The Sporting News, citing the San Diego Union-Tribune website, is reporting that Brady Hoke will be named the new head coach at San Diego State later this week. San Diego State will most likely buy out the last year of Hoke’s Ball State contract for $240,000 and then will likely triple that salary as part of Hoke’s new contract.
I haven’t seen anything yet that discusses whether or not Brady Hoke will coach Ball State in their bowl game, but I’ll keep checking.
I did read an interesting opinion piece of this move, written by Cory McCartney at SI.com. McCartney is surprised, as many others may be as well, that Brady Hoke is making the jump all the way across the country to San Diego. Not only does he leave the recruiting base he has developed at Ball State, but he takes over a team that has been awful for the past few years. According to McCartney, the San Diego State Aztecs ranked 91st or lower in 13 major national statistical categories this season — which no doubt led to the firing of former head coach Chuck Long.
McCartney does go on to explain that Hoke has San Diego State ties because his brother was once an assistant there, and that Brady Hoke recruited California when he was an assistant coach at Michigan. Add up the fact that San Diego State has better facilities, a better tradition, better weather, and that SDSU will pay him more money, and the move really is not all that surprising. Hoke’s name was mentioned in connection with the Auburn job as well (he interviewed), but he wisely struck while the iron is hot and parlayed his Ball State success into a bigger payday and a higher profile job.
The best point made by McCartney is that while the move may seem curious because of San Diego State’s dubious recent performance, it is not all that dissimilar from a move made by another coach who is pretty high up on the totem pole now: Urban Meyer. Meyer jumped from the MAC (Bowling Green) to Mountain West Conference (Utah) and then parlayed success there into his current gig at Florida.
Can Brady Hoke experience the same type of meteoric rise to the top of the coaching ranks in college football? That remains to be seen, but I think it is pretty hard to argue with this move from Hoke’s perspective.
Typically, when coaches make moves like this before a bowl game, they move onto their new team quickly. With so many administrative and recruiting tasks to get ironed out, including selecting a coaching staff, schools usually want their new coach on the job immediately. I will be interested to see how Brady Hoke and Ball State handle this.
The Cardinals play Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl on January 6, 2009. That is a long time from now, and will be a long time for San Diego State to wait for their new coach to be working on the Aztecs and not the Cardinals. Plus, from a Ball State perspective, you are preparing to close out the greatest season in the history of your school and you don’t want to end it with two straight losses. Wouldn’t you want a coach who will be 100% focused on Ball State and on beating Tulsa, not on getting things organized for his new job?
My prediction is that Brady Hoke will take off immediately to his reclamation work at San Diego State, and the Ball State Cardinals will move forward with an assistant coach taking over the reins. Nate Davis and the boys deserve to be coached in their bowl game by someone who is 100% committed to Ball State. This is not a knock on Brady Hoke — I’m sure he’d love to coach them in the GMAC bowl and finish what he started. But college football and coaching is business, and you cannot begrudge Brady Hoke for taking a job that will pay him three times what he is making and advance his career. That’s just the nature of the beast, and it is the situation that mid-level programs like Ball State face when they find a really good coach.
Congratulations to Brady Hoke, who deserves to take the next step in his career. And good luck to the Ball State Cardinals. You may not have your head coach for the GMAC Bowl, but you certainly will have the support of football fans everywhere in the state of Indiana, who don’t have much else other than Notre Dame-Hawaii to keep us interested this bowl season.