New Michigan head coach Brady Hoke enters the 2011 season with expectations to pick up the pieces and rebuild the Wolverines. It is not a new position for Hoke, who faced a similar task at Ball State and San Diego State. Hoke was able to do that at both of his previous head coaching stops, but it does not take an expertise in college football to know there will be new levels of pressure in Ann Arbor.
But even the pressure from the Michigan fan base does not equate to the pressure that Hoke has already put on himself. In a recent Q and A with the Detroit News, Hoke explicitly detailed his expectations for the Wolverines in the 2011 season.
Q. You have 18 starters back next year, including the Big Ten offensive player of the year. I'm thinking an 8-4 record, minimum. What do you think?Michigan will have to adapt to yet another new system heading into 2011, this time with almost an entire roster of Rich Rodriguez recruits. Hoke has promised to enstill a focus on defense (all the way to the ball boys, so he says), but how quickly can he change the worst defense in the conference? Michigan gave up an average of 450.8 yards per game in 2010; worst in the Big Ten and 110th of 120 FBS schools. I respect Hoke's optimism in his new position, but basing success/failure in 2011 on a Big Ten Championship may be a bit unrealistic.
A. If we don't win the championship, we failed, period.
Q. Have you looked at your roster closely and assessed how good you could or couldn't be?
A. No. If we don't win the championship, we failed.
Q. So I suppose it's possible then?
A. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't.
If Hoke does believe you need to win the championship in order to succeed, I can write the Wolverines 2011 headline now:
"Michigan fails, period."