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Hoke named Big Ten Coach of the Year

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There were no true expectations for Brady Hoke when he was announced as the new Michigan football coach in January. The school had gone through its worst three-season stretch in modern history. The biggest thing of all, to some, was merely making a change.

Hoke, it seemed, would have some time to turn things around. Apparently, he didn't need much.

Hoke on Wednesday was named the winner of the first Hayes-Schembechler Trophy, given to the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

That Hoke won this award is somewhat fitting, considering his father, John, played for Woody Hayes at Miami (Ohio) and former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler is one of Hoke's coaching influences.

"Any type of awards that are given, Heisman Trophy or best taper if you're taping ankles, the thing is we have a great staff, and we've had a great group of kids when you look at the seniors and what they've done," Hoke said. "My point is that it's never one person, one guy. It's everybody involved in the program. Jon Falk and how he gets the guys ready from the equipment standpoint, Paul Schmidt in the training room and how the people take so much pride feeding those kids and all that stuff.

"I got the greatest job in the world. It's fun. Fun being with those kids."

Hoke seemingly made right move after right move since that opening news conference, from how he handled situations off the field -- Darryl Stonum's suspension due to his second drunk driving arrest -- to on the field, where his team has been one of the biggest surprises of the Big Ten.

Hoke, who went 10-2 this season with a bowl game pending, had the best first season at Michigan since Bennie Oosterbaan finished 9-0 in 1948. It is the best first-year performance by a Big Ten coach since Bret Bielema went 12-1 and took Wisconsin to the Capital One Bowl in 2006.

It is actually the second consecutive season Hoke has won a coach of the year award and the third time in the last four seasons -- he was the Mountain West Coach of the Year at San Diego State last season and was the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year at Ball State in 2008.

The changes implemented by Hoke at Michigan have been dramatic. Beyond the on-field changes both on offense, where the Wolverines went from a spread to a hybrid offense, and on defense, where they went from a 3-3-5 to a 4-3-4, there was a change off the field.

Hoke focused more on rivalries, putting countdown clocks inside Schembechler Hall for the Michigan State and Ohio State games. Fifth-year senior center David Molk said Hoke placed much more emphasis on facing the Buckeyes than his predecessor.

In 11 months, he also completely changed the culture surrounding Michigan football, bringing back philosophies that were in place under former Wolverines coaches Lloyd Carr, Gary Moeller and Schembechler.

"He is us, we are him," Molk said. "I love him. I love how he coaches. I love his leadership ability and how he does it. I'd do anything for him."

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.