I guess the easy answer is David Brandon was telling the truth all along. He really was going to assess the program at the end of the season, and that's what he's doing, common sense be damned. In the business world there is no regular season, no signing season etc.
In college football, it seems to be a MAJOR disadvantage (like set back the program even further) to fire your coach without having someone already in mind this late in the season.
I was hoping all along that Brandon had a secret deal with Harbaugh to come in after the bowls were over. It is pretty clear that isn't the case. Maybe he thought he could get JH, maybe he thought M would do better in the bowl game and he could reasonably keep RR. But none of those things seem to be happening.
Brady Hoke could have been hired the day after the OSU debacle. That would have made the bowl prep more useful, would have been a more consistent face for recruiting. Instead, it looks like he's a desperation hire in January, after M's biggest recruits have already said they're looking elsewhere. Hoke may be the right choice, but choosing him means M wasted 5-6 weeks with RR still on the job.
It will be difficult for Hoke to reconcile the split fanbase. Who's really excited about this choice? I don't think he really qualifies as a "Michigan Man," does he? A position coach for 8 seasons, is that really all it takes? Would Billy Harris have been an option when Mo was fired? I don't think anyone would have been happy with that and he played for Michigan.
Now Hoke has had some success as a head coach. One good season at Ball State and San Diego State each, but his overall record is still only 47-50. I guess that is better than Moeller's at Illinois, but does anyone think Hoke is half the coach Moeller was?
I've said before my biggest fear in a coaching change situation would be no one wanting the Michigan job, further showing how much Michigan has fallen from relevancy. I don't think having Brady Hoke want the job relieves any of those fears.
I read in Craig Ross's book that when the basketball team fired Steve Fisher, Johnny Orr said he would be the interim coach for a season (I think he even said for free!) allowing the AD to take time to find the right guy. Instead they went head first into the Brian Ellerbe era, mostly because there was no one else. I don't want Hoke to be equivalent to Ellerbe. Maybe, Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr or even Jerry Hanlon could step in in this situation?