Michigan's athletic department declined to comment for this article, but many U-M observers see Hoke's hiring and initial performance as a reaction to Rodriguez's deficiencies--both personal and professional. Hoke is jovial and media-friendly, while Rodriguez often came off as brooding and uncomfortable with reporters. And where Rodriguez sought out fast, undersized players who could run his spread offense, Hoke's 2012 recruiting class is dominated by large defensive players. Many observers take that as a sign that the team is returning to its roots. "You have to win football games, in the Big Ten or any power conference, by playing sound defense," says Nightingale. "I think that's the thing that really torpedoed Michigan's seasons over the last three years. If you look at the losses Michigan had, I think we were first in the conference in points scored, and dead last in points allowed. So Hoke's focus on defense will bring Michigan back to the place that it really needs to be."