The Spread, Hate Week: The Maize Ruiner

On November 3, 1958, Brady Patrick Hoke was born in Dayton, Ohio. In 1977, he left home to attend Ball State University, where he played linebacker. Somewhere in there, he made the fateful decision to be a Michigan fan. This betrayal of his home state (and his father, who played for Woody Hayes at Miami) would doom him to a career of mediocre football–a career that will likely come to an end this Saturday.

Hoke didn’t contribute much in his first two years at Ball State, and the team posted an impressive 19-3 record with Brady riding the bench. In 1979 and 1980, with Hoke on the field, the Cardinals went 6-5 each year. Bringing a team’s success to a screeching halt? Sounds familiar.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In 1983, Hoke became a defensive line coach at Grand Valley State, who had turned in winning seasons every year since 1973, the first year they accomplished the feat. But during Hoke’s only season on the staff, the Lakers went 4-6. His stain would linger even after he left for Western Michigan–GVSU didn’t win a single game the next year, but bounced back in 1985 to go 6-5.

At Western Michigan, Hoke joined Jack Harbaugh’s staff, who had already turned in two winning seasons for the Broncos. During Hoke’s three-year stint, the team went 5-6, 4-6-1, and 3-8. His poisonous presence got Harbaugh fired. It took his replacement just two years to get the team to 9-3.

From there, Hoke went to Toledo to join Dan Simrell’s staff as a linebackers coach. Simrell had gone 7-3 the previous year, but the arrival of Hoke predictably sent the team into a tailspin, finishing the 1987 season 3-7-1. The Rockets would go 6-5 in each of the final two years of Hoke’s tenure and, once again, Simrell was fired. He was replaced by Nick Saban, who promptly went 9-2.

It’s hard to blame Hoke for Oregon State’s woes during his five-year run on the staff there, but it’s still worth noting that the Beavers only managed 11 wins in the time span. They were bad both before and after Hoke was there, but they were particularly bad while he was on campus.

In 1995, new Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr brought Brady on board to help build what Hoke would eventually tear down. The Wolverines had a good run with Hoke around, winning a lot of games and even a national title until he finally left in 2002. This may seem like an aberration in the pattern, but we know now that it was just the universe setting Hoke up for the final punchline. His presence on a successful staff was necessary to entice Michigan to hire him later.

In 2003, Ball State gave Hoke his first head coaching job. He took a mediocre team that had hovered around .500 for a few years and turned it into a crappy team that lost at least 7 games in each of his first four years. But the Cardinals kept him around for some reason and somehow managed to taste success, going 7-6 and 12-1 in Hoke’s final two years.

The Ball State success coupled with Hoke’s two years at San Diego State (during which the Aztecs improved from 2-10 before his arrival to 9-4 in his second year) were enough for Michigan to take a chance on him after being turned down by the guys they actually wanted (or whatever Wolverine-fan alternate reality version you choose to believe.)

With Hoke finally installed in Ann Arbor, it was time for the universe to begin dismantling him under the unflinching lights of big-time college football. The first order of business was to give him an unrealistically remarkable season in the form of 2011’s 11-2 Sugar Bowl winning campaign. The machinations of making this happen despite Hoke’s woeful incompetence were so complex that they included orchestrating a silly scandal that would cost Buckeye coach Jim Tressel his job, just to keep him from beating Hoke mercilessly just as he did Rich Rodriguez.

Once the absurdly high expectations for Hoke at Michigan were set, all that was left to do was step back and let him bumble around and wreck stuff like a really hungry Tasmanian devil. The team got worse and worse and it all culminated in the hilarious clown show that has been the 2014 season.

There’s just one more piece of business to attend to.

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