After a year off from coaching, Brady Hoke is actively pursuing an opportunity to get back in the game. The former Michigan head coach will reportedly interview with Oregon for the now vacant defensive coordinator position in Eugene.
Earlier this week, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich demoted Don Pellum from defensive coordinator to linebackers coach just days after the Ducks blew a 31-0 halftime lead on TCU in the Alamo Bowl. Oregon ended up losing that game in overtime, and linebackers coach Erik Chinander was on the move to take on a defensive coordinator position with UCF. Demoting Pellum back down to linebackers coach was a bit of an eye-opener, but it takes some of the heat off of a solid linebackers coach. But where would Oregon go next to fill the position at defensive coordinator? Hoke might be an interesting fit for the job.
Forget, for a moment, the Hoke regime as a head coach in Ann Arbor. Before Hoke made his way to Michigan, he had been known for his defensive mindset. Hoke has been coaching defenses since 1981 at Yorktown High School in Indiana. His stints as college defensive assistant have taken him from Grand Valley State to Western Michiagn, Toledo, Oregon State and Michigan (!) before he moved up to become a head coach at Ball State, then San Diego State and finally back at Michigan in 2011. Hoke’s defenses are what have made him a solid coach over the years, and a role as a defensive coordinator may be better suited for him in a power conference program.
We all know Hoke’s reputation took a big hit as a head coach at Michigan, but so many times a return to what made a coach thrive can be refreshing. Hoke getting a job as a defensive coordinator at Oregon or anywhere else could have a similar effect Lane Kiffin has seen as an offensive coordinator at Alabama. Kiffin’s reputation took a massive hit as a head coach at Tennessee, the Oakland Raiders and USC, but he has been a tremendous asset to the Alabama coaching staff. Expecting the same results from Hoke as a defensive coordinator may be optimistic, but Oregon is in dire need of defensive help. Oregon ranked 117th in total defense last season, one spot behind Oregon State and just one ahead of Idaho. That’s not good company for the Ducks, who already bring plenty of offense to the field every time they suit up and take the field. If Oregon can improve its defense juts a little bit, they will quickly become one of the top programs in the west.
Is Hoke the man for the job?