michigan stint he was a member of Coach Lloyd Carr's 1997 staff that guided the Wolverines to the national championship.

Hoke is guaranteed $675,000 annually by San Diego State, which is oddly more than IU was paying Lynch ($600,000). But IU Athletic Director Fred Glass has said that IU is willing to make a bigger financial commitment to get the coach that it wants. How much more of a financial commitment IU is willing to make is unclear (it would seem unlikely that IU would go much over $1 million), but it could probably make an offer that exceeds what Hoke makes at SDSU.

What Makes Him a Viable Candidate:
He's had coaching success in the state of Indiana, which immediately makes him a person you should underline and highlight as a viable candidate. One of the critical elements to success at IU is to be able to do a better job of attracting the best in-state players to Bloomington. The fact that Hoke has relationships with the state's high school coaches from his six seasons in Muncie is a big bonus. There's also little doubt that San Diego State is a stepping stone for Hoke to another program. The Mountain West Conference is also in a bit of disarray – it's going to add Boise State, Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State in football, but it's set to lose Utah to the Pac-10, BYU to the WAC and TCU to the Big East.

What Makes Him a Longshot:
Back when Tom Crean accepted the IU basketball job, one of the big reasons was because, ‘It's Indiana.' Well, the same could be said about why Hoke might not be ready to set up shop in Bloomington. It's a very difficult place to win. Sure, IU has significantly upgraded its facilities, but that only makes it competitive with its Big Ten counterparts in that regard – they don't set them apart. There are a slew of inherent recruiting disadvantages that any coach will have to deal with, and Hoke knows exactly what they are from both is time at Ball State and when he was an assistant at Michigan. He also is a name that pops up on plenty of other radars – he has already met with Minnesota A.D. Joel Maturi about their vacancy (there are conflicting reports about whether or not he's withdrawn his name from consideration), and he'll continue to be a name that programs in need of a coach will look at. That could make him think twice about coming to IU. A San Diego State donor also recently chipped in $5 million specifically to try to dissuade Hoke and his staff from departing.

Hoosier Nation's Take: If Indiana can get him, he appears to be a no-brainer. He's had success building a winner at both of his D-I coaching stops and has led his teams to bowl games in three of the past four seasons. He's familiar with the Big Ten and Indiana landscapes, which is a huge bonus. So there's a lot for Indiana to like about Hoke – but is there enough about Indiana from him to be willing to take on the challenge? Hoke's dream job is probably Michigan, which could come open in a year if Rich Rodriguez struggles again in 2011. Stanford's Jim Harbaugh would probably be the Wolverines' No. 1 choice, but he might also land in the NFL. That could open the door for Hoke. If Hoke continues his run of success at SDSU, he'll continue to get looks from other BCS conference schools in the coming years, which will make him think twice about coming to IU. I'd suspect Hoke is at the very top of IU's list, but Glass will need to do a very good job of convincing Hoke that a consistent winner can be had in Bloomington.


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