Time spent in my (almost) three short seasons with Coach Brady Hoke.
I was never that good at football. I was a decent blocker, and I could catch most balls that were thrown in my direction, but I was never particularly fast and my route running was, in Coach Hoke’s words himself, “Satisfactory at best.” The main two things I had going for me in my ability to become a member of the Ball State Football team were that I could punt a ball 75 yards in the air easy, and that my best friend from high school was a full ride three year starter at linebacker.
After being recruited to the Ohio Bobcats, the Kentucky Wildcats, the Akron Zips, Ball State University, and Purdue University, I left high school with exactly zero offers save a preferred walk-on spot as a so called “ATHLETE” at Ball State. After graduating high school in the winter, I chose to attempt to walk on to the Purdue Boilermakers before spring ball. The special teams coach there told me I needed to be in better shape and make sure my grades were good, and he would possibly have a spot for me in the fall. The afore mentioned special teams coach took a job with Ball State that summer, and I had already considered leaving Purdue because I wanted to get out of my hometown, West LAFFALOT, so I followed him there and walked on the following spring. This is how I came to have Brady Hoke as my head coach.
In order to put any of these memories into order, I would have to write them all before posting any. Instead, these diaries will be more of little glimpses into my interactions with Coach, absolutely not in chronological order. These are not exact quotes; it is much too hard for me to remember word for word what was said 5-8 years ago.
The Compliance Story
I will start off with one that I posted in this thread; I apologize for those of you who have already read this one.
At the beginning of the season, an NCAA compliance guy comes in to talk about the rules of the NCAA and what the coaches can and can’t force us to do. He tells us about the amount of practice time we can use a week, the amount of time spent in non-practice, football related activities we can spend each week. He tells us that summer ball is and will always be optional. He also talks about receiving improper benefits and what it can do to a football program and coach if you get caught. After he left, first our strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman (currently still on Coach Hoke’s staff) comes in and tells us, “That guys a prick. Always trying to make my job harder.”
Coach Hoke then comes in. “I hope you guys were listening,” he starts. “Everything that guy said is true. We can’t force you to be at practice more than X hours each week. I can’t make you come to morning conditioning when you have practice in the afternoon. Hell, we can’t even make you play football here. If you don’t want to wash your hands after you piss, were not going to make you do that either,” he continues, as a few people in the room start to chuckle and understand what our great Coach is telling us. “You don’t even have to go to class tomorrow if you don’t want. In fact, if you guys don’t feel like eating tomorrow, or the rest of your life, be my guest.”
By now, the majority of the room was laughing. Coach Hoke quieted us down and said more seriously, “You will practice, with us, for the maximum amount of hours we are allowed to. Everything on top of that will be voluntary. Those of you who choose to volunteer for these additional hours, you are the ones who make this team better, you are the ones who will stay on scholarship, you are the ones who will see the field and produce on the field.”
Near the beginning of the fall after I walked on, Coach Hoke talked to us a little bit about academics and athletics.
“I want you guys to know that the reason you are attending this great university is to get a degree. Football might have been your deciding factor, but my job is to make sure that you receive an education off the field as well. You can do whatever you want with it; just help me to finish my job.
"To help you guys remember this, I made these numbers.” Coach Hoke then holds up two pieces of paper with a very large ‘1’ and ‘2’ printed on each piece respectively. “So guys,” he bellows, “Remember….Academics…#1,” he says, while holding up the sign that says ‘2.’ Aaron Wellman stands next to him pointing to the sign. Coach Hoke then switches to the #1 sign and continues, “Athletics….Number 2!” This time Wellman is using a two fingered point at the sign that says #1. Everyone in the room is laughing and nodding their head. Coach Hoke then puts back up the sign that says #2 and says again, “So, academics here,” and switching signs back to the #1, “Football here. Does everyone understand that?”
So, I’ve got to get this bar open and I’ve squandered all my time on writing this. I’m going to continue writing these little memoirs if ya’ll would like me to, the next one that I already started on is entitled “BRADY HOKE…THE PUNISHMENT FITS THE CRIME”
Thanks for reading…
EDIT: Just want to add this second disclaimer. I know these first two stories I've posted scream "OMG COMPLIANCE NOOO." I posted these two stories because these were two of the first interactions I had with Coach Hoke. I wouldn't worry too much. I don't know that I have any more stories about the NCAA compliance guy and Coach Hoke that go together, you can take what you want from what I have to say but please don't take 10 minutes of the countless hours I've spent with Coach Hoke and say, "Augh! compliance VIOLATIONS!"
A few days ago Massachusetts DB Armani Reeves had reported that he was again talking with the Michigan coaches. After discussing Michigan's intentions with Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison, and Curt Mallory, Reeves decided that he would think about adding them to his top list, which already included Penn State and Notre Dame.
Tonight he decided that he would continue with Michigan in his recruitment plans.
I'm going to put [Michigan] in the top three. Just because I like them so much that I was willing to look into what they have to offer. Pretty much everything I said before that they have academics, the whole thing with Michigan. I haven't really thought about what's next or if I'll visit any time soon yet. I don't know when I'm going to make my final decision either, this kind of changes things a little bit.
It says a lot that not only were the coaches able to get him to consider them again, but that he has included them in the top three. It's probably a good indication of how serious he is about Michigan and also how serious he is about his recruitment. As he said he hasn't thought out the future yet, but I would imagine he'll use an official visit to see Ann Arbor one more time.
Sometimes I'm not above sending a letter to the local paper. I come from a long line of people who wrote letters to local papers (surprise!). Anyway, I penned this as a response to DetNews' Josh Katzenstein on Michigan's Mascot but then Brian front-page responded to the same thing, so there's no use saving it for Dear Diary anymore.
Here's the damn letter that doesn't say "capturing the Sharp market" anywhere in it. Image at right is from MVictors.
Get your arrogance hats ohnnn:
- You can cheer the winningest program in college football history.
- You can cheer because you're the largest group of football fans gathered together to watch a football game in the world.
- You can cheer because of their success on the field.
- You can cheer because they stand up after their failures.
- You can cheer because the best things about our state: integrity, hard work, engineering, business, nature, and beauty, are embodied by its oldest and greatest institution.
- You can cheer because this program, this team, and this school care more about being worth cheering for than whether or not you're cheering.
At one point in his recruitment Massachusetts DB Armani Reeves and Michigan had parted ways. He then named Notre Dame and Penn State as his top two schools and figured to decide between the two. Today might have changed his plans however as he talked to a few of the Michigan coaches about their future plans and his recruitment. Here's a look at Reeves' film and what he had to say about the conversation with Michigan's coaches.
TOM: Where are you at right now with your recruitment, and what did you talk to Michigan about today?
ARMANI: I talked to Coach Hoke, Mattison, and Mallory. They told me that before they wanted me to commit and I wasn't ready. When the last DB committed that closed the deal to go our separate ways because they already had two corners committed. When they talked to us today they said that they wanted to bring in another high caliber cornerback and they felt I was the guy they want. Not only am I a great athlete, but they think I'm a typical Michigan player. They feel comfortable with me being the guy.
TOM: What was your reaction to that?
ARMANI: I kind of had mixed feelings because I wished I could have avoided the way everything happened, but they've always been one of my favorites. There was happiness and relief in there too. Penn State and Notre Dame are my top two so this shakes things up a little bit. It changes my path. It makes me want to think about everything and how I like the school so much with the academics. My major is there and the campus is great and all the guys there are really cool.
TOM: I imagine this is a lot to process all at once, do you know what you're going to do one way or the other yet?
ARMANI: I kind of have mixed feelings but I can't really say much about it right now. If you give me a couple days I'll have a better sense for it.
TOM: Did they tell you why they are recruiting you again? Did something change?
ARMANI: I wasn't because of anyone going anywhere else, it was more because of the group of guys that they have now. They want another prime time corner. They want to get a top ten guy in there that can hold their own.
TOM: I'm sure you have practice coming up and school starting, do you think you'll be able to visit Ann Arbor again before that starts?
ARMANI: We start practice in a couple weeks. I'm thinking about visiting, but we just got back from vacation yesterday. We're still trying to grasp everything and figure it out. We haven't crossed that bridge yet. We haven't really talked about it yet. If I do decide to continue everything with Michigan then I'll put them in the top three. I would definitely take my officials to the three schools [Notre Dame, Michigan, and Penn State] and then decide.
TOM: Do you think it helped or maybe showed how serious they are with what coaches were talking to you?
ARMANI: It definitely helped to talk to Coach Hoke and Mattison. Coach Mattison broke down the situation as far as continuing with everything. They explained everything to me very thoroughly. I felt very comfortable and they were very up front and honest with me. That helps and I'll get back to them in the next couple days if I want to continue or stick with the schools I have now.
[Ed: also check out Tom's Jehu Chesson interview.]
Detroit Catholic Central is the home of 2012 commit DE Matt Godin and 2013 RB target Wyatt Shallman (6'3", 248 lbs). Both were in attendance at Michigan's BBQ on Sunday and took in all the festivities. The event was probably more important for Shallman since his teammate Godin is already committed to the Wolverines. Here's a look at Wyatt's sophomore film and what he had to say about the event.
TOM: I know you're friends with a lot of the 2013 instate prospects, so did you guys all hang out at the BBQ?
WYATT: Yeah I was with the 2013 guys a lot. Shane [Morris] and [Jonny] Reschke. Their schools are two of our biggest rivals and usually Catholic Central kids wouldn't be caught dead with them. It was fun to sit down and not talk about high school football. It's interesting to talk about Michigan and to get a point of view from other teams about our high school. They're all a bunch of great guys, and they're all funny. Steve [Elmer] is a good guy too. He's a big dude; he's a beast. All of the 2013 kids are great.
TOM: Because of proximity I'm assuming you don't get to see Steve Elmer as much as the other guys. Was that your first time meeting him?
WYATT: The first time I ever met Steve I had heard about him during the season last year. I heard about some big dude and then I met him at the Notre Dame spring game for the first time. He's a teddy bear off the field but he's a killer on the field.
TOM: What was it like being out there with some of the guys that have committed already? Were they talking Michigan up?
WYATT: That was something that was interesting. A lot of the kids that were there today it's not like I knew them, I've played them though. Like James Ross. I know Danny O'Brien through Matt [Godin]. We were all just hanging out and playing catch out on the field and there was some chemistry with everyone. It was a different experience to get to know everyone in that atmosphere.
TOM: Since you're relatively close to Michigan have you been up there quite a bit, or was this all a new experience for you?
WYATT: I live twenty minutes away and the only time that I've really been there was to an Ohio State game in seventh grade, and also when I got my offer. This time we walked around campus, took a tour, and it was interesting to learn all the tradition and old things that are behind Ann Arbor. It's a cool little funky town. This visit was pretty sweet, I liked it a lot. Anytime you go on a visit and get good food and get to go on the field it's going to help. Plus the coaching staff is awesome, they're all really funny guys.
TOM: Since Matt Godin is your teammate and committed to Michigan has he been trying to recruit you at all?
WYATT: Matt and I, the recruiting has kind of cooled off because we're focused on the season. These visits aren't really the main attention right now. We start conditioning and two-a-days and we have our season right now to look at. He's been working hard though, and I'm really excited for his future.
TOM: With your recruitment do you really know yet what you're looking for?
WYATT: I don't know what I'm looking for yet, which is why I want to wait to decide. This isn't NCAA Football '12 where you can recruit a kid because he likes the college closer to home. There's a lot that goes into this, and there isn't one set thing that will make me go to a college. If it's the right fit for my family and I feel comfortable there then that's what I want.
Missouri receiver Jehu Chesson took in Ann Arbor with his family for the BBQ this past weekend. It was his first time up with the new coaching staff and he came away very impressed. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say about the trip.
TOM: I know you sent me a text after the BBQ that said the visit was great, but what made it so great?
JEHU: I got there and we actually got there Saturday night. We went to the barbecue on Sunday and I just liked how I got to meet the coaches and talk to Coach Heck about football. We didn't talk too much but at the end we found some privacy and talked recruiting.
TOM: You went with your family this time, who all went with you?
JEHU: My mom and dad took me and my brother. My dad had been there before, but they seemed to like it. My mom really likes the campus and my brother likes the Big House.
TOM: What kind of stuff was Coach Hecklinski talking to you and your family about?
JEHU: We didn't talk too much football. It was a public event so we talked about recruiting a little bit. We mostly talked about that and he was straight up with me and said that if two wide receivers commit then the receiver position is done. I feel like they're letting me know in advance what's going on with recruiting, which I like. I'm going to stay on my own track because I want to make sure I see all the schools I'm interested in. Coach Heck[linski] was just saying though that there's two spots so if one guy commits he's going to let me know. That speaks volumes with them.
TOM: Just to be clear they're going to let you know if someone else commits but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll jump and make a decision right?
JEHU: Right. They're going to let me know, and I can figure out what to do from there but I'd like to take my visits and everything.
TOM: With Michigan it seems like you have a good amount of interest, is that the case?
JEHU: Yeah, they have something going there but you don't really know until you see them play. They're one of the schools that I'm going to watch closely. Coach Hoke seems very family oriented, and I liked how the coaches brought their families to the barbecue to introduce them.
TOM: After this visit do you feel a higher comfort level with the coaches and maybe even the program?
JEHU: Yeah the coaches signed contracts for a certain amount of years, but I feel stability shouldn't be a problem there. Looking at what Hoke did at San Diego State they will definitely turn things around.
TOM: Was there anything that really stuck out to you about this visit?
JEHU: We watched a highlight film; it was a neat film they put together. It was basically about them rising back up, it got some guys fired up. That was what really stuck out, and also that it was family oriented.
TOM: Now that you have this visit done with what's next?
JEHU: I'm going to meet with my counselors and talk to them about what schools I want to narrow it down to. I should have a top list before summer ends.