Michigan AD: Brady Hoke the right leader for Michigan


Things have not exactly gone to plan for Michigan in the Brady Hoke era, but as the 2013 season draws to a close job security is not going to be an issue in Ann arbor for head coach Brady Hoke. At least, that is if you believe what athletics director Dave Brandon had to say in a lengthy blog entry on Michigan’s athletics website Wednesday.

“Brady Hoke is our coach and will be leading our football program well into the future,” Brandon opened his post in definitive fashion. “There is no question about it… Anyone making efforts to stir up a coaching controversy at Michigan is ill-informed and is likely promoting a personal agenda that is not in the best interest of Michigan Football.”

Hoke took over a mess of a situation at Michigan following current Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez.  Hoke quickly turned Michigan around in year one on the job by taking the 2011 Wolverines to the Sugar Bowl as a BCS at-large. Since then though things have take steps backward instead of forward when it comes to wins. Michigan won 11 games including the Sugar Bowl in the 2011 season, then won eight games and lost the Outback Bowl last season. On Saturday the Wolverines hope to get back to eight wins with an upset win over undefeated Ohio State. Michigan may be trending downward, an argument supported by the fact one of Michigan’s top commits in the Class of 2014, Jabril Peppers, has stated he will make other official visits in the off-season before announcing his decision.

Michigan’s transition to a more pro-style offense this season has not produced the kind of results expected by many before the year. the Wolverines have also struggled on the road (UConn, Penn State, Michigan State) and in big games, including last year’s match-ups against Alabama and Ohio State. Michigan has recruited well under Hoke but in year three as head coach it appears as though that talent is falling short of full potential in some areas. Brandon says there is no room for excuses at Michigan.

“We don’t make excuses at Michigan when we fail to reach our goals, and we never will,” Brandon said. “When we don’t meet those expectations there’s disappointment — and that starts with Brady, the coaches, players and everyone else that represents our football program. If you saw how hard everyone inside Schembechler Hall works every day, you would understand why they are disappointed.”

There have been times when an AD will come out and show a sign of support for the head coach they are responsible for hiring. That is what we see here at Michigan. Brandon has to say these things about Hoke and his staff, because his job could ultimately be on the line if it backfires. Hoke’s contract does not expire until 2016, so it would be unlikely Michigan makes any change at head coach. It would cost Michigan over $2 million to buy out his contract this off-season.

Considering Brandon did not want to pay to send Michigan’s marching band to Arlington, Texas last season for the week one match-up with Alabama, it would be a financial shock if he made a decision to buy out Hoke’s contract at this point in time.

Of course, if Hoke can lead Michigan to a win over Ohio State this weekend, all of the talk about a hot seat will vanish for a while.

American, ACC announce officiating alliance

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The ACC and the American have struck a deal for a football officiating alliance, the American announced Monday. The new program will see the two conferences cooperate on all things officiating, from training to scheduling to evaluation.

With the move, the ACC’s Dennis Hennigan will oversee the alliance, while the American’s Terry McAulay will step down as the league’s coordinator of football officiating and the American will hire a new supervisor of football officials.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials. We look forward to working with Dennis Hennigan, who was regarded as one of the top on-field officials in college football and has since become a leader on the administrative side. I also want to thank Commissioner John Swofford for his cooperation in reaching this mutually beneficial arrangement.”

The new alliance means ACC officials could oversee a Tulane-Tulsa game, while AAC officials would work a Clemson-Georgia Tech game. The ACC-AAC Alliance will go into effect for the 2018 season.

ACC and American team up to improve officiating oversight

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The ACC and American Athletic Conference are coming together with the intent on improving officiating oversight between the two conferences. According to an announcement from the AAC, ACC supervisor of officials Dennis Hennigan will serve as the lead administrator and take on the responsibility of hiring and training officials used in both conferences.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a released statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials.”

The AAC reportedly removed Terry McAulay from his long-time role as the conference’s coordinator of football officiating, a role he held in the old Big East and carried over to the AAC amid conference realignment changes. The AAC confirmed McAulay will no longer be associated with the conference in that role. The statement from the AAC says the conference will hire a new Supervisor of Football Officials that will help manage the officiating in the AAC and act as a go-to contact for coaches around the league.

There is no word on whether or not this alliance will lead to a combined instant replay process with a central command hub for instant replay reviews. Instead, the alliance seems to focus on working with officials to ensure calls are being called consistently throughout each league. Having officials on the same page with calling penalties and managing a game has been a problem with few answers. This likely won’t guarantee a perfectly called game every week in each conference, but it may prove to be a step in the right direction.

Brother of five-star recruit walking on at Florida

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Surely this is all a coincidence and not at all a way to gain a recruiting advantage, but junior college linebacker Umstead Sanders will join the Florida Gators as a walk-on player this year. The Gators do have a need to boost the depth at linebacker, so the addition of a junior college player is a quick and easy fix to address that concern, but there is a little more to the story here. Sanders is also the older brother of Trey Sanders, a five-star running back in the Class of 2019 from Bradenton, Florida.

Umstead Sanders announced he will be joining the Florida program with a message on Twitter over the weekend. He will do so as a preferred walk-on, which will likely lead to him landing a scholarship later this year. Sanders is expected to enroll at Florida this summer, so he is not around for spring football practices already underway in Gainesville. While the addition of a 6′-2″ 240-lb linebacker is nice, the whole thing smells like a package deal pitch to lure Sanders’ younger brother into the program down the line.

Package deal commitments and recruiting strategies have long been a part of the game, so this would hardly be anything new if there is a wink and nod to the recruiting efforts going on at Florida. There are no recruiting rules that could prevent Florida from offering a scholarship to a junior college player with the hope of landing his brother in the next recruiting cycle. Other schools have gone so far as to hire the fathers of certain recruits to hopefully gain an advantage, and making sales pitches to high school teammates and family members with scholarships involved has been a trendy technique some schools have put to good use.

Dan Mullen certainly knows what it takes to revamp the Florida program, and taking advantage of all the recruiting angles he can is fair game.

Louisville and UCF line up future home-and-home series

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Former conference foes will be getting together for a reunion of sorts in 2021 and 2022. Louisville and UCF have agreed to a home-and-home series in those years.

Louisville will host UCF on Sept. 18, 2021. The Knights will host the Cardinals in the second game of the home-and-home scheduling agreement the following season on Sept. 17, 2022.

Louisville and UCF have met just once before, and it came as conference foes back in 2013. Blake Bortles and the Knights pulled an upset on the road against Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater, 38-35, which gave the Knights the path to an American Athletic Conference championship in the first season of the conference’s existence. UCF went on to beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and Louisville ended the year with a Russell Athletic Bowl smackdown of the Miami Hurricanes. After one year as conference foes, Louisville left the AAC to join the ACC and the two schools have not crossed paths since.

The addition of the UCF series will nearly complete Louisville’s nonconference schedule in both seasons with just one vacancy to fill each of those years. Louisville will open the 2021 season in Atlanta against Ole Miss. The Cardinals also continue their regular season rivalry with Kentucky of the SEC in each season. Louisville will also play South Florida in the 2022 season.

Despite the argument from the AAC that it is a power conference, the scheduling of UCF does not satisfy the ACC’s power conference scheduling requirement for its members unless an exception is made. Of course, Louisville playing Kentucky annually meets that requirement.

The addition of Louisville in 2021 and 2022 will ensure UCF will face at least one power conference opponent on an annual basis through 2025 as the future schedules currently show. UCF will play North Carolina and Pittsburgh this upcoming season, Stanford and Pittsburgh in 2019, North Carolina and Georgia Tech in 2020, Texas in 2023, and North Carolina in 2024 and 2025.