Hopefully Hoke is a Machiavellian
The other day I got an email from the Michigan athletic office reminding me to reserve my seats for the 2011 Spring Game, and about a week before that I placed my ticket order for football season tickets. But, I am still a bit leery about Michigan football right now, even with Brady Hoke as our new head coach. I am hoping that he has the Machiavellian mentality that it takes to be successful at a program like Michigan.
In the past few years, with Rich Rodriguez at the helm, Michigan failed to accomplish anything worth noting on the field. Off of the field, Michigan was most talked about for breaking NCAA violations for practicing too much during the season. As a result, the NCAA handed down a few relatively light restrictions on the program that will last for the next few years. Eventually, the University’s alumni and Athletic Director, David Brandon, became disgusted enough with the on field disaster, that was Michigan football, and the NCAA rules violations, to fire Rich-Rod. Rich-Rod’s problem was not that he violated NCAA rules, it was that he was a terrible football coach who could not win games at a school that has a history of annually competing for a National Championship.
Being a head coach at a major Division I college football program requires you to be a Machiavellian. Sometimes, a coach has to make questionable calls, especially in recruiting. In the summer of 2009, Alabama was put on probation for recruiting violations that occurred under current head coach, Nick Saban. That year, the Crimson Tide rolled to a National Championship, and nobody cared that Alabama had been broken any rules. In college sports, people are able to look past occasional mistakes if the job (winning games and a championship) gets done.
The same situation is happening at the school down south right now. Jim Tressel was recently suspended for two games, which he insisted be extended to five games, for failing to report that some of his players had committed acts that might violate their amateur status. Tressel was suspended for failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance, a serious charge when it comes to dealing with NCAA. Some people in the media believed that Tressel’s contract at the preschool might be terminated. But alumni don’t really care about the coach trying to hide a possible serious violation from NCAA investigators. Alumni and fans remember the BCS National Title from 2003 and the six years in a row with at least a share of the Big Ten title and appearances in BCS bowl games.
John Calipari is another good example of Machiavellianism in college sports. Calipari has now led three different schools to the Final Four (UMass, Memphis, and Kentucky). The Final Fours at both UMass and Memphis have been vacated due to player infractions. And although Calipari was acquitted by the NCAA of any wrongdoing in either case, his name has become synonymous in college basketball with cheating. But still, Kentucky wanted him to run their program, and to this point, the fit has been nearly perfect. Kentucky fans will find a way to overlook Calipari’s questionable integrity if he continues to win.
As a student at Michigan with only a few years of my college career left, I hope that Brady Hoke has the demeanor that it takes to succeed in the Big Ten. So, if he has to hire a few “hostesses” to show around highly touted recruits, or if he gets the admissions department and the rest of the faculty to become a bit more lenient when it comes to student athlete standards, I do not care in the slightest, as long as he wins games, and eventually a Big Ten and National Championship. I can only hope that the Michigan alumni can turn a blind eye to a set of dirty hands.