Last Friday while members of the media toured the newly renovated Schembechler Hall, Brady Hoke took time to reflect on Michigan’s disappointing 7-6 finish last season.
Hoke, speaking with Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News delivered a harsh assessment of his job performance.
"I think I could have been a better leader," he said, adding he should have stepped in more at certain times. "I just think I should have done a much better job. It goes back to consistency."
It’s an honest admission for a coach who has preached personal accountability since arriving in Ann Arbor. Accountability starts at the top and despite the near constant presence of athletic director David Brandon, Hoke is responsible for not stepping in when Michigan’s offense went sideways last season.
The offense was a hot mess from the first quarter of Michigan’s first game versus Central Michigan when offensive coordinator Al Borges chose to run a hurry-up offense to pound the hapless Chippewas.
Hoke, who had claimed that his team was returning to power football, had to rein in Borges from running a gimmick offense when the offensive line desperately needed reps running the ball.
If power football is about imposing a team’s will on an opponent, it was impossible to decipher what Michigan wanted to do from one game to the next.
The inconsistent offensive identity would haunt the team all season as Michigan struggled to identify a consistent offensive threat.
After the season, Hoke moved swiftly to fix the Michigan offense, firing Borges and replacing him with Doug Nussmeier from Alabama.
But Hoke wasn’t the only one to struggle with leadership last season. Offensive tackle and team captain Taylor Lewan allowed his frustration to boil over on the field and was involved in an embarrassing off-the-field incident, distractions that didn't help the team.
The team also missed punter Will Hagerup (suspended prior to the season) and lost place kicker Brendan Gibbons for the bowl game because of an off-the-field incident that occurred before Hoke's tenure.
Hoke not only has higher expectations for himself this season but for his players as well. He has instituted a leadership council made up of four players from each class to meet with him as the team moves forward.
Hoke should be commended for making changes to his program. But the pressure is clearly on for Michigan to compete for the Big Ten title and return to the Rose Bowl—goals Hoke set when he returned to Ann Arbor.
The question hanging over the program is whether the changes are too late to alter the trajectory of this season.
The newly renovated Schembechler Hall pays homage to former Michigan greats and includes a display of Michigan’s past success. But in Ann Arbor those triumphs are starting to feel like something from the distant past. It’s been a decade since the team last won the Big Ten title under coach Lloyd Carr.
As Brady Hoke enters his fourth season Michigan fans are tired of rebuilding—it’s time for results.
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.
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