May 1, 2012

Borton's Blog: Two of a kind

Brady Hoke and John Beilein share a lot in common, despite one coming from Ohio and the other New York. Those similarities bode well for two of Michigan's highest profile sports over the next several years.

Here's a short list, with room for expansion…

• Beilein and his wife, Kathleen, have been married for 33 years. Hoke and his wife, Laura, have been married for 32. Obviously, they know a little bit about the commitment and accountability they preach.

• Neither Beilein or Hoke is a big talker, either in predictions about their teams or in self-promotion. When Hoke says he has an ego this big (holding thumb and index finger an inch apart), he backs it up in every way imaginable, blaming himself for the Michigan State loss last year while turning every bit of the Ohio State victory spotlight on his players, especially his seniors.

Beilein similarly heaped praise on Zack Novak and Stu Douglass for Michigan's run to the Big Ten title, while spreading the plaudits throughout the roster. It was never about him, and it's obvious it never will be.

• Neither of the two are excuse-makers. One need look no farther than the difficult losses to Michigan State each suffered over the past few months to understand that. Hoke credited the opponent, took the hit for any preparation issues, and moved onward (and considerably upward).

Beilein didn't bemoan anything after losing in East Lansing - not the fatigue of his players, not the officials, not the conditioning of his players, not even the effectiveness of his scout team. He demonstrated a grace and class in defeat that isn't common these days.

• Both have a common touch with those they're around. Michigan fans encounter one or the other, and come away genuinely impressed by the way they're treated. Some of that comes with the territory and the position, but there are some aspects of interacting with others that can't be faked.

• Both are well regarded and high achievers already, when it comes to their sport at Michigan. Three NCAA Tournaments over the past four years and U-M's first Big Ten championship since 1986 says plenty about Beilein, while Hoke's 11-2 initial run and extremely high-level recruiting whisper that bigger gains are right around the corner.

• Both are respected by their peers. Coaches from Bob Knight to Rick Pitino and back spoke about Beilein's uncanny Xs and Os before he ever rolled into Ann Arbor. Hoke's Coach of the Year effort in the Big Ten, and finalist standing for several national Coach of the Year awards, says plenty.

All of that doesn't guarantee the Daily Double of Big Ten championships in those sports come fall/winter. But the fact that Michigan stands closer to such being a possibility than it has in close to 20 years speaks pretty loudly.


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