Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, left, shakes hands with Sugar Bowl committee member Dr. Lee Moss as the team arrives at Louis Armstrong International Airport, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, in New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game against Virginia Tech on Jan. 3.

NEW ORLEANS — Michigan coach Brady Hoke deflects opportunities to take credit for the Wolverines' resurgence this season.

But his players say their first-year coach has played a significant role in getting Michigan back to a BCS bowl for the first time in five years.

The Wolverines take on Virginia Tech in Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl. Michigan had been to only one bowl, which it lost badly, in the previous three seasons.

Wolverines safety Jordan Kovacs says Hoke is easy to play for because he understands Michigan traditions from his days as an assistant under Lloyd Carr. Kovacs says players responded to Hoke's passion for the program and tone of mutual respect.

Michigan tight end Kevin Koger says Hoke also re-established a foundation of toughness, accountability and pride in the program.