Brady Hoke doesn’t like the word rebuilding.
“No, no way,” the first-year Michigan head football coach said Thursday at Big Ten media day.
“We’re not rebuilding here and we never will,” Hoke said at a news conference in Chicago. “We’re Michigan. We’re the winningest program in college football history. We don’t rebuild.”
Of course, Michigan is coming off losing seasons in two of the last three campaigns and the last time Michigan took the field, in last year’s Gator Bowl, the Wolverines led Mississippi State, 12-10 before losing 52-12.
But a lot has changed on the Ann Arbor campus since then and Hoke has replaced Rich Rodriguez as head coach.
“It’s a privilege to be here,” Hoke said as he was introduced to the media on Wednesday. “This is the 132ndyear of Michigan football and we’re excited to be here.”
It’s a new Big Ten as the conference welcomes Nebraska into the league and has split into two divisions, the Leaders and Legends. In a media poll, conducted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nebraska and Wisconsin were slated to play in the first Big Ten championship game and Michigan was slotted for a fourth place finish, behind Nebraska.
Hoke made no predictions for the upcoming season but he sees good things ahead.
“It’s all about discipline and accountability,” he said. “And it’s not about coaches. It’s about the 115 kids we have playing for us.”
Michigan’s biggest task is to improve a defense that finished 108thnationally in Division I last year.
“We’re going to be more physical on defense,” Hoke said.
The new head coach also praised his new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who was an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL last year. “He’s a great teacher and motivator” Hoke said.
On offense, Michigan is led by the returning Big Ten player of the year, quarterback Denard Robinson. Michigan is switching from a spread offense to a pro-set West Coast offense.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a tough transition at all,” Hoke said. “It’s similar to the style he (Rob inson) played in high school, so he’s ahead of the curve.”
Hoke did not feel because longtime rival Ohio State has run afoul of the NCAA that the rivalry has changed at all.
“It’s probably the No. 1 rivalry in all of sports and it has nothing to do with who is coaching each team,” he said. “We have a lot of respect for Ohio. I don’t really feel they will be down at all.”
Hoke, as usual, did not call the school Ohio State, he called them simply, Ohio.
Hoke said he has felt no pressure along the recruiting trail.
“It may sound arrogant,” Hoke said. “But this is Michigan. We’re a global university with the winningest program in college football history. We expect the best to want to come here.”
Michigan opens the season at home against Western Michigan.
For more information: mgoblue, bigten.com, Detroit News