My Time Spent with Coach Hoke, Part 1

Submitted by IncrediblySTIFF on August 6th, 2011 at 11:00 AM

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!"



August 6th, 2011 at 11:18 AM ^

Are you saying that Brady Hoke is only paying dismissive lip service to the notion that the degree is the most important thing? And that he in fact regards playing football as the most important thing? Are you saying that Aaron Wellman's attitude towards NCAA compliance is one of anger and hostility, or was Wellman simply attempting humor?


August 6th, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

A little humor is a great thing. However, the pattern from these stories is that Coach Hoke uses humor to cover a contempt for anything that doesn't help the football team win. Winking at the NCAA "voluntary" practice rules and, while playing the academics first coach in public, telling the team that "football is the only thing that matters" in a funny manner is SEC-esque. I am hoping that this sampling is skewed and Part 2 of this diary will contain better stories of Coach Hoke upholding the values of Michigan and a true respect for the NCAA rules.


August 6th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

but context (i.e. being there) is important.  I think the sight gag was to get their attention, and clearly the episode was memorable which is why we're reading it.

For most of these players, football was probably #1 and academics might not even have been on their radar.  Maybe even getting them to think of academics and football in the same sentence (or bringing academics from the ether to one of their goals) was the point.

Obviously, Michigan has pretty high standards and it will be interesting to read more anecdotes about Coach Hoke.


August 6th, 2011 at 11:45 AM ^

and thus have true "insider" knowledge of how he runs a football program, you should be using your real name and not a pseudonym, especially since you're portraying Hoke as somewhat of a double-talking hypocrite when it comes to the proper roles of academics and collegiate sports.


August 6th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

I really enjoy what you have to offer to this board, HOWEVA I'll keep my name to myself.  You could probably figure it out if you went through all my post.

Maybe I started off with the wrong stories.  You can take what you want from what I have to say.  Let me assure you that Hoke does follow the rules, and he knows the roles of academics and athletics.  This, I guess, was his way of bringing humor into a situation that is not really related to anything funny.


August 6th, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

Every coach in college has the same exact speech canned.   RR said the exact same thing.  "Workouts are voluntary, so is playing time"  This is not a violation or an ethical problem with Hoke.  

As for the academics vs athletics.  It's just a word play game to highlight that both are extremely important.

In short...relax and get off your extremely high horse. If you really care about your schools academic record as much as their win/loss record you should go follow Yale.  Hoke provides them with an opportunity and plenty of help to get their education.  If they choose to waste it it's their problem.


August 6th, 2011 at 7:12 PM ^

If you really care about your schools academic record as much as their win/loss record you should go follow Yale

Many, if not most, people on here care about Michigan's academic record more so than the football team's record.

And frankly, if you're someone that doesn't care about Michigan's academic reputation, including in regard to student athletes, then you can go become a fan of Auburn or Alabama or South Carolina.


August 6th, 2011 at 8:20 PM ^

I have to agree with you Tom. It was important for me, along witht the majority of my teammates, to graduate. This is ball state we are talking about, the majority of us knew we were not headed for the nfl. I personally knew the imprtance enough of athletics that when my grades began to suffer, I quit football and moved home in order to stay focussed on my task at hand...a diploma.
Let me assure once more, that although Coach Hoke was using some supsect choice of words and wording, he did not ever lose sight of the overall picture as to why these football players were on his team.


August 7th, 2011 at 11:14 AM ^

.....that  all of us who are alumni / alumnae went there for the academics, athletes included. The kids on the field are out there in the full knowledge that their actual chances of seeing one snap, pitch, basket, face-off, the professional level are not that good overall. I personally agree with the interpretation previously mentioned regarding a symbiosis of ideas which Hoke was trying to convey - it really is about that degree, and if athletics is your vehicle for obtaining it, then you better do your best at both. 

Blue in Yarmouth

August 9th, 2011 at 9:14 AM ^

you are off base with that statement. If you talk to all the recruiting guru's that frequent this site  and have contact with these recruits (Tom, Tim and the likes) I am sure they will tell you that a very small minority choose UM because of the academics. It is a nice thought that they would, but it just isn't the case.

That doesn't mean as fans we should hope for excellence on the field at the expense of excellence (or adequacy) in the classroom from our student athletes, but to suggest that ALL alumni (including athletes) chose to attend UM because of the academics is wishful thinking and simply wrong. 


August 7th, 2011 at 6:06 PM ^

How are all the kids on the team doing with their grades?   Are you making sure they all have serious majors.  Are you sending Hoke emails because your worried about M. Odoms employment opportuniites because of his major.

Of course you want to preserve Michigan's academic standing, but that has little to do with the football team.



August 6th, 2011 at 4:41 PM ^

Most people don't want their real name to be used online. It's not safe and not smart. The guy told a story, and I'm inclined to believe him. It's entirely possible that he's lying but I don't think so. What motive does he have to lie? To make other people on a website think that he's cool? To try and impress random people online so he can be friends with them? If that's the case and he's taking time out to write a couple hundred words about an imaginary scenario then you should feel sorry for him, not be getting angry at him. Just chill.

IncrediblyBLUE, keep them coming. 


August 7th, 2011 at 1:27 AM ^

A poster who played for Hoke and is cool enough to tell us about it should use his real name?  Puh-leeze.  Anyone who really gives enough of a shit to cyber-stalk and has an IQ over 90 can already figure out who he is on their own from the info the poster has already provided.  I don't care, though, and don't have time to cyber-stalk anyway.

As for the "double-talking hypocrite" thing re Hoke, I certainly didn't see it.  It just sounded to me like a coach having fun while getting his point across.  

I hope the poster continues with many of these throughout the year.  Insight into how Hoke handles a big win, or a big loss, or how he motiveates teams for big games or tries not to let them get too full of themselves for "easy" games would all be great subjects during the season, timed for the opponent that week.

And if you don't want to read it, do what I do for subjects that don't interest me: just don't read it.   



August 7th, 2011 at 4:04 PM ^

Thanks, Tater. This is the first time I've been impressed with a post of yours. There will always be detractors, I think, and some of the people who I respect more on this board are not always going to view things the same way as I will. Like I said before, I don't know that I will put any of these out in season, I feel that there are more important topics than myself.


August 6th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

I want more of this! I enjoy the style and OMG real frank stories without padding and or whitewashing!!! This is journalism and thats why its interesting to read!!! Please don't listen to the dissenting opinions above, this is what writing is supposed to be at its core.


August 6th, 2011 at 12:33 PM ^

Interesting stories, but.... I know you use the disclaimer that these aren't exact quotes, but it makes me uneasy to see all the quotation marks.  I makes for a more dramatic read that way, but probably more fair to the real people in these stories to just tell what you remember.  I'm sure you aren't a journalist, but you are basically playing that role here.  With the potentially loaded topics above, the quotation marks seem like looking for trouble. 


August 6th, 2011 at 1:00 PM ^

one of the real people in the story.  A lot of my close friends, guys I've known for the past nine or ten years now and I still stay in touch with today are also real people in this story.  I gave a disclaimer before hand saying there was no way for me to remember word for word what was said.

Also, I may not be a journalist, but my degree was in English; I chose to put a little bit of creative journalism into this in order to make it a better read.  Man, I can't wait to see your response to my next one regarding 4AM sandbag carries at the stadium in sub-zero temperatures.


August 6th, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

Did you ever get to have a beer with coach Hoke? I feel like having a beer with someone is the best way to get a glimpse into someone's true personality. Nice diary.