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!"