Sunday, February 20, 2011

Replacing the Legends -- Schools Follow a Very Predictable Pattern

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Brady Hoke says if his first year at Michigan doesn't end with a Big Ten title, he'll consider it a failure. That's pretty strong language, and it's fair to wonder why a coach would expect so much in his first season. Yet the pressure of living up to that expectation is nothing compared to the pressure of following a legend.

No, not Rich Rodriguez.

Bo Schembechler.

Hoke is Michigan's fourth coach since Schembechler retired. He'll report to work every day in a building which bears the name of the Michigan legend. He has to shoulder Michigan's post-Schembechlerian legacy that includes Gary Moeller, who was forced out after an ugly non-football incident, Lloyd Carr, who won a national title but couldn't beat Jim Tressel, and then Rodriguez. Now he comes in with a career 47-50 record and losing marks in five of his eight seasons at Ball State and San Diego State.

You know what? I like his chances, and here's why:

I've been following the coaching carousel for years and I've noticed a pattern. When a legendary coach steps down, the process of determining who coaches next nearly always follows an orderly procession. There are a few exceptions but generally speaking this is what happens when a school has to replace a larger-than-life coach.


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