|I want that. (image via Lumberjocks)|
Here, though, I'll try to adjust some things Michigan needs to do in the coming months, both with the coaching hire as well as the program itself. These items are in no particular order.
- Jim Harbaugh. Okay, this is perhaps obvious, cliched at this point, and a little too singular for this list, but the hiring of Harbaugh would meet almost all of Michigan fans' and administration's expectations. Alumni and recruits are pining for this guy, he's a proven winner at the college and NFL levels, he knows how to succeed at a high-level academic institution, his type of personnel is already in the program, etc.
- Bring back some excitement. Hoke's hiring in 2011 did not light the world on fire, even though he made a very good impact at his introductory press conference in January of that year. Now that the program is in a downward trend, the recruiting has fallen off a cliff (at least in 2015), donations and attendance are dropping, etc., the new coach needs to bring in some excitement. It doesn't necessarily have to be a flashy hire, but the guy has to give fans, recruits, and players a shot in the arm.
- Maintain Michigan's academic standards. One of Rich Rodriguez's failures was recruiting guys who were unable to hack it at Michigan. Especially in the 2010 class, he had numerous guys who didn't qualify, got in trouble, or had academic issues otherwise. Hoke changed that trend, and while the program was on a downward trend, the character of the players is high overall and he was able to retain a large amount of his players. New University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel stresses academics, so anyone who puts academics on the back burner is going to clash with Schlissel.
- Play nice with the media. Much like the media in New York City, the Ann Arbor and Detroit-area media will eat someone alive who makes mistakes. With a reputation for excellence in athletics and academics, Michigan has a relatively unique situation. Rich Rodriguez - with his West Virginia accent and salty on-field language/behavior - drew the ire of media figures, which combined with his losing to cause the Detroit Free Press to launch a full scale investigation into how long Rodriguez was asking his players to stretch before practice. Hoke had his own issues, largely because he was much less open than Rodriguez and didn't share any juicy information. A coach can get away with a lot if he's winning, but a losing coach will find himself under an intimidating microscope. No coach will make 100% of the media happy, so he has to know how to walk the line.
- Avoid scandals. To go along with the item above, a scandal is bad news in Ann Arbor. Jameis Winston cannot exist at Michigan. Johnny Manziel cannot exist at Michigan. Stretching for too long will get the sharks circling. Every college is going to have its share of behavior issues (Michigan has had Frank Clark, Will Hagerup, Brendan Gibbons, Darryl Stonum, etc.), but the fans and administration will require those players to be dealt with fairly, if not harshly.
- Adjust to the personnel. Michigan is built to be a pro-style, multiple tight end, two-back offense. There are no dual-threat quarterbacks on the roster. There are few options for slot types of receivers that people like Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer have used. A new coach either needs to come in with the expectation of installing his offense slowly - and accepting some growing pains - or rolling with the current personnel and what they're capable of doing. Defensively, Michigan has some flexibility with the way they have recruited. Unlike when Rodriguez was here, Michigan has guys who can play nose tackle and defensive end in a 3-man front, enough quality linebackers to run a 3-4, enough talent in the defensive backfield to play with five defensive backs, or the ability to continue running their 4-3 stuff.
- A quarterback. Maybe Michigan's quarterback of the future is already on the roster, or maybe he's finishing up his senior year of high school. Current roster options are limited (Shane Morris and Russell Bellomy have combined to throw for 0 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and Wilton Speight redshirted this past season). Either way, Michigan has arguably been without a "franchise" quarterback since 2007, when Chad Henne was in Ann Arbor. (Denard Robinson's only genuinely good year at quarterback was in 2010, in my opinion.) There are certainly other factors at play, but it's not a coincidence that Michigan has had a 46-42 record since Henne departed.
- Win. Winning cures everything. The sooner, the better. Brady Hoke's 11-2 initial season earned him the 2014 season, in my opinion. If his records had been 8-5, 7-6, and 5-7, he probably wouldn't have been given a fourth year.