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Friday, December 25, 2015


The 2015 college football regular season is over, and Jim Harbaugh continues to trail Brady Hoke in their comparative first-year performance. Hoke finished 10-2 in his first year, while Harbaugh struggled to reach 9-3 (with lucky wins over Minnesota and Indiana). Since Hoke also won his bowl game, he has clinched victory over Harbaugh in Year One.

Let's take a closer look at the first-year of each Michigan Head Coach, to verify that the Great Harby stands in the Big Boy's shadow after one season on the job. Here are the season results for both coaches:


  • Beat Western Michigan by 24
  • Beat Notre Dame by 4
  • Beat Eastern Michigan by 28
  • Beat San Diego State by 21
  • Beat Minnesota by 58
  • Beat Northwestern by 14
  • Lost to Michigan State by 14
  • Beat Purdue by 22
  • Lost to Iowa by 8
  • Beat Illinois by 17
  • Beat Nebraska by 28
  • Beat Ohio State by 6
  • Beat Virginia Tech by 3

  • 2-1 against ranked teams (#23 MSU, #16 Nebraska, #11 Virginia Tech)


  • Lost to Utah by 7
  • Beat Oregon State by 28
  • Beat UNLV by 21
  • Beat BYU by 31
  • Beat Maryland by 28
  • Beat Northwestern by 38
  • Lost to Michigan State by 4
  • Beat Minnesota by 3
  • Beat Rutgers by 33
  • Beat Indiana by 7
  • Beat Penn State by 12
  • Lost to Ohio State by 29

  • 2-2 vs ranked teams (#22 BYU, #13 NW, #7 MSU, #8 OSU)

The "macro" view (above) shows that Hoke had a better record than Harbaugh, giving him the mythical Year One Title with a bowl victory in hand. A UM victory over Florida would still leave Harbaugh looking up to Hoke.

Some people might say there are differences that don't show up in the "macro" view, so we turn up the microscope now to analyze various aspects of the season performance. For this "micro" view, we will examine the season schedule in four different parts:

  • Non-Conference games
  • Games against Common Opponents
  • Rivalry Games
  • Games against Uncommon Opponents

As you will see (below), Hoke has the edge in three of the four categories listed (above). Here is a detailed listing of those groups of games:

Non-Conference Schedule
  • Hoke beat Western Michigan by 24
  • Hoke beat Notre Dame by 4
  • Hoke beat Eastern Michigan by 28
  • Hoke beat San Diego State by 21
  • Harbaugh lost to Utah by 7
  • Harbaugh beat Oregon State by 28
  • Harbaugh beat UNLV by 21
  • Harbaugh beat BYU by 31
  • Hoke = 4-0, +77 points
  • Harbaugh = 3-1, +73 points

Conference Schedule - Common Opponents
  • Hoke beat Minnesota by 58
  • Harbaugh beat Minnesota by 3
  • Hoke beat Northwestern by 14
  • Harbaugh beat Northwestern by 38
  • Hoke = 2-0, +72 points
  • Harbaugh = 2-0, +41 points

Conference Schedule - Common Rivalry Games
    • Hoke lost to Michigan State by 14
    • Harbaugh lost to Michigan State by 4
    • Hoke beat Ohio State by 6
    • Harbaugh lost to Ohio State by 29
    • Hoke = 1-1, -8 points
    • Harbaugh = 0-2, -33 points

    Conference Schedule - Uncommon Opponents
    • Hoke beat Purdue by 22
    • Hoke lost to Iowa by 8
    • Hoke beat Illinois by 17
    • Hoke beat Nebraska by 28
    • Harbaugh beat Maryland by 28
    • Harbaugh beat Rutgers by 33
    • Harbaugh beat Indiana by 7
    • Harbaugh beat Penn State by 12
    • Hoke = 3-1, +59 points
    • Harbaugh = 4-0, +70 points

    As you can see, Hoke wins two categories by game-record, and a third by the point-differential tie-breaker. The only advantage to Harbaugh is in the category of "Uncommon Opponents". (Hoke lost to Iowa by eight points, while Harbaugh beat Indiana by seven points in overtime.)

    We wish the sports media would examine the actual performance records of the same program with the two different coaches before anointing the new guy as The Savior. A key aspect we haven't included is that the recruiting classes immediately preceding the Hoke hire were NOT AS GOOD AS the recruiting classes immediately preceding the Harbaugh hire. In other words, there is reason to believe that Harbaugh may have had more talent to work with than Hoke did at the beginning.

    We already told you before the season started that UM fans would laud the new guy and celebrate his excellence NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED DURING THIS SEASON. And that's been exactly the case. The sports media collectively predicted Michigan to go 7-5 this season, and the Wolverines would have finished 7-5 if not for the brain-hemmorage suffered by the Minnesota Interim Head Coach at the end of the game, along with the generous officiating that allowed UM to sneak by Indiana in two overtimes. Those details are set aside in the public consciousness to allow the disciples of Jimmy to herald him for his wondrous brilliance.

    NOTE:  This article contains no predictions, and is not intended to make claims about future seasons of Michigan Football. However, it seems clear that Brady Hoke actually had a BETTER FIRST SEASON than Jim Harbaugh, based on the actual facts of the two seasons.


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    1 comment:

    1. You mentioned recruiting classes and that is a good point. However, it needs to go a bit further. Rodriguez spent 3 years attempting to transform UM from a power run pro set to a read option spread. It is with that read option roster that Hoke had to work with his first season. Hoke then worked to transform UM back to the power run pro set and that is the roster that Harbaugh had to work with.

      In other words, Hoke had a serious disadvantage in this comparison. He won with an adopted system and players that were not using the playbook he wanted. Harbaugh got a roster that fit what he wanted to do from day 1.


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