We all know him, we all watch him clap endlessly on the sidelines on football Saturdays, and we all wonder about his future: Brady Hoke, the head football coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines. As many may know, Hoke’s future with the team is in serious question, following many seasons of incompetence and loss. After a 7-6 season last year, and the team off to a 4-5 start this year, many Michigan fans have become restless, and demand a change. Hoke has fallen prisoner to the philosophy of Machiavelli, and how a prince’s term affects his approval.
In Chapter XXIV of Machiavelli’s The Prince, he explains how leader’s success at various points in their career can either make or break them. Machiavelli states “for the actions of a new prince are more narrowly observed… because men are attracted more to the present than the past, and when they find the present good they enjoy it”(Machiavelli, Ch. 24). When Brady Hoke accepted the head coaching job at Michigan, he hit the ground running. Through his first season in 2011, the Wolverines cruised to an 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl win. Michigan fans instantly fell in love with Hoke. He was so tightly observed, and so loved for bettering the program, he was hard to hate.
However, later came the struggles. Every year since then, his win percentage has declined from 8-5, to 7-6, to this year’s 4-5. Machiavelli could be seen as rightfully criticizing Hoke when he says ” do not let our princes accuse fortune for the loss of their principalities, but rather their own sloth, because in quiet times they never thought there could be a change”(Machiavelli, Ch. 24). According to this quote, Brady Hoke may no longer attribute his unsuccessfulness to fortune. Hoke went 11-2 his first season, and figured that, since he performed so well, he would be here for quite a long time. However, he got unnecessarily complacent. His team slowly became worse, his recruits dwindled away, and he settled for a mediocre team (which, in case you didn’t know, doesn’t fly in Michigan). Now here we are, in November 2014, and the Brady Hoke empire that seemed so promising in 2011 is now a joke. One of the most storied programs in college football history is now a measly 4-5, struggling to break .500, let alone make a bowl game.
One can also argue Hoke’s sloth has hurt those around him. And yes, I’m talking about Dave Brandon. Yes, student tickets were expensive and certain situations occurred in which it appeared he didn’t protect the athletes, but deep down you know if Michigan was 8-1 right now, Dave Brandon would still be the AD at Michigan. Everyone would love Brandon, love Hoke, and there would be no ensuing rallies of any kind. But Hoke’s resistance to change when fortune doesn’t go his way has brought his once mighty empire tumbling down.
To quote Machiavelli, “those only are reliable, certain, and durable that depend on yourself and your valour”(Machiavelli, Ch. 24). Hoke has been relying on his players to come through, rather than being proactive. His team seems to be floundering in every big game; his motivation seems to be failing. As a leader, he must learn to rely on himself, rather than his counsel (team). Because his people (the fans) are getting restless.
It is nearly inevitable that Hoke will no longer be the coach of Michigan next year. It is unknown who will be the coach next year, but one can only hope that this new coach will bring us long prosperity as a program. We need our prince to make an impact immediately, for it is unknown how much longer the people of U of M can stand this mediocre team.
All we can say is, Go Blue!