Former University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke spoke on his time in Ann Arbor and his firing on Friday afternoon for the first time since being let go in December.
He appeared on Detroit Sports 105.1 with host Matt Dery while promoting his new radio show on SiriusXM, but naturally his four years coaching the Wolverines was the main topic of discussion.
Hoke was asked his thoughts on his successor Jim Harbaugh, who by many has been anointed the savior of the program and a "home run hire."
"Everyone has an opinion," Hoke said. "I don't know ever if there's a home run hire, to be honest with you. I think that's probably more media-speak than anything else and I guess I'm in the media, so I'll be using that terminology.
"I think it's a guy who, obviously, loves his school, seems to love it, and that's where he wants to be. That's all you can ask for."
Hoke does have a relationship with the Harbaugh family, but not so much Jim, according to what he had to say to Dery.
"I'm very close to Jack and Jackie, obviously, working for Jack at Western Michigan for three years," he said. "And John and I were office mates during that time.
"(I am) really not as close to Jim as I am to Jack and Jackie and John. It's not something that Jim and I have sat down and talked or anything like that."
Hoke was brought in by former athletic director David Brandon, who's tenure at Michigan was controversial in its own way. Regardless of the drama, he praised some of the things that were accomplished during that time and says he still does speak to him from time to time.
"You’re talking about politics and that kind of stuff, and I’m not real good at that kind of thing," Hoke said. "The one thing I do know is, you look at the money that Dave raised for that athletic department and how he has the different building and facilities for some of the Olympics sports that he started and really got going in the process.
"He was an athletic director who cared about Michigan athletics, and for anyone to really think that Dave didn’t do it the right way in brand and developing an athletic department in 32 sports, hat’s a lot of sports, that’s a lot of money and a lot of revenue that did a nice job of going out and raising money for a lot of sports."
The on-field results were not there enough for Hoke and his staff to keep their jobs, but they are still proud of what they were able to do in their four years with the program and he feels Rich Rodriguez did his part as well.
"There were a lot of things that we were very proud of. We graduated 69 of 69 players that were seniors through the program," he said. "We were building the program the way it needed to be from the ground up, and we left the program in good shape. I would say, though, that Rich Rodriguez is a hell of a football coach, and he proved that. And I know that I am."
Regardless of all of that, Hoke knows that they just did not do the job well enough on the field.
"You sensed that things weren't going the way we wanted them to. This is a big-boy business," he said. "The thing that we're really proud of is the APR we established. Winning and losing is really important, and I get that.
"Winning and losing with the character you want to instill in kids and life after football is there for all of them, so having that degree that we were able to get through, those things make you feel good about it. Would you like to have a better record? No doubt. But that's the way it is."
The nail in the coffin for the staff was the 2014 season, obviously. Turnovers played a part in that, as well as other statistics that just did not go in their favor.
"I just think things happen that are out of your control, to some extent," Hoke said. "There were enough things that we could have done a better job. Obviously, this is big-time college football and money-driven, as we all know, TV-driven and a big stadium to fill. We were paid for what we left. We go forward and look forward to what's next."
It appeared that his tenure with the Wolverines was over during the Minnesota game early on in the year, where quarterback Shane Morris took several shots and continued to play while clearly injured.
"The Shane Morris incident was one where you’re coaching guys on the field and you’re not the one who’s diagnosing, assessing and all that," Hoke said. "To be honest with you, that whole situation is one that a lot of universities will look at and build their protocol and everything with those examinations through what happened.
"It was one of those things where I felt bad for Shane as much as anybody. He’s the one who really had a tougher time with it than anybody else."
Hoke still believes in Morris as a quarterback and thinks he has a good shot to end up as U-M's starter this fall.
"I think he can. He’s had another year of growth," he said. "He’s had another year of staying and maturing and those things. I know the young man from Iowa has come in and I know he was very effective in what they did offensively. I think they’ll have a great battle."
One of the biggest knocks against Hoke's staff was that they failed to effectively develop the players on the roster. He disagreed with that sentiment.
"Taylor Lewan was the 13th pick in the draft. He played for us for three years," he said. "Mike Schofield. Mike Martin, even though we had him for a year, from his junior year to how he played his senior year was a big improvement. In saying that, we had 58 or 59 first- or second-year players (last season). We had 12 seniors.
"You’re a young football team, and those young guys just don’t develop. Those that do are guys like Charles Woodson, that had that "it" factor that’s a little different. You look at the young kids we left in Ann Arbor and the recruiting classes, they’ll have a lot of success."
Other highlights of Dery's interview with Hoke included the old "Ohio" bit in reference to the Buckeyes, respect for the job Mark Dantonio has done at Michigan State and more.
You can listen to the full interview here.