The Game gets lost in talk of Hoke's status
Michigan coach Brady Hoke tried to focus on Saturday's showdown in Columbus against Ohio State, but Monday's conversation kept going in other directions.
His job security and relationship with interim athletic director Jim Hackett overshadowed much of the talk about the arguably the biggest rivalry in sports.
Before Monday's press conference became all about him, Hoke did manage to say that the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is the "greatest one in sport;" that there's "nothing like" the atmosphere in Columbus; that Michigan's goal is to always play "their best game during the last Saturday of November;" and that there's a "special pride" to play and coach in this game.
When Hoke was asked to comment on how he handles the speculation that his Michigan coaching career is nearing the end, he again tried to turn the focus back on his team and Saturday's game.
"They can speculate and do all that," he said. But, honestly, if we get distracted, if I get distracted in what we're doing, then that's not fair to those 115 kids.
"So, from that piece alone, I think I've said it -- that I've never been worried about a job. I worry about the job that we do for those kids."
Hoke refused to elaborate on his relationship and the conversations he's had with Hackett, who told reporters last Saturday that he'll evaluate Hoke and the football program at the end of season.
"I appreciate the question," Hoke responded when asked how he would defend his job performance in a meeting with Hackett. "But that would be something I'd talk to Jim about. I don't think this is the right venue to do it.
"I think this is the venue to talk about this great rivalry coming up."
Hoke's only comment about his upcoming evaluation was that he "respected" the process.