How much would it cost Michigan to drop Brady Hoke? - Part 1

The "Lawyer" Answer: It depends! Technically, Brady Hoke's contract runs through the 2016 NCAAF season. I, unfortunately, do not see him lasting that long in any realistic scenario unless Michigan's season changes and the team successfully competes in the new College Football Playoff. As an exercise, I identified the four possible scenarios that could occur and picked apart Hoke's employment contract to determine whether it would be worthwhile to cut loose the genuine "Michigan Man" early: (1) Michigan fires Hoke at the conclusion of the 2014 season; (2) Hoke resigns at the conclusion of the 2014 season; (3) Michigan fires Hoke at the conclusion of the 2015 season; and (4) Hoke resigns at the conclusion of the 2015 season. Each scenario implicates different contractual provisions and calculations. From my general observations as an individual with a legal background and as a Michigan economics alumna, the cost would be great, but the potential advantages are hard to dismiss.

Going into the 2013 season (based on the 2012 salary reports), Michigan Men's Football Head Coach Brady Hoke earned the eighth highest pay of all NCAAF coaches with $4,154,000 total compensation. In comparison, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban saw the highest earnings with $5,545,852, a one-time prospective Michigan coach Les Miles received $4,459,363 from LSU, Mark Dantonio at Michigan State earned a humble $1,959,744 [though Dantonio did receive a $1.6 million raise in total compensation for the 2014 season, but I am not positive on how that figure is precisely computed], and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly collected $1,088,179. Moreover, the incredibly respected Michigan State Men's Basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo received a more modest salary than Brady Hoke ($3,893,954 total from the 2013 season). After Michigan's football program flopped around the field like fish out of water on Saturday, with the exception of Devin Funchess and his nine receptions for 107 yards, loyal Wolverine fans nationwide lowered their heads in disappointment as they saw the close-up camera shots of their team's head coach wide-eyed, sweaty, and seemingly helpless as Notre Dame shut out Michigan for the first time since 1984, 31-0. Indeed, that is 365 consecutive games of Wolverine scoreboard action, a FBS record, and a larger point deficit than the blow The Crimson Tide served The Victors in 2012.

No wonder why people are questioning whether Hoke is worth continued investment. Hoke's record at Michigan is well-documented. Before delving into the terms and conditions of Hoke's employment contract in Part 2 of this post, here is a narration of his journey to date as the Maize & Blue's 19th head football coach:

  • Season 1, 2011: 11-2 overall, 6-2 Big Ten, 8-0 at home, Allstate Sugar Bowl win. Translation: Hoke could produce wins with Rich Rodriguez's recruits all grown up. Note: Beyond his regular season compensation, under section 3.02(d)'s pay table in his contract, Hoke received additional compensation of $125,000 for appearing in a second or third place conference bowl, the Sugar Bowl, as the "at-large" Big Ten bid.
  • Season 2, 2012: 8-5 overall, 6-2 Big Ten, 6-0 at home, Outback Bowl loss. Translation: Hoke had NCAAF fans believing that his young recruits would eventually produce as Rich Rod's were departing, and curse you, Jadeveon Clowney, for "The Hit!" Note: Hoke received additional compensation of $80,000 for appearing in any bowl game, win or lose.
  • Season 3, 2013: 7-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten, 5-2 at home, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl loss. Translation: This is called the Circle of Life, and Michigan was back to where it started before Hoke. (At least under Rich Rod's coaching, Michigan's record improved each year: 3-9 in 2008, 5-7 in 2009, and, alas, 7-6 in 2010.) When a bowl sponsor refuses to play its bowl game in its restaurants and chooses, likely for contract reasons, to show a UFC fight instead, even in the hometown of one of the bowl teams, you know you need to reevaluate your team. Thank goodness for NCAAB season. Note: Hoke received additional compensation of $85,000 for, again, appearing in any bowl game.
  • Season 4, 2014: 1-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten, 1-0 at home. Translation (as of 9/8/14): If the Wolverines do not get it together, the Circle of Life (see above) would predict a season similar to the 2009 season. Michigan can defeat a Division II school it sought vengeance against, but former Alabama offensive coordinator and current Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is probably wondering, "Was a $150,000 pay increase worth jumping ship? I might be out of a job sooner than I thought." (In Nussmeier's employment contract, Michigan reserved the right to terminate his employment "in the event that Coach (Brady) Hoke is no longer employed as the Head Men's Football Coach. In the event that Coach Hoke is no longer employed as the Head Men's Football Coach for whatever reason the University shall be entitled to terminate (Nussmeier's) employment.")

Please keep this information in mind when you read the next part of this post, which will go into the contract and four scenarios in detail.