Meet the New Boss; Just Like the Old Boss? Brady Hoke, Lloyd Carr and Return of Fort Schembechler


Last spring as we entered the Brady Hoke era, it would have been hard to notice any differences in access to the Michigan football program compared his predecessor- the recently fired Rich Rodriguez.

The main difference was Brady’s easy going demeanor and uncanny knack for saying exactly what the Michigan faithful wanted to hear from the new coach.

But after an improbable 11-2 season, capped off by a BCS Sugar Bowl win, one thing is clear- the fort is back.

The steel curtain has fallen, the blockade is in place, choose your metaphor but fresh information is a highly restricted commodity as we enter season 2 of the Hoke era.

In retrospect, the curtain of secrecy first showed itself with the unexpected “big game” road uniforms unveiled against Michigan State last season.

People aware of the game day surprise faced serious consequences if the secret leaked out in advance.

This spring the control of information was further locked down with the banishment of media from practices. Even former players and high school coaches who were still allowed access to practice were given clear instructions reminiscent of the World War II Manhattan project’s directive-  “What you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.”

After weeks of eager anticipation, the Wolverine faithful were treated to a spring game that showed…well not much. I’m convinced after watching the “game” on tape, that one conclusion is obvious- the Wolverines have great uniforms. After that I’m not so sure.

One thing I am sure of is that this atmosphere of secrecy sure reminds me of the Lloyd Carr era.

Hoke claiming he would like to have a full on competitive spring game for fans but is prevented from doing so because of “numbers” could have been taken verbatim from from a Lloyd Carr press conference. Fans can hold out hope for something more, some day, if numbers allow.

Don’t hold your breath for that to happen. Hoke like Rodriguez and Carr before him, is reluctant to risk injury in a meaningless exhibition.

So what does this mean for fans? Well they’re going to be reading a lot of re-packaging of press conference quotes and breathless recaps of official athletic department video clips.

And don’t expect a lot of insider leaks out of this version of Fort Schembechler. At least for now, the shields are holding.

The recent band-getting-hosed-by-being-left-out-of the 2012 College Football Kick-off game against Alabama seems to be a rare occurrence of unfavorable news leaking out before Athletic Director David Brandon could sprinkle his maize and blue pixie dust on it.

The veil of secrecy is not a bad thing. It served Lloyd Carr and Michigan football well during his tenure. But whether it can be maintained in an era dominated by social media and twitter is another thing altogether. It’s hard to imagine that a coach who doesn’t use email can appreciate the implications of these new information channels.

Is Brady Hoke taking a page out of his old boss’s playbook with the media?

We will have to wait and see if he starts trading verbal jabs with sideline reporters be sure.