Multiple sources have confirmed to GoBlueWolverine that interim athletic director Jim Hackett will meet with Hoke sometime before the fourth-year Michigan headman meets with his team at 3pm. During that one-on-one Hackett is expected to deliver his decision.
Since taking over Michigan’s athletic director duties from beleaguered predecessor Dave Brandon last month, Jim Hackett’s top priority has reportedly been meticulously evaluating Brady Hoke’s football program. For many in an angst-ridden fan base the job is seen as a fairly simple one. Hoke’s tenure began in 2011 with a promising 11-2 record, including a Sugar Bowl win. But the on-field performance declined every year since. The Wolverines were 8-5 in 2012, 7-6 in 2013, and 5-7 in 2014. Making matters worse is the 4-8 record against rivals Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
Despite those overt signs of regression, Hoke insists his program is headed in the right direction. After Saturday’s loss to Ohio State he shared the basis for that opinion with the media, and will likely do the same when he sits down with Hackett.
“I know it is (headed in the right direction),” Hoke said. “I know it is because of the youth that we have on our football team. 56 guys are in our two-deep, and 50 of them are coming back. We were 11-2 and we had 15 fifth-year seniors. We had three this year. There is a lot to be said when you look at the maturity of your team experience wise. So we got a lot of guys who got a lot of experience. Even guys who didn’t play this year because they are in a program and are learning an offense and are learning a defense.”
Based on Hackett’s comments in his own media address before the Michigan’s home match-up with Maryland on November 22nd, Hoke may find his boss’ ear somewhat sympathetic.
“Every football coach that I’ve known in my life… and I’ve known more than one that I played for… I would tell you it’s always not obvious all the variables that they are managing in a very complex way to have the best outcomes they can,” said Hackett. “There’s probably always two stories; there’s what our fans see on the field and then there’s things that they don’t see that they have to manage through.”
“I think in Brady’s case, for example, the progress we’re making in academics is the best in recent times under Brady, so he’s managing that, the kind of values he stands for… that really matters in a football program. He’s managing that and of course he’s dealing with things like a quarterbacks down or somebody can’t play… and when you mix all that up, that’s what defines great coaches.”
But in the final analysis, coaches are largely judged on the bottom line. Hackett implied that that type of binary assessment would be employed when evaluating Michigan’s end of season performance.
“We have two more games, one of them a red letter game in a really important rivalry,” Hackett said before the loss to Maryland. “And when that’s all done it won’t be vague or unclear about where we stand.”
“I’ll also emphasize we’re not where we need to be and (Hoke) knows that. The coaching staff knows that.”
And tomorrow they’ll find likely find out if that will cost them their jobs.