Hoke says he can't let job status distract him
Nov. 03, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The athletic director who hired Brady Hoke resigned last week, and the Michigan coach's own job status seems as precarious as ever.
Hoke has little choice but to try to block out all that speculation.
"I've never been concerned about a job, ever, and I never will be. Because if I get concerned about a job, then you get distracted from it," Hoke said Monday. "If I get distracted, then I'm not being fair to those kids, who haven't been distracted. So I've never, ever worried about employment."
Hoke's team beat Indiana 34-10 on Saturday. Afterward, he refused to discuss Dave Brandon's resignation, which was announced a day earlier. Instead, Hoke said he would talk about it Monday at his weekly news conference.
On Monday, Hoke said he found out about Brandon's resignation from the outgoing athletic director Friday. Brandon was the AD who hired Hoke as coach after the 2010 season.
"I have a lot of respect for Dave," Hoke said. "He did a lot of good things for the university, and now I'm real excited to work with Jim."
Michigan hired Jim Hackett as interim athletic director, but aside from some brief remarks at a news conference announcing Brandon's exit, Hackett has not spoken to reporters. It's hard to say how long he'll be in charge, but for now, he's at the top of the athletic department.
Hoke said he saw Hackett briefly after Saturday's game, and he expects to talk with him further at some point.
"I'm sure we will," Hoke said. "Sometime sooner than later."
Since the team started poorly in September, Hoke's future has been in doubt. Michigan was blown out early by Notre Dame, and the Wolverines lost at home to Utah in a game that ended in an almost-empty stadium following a weather delay.
An embarrassing home loss to Minnesota caused even more discontent among fans, especially after quarterback Shane Morris briefly played following a hard hit in the second half. Morris was eventually diagnosed with a probable concussion.
After a loss at Michigan State last month, Hoke apologized for his team's pregame antics, in which the Wolverines planted a stake in the turf at Spartan Stadium.
Brandon's resignation less than a week later was another off-field issue in a season full of them.
"It kind of has been going on the whole season — there's been distractions outside of football," offensive lineman Jack Miller said. "But I think the team was able to kind of come together."
Michigan needs to win two of its final three regular-season games to become bowl eligible, and the last of the three is at Ohio State. So this weekend's game at Northwestern is probably crucial.
The Wolverines won at Northwestern in triple overtime last year. They would have lost in regulation if not for a remarkable play in the final seconds. With Michigan down three and the clock running, the field goal unit hurried onto the field, getting the snap off with about a second to go for the tying kick.
This season, the Wolverines haven't always looked that organized — but Hoke says his players have stayed the course in the face of constant turmoil.
"This team has been close all year," Hoke said. "They've stayed together all year — unified, united. They've worked their tails off together."