Past Michigan success partially to blame for Brady Hoke’s dilemma


After dropping a 23-16 decision to Maryland (7-4, 4-3) that would have placed Michigan in a post-season bowl, the Wolverines must upset the Buckeyes in Columbus Saturday (Nov. 29) to qualify for post-season play.

A victory over the arch-rival Buckeyes would shock the college football world,  knock the Buckeyes from a chance at the national title and maybe salvage Brady Hoke’s coaching job.

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Winning next week would be quite a stretch, however,  considering that Michigan (5-6. 3-4) was crushed by Notre Dame and Michigan State earlier in the year, and the Wolverines under Hoke are just 2-5 combined against the rival Spartans and Buckeyes. Rich Rodriguez, who took over for Lloyd Carr in 2008, was winless in six combined attempts vs. MSU and OSU.

While stats and previous results sometimes mean nothing when it comes to the “The Game,” look for the Buckeyes to be close to 17-point favorites when the betting lines are posted early this week.

Michigan’s failures

Brady Hoke, who actually defeated Ohio State in his first season and came within a point a season ago, is taking the lumps from some of Michigan’s previous failures—and successes.

“We’re not getting the results we grew to expect,” said Jamie Morris (1984-87), the shifty running back who is third on Michigan’s all-time career rushing list with 4,393 yards. “As Michigan football players, we’re taught that what you do on the field is what you are.

“I don’t think we’ve gotten soft, we’ve just gone through changes,” Morris told the Detroit News. “We were spoiled by 40, 45 years of having the same coaches, and then we made a total change of personnel and then another change real quick after that.”

The era Morris was referring to was from 1969 to 2007. Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller, and Lloyd Carr won 260 games, lost  just 101, with eight ties between them. That translates into 9.2 wins and 2.6 losses per year.

21 Big Ten titles

During that 39-year period, Michigan won or shared 21 Big Ten titles.

You can almost fault the hiring of Bo Schembechler for making the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry bigger than life. Schembechler, who previously played and coached for Ohio State’s gruff, obnoxious but lovable coach W.W. Hayes, had quite a season for a first-year head coach.

Schembechler, whose last stop was at Miami (Ohio), produced a formidable 7-2 record  going into the game at Michigan Stadium. He also had an axe to grind over Woody’s behavior a year earlier.  While Woody was handing exiting Michigan coach Bump Elliott an old fashioned beating, he unnecessarily went for a two-point conversion during the 50-20 win.

The 50-point total became Bo’s rallying point as Michigan prepared for cocky Woody (Hayes).


Bo and his assistants hung a few “50s” in the locker room hoping to keep it secret. But somehow, “50s” began showing up around campus and the Michigan student body vowed revenge.

Smug as always, Woody and the Buckeyes arrived in town with the 1968 national championship, a 22-game winning streak and  the No. 1 national ranking.


With a boisterous crowd behind them, the Wolverines played inspired football and upset the Bucks, 24-12.

This year’s 8-1 Ohio State group has already clinched the Big Ten Eastern Division crown, and laid a 49-37 victory on the Spartans just a few weeks ago.

So it’s almost unfair to think that Hoke’s job might depend on a bunch of 18 and 19-year-old kids trying to play the game of their lives.

What’s great about this rivalry is that these kids can pull it off.

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