Why Michigan Wolverines football coaching search should begin immediately


Barring a miracle, the Michigan Wolverines football team will have a new head coach in early January.

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Saturday’s depressing 30-14 loss to the Minnesota Gophers not only exposed Michigan’s many flaws, it squelched what little optimism remained among the Wolverine faithful.

There’s no doubt Brady Hoke will finish the season, but the possibility of job-saving wins over Michigan State and Ohio State seem remote at best.

Michigan will be making its third coaching search in the last seven seasons.

First search since 1969

When Lloyd Carr retired after the 2007 season, then athletic director Bill Martin was forced to find a football coach for the first time since Bo Schembecher was hired in 1969.

Current LSU coach Les Miles was the only serious candidate, but last-minute communication glitch forced Martin to settle for Rich Rodriguez, who made enough enemies to cause new AD Dave Brandon to dump him after three seasons.

Brandon too, centered his search on Miles, in addition to then Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. A deal failed to materialize with either, so Brandon eventually hired Hoke, a little- known head coach at San Diego State who was an assistant at Michigan from 1995-2002.

The newly-crowned “Michigan Man” had the press, boosters, current players, ex-players and fans on his side from his passionate opening press conference. He brought in a staff featuring two well known and experienced coordinators, Greg Mattison and Al Borges.

Top-5 classes

Hoke put his recruiting hat on, salvaged the 2011 class then followed that with Top-5 classes in 2011 and 2012.

Sep 27, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke on the sideline in the first half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Michigan Stadium. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

His first team in 2011 finished 11-2 including wins over Ohio State and then Virginia Tech in the BCS Sugar Bowl.

Then the wheels came off.

Michigan opened the 2012 season with a crushing 41-14 loss to Alabama,  but things got worse as an elbow injury to quarterback Denard Robinson began to expose the deficiencies the Wolverines still exhibit today.

NFL for Robinson, Lewan, Schofield

Robinson, now a second-year running back with the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, could do what Devin Gardner often couldn’t—make something out of nothing—with or without an offensive line.

As the transition from Robinson to Gardner began, the porous offensive line broke down. And by the middle of the 2013 season, it may have been the worst in the nation. On two occasions, the Wolverines rushed for negative yardage. And they did it with two offensive linemen, Taylor Lewan and Mike Schofield, who now play in the NFL.

So how does Hoke fix it? He scapegoats offensive coordinator Al Borges and keeps offensive line coach Darrell Funk.

One look at Saturday’s loss to Minnesota further illustrates the problem. Gardner who has plenty of natural ability, was benched in favor of sophomore quarterback Shane Morris. The stat line for Morris read: seven completions, 19 attempts, 49 yards, one interception and  numerous injuries.

Derrick Green, Michigan’s highly recruited inside runner, had nowhere to go, gaining six yards on six carries.

Ask Bart Starr

And all of this was against a Minnesota defensive line which will never compared to the 1962 Detroit Lions “Fearsome Foursome” (Roger Brown, Alex Karras, Darris McCord, Sam Williams).

Hoke’s problems go on and on.

Offensively, Minnesota came into the game with gifted running back David Cobb and a sub-par passing attack. Any football strategist would call for the defense to key on Cobb and let the quarterback beat you with his arm.

Hmmm. Cobb ran for 183 yards against a listless Michigan defense which has forced, mind you, two turnovers the entire season.

In comparison, Michigan has thrown nine interceptions and lost five fumbles.

This Wolverine football team is in deep, deep trouble. Considering the success of the last two coaching searches, Brandon needs to form a search committee this afternoon, if not sooner.

Listen to my Michigan comments on NBC sports radio tonight at 7pm. Here’s the link to the Chris Mannix show. I promise to keep my sarcasm to a minimum. http://nbcsportsradio.com/

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