The MAC continues to bleed coaches -- Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Miami and Toledo have already hired, or will soon hire, new coaches for the 2009 season. Next up, it looks like Ball State will have to replace Brady Hoke. An ESPN report on Sunday claimed that Hoke will leave the Cardinals for the Pacific coast, where he will take over the San Diego State head coaching job.
Hoke was believed to be in the running for the top spot at Auburn -- which was filled by Iowa State's Gene Chizik last week -- and then a possible candidate to fill Chizik's shoes in the Big 12. He was also a rumored contender for the Michigan job last year, a fair assumption since he had served as associate head coach there.
Hoke was still a sleeper candidate at that point. Prior to the 2007 season, when Ball State went 7-6 and won the International Bowl, the Cardinals had managed no more than five wins in any year under Hoke. The 2007 bump set the stage for 2008, though, as Ball State stormed the national scene.
The Cardinals nearly played BCS buster, running off a 12-0 start to the year before a stunning loss to Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game. Ball State plays in the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 6, 2009 versus Tulsa.
The foundation seemed to be in place for another strong season in 2009. The MAC, as discussed above, is undergoing some heavy turnover -- and, more importantly, it sounds as if Ball State's do-everything QB Nate Davis could return for his senior year.
If he does, it looks like it will be minus Hoke. The San Diego State program that Hoke would inherit is in shambles, having fired Chuck Long just weeks ago. The Aztecs are coming off a 2-10 year (their first 10-loss season ever) and have not had a winning season since 1998.
Just how close to rock bottom is SDSU? The Aztecs football team doesn't even have a Wikipedia page.
So what is Hoke doing? He's already getting attention from teams in BCS-affiliated conferences, and one would assume that heat would only crank up with another big season in 2009.
San Diego State, though, is a unique challenge -- and one that can be conquered. The California area is obviously rich with talent, and San Diego State has a bit of a local monopoly. Recruiting has not gone well lately, but it's got the potential to upgrade substantially. Throw in a great location and, probably, increase in pay, and it's not a shock that Hoke made this move.
Plus, it's worth mentioning that Urban Meyer did ... oh ... basically the same thing. Meyer trekked from Bowling Green to Utah -- which shares a MWC spot with San Diego State -- and then jumped to Florida. Should Hoke attain any measure of success at SDSU, he'll have his pick of any number of schools.