Brady Hoke has been fired as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, according to Scout's Sam Webb, ending his tenure in Ann Arbor with a record of 31-20, no Big Ten championships, an 0-3 record against Urban Meyer's Ohio State (but a win in 2011 before Meyer's arrival), a 1-3 record against Michigan State, and a controversy surrounding his treatment of injured quarterback Shane Morris.
There was grumbling about Hoke's status with the program going back to the end of the 2013 season, which ended at a lackluster 7-6. The heat really got turned up, however, after the Wolverines were stomped out by Notre Dame, 31-0, in early 2014, just as that rivalry is coming to a close for the time being. Michigan also suffered humiliating losses at home to Utah and Minnesota and on the road at Michigan State. 2014 marked the first time in program history that the Wolverines carried three losses into October.
Where does Michigan turn now? Former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh, successful at Stanford and in his current job with the 49ers, could be the dream candidate. His brother, as well. Former Bo Schembechler player Les Miles, at LSU, could be another target. However, there could be issues with both.
Outside of the losing, the main flashpoint with most fans with regards to Hoke was the Morris injury. Late in the Minnesota loss, Morris suffered a shot to the head while already hobbling on an injured ankle. Michigan kept the woozy sophomore in for another play, took him out, and then sent him back onto the field several plays later. Fans howled, ABC's commentators expressed concern, and our Michigan site called for Hoke's termination. Former athletic director Dave Brandon was supportive of Hoke, but after Brandon resigned on Halloween, Hoke's last visible supporter was gone and the writing was on the wall.
Things started so brightly for Hoke. He came into Ann Arbor after a brief but successful stint at San Diego State, and the Wolverines jumped from 7-6 under Rich Rodriguez in 2010 to 11-2 under Hoke, winning the Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech.
The team dropped somewhat to 8-4 in 2012, but the cracks started to really appear in 2013. Michigan lost six of its final eight games, and had to overcome huge upset bids from Akron and UConn before the start of conference play. Much-maligned offensive coordinator Al Borges was jettisoned in the offseason in favor of the highly priced former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, and expectations were high for an offensive turnaround that never came.
Fans refused to come back (understandably) after a long rain delay against Utah, leaving the public to poke fun at pictures of Michigan Stadium nearly empty except for a swath of Ute fans. The following week, a promotion came out for two free tickets to the Minnesota game with the purchase of two Coca-Cola products, which went over about as well as one could have anticipated with Michigan fans who paid for season tickets.