Relationships between NFL players and their former NCAA coaches: What do you expect from Hoke and Beilein

Submitted by Butterfield on July 2nd, 2013 at 8:06 PM

NFL players and their ongoing relationships (or lack thereof) with their former college coaches have been in the news quite a bit lately - Meyer/Hernandez, Meyer/Tebow, and just recently Harbaugh/Sherman. 

The summary if you don't feel like clicking on the link is Sherman, who was coached at Stanford by Harbaugh, has zero contact with his ex-coach. 

"I don't have a relationship with him," Sherman said in an interview with the "Total Access" program. "I don't try to go any route with him. I don't deal with him; he is not my coach. So I deal with what is going on in Seattle and I keep it there." 

This situation obviously is unique, as Harbaugh's moved to the NFL to coach the 49ers and Sherman's Seahawks are likely the 9ers biggest rival. 

But this (and seeing Beilein with Burke and Hardaway at the NBA draft) got me thinking - do we as a fanbase have any expectation for how our coaches continue relationships with former players?  Do we expect them to remain close and continue to be mentors/advisors to the players who move on to the NFL (and even to the guys who no longer proceed with football)?  Trey and THJ aren't far removed, but you get the feeling Coach B will be a lifelong influence in their lives.  You kind of get the same impression with Big Will and Coaches Hoke/Mattison - that they'll continue to be involved in BWCs life/career.  Would you be dissapointed in Brady Hoke if he dissasociated with a guy who got in trouble after leaving the program? 

To me, that continuing relationship with professors/coaches/classmates is a big part of the Michigan difference.  Curious if the rest of the MGoCommunity feels the same way or if you couldn't care less about those relationships once a student athlete graduates. 



July 2nd, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

Is there an expectation? I don't think so, unless the player is doing his part to reach out to the university (in which case I'd expect the coach to at least reciprocate) I don't think there's an expectation, and a lack of contact would be towards the bottom of my list of possible complaints of coaches.

That having been said, it's a damn nice bonus. Not only does it make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see a coach having a positive influence on a player long past his graduation, but its very healthy for the program to have good alumni involvement. In that, I think we ought to be extra grateful that Hoke & Beilein seem to do this so well. It's not expected, but the fact that our major coaches go beyond the expectation of them is something to be proud of here.


July 2nd, 2013 at 11:23 PM ^

A kid spends like 40 hours a week playing, practicing, working out, watching film for a coach and the minute said kid graduates, no contact is the norm? It's expected and normal to assume coaches keep in contact with their "kid". 

I am going to stay away from the kids with no father figure aside from the coach and assume you understand.


July 2nd, 2013 at 8:18 PM ^

...some won't. Certainly easier to do that when your coach continues to represent your alma mater vice your bitter divisional rival. 


July 2nd, 2013 at 8:19 PM ^

My buddy was a walk on fullback at Ball State. Hoke still keeps in touch with him. Wellman even let him come in early for a workout when he visited for a game last year. I'd say this staff has an appreciation for former players.


July 2nd, 2013 at 10:26 PM ^

Yup. My friend, who played for Hoke at BSU, and his entire family were lifelong Notre Dame diehards (catholics from Chicago suburbs). He and his entire family tossed ND aside and went full Maize & Blue as soon as UofM hired Hoke. Needless to say, they really admired how Hoke treated them.


July 3rd, 2013 at 6:49 AM ^

Also if you remember when the Head Coach spot opened up lots of former players instantly put their votes in for Hoke. I know I (very mistakenly) didn't know of him nor did I really want a coach that had such a terrible record.  Most people don't go out of their way like that unless they really believe and trust someone.

Marley Nowell

July 2nd, 2013 at 8:20 PM ^

I would hope that the players would want to maintain a relationship with the coaches and reach out for assistancea and guidance in the future always have a place at Michigan.

NOLA Wolverine

July 2nd, 2013 at 8:30 PM ^

What is the scope of your "mentor/advisor" comment? That's really vague. That and your three examples are players in that odd transition to the draft so far, one where many players remain close to their colleges during all over the country. As far as after they've joined life and have a job, house, and a station wagon with six pegs to put their family in I think the contact is minimal. The coaches are busy enough with the guys on their roster, and really, graduating is kind of a big cord-cutting moment. I would expect they could call once in a blue moon and get lunch/tickets or visit a practice and catch up with people they're presumably friendly with, but if they need intense hands on mentoring I would not expect that from a coach or any other non-compensated adult. 


July 2nd, 2013 at 8:31 PM ^

You hear stories about Joe Paterno* and how virtually all of his ex-players remained in regular contact with him well after their college careers were over, how he helped them in life more than just football.  I love that, and think our staffs have a lot of those same human qualities, far beyond just offering tickets and catching a practice "once in a blue moon." 

*Yes, I realize Paterno did some bad things.  If possible, please look past that for a second to see that he also did a lot of good  in his lifetime. 


July 2nd, 2013 at 8:43 PM ^

It'd be nice to maintain a relationship but the two parties have full time jobs in different locations, busy schedules etc. It is ridiculous to have expectations for them to continue a close relationship IMO. What I do expect is somewhat of an "open door"

policy for former players. But it is up to the player to initiate contact, not the coach or administration.


July 2nd, 2013 at 8:46 PM ^

I'd be willing to bet that even if Hoke went to the NFL and had a former player on a rival team it wouldn't stop him from keeping in touch.


July 2nd, 2013 at 9:10 PM ^

Adults to set the boundaries of their own relationships as they move through life, wherever they go. I don't intend to sound dismissive, I just don't know beyond some idealized concept of how coaches/players form lifelong bonds, why I'd have any specific expectations for how and who they choose to maintain relationships with throughout their adult lives.


July 2nd, 2013 at 9:19 PM ^

Look at the amount of former players that were in attendance at Hoke's introduction press conference. I think that says a lot for his post coach/player relationships.

Perkis-Size Me

July 2nd, 2013 at 9:34 PM ^

If a player wants to keep in touch and continue to receive guidance from Hoke/Beilein, I can't imagine either of them would turn away. In my opinion, if a former player wants to remain a part of this university, they will, and should, always have a place here. I'd love to see countless alums roaming the sidelines every Saturday, or the Fab Five come back to Crisler to be honored. Reminds us that Michigan is one big family.

At what point does a coach give up on or disassociate with a player, should they be sent to prison or something like that? Not sure, but I guess it depends on what the player did to be put in that situation. I mean, Bo never gave up on Billy Taylor, but when you have a guy like Aaron Hernandez, it'd be pretty easy to just say he's not worth your time anymore. But I'm not the coach.

Let's put it this way: if at some point down the road, Hoke runs into a similar situation with a former player, and Hoke wants to reach out to him to try and help him, even if he's in jail for life for committing a double homicide, I would not fault Hoke for that. I'd probably commend him for it.


July 2nd, 2013 at 11:08 PM ^

Yes, and I think it's being kept, which was evident by all the guys sitting in the back of the room at Hoke's press conference when he was announced as the head coach.  If there is one thing Hoke "gets" it's people and relationships.  I have heard so many former players speak highly of him and have yet to hear from any disgruntled players, even those that left the program.


July 2nd, 2013 at 10:12 PM ^

I imagine nothing but good things.  Maybe not an active, amazingly social relationship, but I'd expect most players to feel comfortable if they ever wanted to call or reach back out to them.


July 3rd, 2013 at 9:12 AM ^

Hoke even mentioned how he was able to see Tom Brady and is trying to get him on campus for an event. When was the last time you saw on Brady on campus? Says a lot about Hoke's influence on people.


July 3rd, 2013 at 1:14 PM ^

That players would look back at their time playing Michigan Football as the best time of their lives, and feel like any time they called the phone would be picked up and Hoke would take the call from one of his guys.  Just like Bo and all did before.

And while I don't think that feeling has existed for Mchigan Basketball, I think Beilein is the guy to start it.  And while it was done in all sincerity on his part (you can't fake the joy he was showing seeing his guys get drafted) what a great moment for the program for recruits to see two guys getting drafted from Michigan in the 1st round, and their coach there to support them. (Especially when he's not preaching "come one year and I'll get you in the NBA lottery" like some...).