Interim athletic director Jim Hackett has said for weeks that he would evaluate the football program at the end of season to determine which direction it will move.
That decision became clear when Michigan announced it had fired head coach Brady Hoke.
Making his intentions known publicly, Hackett made the move official by discussing the dismissal of Hoke in a press conference on Tuesday.
"Today I informed Brady Hoke that he will not be returning as our football coach next year," Hackett told the media. "I have told you a couple weeks ago that we would be evaluating his status at the end of the season and that's what today's announcement is about. My primary intent today is to do this with deep respect for Brady, his family, the coaches and all of those associated with our football program. It is because of their contributions to the University of Michigan"
"This was not an easy decision."
The decision might not be easy to make, but it was the necessary one.
Michigan saw its overall record diminish each season under Hoke, leading up to the current five win season that finished on Saturday without bowl implications.
To keep the mood of the presser focused on Hoke as a person, Hackett spoke glowingly on what Hoke contributed to Michigan outside of the football field.
"Brady's peers both active and retired coaches really respect him and his coaches love playing for him," Hackett said. "He's done a great job of molding these young men and focusing them on success in the classroom and in the community. He's really earned the respect of all, of being a valued-centered quote. We need more men like him in sport today."
The focus now quickly shifts to who is fit to lead the Michigan program back to its winning ways. That plan starts right away, according to Hackett.
"I plan on starting the search for (Hoke's) replacement immediately," Hackett said. "We want to build on what's been established by Brady. My message to the student-athletes is that we will work to put them in the best position to win and reinforce that their daily effort is contributing to being champions."
Hackett also outlined the criteria of a potential candidate but was unwilling to discuss any names in fear of compromising the impending search.
"The criteria for a future coach is defined in winning in the shared values of the University of Michigan," he said. "I ask for your patience in this search process. It's not fair for me to comment on potential candidates today, or the institutions or organizations they may currently be employed by. I can't compromise the integrity of our search process by commenting prematurely until we have that new coach ready to go."
In terms of how long is too long to wait for a certain name to commit to a job, Hackett mentioned that they will compile "swim-lane charts" for potential candidates and compare to where Michigan is at with its search (recruiting, practice schedule, etc.) to determine what makes sense.
When asked how Hackett plans on attacking the coaching search, he said that he will assemble a "head-hunting firm" that will aid in the search process and more information will available regarding that firm will be available soon. The members of the firm will have experience with Michigan and know "what Michigan is all about," according to Hackett. However, Hackett made it clear that President Mark Schlissel has given him full authority to make the final call on who is hired for the position.
As far as the next coach having Michigan ties, Hackett made his most noise by answering that was a prerequisite of the position. When asked if being "Michigan Man" was important for the job, he vehemently denied it. So much so that he even went as far as saying that he would like to banish the word.
"I want to get rid of the word 'Michigan Man'," Hackett said. "There's three reasons, one is that we live in a world where no business will talk about a world with just men it. Second, the guy who said that, Bo Schembechler, one of my mentors and hero's said it when he was being challenged about a coach being recruited somewhere else. He meant that he wanted the person who was at Michigan to be the coach."
"The third thing, if you let it stand for what it's supposed to mean, here's what it means: If you cut open the soul of the people that are 'Michigan Men' so to speak, you find selflessness. This was a point about how we stand as a team first. The second thing is the ability to win and be competitive. The third thing is that we want to continue the legacy of what's been great from a values standpoint, this place does not need to cut corners in order to win."
Michigan will have to eventually deal with the contracts of the current staff outside of Hoke.
It remains to be seen whether any or all assistants will be kept going forward, but Hackett told the media that the contracts for the current assistants will be honored. Hackett also mentioned that he would like the next coach to "interview" them to determine whether they should stay on the new staff or move on. He doesn't want the assistant coaches to go through, "two disappointments."