The hiring of Brady Hoke as Michigan's new head football coach has prompted many to describe the move as the Wolverines' "Plan C." For weeks even before Rich Rodriguez was fired there was much speculation about then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh potentially returning to Michigan, and after that fell apart with him going to the NFL the speculation turned to LSU's Les Miles. Neither Harbaugh nor Miles ended up with the job, as the former was hired by the 49ers and the latter decided to stay at LSU, leading many to believe that Hoke was Michigan's third choice for the coaching vacancy.
According to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, Hoke was not Michigan's third choice by any means. Brandon claims that Hoke was the Wolverines' top candidate, saying that Harbaugh and Miles never received an offer for the job.
"The job was never offered to them," Brandon said in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday after informing the team of his decision. "We did have different discussions with them that were helpful and positive."
Considering all of the smoke surrounding Harbaugh and the fact that Brandon met with Miles on Monday night, I find it very hard to believe neither coach was offered the job. Perhaps a formal offer was never submitted and Brandon is telling the truth in that regard, but if that's the case this is all semantics. There is no way Brandon should expect fans to believe that all of the conversations with Harbaugh and Miles never touched upon whether or not they would take the job.
At this point it's Brandon's job as athletic director to sell the hire and spin the news as if Hoke was the top choice all along. The one issue with that is the timetable of this coaching search. If Hoke was in fact Michigan's top candidate all along, he should have been named the head coach last week immediately after Rodriguez was fired. I suppose one could argue that Brandon spent the last week doing his due diligence before making a final decision, but I have a tough time buying that Hoke was his top choice all along.
Even if Brandon is telling the truth, it doesn't exactly portray him in a very positive light as far as how he handled this search. Again, it's possible that Brandon was set on going with Hoke and simply took a week to explore all his options, which is fine. But at the same time, if Brandon decided not to go with Miles and not the other way around, you can't expect me to believe a businessman like him would have a widely known about meeting in Louisiana and then announce the Hoke hiring only after Miles made it known he was staying at LSU. Public Relations 101 would teach you that having it come off publicly as Miles turning down his alma mater is not good for Michigan's image, so either Brandon is lying or he is a lot more incompetent than I ever imagined.
Anything Brandon says is going to be crafted to portray Michigan in the best possible light, which is why his comments are geared toward making it look like nobody actually turned down the job. It's all a moot point anyway considering Hoke is the new head coach and Harbaugh and Miles are committed to other teams, but the public is still interested in knowing what went on behind the scenes. Just like the last coaching search, there are plenty of rumors about what exactly happened, but it's unlikely we will ever find out the entire story.