Welcome, Coach Hoke

The Michigan Wolverines have hired Brady Hoke as the new head football coach.  Hoke, who looks somewhat like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is a former Michigan assistant who was the head coach of San Diego State and formerly the head coach at Ball State.

Hoke’s hiring brings Michigan’s coaching search to an end.  I imagine that end cannot come soon enough for Michigan fans.  Former coach Rich Rodriguez was fired after a humiliating New Year’s Day loss without a designated successor ready to step in and take over.  The firing left Michigan without a head coach during some of the crucial days of the recruiting period.  It also kicked off a search process in which Michigan at times seemed like the awkward kid at the sock hop whose invitations to dance are embarrassingly, publicly spurned by everyone in attendance.  Jim Harbaugh went to the NFL and Les Miles decided to stay at LSU before Hoke accepted Michigan’s offer.

None of that means anything now, of course.  Hoke will have a chance to put his stamp on the program, and the best way for him to do that would be to guide his Wolverines to victories over Michigan’s big rivals, Ohio State and Michigan State.  And any Ohio State fan who believes that that result is wildly improbable would do well to remember an infamous article that appeared in The Michigan Daily on January 22, 2001.  The Daily sports columnist chuckled in wonderment at the very notion that a newly hired, “Division I rookie” coach could possibly expect to prevail against the mighty Wolverines and their star-studded roster in a game at the Big House the next season.  In the annals of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, that article is like the 1948 Chicago Tribune “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline — because the “Division I rookie” coach was Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes did in fact beat the heavily favored Wolverines in the game at Ann Arbor in November 2001, and Coach Tressel has gone on to lead Ohio State to victory in 9 of the 10 years he has coached the Buckeyes in The Game.

So, I welcome Coach Hoke back to the greatest rivalry in sports — and I hope that, despite his best efforts, he tastes bitter defeat when the 2011 version of The Game kicks off in 10 months.

Obscure Bands And Great Songs: Sam The Sham And The Pharoahs And Wooly Bully

In the ’50s and early ’60s, rock ‘n roll was simple and, well, fun.  The songs were about things like cars, or finding the right girl, or some new dance.  The weighty, political issues of the day were reserved for the folk singers, with their heartfelt lyrics about social injustice, their severe black clothing, and their ultra-serious attitudes about everything.  At some point in the mid-’60s, with the Vietnam War, civil rights, and street protests dominating the news, politics invaded rock ‘n roll, and the innocence of the music was never quite the same again.

The song Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs epitomizes the early days of rock ‘n roll.  It’s a song about nothing, and the music could not be more basic.  A repeated series of chords on a synthesizer, a basic rhythm guitar backing, a saxophone solo, and a bunch of dancing guys shouting out the mindless lyrics.  Put them all together, and you have one of the most infectious rock ‘n roll dance songs ever recorded.

The YouTube video of the song, below, is classic because it is live and shows some musicians who are having fun, not taking their performance too seriously, and enjoying their moment of fame.  And how about the politically incorrect band members, with Sam in his cheap, costume shop turban and the “Pharoahs” mysteriously clad, not like ancient Egyptian rulers, but rather like Bedouins?