ANN ARBOR, Mich. — When Brady Hoke was coaching at San Diego State, he played a part in scheduling a game for this week at Michigan Stadium.
Hoke now wishes he hadn't.
"I told Dave Brandon, 'Let's buy that one out,'" Hoke recalled Monday.
"They're good," Hoke said.
Hoke would know. He led San Diego State for two years, turning around its program after doing the same at Ball State, before he was hired by Michigan in January to replace Rich Rodriguez.
And now his 22nd-ranked Wolverines will host the Aztecs on Saturday in a matchup of 3-0 teams that is mildly awkward for the new Michigan coach, who knows it would have been unfair to bail out on the game last winter.
"Would have been way too hard for both teams to try and find new opponents and do all that kind of stuff," he said.
The year before Hoke arrived, San Diego State won just two games in 2008. Last year, the Aztecs beat Navy 35-14 in the Poinsettia Bowl, their first bowl win since 1969, for a ninth victory and the program's best season since 1977.
Soon after his second season in San Diego, Hoke bolted for his dream job in Ann Arbor and laments that he didn't have a chance to let the Aztecs know about the move in person because they weren't on campus during semester break.
"You send a text because you couldn't get 'em all together," he said. "There was a time element in everything obviously. We had a full team meeting when I left Ball State, my alma mater, that was hard to leave and hard to leave those kids. So we were fortunate enough to be able to do that. We couldn't do it out there."
Michigan defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said the Aztecs will probably say a lot of stuff to each other to get fired up this week.
"Those players are definitely going to be highly motivated," Van Bergen said. "I can imagine that they're going to come in with the demeanor of we're going to play hard and beat him in their house."
After a breakout game in the Big House against Eastern Michigan, Hoke said Vincent Smith has probably earned the right to get a shot to be the team's lead running back. Banged-up linebackers Brandon Herron (leg) and Cam Gordon (back) are expected to play.
"We've got a lot work ahead of us with a very good San Diego State team coming in," Hoke said. "They're undefeated, they're 3-0, beat Washington State last week. Very talented team, a team that's going to play with a lot of toughness and a team that's well-coached. We got our hands full."