Saturday, January 15, 2011


What we have so far on Brady Hoke, the man who has taken the reins of the Michigan football program (in case you haven't heard), isn't much. What we do have is loud and entirely different from what we had before. Each utterance--This is Michigan--is an unknowing salvo against the precedent of the previous regime, an attempt to provide distance and proximity all at once. I don't want to talk about whether I think Brady Hoke is a good coach or not, or whether I think he can provide us the success that we all know. He might be. He might not be. Projection is useless.


Amidst the violence and bloodshed of the French Revolution, a group of folks sat around thinking: "Hey, I don't like this. Maybe we should stop this?" And they did. Maximilen Robespierre, the figurehead of the so called Reign of Terror, was summarily executed, without trial or due process, by guillotine, the very same instrument which he had employed to execute thousands who disagreed with his plans for France. Arguendo, Rich Rodriguez is Robespierre, because history is fun sometimes. Forget about the lopped off heads and all that terror with a capital T for a second and think about it. I mean, a blog existed to cast the Rich Rodriguez era as a sort of revolution. It's tenuous, I know, but let's keep going.

Rich Rodriguez, circa 1794

What began as a high-minded endeavor, a striving for liberty and equality and, yeah, maybe some pent up aggression against that whole Estates thing (where an endless parade of 2-1 votes against the hoi polloi seemed as rigged and unfair as the Big Ten conference's 1973 Rose Bowl verdict) turned sour, to put it lightly. Robespierre led the way, and royal sympathizers were executed left and right. A literal killing and a symbolic killing all at once. It was the end of a long and tiresome era of oppression, until it became apparent the very same principles that guided it all--liberté, égalité, the spread offense--would not work.

Dave Brandon, who we will call Charles-André Merda for the purposes of this absurd exercise, had seen enough. He pulled the trigger.

The Thermidorian Reaction was conservative revolution (if such a thing can exist) against the excess of the Reign of Terror. To make a long story short, it was a conscious decision to end the experiment.

The dictionary definition of "reaction" with respect to bacteriology states: "the specific cellular response to foreign matter."

Ignoring the details that make such a comparison ridiculous, we can glean some similarities. In both cases, a decision was made by some disgruntled entity to end this newfangled thing, and, necessarily, to inch back towards what was there before. We are inching--rather, leaping--back towards Lloyd Carr. 


Brady Hoke is the the Directory, the product of the aforementioned Reaction. He is a comfortable ideology, a combination of the old while being fresh-faced and untainted enough to not carry the stamp of stagnation that the tail end of the Llody era saw. Again, that might not be bad, and I'm certainly not saying that it definitively is. He might be good. He might not. 

But, if we look to this particularly interesting and surprisingly accessible era of French history, you will find that it took the French a few more tries to "get it right." The Directory failed, and then the Consulate after it. Then came Napoleon Bonaparte, and the rest, as they say, is history. This makes France the Notre Dame of the time, which, I guess, makes sense in a roundabout way. 

Kidding aside, this is a very real concern. Is Brady Hoke the Directory or Napoleon? Is he reaction for a purpose or reaction for comfort's sake? Sadly, we won't know for a long while. We await Year IV of the Revolution, yearning for answers. 


  1. Interesting analogy. One nitpick: there wasn't an endless parade of 2-1 votes in the Estates-General that preceded the Revolution. There were actually none at all, because when it was convened in 1789, it had not met since 1614. When it finally convened, the Third Estate immediately recognized the absurdity of the whole thing and declared itself the National Assembly.

  2. Thanks for the correction. I guess going off memory re: stuff you learned in high school is a bad idea. Regardless, I thought there were some interesting similarities, as somewhat forced as they may be.