“His belief and his fight and him coming to work hasn’t wavered one bit,” Gardner said. “No matter has happened, lose, win, the Sugar Bowl or no bowl game, he’s come to work every day and worked hard with us. And we got to respect him for that. And we love him for that.”
Hoke, who has career 31-20 record at Michigan, finished 5-7 and U-M will not be playing in a bowl for the third time since 1975.
Gardner, however, wouldn’t comment if Hoke should stay or not and simply deferred to Hoke’s qualities as a coach.
“I don’t make those type of decisions,” Gardner said. “I just know he’s a great coach. And he’s coached us hard. And we’ve tried to execute it, it just worked out the way we thought it would.”
Fourth-year junior center Jack Miller, who has been one of the more vocal players for Michigan, says the off the field distractions brought the team “together” this season, and gives credit to Hoke.
“I’ve been on teams and I know a lot of teams would’ve torn apart the locker room, guys would have been upset with each other, blamed each other – and that never happened,” Miller said. “That was real. I’m being honest with you guys. And that’s a testament to coach Hoke with his leadership and the rest of the staff. And the leaders in the locker room, too.
“It was tough, it seemed every time you turned around there was something new you had to come talk about. It brought the guys closer together, they’ll never waver.”