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2013-14 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Is Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke’s Job on the Line?

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

In Brady Hoke‘s first season as the head coach of the Michigan football team, he led the program to its second ever BCS bowl game victory, and its first win over arch-rival Ohio State in eight tries. To add more to his resume, the Dayton, Ohio native brought in back-to-back stellar recruiting classes, creating optimism for the future of the storied, marveled and prestigious program. Then the 2012 season came around, and so did a bit of disappointment. Right off the bat, the team got trounced by the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. That’s completely understandable considering the amount of talent on Nick Saban‘s always-spectacular football squad. But then the Hoke-led Wolverines barely mustered out a win versus an Air Force team that went 6-7 on the year, playing in a soft Mountain West Conference. The season didn’t look too promising. The Wolverines winded up going just 8-5 while losing to rivals Ohio State and Notre Dame, and allowing the South Carolina Gamecocks to steal a victory in the 2013 Outback Bowl, scoring a touchdown with just eleven seconds left in the fourth quarter. But now that the 2013 season has just about come to a close, things aren’t looking much better.

From offensive line issues to mishaps in the interior of the defense, Michigan football hasn’t looked at all like … well, Michigan football. After a questionable two-point conversion (failed) attempt, and subsequently a loss versus the then No. 3 ranked Buckeyes, what’s traditionally recognized as a powerhouse football program has only managed to come away with an overall 7-5 record this season. A 3-5 record in a Big 10 Conference is nationally perceived as very weak. The conference has traditionally been strongest when Ohio State and Michigan are both at the top of their game. Although Michigan has been extremely competitive against the Buckeyes over the last two seasons, the Wolverines are far from being at the top of their game, and the perception of the conference is suffering for it. This brings up a very intriguing question — is Brady Hoke the right man for the head coaching position at Michigan?

Already sitting on “the hot seat” in some opinions, Hoke’s job is on the line more now than it ever was. Before he took on the job, he knew that as the Wolverines’ head coach he would be judged by how his team fared versus Ohio State. He was well aware of the fact that he would be a part of one of the greatest rivalries in sports history. He even knew that there were tons of talented players in the state of Ohio, targeting many recruiting prospects in the Buckeye state and landed a whopping 18 Ohio natives in the last two years alone. But does that necessarily mean that he’s getting the job done? Have the results on the field and in the win-loss column been a testament to such noteworthy talent that he brought to the university? Many think not, and a loss in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl could seal his fate.

Legendary NFL head coach and commentator John Madden once said, “Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear.” After hearing all of the harsh criticism, will he listen to the naysayers and buckle under the pressure, or will he stand tall, take a deep breath and prove them wrong? The 2013-14 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl could be his last chance to do so or else he may witness exactly what he doesn’t want to see.