Hoke Responds To Whitlock Calling Team ‘Soft’ And Of ‘Low Character’
By Ashley Dunkak
After Michigan lost handily to in-state rival Michigan State for the fifth time in six years Saturday, the claws came out. One of the harshest critiques of the team came from ESPN’s national columnist Jason Whilock.
Whitlock called the Wolverines “soft” and said the team “has low character.” He said head coach Brady Hoke was “five-star struck,” bringing players who did not fit Hoke’s own values of “character, grit and maturity.” Whitlock blasted tackle Taylor Lewan, who stayed for his senior season rather than go to the NFL in 2013, for “coasting,” “entitlement” and “arrogance.” Whitlock ripped freshman Derrick Green for arriving to school overweight called out Green specifically for being “soft.”
All this was recounted to Hoke on the Stoney and Bill Show of 97.1 The Ticket, and Hoke had plenty to say in response to the claims. The allegations against Lewan seemed to bother Hoke the most, and he also addressed Whitlock’s comments about Green. In general, the attack of individual players seemed to bother him.
“People don’t know what Taylor Lewan has done inside Schembechler Hall and on that practice field and how he’s tried every method to help these young guys come further along,” Hoke said. “For someone to take shots at the players and the kids. No one knows Derrick Green’s background better than we do and what kind of back he’s going to be here at Michigan. Is he where we want him to be yet? No, he’s not, but we’ll all know when he’s done here what kind of back he’ll be. To take shots at the kids when you don’t know, I think that’s really unfair. That’s where I would have the biggest concern.”
As far as Whitlock’s suggestion that Hoke has changed the way he operates, Hoke disagreed.
“I don’t think we’re doing anything different as far as anywhere else we’ve been as far as how we practice, the physicalness that we practice with, all those things,” Hoke said. “That hasn’t changed.
“That being said, you can criticize us, you can criticize coaches, I got no problem with it, but if you don’t know what’s going with 18- to 23-year-olds on a daily basis, the different things that affect them in their life, I think that’s off-limits,” Hoke said. “They’re not pro football players. As much as some people want to think they are treated that way, that’s not what they are. They’re kids who are getting their degrees, going to school and doing what they need to do to be successful.”