Wolverines go with safe, solid pick in Brady Hoke

Michigan settled on Brady Hoke. There’s no getting around that. Convincing the public that Hoke was the No. 1 candidate all along becomes an impossible sales pitch for athletic director Dave Brandon.

He kept Michigan football in a state of limbo for six weeks, and the result of all that self-induced drama is this?

They couldn’t get Jim Harbaugh. They apparently weren’t comfortable with what Les Miles required, or vice versa. They couldn’t get the “can’t miss star” who leaves eyes wide and tongues wagging, so they will find comfort in the guy determined to give them what they can specifically appreciate.

Michigan will staunchly deny this, still content in a delusional world of national football importance, but Tuesday’s hire only confirms that the Wolverines lean more toward regional than national in their competitive scope.

Michigan doesn’t possess the cast iron stomach necessary for doing everything necessary to field the best team for contending for BCS national championships, as they do in the SEC. Michigan can talk a big game about paying big salaries and truly being a national player, but in the end, Michigan opted for what’s safe, solid and sturdy.

Hoke might very well prove the right long-range fit for Michigan — low key at a presumably low price. And if the mission statement of Michigan football is a return to the last 10 years of the Lloyd Carr era — an average of nine to 10 victories a season and one Rose Bowl appearance every three years — Hoke could attain that level once he has gutted the remains of the Rich Rodriguez debacle.

But this was a hire Brandon could have made two days after Ohio State once again obliterated Michigan in late November.

It certainly looks as if this “national search” process was done for appearances — appeasing the warring factions by making them think that Harbaugh and Miles were possibilities.

Hoke became Michigan’s version of Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, the guy you know would take the job no matter how much you made it clear that you wanted somebody else to take the job. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross left Sparano dangling last week when he openly courted Harbaugh for a coaching job that wasn’t exactly open at the time. Ross is also a prominent Michigan contributor whose name graces the university’s business school.

Ross couldn’t get the guy he wanted, so he settled on what was available.

Brandon did the same thing.

Something tells me that you won’t see that management strategy on the syllabus for next semester’s classes.

Michigan has a guy who HATES Ohio State. Rodriguez’s drive to win never reached such depths of revulsion. That’s a primary reason why he’s longer around.

I figure Hoke will be introduced tonight at the Crisler Arena during halftime against Ohio State, and he will have his Jim Tressel moment. Ten years ago, Tressel, a relatively unknown hire from Youngstown State, addressed the Ohio State crowd at a basketball game against Michigan. He told the fans that they would be proud of their team “in the classroom, in the community and — most especially — in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Mich.”

It proved that he got it.

Hey, Brady, here’s a tip: It’s 318 days until Ohio State comes to Ann Arbor.