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Can Brady Hoke bring Michigan back to elite status?

Brady Hoke SSH

Should Brady Hoke still get a pass as he tries to undo the damage Rich Rodriguez did to the Michigan program? Or should he be help accountable for the mess we’re still seeing in Ann Arbor?

Michigan fans are losing patience, though Big Ten fans are also getting frustrated. Sure, as an Ohio State fan, it’s always fun to watch the Buckeyes stomp Michigan, and that has become a regular occurrence in the past 15 years. But the strength of the conference is seriously compromised when Michigan consistently plays like Purdue. Beating Michigan becomes an afterthought as opposed to a quality win that impresses around the country.

Jason Whitlock is a friend of Hoke’s, and he believes that Hoke will ultimately be successful at Michigan, but he has some harsh words for what’s going on now with the programs.

Brady Hoke, lost in the riches of Michigan, has momentarily lost who he is.

Hoke walked on at Ball State. No one wanted him. He turned himself into a starting linebacker on the 1978 Ball State team that finished 10-1. He was the captain of the 1980 squad.

As coach at Ball State, he didn’t have an office. The school barely supported the football program. He took a bunch of kids few programs wanted, won a dozen games, and produced a crop of players that included three NFL offensive linemen, an NFL tight end, an NFL quarterback, and a receiver who would’ve played in the league if not for a neck injury. At San Diego State, he did the exact same thing, and the Aztecs didn’t even have their own stadium.

Brady Hoke is an underdog. He has an attitude, a chip. He’s self-made. He always has something to prove. It’s one of the reasons he connects with Tom Brady, a kid Hoke recruited to Michigan, a QB who plays with a massive chip in the NFL.

For three straight years, Hoke has been a recruiting star, landing high-profile recruits from all across the country, swiping talent from Ohio State and other blue-chip programs. Hoke might get the No. 1 class in 2014.

He’s five-star struck. On the recruiting trail, he has sacrificed character, grit and maturity for ratings stars. His top recruit in 2013, freshman running back Derrick Green, reported to camp 20 pounds overweight. Green is soft. On Saturday, the 245-pounder dove at the ankles of a blitzing linebacker and whiffed. Green barely plays.

He goes on to rip other Michigan recruits from the Hoke era along with stars on the team like Taylor Lewan who he accuses of “coasting.” I have no idea whether Whitlock is right here. He may be going too easy on his friend and taking out his frustrations on the players. Would Urban Meyer be having these problems?

Bob Wojnowski is harsher when evaluating Hoke, blaming the problems at Michigan on “poor coaching.”

Hoke came to town with some bluster and bravado, refusing to call “Ohio State” by its proper name bu instead just saying “Ohio.” Perhaps he should focus more on fundamentals as opposed to making waves at press conferences. In the end, the losses with drown out everything else.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Urban Meyer on a roll at Ohio State

After a 12-0 first season and a very good recruiting class last year, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes coaching staff responded with an even better recruiting class this year. The class was ranked from 1-4 depending on the publication, but signing day coups like getting 5-star safety Vonn Bell helped make this a stellar class. Meyer is obsessed with competing with the SEC, so it will be interesting if the Buckeyes can get a shot in 2013.

What was Brady Hoke thinking?

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see the Alabama-Michigan game last Saturday night in person at Cowboys Stadium. Here’s the view from our luxury box, and yes, the stadium is as impressive as you’ve heard. Jerry Jones has done at least one thing right in the last 15 years.

As an Ohio State fan, I wasn’t very thrilled about the match-up, though of course these are two of the most storied programs in college football. Nick Saban has Alabama at the top of the mountain, while Brady Hoke is trying to rescue Michigan from the RichRod debacle.

Michigan fans were thrilled with last year’s 11-2 record, but many of them and the “experts” around the country were a little too giddy about Michigan’s prospects for this season. Michigan didn’t beat a top 15 team last year, so that record wasn’t as impressive as it looked.

That said, the team’s performance on Saturday was pathetic, and frankly I blame the coaching staff. Sure, Alabama is clearly the better team, but Brady Hoke has Denard Robinson, and he’s the kind of player that can change a college football game in seconds with his explosiveness.

Last year I wrote about Michigan’s dilemma with Denard Robinson. Brady Hoke wanted to run a pro-style offense, but he had one of the best running quarterbacks in the country. Well, Hoke tried to have it both ways for a while, but on Saturday he and his staff called plays as if they had Tom Brady under center instead of Robinson. The result was ugly with incompletions and brutal interceptions. Hoke specifically avoided Robinson’s best play – sending the receivers deep and then tucking the ball and running.

We’ll see if Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges realize they blew it with the game plan. Hoke likes to run his mouth, and he’s gotten plenty of support following RichRod, posting 11 wins and then beating Ohio State. But now Urban Meyer is in Columbus, and he seems to know how to use his dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller. Hoke’s support in Michigan will start to whither if he can’t find a way to unleash Robinson and starts losing to his Big Ten rivals.

The recruiting wars

Urban Meyer. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Urban Meyer made quite a splash with a monster recruiting class at Ohio State, but some of his fellow coaches in the Big Ten weren’t too happy that he came in and “flipped” players. The whining from Bret Bielema and Mark Dantonio seemed a bit much according to David Whitley, who pointed out that recruits had every right to change their minds after a coach of Meyer’s caliber joined Ohio State.

But Whitley makes a larger point – that the Big Ten has much more honorable recruiting practices than the SEC. Yes, the SEC is currently winning all the titles, but Whitley points out some pretty pathetic actions by Les Miles and Nick Saban. The oversigning has gotten out of control.

Hopefully the push by the Big Ten towards 4-year scholarships will put even more pressure on the SEC to clean up its act.

Urban Meyer and Ohio State

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) is tackled by Wisconsin lineman Kevin Claxton (9) during the second quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio, October 29, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Ohio State has scheduled a press conference for 5:15 to announce Urban Meyer as the new head coach of the Buckeyes. This is naturally a coup for Ohio State, even though the hire comes with some risk. We’ve seen that Urban Meyer can be a little flaky, and all indications are that he’ll be trying to achieve a work/life balance with this new job that he never achieved in Florida. Can he be as successful without be obsessive with his devotion and time? We’ll see. Will he stick it out if things get tough? Who knows.

That said, it’s a great fit as Meyer is from Ohio and this is his dream job.

Todd McShay has an excellent analysis of Meyer’s approach to coaching and his offense and how that fits with the current Buckeye roster. You need a membership on ESPN to read the whole thing but it’s definitely worth it. McShay is an excellent analyst and I always learn something reading his stuff. Bottom line – Meyer will probably work right away to recruit more versatile and speedy playmakers to fit into an already talented roster. But, it looks like he has his quarterback:

So what does all that mean for the Buckeyes’ talented true freshman QB, Braxton Miller? It means it’s time to go to work.

I think Miller is loaded with talent and he has the ideal physical skill set to excel in Meyer’s system. He has a big, sturdy frame and still has room to add muscle. Miller has very good arm strength (check out his 54-yard TD strike against Michigan) and he’s a more sudden athlete than former Buckeyes QB Terrelle Pryor.

From what I’m told, Miller also has a strong work ethic, leadership potential and toughness (both mental and physical). If that proves to be the case, winning a national championship and a Heisman Trophy are attainable goals for Miller. But he needs to be willing to pay the toll — and it won’t be cheap.

Miller showed a lot this season, and he also showed where he needs to put in serious work. He is a great runner. He’s very elusive with devastating cutting ability. Terrelle Pryor was a beast once he got going, but Miller is better in tight spaces. He can also throw the ball, but he missed three open throws against Michigan that would have changed the game. He has to work on his accuracy, and since he was a true freshman we can all expect him to improve in that area.

The Buckeyes will be replacing their starting center and two starting tackles next year, so there will likely be some growing pains. But the overall roster is stacked with talent. If Meyer can bring in a couple of playmakers, the Buckeyes will be dangerous right away.

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