"I try to follow FSU the best I can and it's certainly a different place when I was there. I looked at all those wonderful facilities, the soccer, softball, everything around the stadium -- it's an amazing transition," Hogan said.
Of course, Wayne Hogan is a familiar name in FSU circles, serving as the Seminoles' sports information director and interim athletic director before being hired as the athletic director at Montana in 1995. Hogan, who attended Godby High School and is a 1979 graduate of FSU, has earned a solid reputation and is mentioned among the country's top young ADs.
The Grizzlies' 14-sport athletic program ($9 million budget) is doing well, anchored by its two-time Division II national championship football team. Hogan also is considered an excellent fundraiser. He and his family -- wife Dawnand 10-year-old son J.P. -- have thoroughly enjoyed Big Sky country and the friendliness of Missoula (despite Monday morning's temperature of 37 degrees).
Of course, Hogan recently made a hire that surprised, if not stunned, many across the nation, as well at FSU.
Wayne and Patty the K, together again.
Former DePaul and FSU coach Pat Kennedyhas taken over the University of Montana's basketball program, replacing Don Holst. Hogan readily admits his decision to hire Kennedy has been somewhat controversial. Kennedy is replacing Holst, who was fired in late March despite leading his team to the Big Sky Conference tournament championship and a first-round game in the NCAA tournament.
Hogan was the Seminoles' sports information director when Kennedy took the Seminoles to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in 1992-93.
"It has been quite the whirlwind," Hogan said and chuckled.
"They (Montana basketball fans) don't know what to think about that. Well, they think it's pretty cool, but they wonder what the heck is he doing here coming to coach. I still can't believe he would even be available for something like this. (DePaul) wasn't a happy experience for him. It didn't pan out and I kind of think he was looking to slow the pace down a little bit and get back to what he loves best and that's coaching."
ESTABLISHED TRACK RECORD
Kennedy coached at DePaul from 1998-02 and resigned this year after the team posted records of 12-18 in 2000-01 and 9-19 in 2001-02, after four players left the team for the NBA. He was 67-85 overall at DePaul. At one point last season, three of the team's top four scorers were suspended for academic reasons.
At FSU, Kennedy compiled a 202-131 record in 11 seasons, taking the team to the NCAA tournament five times. The 1992-93 team advanced within one victory of the Final Four in the NCAA tournament, while the 1996-97 team advanced to the championship game of the NIT.
Kennedy said he felt comfortable when he visited the Montana campus and met with university officials, including Hogan. Kennedy, who said he also contemplated taking a position with a television network, has certainly hit the Montana ground running, signing contracts with Purdue, Georgia Tech and Stanford. He also wants to play Duke on national television.
"We are really looking forward to it," Kennedy said from his home in Chicago. "It's simply a beautiful campus. I met with the kids and they are great. It's like a little Vanderbilt and I am anxious to see how far we can take it. I could have done the ESPN (announcing) thing but once you get out of coaching, it's so hard to get back into it."
Kennedy also applauded FSU athletic director Dave Hart's hiring of Leonard Hamilton. Hamilton has replaced Steve Robinson, who was fired in March after five seasons with the Seminoles. While Robinson has recently returned as an assistant at Kansas under good friend Roy Williams, Hamilton has been busy molding the Seminoles' future, signing a pair of recruits. Kennedy said he met with Hamilton during the Final Four in Atlanta earlier this month.
"Leonard is going to do great," Kennedy said.
"He has the energy level, he has the personality, the guy really wants to work with everybody. I think he was a great choice for FSU. Yes, we talked (in Atlanta) and I just wanted to congratulate him and let him know that FSU was a very special place for us for 11 years. I really think he can do a good job."
Kennedy also believes Hamilton will make an impact in recruiting. Of course, Kennedy hinted he would love to schedule the Seminoles and promised to return to watch an FSU football game next season.
"They need somebody to battle against (Florida coach) Billy Donovan," Kennedy said. "Well, this guy is going to battle Billy. He's not going to take a back seat to Florida. No Seminole wants their coaches to take a back seat to the Gators. Leonard is going to go in there and bang away. Honestly, I think it's a very, very good choice and I think Leonard will help the overall athletic department."
Of course, Hogan also believes Kennedy will prove beneficial to the Grizzlies' athletic program as well. The two began serious negotiations during the Final Four after Hogan initially asked Kennedy to recommend a replacement for Holst.
"I called Pat and a few other coaches around the country to get a short list (of replacements), just to see who was hot out there," Hogan said. "We talked a couple of times and it never entered my mind that he might be coming here. About the week of the Final Four, it was the first time he said, 'Hey, this might be something we could put together.' At first it was kind of a pipe dream but the more we talked about it the more it made sense."
While Hogan has enjoyed his experience at Montana, he often thinks about Tally and FSU. His parents and two older daughters still live in Tallahassee -- Lindsay is a junior at FSU and Kelly is graduating from Leon High School next month. Hogan's in-laws reside in St. Petersburg. Hogan also is an avid golfer and enjoys the beach.
Although Hogan's last visit back home was a somber occasion -- a service was held for former FSU ticket manager John Sheffield, who died following a battle with cancer -- Hogan got to chat with friends and tour FSU's athletic facilities.
"While it was a sad reason to be there, it was like ol' home week," Hogan said. "It was good to see everyone. This has been a really good experience here for us. I"ve enjoyed it thoroughly and we do love it out here. Still, it's a little too far from home and we often think about everyone there."
Now, Hogan has another familiar face with him in Kennedy.