If you were caught up in the phenomenon that has become the college football National Signing Day on Wednesday, you were probably too busy to have noticed that something really, really weird happened. (Granted, everything about NSD is pretty weird.)
Well, this is definitely something that shouldn’t go unnoticed: Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke – who was terminated following the regular season – interviewed new Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh on a CBS Sports Network segment, which featured Hoke as an analyst on the panel for recruiting coverage.
That was just uncomfortable. If you don’t want to sit through the six-minute video, here are a few excerpts from the interaction between Hoke and Harbaugh, including the final message at the end:
BH: “You’ve been out trying to recruit and do that kind of stuff. How do you think it ended up, Jim?”
JH: “Fantastic. Really, really good. Have to give a lot of credit to you and your staff, Brady, because we came in here and there was fine players that were committed. … Just great youngsters, guys that you’re really proud to call your own. You’re a Michigan person, you’re proud these guys are your own. Really pleased.”
Harbaugh to Hoke: "I have not redecorated the office at all. It's immaculate and perfect." Harbaugh gives Hoke love for his recruiting.
— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) February 4, 2015
JH: “I just want to say thanks again to Brady, not only for the recruiting class but for the state of the team. You look at the academics, the grades this past semester is the best it’s been, this team is rock solid, all the rules are in place, everything is in place, tremendous team that you left us with and I really appreciate it.”
BH: “Well hey, that’s nice of you to say. Best of luck and get back and see that family a little bit.”
Toward the end of the segment, you could tell that Hoke was trying to fight back some understandable emotion. He had, of course, just spent the last four-and-a-half years pouring countless hours into a program that he loved but was failing and had recently been in the homes of the recruits the two were talking about.
What Harbaugh said to Hoke was extremely classy and sincere, though he may have just felt bad for him and figured to make the most of this awkward conversation.
In terms of recruiting, especially when you consider that Michigan is competing against the best teams in the country for top players, Hoke left the cupboard almost completely bare. Harbaugh inherited just six commits when he was hired on December 31st, adding eight on his own and jumping 33 spots to No. 38 in the 247Sports Team Rankings on National Signing Day.
And while the talent may very well be there, Michigan football was unable to get back to national prominence under Hoke’s tenure, Instead, it spiraled downward; the Wolverines went 5-7 in 2014 for their third losing season since 2008.
You have to sit back and wonder who suggested this whole thing, who was in charge to give it the green light, and whether all parties involved were OK with doing it or even knew it was happening before agreement.
But then again, it could be a new Michigan tradition – former Wolverines coach Rid Rodriguez interviewed then-new coach Brady Hoke for CBS Sports back in 2009 not long after he was fired.