By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Michigan coach Brady Hoke has been a Wolverines fan since age 10, even growing up in Ohio. As such, he believes strongly in the value of the Ohio State – or as he says, “Ohio” – rivalry with Michigan.
“The word hate is a little strong,” Hoke said to Stoney and Bill of 97.1 The Ticket on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of respect and there’s also, in the years of Bo [Schembechler] and Coach [Woody] Hayes, there was always that respect … Both fan bases are both passionate.
“It’s such a great rivalry,” Hoke added. “I believe it to be the best rivalry in college sports.”
The rivalry, though, has turned somewhat one-sided in recent years, with the Buckeyes winning 10 of the last 12. This season Ohio State, under the guidance of Urban Meyer, is more of a powerhouse than ever. Many suspect Michigan will simply be run into the ground Saturday, and thousands of tickets to the game in the Big House are available on StubHub, some for below face value. Hoke understands fans’ frustration but still hopes they come out for the game.
“It goes with the territory,” Hoke said, “but we’ve got 18 seniors who are playing their last football in Michigan Stadium … I think that part is huge when you’ve got guys who’ve given four or five years, truly student athletes when you look at how many of them are in graduate school already.
“I would love to see those passionate Michigan fans really support those kids,” Hoke added.
Despite the Wolverines losing three of their last four games, the coach maintains that the program is fine despite a rough season that has included near-losses to cupcake teams and a devastatingly complete beating by in-state rival Michigan State. Even with all that in mind, Hoke sounds optimistic and promised maximum effort for Saturday.
“I see the development of a young football team in a lot of ways, how they’re coming to work every day,” Hoke said. “We’re going to go out there and play our tails off for Michigan, that’s for sure.”
While Hoke said Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is a player the Wolverines need to watch, senior running back Carlos Hyde also has his attention.
“You’ve got to stop him,” Hoke said. “You can’t let him run through your defense. He’s catching the ball a little more … He’s a durable tough guy who doesn’t go down easy, he gets the short yardage. You put him and Braxton together and you’ve got two guys that are really formidable when you look at what they do within the plan.”
On a longer-term note, Hoke would not respond specifically to news that broke yesterday about big recruit Jabrill Peppers, who is verbally committed to Michigan, taking official visits to other schools.
“Every kid, there’s different situations, family-wise, those kind of things,” Hoke said.
“There’s a lot that’s always said out there,” he added. “We’ll just wait and see what happens.”