In putting a dormant Ball State program in the national spotlight, Brady Hoke was bound to be a wanted man, so his reported departure isn't going to stun anyone -- however the school he's leaving for certainly will.
Hoke will reportedly be named San Diego State's next coach as early as Monday according to numerous reports, including the San Diego Union-Tribune. He will leave his alma mater after a 12-1 regular season that landed him a guest spot on the Late Show with David Letterman to take over a program that hasn't won more than five games since 2003 and hasn't been to a bowl game in 10 years.
No contract figures have been reported, but it was believed that San Diego State could triple Hoke's current base salary of $240,000.
The move isn't without its basis: Hoke has SDSU ties with his brother Jon, who was an Aztecs assistant from 1987-88 and he recruited in California while on staff at Michigan. But was Hoke really pining that much to get out of Muncie, Ind., that he'd take over a program in shambles? There are the obvious draws, like better facilities with Qualcomm Stadium and the fact that he now gets to live in a place where it doesn't have the potential to snow seven months out of the year, but for the next few years Hoke will be chasing respectability and not bowl bids.
If this move makes little sense for Hoke, you can say the same about the Aztecs. They were rumored to have also been considering UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who recruits the L.A. area and is from Southern California. But conventional moves have made little sense for SDSU as of late, like the hiring of Chuck Long, who had no previous head coaching experience.
Hoke will be taking over a rebuilding project that would turn away Norm Abrams. The Aztecs ranked 91st or lower in 13 major national categories this season, including total offense (99th) and total defense (112th). There is no quick turnaround, as Long found out in getting canned after going 9-27 in three seasons. Hoke will have his work cut out for him to make SDSU a Mountain West contender, though if he did manage to do at SDSU what he's done at Ball State, he'd likely be even more sought-after. Remember, Hokie did interview with Auburn before it hired Gene Chizik away from Iowa State, though it's unclear whether he was truly considered for the job or simply brought in at the recommendation of a search committee. Re-establishing another program could allow him to write his own ticket and maybe that's why Hoke is leaving the school where he played and received his first shot as a head coach.
Still, it's hard to imagine why this is ultimately the job an up-and-coming coach would have picked following his breakout season. Of course, it is a move that is rather reminiscent of one another MAC coach made in jumping to the MWC when Urban Meyer left Bowling Green to go to Utah -- and we all know how that one turned out.