Brady Hoke receives standing ovation at Michigan football banquet
Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke attended the Wolverines' end-of-the-year football banquet on Monday night and received a standing ovation less than a week after he was fired, according to the Associated Press.
Hoke was seated "front and center" and in his remarks to the audience of players and coaches, said he was proud of everything the team had done this year, despite the struggles it endured on the field. Michigan went 5-7 (3-5 Big Ten), failing to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2009.
"This football team showed great resiliency, throughout a season that saw many external distractions," Hoke said. "But we're united together, and as a team, they played every Saturday, and I'm very proud of that for them, and very proud of what this coaching staff did."
Michigan fired Hoke last week, ending a tumultuous run that began successfully with a Sugar Bowl win in 2011. The Wolverines went 11-2 that year, but regressed to 8-5 in 2012 and 7-6 in 2013.
A number of players chose to praise Hoke in their speeches at the banquet, which was intended to honor the outgoing seniors. Punter Will Hagerup, who was suspended in 2012 for an unspecified violation of team rules and sat out all of 2013, was among the players to thank Hoke, as well as director of athletic counseling Will Harden.
"I want to be very clear, so please listen up: Brady Hoke, Greg Harden, Michigan football saved my life," Hagerup said. "Coach Hoke risked everything for me. He took bullets for me and my team the entire season. When it comes to caring and believing in his players, Brady Hoke does, more than any head coach in this country."
Hoke also received praise from interim athletic director Jim Hackett, who is tasked with finding Hoke's replacement.
"We owe Coach Hoke a deep debt of gratitude for having the kind of program that will help you for the rest of your life, as he understood how values withstood the test of time, how integrity builds trust, and how trust allows us to follow," Hackett said. "Thank you Brady, for all you have done."
- Jack Jorgensen