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Published: Thursday, 6/7/2012

Hoke: Leave OSU date alone

Michigan coach against moving game from November

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
University of Michigan football head coach Brady Hoke University of Michigan football head coach Brady Hoke
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ANN ARBOR -- Brady Hoke considers the final Saturday of the regular season sacrosanct for the University of Michigan football program. There's no reason to change the traditional date of the Michigan-Ohio State football game.

Yet when it comes to the changes he'd like to make in college football, the Wolverines coach has one thing on the top of his wish list: redefine the academic year for Division I football instead of confining it to a fall and a spring semester.

But when it comes to one of the most compelling issues in the geography of college football right now -- the possibility of establishing a playoff format for the Football Bowl Subdivision teams -- Hoke advocates for some leniency: Consider the players, not the game.

Wednesday, at the Michigan Associated Press Sports Editors summer meeting and seminar, Hoke discussed the state of his program going into his second year as head coach of the Wolverines and touched on topics that included the strength of the in-state rivalry with Michigan State and his relationship with Spartans coach Mark D'Antonio, his own personal history with concussions as a football player, and the emphasis the media places upon recruiting in college football -- Hoke believes there's probably too much of an emphasis.

And, oh yes, the rivalry with the program many Michigan faithful dub "Ohio."

"I think it always should be there, personally," Hoke said of the standing appointment with the Buckeyes. "For that game to be moved out of the last Saturday in November, that would be a mistake."

In regards to a potential college football playoff format, coaches, Hoke said, have no true say in those discussions. Earlier this week, Big Ten Conference officials said if a vote came up among league presidents, the consensus would be for the status quo: keeping the current bowl structure intact, including the Rose Bowl -- a staple in the culture of the Big Ten. Conference officials also said they would be receptive to a four-team playoff if the Big Ten cannot gain supporters for a plus-one format, in which the top two teams after the bowls meet for the national championship.

"If the Big Ten presidents were to vote today, we would vote for the status quo," Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said on Monday. "We think it best serves college football, we think it best protects our student-athletes. I don't think any of us are anxious for our student-athetes to play a 15th game. With any respect, this is the best we could do.

"But we're also realistic that that doesn't seem to be one that's gotten a lot of support. Some movement is necessary."

But Hoke offered one suggestion to the higher-ups making the calls about the future of college football's postseason.

"Whatever happens, I hope they think about the kids and the families of those kids who are out there on the field," Hoke said. "Because how many games you play, these are not professional athletes. These are student-athletes. They have classes, they have things, and they prolong it into January."

The day after Michigan's 23-20 overtime win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl was the first day of classes at the university -- Hoke estimated most of Michigan's players missed their first classes because the team flew home from New Orleans the morning after the Sugar Bowl.

"I don't hear anybody else talking about this," Hoke said. "Yes, we're smart enough. We all know it's about the money. We all know it's about TV.

"Fans of college football, they talk about different things that we can do and how we can do it, and that's great, because they're fans of college football. But let's think about what's best for the kids in the program and the families of those kids."

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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