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Jim Hackett hopes for death of 'Michigan Man' label

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor -- Michigan athletic director Jim Hackett wouldn't get into specifics about what he's looking for in his next football coach, other than he's open to being patient.

In other words, he's willing to wait until after a bowl game or, say, an NFL playoff game.

But when he was asked about whether the next football coach will be the prototypical "Michigan Man," Hackett perked up.

"I want to get rid of the word, 'Michigan Man,'" Hackett said Tuesday afternoon at a packed media room in the Crisler Center, where he announced the firing of Brady Hoke.

Hackett suggested fans have long took too literally the "Michigan Man" phrase Bo Schembechler popularized in 1989, when he refused to let Bill Frieder coach the Michigan basketball team in the NCAA Tournament while Frieder planned to leave for Arizona State.

"A 'Michigan Man' will coach Michigan," Schembechler barked.

Hackett played football under Schembechler and has immense respect for the legendary Michigan coach. But he pleaded with writers to pen the "Michigan Man" obituary.

"There are three reasons," Hackett said.

Here they are, Hackett said:

1) "One, we live in a world where no business or anyone would talk about just men in it."

2) "Second, the guy who said that, Bo Schembechler, one of my mentors and heroes, did so when he was being challenged about a coach being recruited somewhere else. And he meant he wanted the person who was at Michigan to be the coach."

3) "And third, here's what it means. If you cut open the soul of people that are 'Michigan Men,' so to speak, you'd first find selflessness. This is the point about how we stand for the team. The second thing is the ability to win, to be competitive, the competitive spirit. In my lifetime, we knew we had to work really hard. It wasn't arrogance. We want to continue the legacy of what's been great from a value standpoint. This place does not need to cut corners to win. You come here, you know you're signing up to be the best in the world without any kind of shenanigans."

Hoke's predecessor at UM, Rich Rodriguez, never had UM ties before he was hired by then-athletic director Bill Martin. And that was a point of contention among some UM fans, many of whom wanted Les Miles instead. So after Rodriguez was fired, then-athletic director Dave Brandon turned to Hoke, a former assistant under Lloyd Carr.

Rodriguez was 15-22 at Michigan but the record improved each year, and he since has found success at Arizona, with a 26-12 record and a spot in Friday night's Pac-12 championship game.

Hoke was 31-20 and the record has regressed each year.