Hoke stays steadfast ahead of UM’s clash with ‘Ohio’

11/20/2012
BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke gives instructions against Iowa Saturday, 11/17/12, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke gives instructions against Iowa Saturday, 11/17/12, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

ANN ARBOR — Brady Hoke won’t im­me­di­ately show his hand.

When it comes to the emo­tion — or the height­ened emo­tion — of be­ing a coach in the Ohio State-Mich­i­gan foot­ball ri­valry, the sec­ond-year Wol­v­er­ines coach won’t perk up at the men­tion of the up­com­ing game.

His voice doesn’t take on a higher oc­tave.

In­stead, his jaw stays firm.

For a coach from Ohio, who is about to face the pro­gram he calls “Ohio,” Hoke isn’t giv­ing much away when it comes to his ex­cite­ment — if there is any — for play­ing in one of the na­tion’s more sto­ried ri­val­ries.

Or, as quar­ter­back Devin Gard­ner la­beled the yearly Ohio State-Mich­i­gan show­down, “the great­est ri­valry in sports.”

At first glance, Hoke seems un­moved by the pros­pect of fac­ing Ohio State for the sec­ond time as a UM coach. And the na­tive of Ket­ter­ing, Ohio, seems un­moved by the fact that his team, ranked 20th in the As­so­ci­ated Press, will face an un­de­feated Buck­eyes squad.

“We’re play­ing for a cham­pi­on­ship, still,” Hoke said, re­fer­ring to Mich­i­gan’s pur­suit of a Big Ten ti­tle. “If you need any­thing to get amped up more, or what­ever, for this foot­ball game, then you don’t know col­lege foot­ball. And you don’t un­der­stand the im­por­tance of this great ri­valry.”

In two sea­sons of play­ing un­der Hoke, of­fen­sive guard Patrick Oma­meh spoke to Hoke’s fer­vor as a coach and in re­la­tion to the Ohio State-Mich­i­gan ri­valry.

“He’s an in­tense guy,” said Oma­meh, a fifth-year se­nior from Co­lum­bus. “Al­ways fo­cused on the task at hand, who­ever the op­po­nent may be. He’s also a guy who’s from Ohio, who un­der­stands this ri­valry and what it means. You can tell that it’s some­thing that’s im­por­tant to him — as it is to ev­ery­body else as­so­ci­ated with this pro­gram.”

In nearly 30 years of coach­ing, Hoke has spent 10 sea­sons at Mich­i­gan. Of all the games that Hoke has been in­volved in against Ohio State, one game sticks out the most — and not last year’s 40-34 win over the Buck­eyes in Ann Ar­bor. Nor the few games he watched grow­ing up in south­west­ern Ohio. Be­cause in a foot­ball-heavy Hoke fam­ily, who had time to sit down and watch when there were games to be coached and played?

Hoke was an as­so­ci­ate head coach who over­saw the de­fen­sive line at Mich­i­gan un­der Lloyd Carr in 2002, when Mich­i­gan lost 14-9 af­ter a come-from-be­hind ef­fort by Ohio State — and Hoke re­called de­tails from that game.

But, he added quickly, “I can’t speak to win­ning down there or los­ing down there, be­cause I’ve done both.”

Yet when he came to Mich­i­gan in 2011, Hoke made it a point to make a few whole­sale changes in the pro­gram. In­clud­ing an ob­vi­ous change in the pro­gram’s lex­i­con.

Play­ers said Hoke for­bade any­body as­so­ci­ated with the pro­gram to call Ohio State by its proper ti­tle, in­stead re­fer­ring to the school as sim­ply, and maybe even de­ri­sively, “Ohio.”

“And,” Gard­ner said, “that’s just how it is.”

Yet be­fore he ended his Mon­day me­dia avail­abil­ity, Hoke gave an inch, maybe two, when it came to his feel­ings on the ri­valry week.

“It’s just such a great game,” Hoke said. “From the stand­point of the ri­valry, and the ex­cite­ment about it. I wouldn’t say it ei­ther way. It’s a fun week.”

TOUSSAINT UPDATE: Hoke said run­ning back Fitz­ger­ald Tous­saint was ex­pected to be re­leased from the hos­pi­tal Mon­day, two days af­ter un­der­go­ing sur­gery on his left leg fol­low­ing a grue­some in­jury he sus­tained dur­ing the win over Iowa.

“It went well,” Hoke said of the sur­gery. “He should have a full re­cov­ery. We’ll move for­ward, and he’ll move for­ward.”

Hoke did not elab­o­rate on Tous­saint’s in­jury or the sub­se­quent sur­gery, but he said he ex­pects the red­shirt ju­nior to re­turn for the 2013 sea­son.

BIG TEN HONORS: The Big Ten named Mich­i­gan quar­ter­back Devin Gard­ner its co-of­fen­sive player of the week, shar­ing the hon­ors with Penn State quar­ter­back Matt McGloin. Gard­ner ac­counted for six touch­downs (three rush­ing, three pass­ing) and passed for 314 yards in Satur­day’s 42-17 win over Iowa.

Mich­i­gan line­backer James Ross was named the Big Ten fresh­man player of the week. Ross led Mich­i­gan with 12 tack­les.

Con­tact Rachel Lenzi at:

rlenzi@the­blade.com,

419-724-6510 or on

Twit­ter @RLen­ziBlade.

Slug: SPT UMfb17  The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth  Caption:  Michigan head coach Brady Hoke gives instructions against Iowa Saturday, 11/17/12, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Slug: SPT UMfb17 The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth Caption: Michigan head coach Brady Hoke gives instructions against Iowa Saturday, 11/17/12, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.