Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon writes blog posts for the Michigan athletic website from time to time regarding pertinent issues surrounding the university’s sports. And his most recent post was in defense of and showing support for Michigan football coach Brady Hoke.
It’s a kind and understandable statement from the athletic director, especially with the heat Hoke has taken from Michigan fans who’ve grown impatient and frustrated with this 7-4 football team.
Brandon admits that this team isn’t where the fans want it to be and he acknowledges that the coaches, players and staff feel the same way.
“If you saw how hard everyone inside Schembechler Hall works every day, you would understand why they are disappointed,” Brandon wrote. “They pour their lives into developing these young people to prepare them to compete at the highest level and consistently win.”
Brandon then compared Hoke to some pretty successful coaches.
He pointed out that Nick Saban was fourth in the SEC West during his fourth year at Alabama (though he fails to mention that it was also a 10-win season for the Crimson Tide and Alabama had won a national title the season before). Brandon also brought up Jim Harbaugh, who had two losing seasons before putting Stanford on the map.
“I have seen firsthand what Brady and his coaching staff are doing to make this program better,” Brandon wrote. “It takes time and sometimes patience by all of us before we can build the consistent winner that meets our expectations.”
The sentiments themselves aren’t surprising at all. However, the timing seems a bit odd.
It’s just a few days before the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry game. Obviously, if the Wolverines were to lose badly to the Buckeyes on Saturday, the rumor mill would spill over following the game about Hoke’s future at Michigan.
Brandon’s blog has squashed all of those rumors before they could even possibly begin.
But on top of that, the timing seems even a bit more curious considering Michigan’s top commit in the 2014 class -- defensive back Jabrill Peppers, the No. 2 recruit in the nation -- announced this week that he would be taking official visits following his season.
Peppers hasn’t signed with Michigan yet so it can’t officially acknowledge him, but some of the quotes seem a bit pointed especially when considering that Peppers told ESPN.com that he just wanted to take a look at other options because of the rumors he has heard about Hoke’s unsure future.
“The only threat to our continued success in recruiting,” Brandon wrote, “is the same old, tired tactic being used by some who wish to see us fail -- to try and scare young recruits into believing that our coach ‘is on the hot seat’ -- which simply isn't true.”
If Peppers does choose to take his official visits, he will be in violation of Hoke’s no-visit policy, which says that any commit who chooses to take a visit after giving his verbal to Michigan will no longer be considered a commit.
The Wolverines have lost players because of this, such as tight end Pharaoh Brown, who chose to take a visit and eventually commit to Oregon after giving Michigan his verbal commitment. But, for players like offensive lineman David Dawson, who committed to Michigan then had his recruitment reopened, it didn’t work out quite the same way. Hoke allowed Dawson to recommit to the Wolverines, showing that it still is a bit of a case-by-case situation, which will likely prove to be true with Peppers as well.
An athletic director standing up for his head coach and publicly showing support is no surprise, and perhaps there shouldn’t be any surprise in this day and age that it came in the form of a 1,000-word blog post.
However, the company he has now put Hoke in and the timing of it all seems a bit more curious.