September 29, 2011
Brady Hoke is a self-professed hoarder: A hoarder of hats. Baseball hats, football hats, hockey hats, whatever he can get his hands on — as long as it doesn't have a Michigan logo.
As part of his ongoing mission to inspire Michigan with his deep and abiding awe for all things Maize and Blue, Hoke takes them from unsuspecting players trying to make a fashion statement or showing off that they just raided the shelves of their local Lids store. He isn't hip to the latest trends, and he doesn't care if you're wearing a Tampa Bay Rays hat just to mock the Red Sox. If the hat isn't a Michigan hat, it has no place in the Michigan athletic facilities.
"Those are hats from players that don't wear Michigan hats in here," Hoke told the San Diego Union-Tribune while showing off his collection, which now includes specimens touting the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Penguins — though no one, thankfully, has had the audacity to walk in wearing a logo from another school. "You only wear Michigan in here."
After all, Michigan has a rich tradition that his players are now a part of, so why would they want to support another team?
Like the rest of Hoke's "This Is Michigan" campaign — which so far includes installing countdown clocks ahead of games with Michigan State and Ohio State, blaring the fight song throughout the football offices on a daily basis, handing out a "Victor's Manual" to players touting Michigan history and traditions, insisting on referring to Ohio State as "Ohio" and refusing to wear red, among other things — the strict fashion policy is the kind of thing that continues to endear him to the kind of fan who thought predecessor Rich Rodriguez's biggest problem was his insufficient reverence for "the Team, the Team, the Team." (As opposed to the fact that his teams were terrible on defense and special teams and gave away turnovers by the truck full.) And if the Wolverines extend their early winning streak — they're 4-0 after Saturday's 28-7 win over San Diego State — into Big Ten play, it gives the traditionalists yet another reason to overlook that some things, despite the rhetoric, haven't changed at all.