Connect with us


Michigan football legend breaks down differences in Brady Hoke and Jim Harbaugh

Michigan football underwent a massive transition following the 2024 season, with Brady Hoke out and the Jim Harbaugh era underway.



Michigan football, Brady Hoke, Jim Harbaugh, Jake Butt
Oct 11, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

After slowly regressing from 11-2 down to 5-7 over the span of four seasons as head coach, Brady Hoke was given the boot by the Wolverines’ athletic department. In his place was former standout quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who had just concluded his short (but successful) stint with the San Fransisco 49ers. Yesterday, Michigan football legend Jake Butt, a tight end who played under both Hoke and Harbaugh, broke down the differences in style and more between the two coaches.

Michigan football legend Jake Butt breaks down the major changes from Brady Hoke to Jim Harbaugh

The Rich Rodriguez experiment was a complete failure for Michigan football, forcing the Wolverines to hire a new head coach for the 2011 season. Brady Hoke, who was an assistant under Lloyd Carr, was brought in and saw some immediate impressive success — his first Michigan team went 11-2, winning a New Year’s Six bowl and downing Ohio State along the way.

That said, his 11-2 record turned into an 8-5 season, then a 7-6 season, and finally, a 5-7 season, which got him fired. Jim Harbaugh had just left San Fransisco, and it appeared that the stars were aligned for the former standout Wolverine quarterback and a desperate Michigan football program, which had fallen from grace over the previous eight seasons.

Now, heading into the 9th season of the Jim Harbaugh era of Michigan football, it’s clear that the Wolverines made the right call — Michigan is 74-25 overall under Harbaugh with six ranked finishes, five 10-win seasons, two Big Ten titles, and two College Football Playoff appearances. Yesterday, Michigan football legend and former tight end Jake Butt, who is currently a Big Ten football analyst, broke down the transition that the program went through from Brady Hoke to Jim Harbaugh.

“(Brady Hoke) is one of the best people on the planet; he is a great guy,” Jake Butt said on the ‘Snaps’ podcast. “When I graduated from Michigan — (Hoke) was out living in San Diego — he took us out for lunch, had some beers. Awesome dude. Jim (Harbaugh) — I don’t even think he drinks; he is all about ball.

“When (Brady Hoke) would walk into the team room, everyone would be like, ‘Hey!’ We would cheer and clap for him, and it was a nice thing. So when Jim gets hired … (an assistant coach) was like, ‘I know you guys used to cheer for Brady — we’re not going to do that here. We cheer when we win, so sit up straight and have your notepad ready; Coach Harbaugh is coming in a few minutes.’

“The big difference, though, was the quality of assistant coaches and coordinators,” Jake Butt continued. “It’s really less about Xs and Os; you have to be a good identifier and delegator and bring in the right people.”

Heading into the 2023 season, it’s clear that Jim Harbaugh and Michigan football have identified the right people to bring on the staff, just as Jake Butt said. This fall, the Wolverines are expected to be contending for a third-straight Big Ten title and the program’s first national title in quite some time; needless to say, Harbaugh and the program are doing quite well in the post-Hoke era.

Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics and Big Ten content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Publisher at Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other streaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball. Right now, CJ is the publisher of Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. Previously, CJ has made stops with Fansided, The Michigan Daily, and more.