Brady Hoke: "This is Michigan"

Michigan's 19th head coach addressed the media for the first time today. The Wolverines' new headman discussed his offensive and defensive philosophies, his desire to retain Denard Robinson, the rivalry with Ohio State, and more. ***Full transcript***

COACH HOKE: Like Dave (Brandon) said, we had quite the night, flying across country and I can promise you, we would have walked to the University of Michigan. I got some people I want to thank, obviously, as part of what you do as a coach and the things that have happened in your career and No. 1, I want to thank Dave and President Coleman for having that confidence and having that vision for the University of Michigan and the leadership they both have shown and it's something I think everyone in this community, everyone who has been part of this great tradition and the legacies, I think they all understand what Michigan football is and what is always will be.

I want to thank my wife, my daughter, our families who are here for their support over the many years. We are very fortunate to have people who care about us, care about what we do and help develop us and what life's about and that's one of the great things that this great game of football does is teach young men life skills. I want to thank Coach Rodriguez and his staff, three years and their families. The coaching profession is a tough job and it's a tough profession, but Coach Rodríguez and his staff gave three years of their lives and their commitment to Michigan football and that's not to be forgotten.

I want to thank the people who have been influences in my life, when you look at the coaching profession, and it starts with a guy named Dave Tanner at Yorktown High School in Indiana somebody at Western Michigan, Dan Simmerall (ph) at the University of Toledo, Greg Teborge (ph) Coach Pettibone at Oregon State, Coach Gary Moeller and Coach Carr, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the luckiest thing I had going for me is Coach Schembechler for eight years telling me that we were not tough enough in the defensive line and wanted to know why steel (ph) wouldn't play lower.

So I can tell you this. We have had a love for Michigan for a number of years, and growing up in the State of Ohio, I had a lot of respect for Coach Hayes and love coach Hayes. But I was not a fan of that university in Ohio, because, my buddies were. So I had to be different. And I can tell you the one thing about it is I became a Michigan fan and fanatical about the University of Michigan.

So to be here today is something that believe me, we hold close to our hearts, and as a family Michigan family, we can promise you he want to make sure we can live up to the traditions, the legacies, in high regard. We understand what Michigan football means and what Michigan football is. We will always be about the team at Michigan; this is never going to be about Brady Hoke. This has been a football program. This is about a team and 42 Big Ten Championships, and that's what this program is going to be about.

And we believe that the foundation is going to be our character, and the character of the guys on the staff, the character of the kids in the program and everybody who touches those kids on a daily basis, because character wins in life and character wins on the football field. The character teams are the ones that play together, the ones who stay together, the ones who are accountable to each other and we are going to be a program that is going to be accountable. We are going to have a foundation of toughness, because I don't care what position you play, this is a tough man's game. Doesn't matter if you're the holder on the field; you have to be mentally tough, you have to be physically tough, because that's the way the game of football is played. That will be part of the philosophy.
We are going to be a team that competes with a high degree of effort every time we take the field. When we run out on the practice field, we are going to compete and we are going to compete every day, because you get better when you compete, and that's what we are going to do as a football team.
Accountability and respect; we are going to respect every guy in this program. We are going to respect are every person on this campus. We are going to respect everybody in the community, and we are going to respect the tradition of the University of Michigan and its football program.

So we are excited to be here, I can promise you. And one other thank you I should give to the thousands of players that we have been able to touch as a family.

QUESTION: Would you describe the reaction of your new players, meeting them and being introduced to them?
COACH HOKE: I went through a transition when I played at Ball State University, Coach McClain was the head coach and he left for the University of Wisconsin and I can tell you that that has always stuck with me. I had three linebacker coaches in four years, so you understand when there is a tradition, there's a transition process. But I thought the guys were enthusiastic. We kind of talked about what our path is and a little bit, you know, they have got an accountability and I assured them that we have accountability towards them. We are going to coach for them. The other thing is we are going to coach for our seniors. The seniors have been through the struggles, four, if you're a fifth-year guy, you have four -- you have spring football and winter conditioning so, we are always going to play and coach for our seniors in this program.

QUESTION: There's no secret that there's been divisions here in the last three years. What can you do to stop that, to heal that, to bring it together and have you already done steps to do that?
COACH HOKE: Well, to me, it's sad that this great university and this great program and the tradition has divisions, because I can promise you, this is about the guys who play in this program and them becoming husbands and fathers and great community leaders when they graduate and winning Big Ten Championships. And how unfair of us to divide what Michigan is. So the one thing I can tell you is I'm going to be who we are as a staff, as a philosophy and we are going to work hard for the kids in this program and we are going to work hard for the University of Michigan.

QUESTION: You talked about the defense a little bit. Can you talk about what kind of offense you see, eventually, and immediately and what kind of offense?
COACH HOKE: Well, the one thing, and I'm not going to get a lot into staff today, because of just the timing and everything, and I'd like to get through today to some degree. But we have -- the one thing about the guys who will be on this staff and coach, is we understand one thing. We have got a special guy in Denard. He is a guy that can do an awful lot for your football program and I know he loves the University of Michigan. I got to spend about 15 minutes with him and we are going to spend a little more time together. But you know, I think that when you have talented players, it's your job as a coach to mold that into what's best for your football team and most the time when you do that, it's what is best for that player.

QUESTION: I'm guessing over the years you've had a lot of very good pieces of advice from some of the coaches that you thanked earlier in your press conference. Is there one piece of advice that you've received over the last 24 hours from a former coach, a former player, anybody that is really sticking with you at this moment?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, I think the biggest thing, and I think I learned this after probably six months of being at the job of ball state and we took that job, is be who you are. You have to be who you are. You have to believe in what your principles are and the things that are going to be the backbone of your program. So that's probably the biggest thing. And then Laura wanted to make sure my tie was straight. I think we covered that pretty good.

QUESTION: The Ohio State question, people have talked about that a lot, Michigan has lost to their main rivals it seems like in the last few years. Can you talk about the rivalry and what your thoughts are?
COACH HOKE: Sure. You want to win 'em. And you want to prepare to win 'em. And they have got to be front and center of what you want for your program. One thing at Michigan here, we are fortunate, I don't know if people realize that; we really have three guaranteed rivalries: When you play Notre Dame, I think that's a rivalry, and the guys in the back of the room who have worn that Green helmet, they can tell you that. When you play Michigan State, obviously your in-state rival, obviously that's an important piece of what you want to do, because the lifeblood of your recruiting has to be in the Midwest, and it has to be in the State of Michigan. And the other part of your lifeblood and I don't need to say much about it, but that school in Ohio and growing up in Ohio, I understand on both sides of it. We take those very seriously.

QUESTION: Was there a point during the process where you thought maybe this isn't going to happen?
COACH HOKE: You know, not really. I mean, we have been very fortunate and there's always a plan and a direction and we have been fortunate as a family. Believe me, I've got the best team in the world right here in those two. It was -- whatever happened would happen. We left a pretty nice job. When we got in last night, I told Dave, he didn't tell me about the snow. But you know, it's always hard leaving a program because of those kids. I mean, we were blessed with one beautiful daughter and our players have always been our sons, whether I was a defensive line coach and had 14 guys, that's how Laura and I looked at it. Now I have 115. So I wasn't concerned.

QUESTION: Talk about the twin challenges of finishing off a recruiting class in three weeks, as well as securing guys in the building right now.
COACH HOKE: Sure. And there's no doubt about it, we have got a lot of work to do. And in both situations that we have been in before, where we have taken programs that were down and turned them, it's the same thing. You know, obviously that meeting today was important. I plan to meet with all of the seniors and as many of the other guys as I can tomorrow, and on Friday, the whole team, so that they have an understanding of our expectations.
I think I was pretty clear with that up there in the team meeting that they had. But there's no doubt, and believe me, I will be on the phone as soon as we get done with everything we are doing today to the guys who have that love and affinity for Michigan. And you're never going to please everybody. That is one thing I really don't care about. We are going to make decisions and we are going to do things that are from the best for this program and these kids on this team.

QUESTION: You obviously got choked up talking about the thousands of players that you've touched. Would you reflect at all on what it means to you to have Tom Brady and Charles in particular, making sure you know how they feel about you?
COACH HOKE: Well, obviously it makes you feel good. Not just those guys, but there's a group of guys back there in the back who we were able to help be a big part of their lives. They were obviously a big part of our lives. And so you know, it's just -- you coach. I started coaching, I wasn't going to coach coming out of college. I was a criminal justice major and did an internship with the total probation and parole office out in the southern district in Indiana. I started coaching high school football with a guy named Dave Tanner and to help kids, because I know I have great parents and a knew right from wrong, and I got started off probably not a great way you want to in college; if it wasn't for my coach and sitting my down and talking about things, you have to make your family proud, that's why you coach, to help develop those guys from a mental standpoint to the academic standpoint to how you play the game of football, because of the lessons in this great game.

QUESTION: Are you going to be here forever?
COACH HOKE: Yes, no doubt. No doubt. I mean, this is, to me, has been and for a long time, the ultimate place where I wanted to be as a football coach. I was fortunate enough when Coach Moeller hired me and fortunate enough to be here for eight years. And believe me, it was eight great years, and you know, this place means an awful lot to us, because of what it stands for as a university.

QUESTION: What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge that you're going to face?
COACH HOKE: Well, I don't know if I look at any of it as challenging. I look at it as, this is what you do as a football coach. You know, the connection with the players; the opportunity to do something you love with a group of guys that you build those relationships and you love doing it. I mean, yeah, is there work to do? Do we have to finalize the staff? Do we have to make sure our winter conditioning is in order and where we are going with that and spring ball and we have to finish the recruiting end of it. There's all of those parts of it. But you know, that's fun. I mean, that's football, and it's fun to do it and it's fun to be around those kids and you know, I know our staff is going to be a staff of high character that care about kids, and it's great working with people like that.

QUESTION: With signing day, what specific challenges does that present?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know what, I'm not one of those guys who goes out there and makes predictions on anything. I promise you we are going to play with toughness and we are going to play with effort. I can tell you that. The whole thing is we have to get out there and touch all of those people. Recruiting is a people business. It's trust and it's the things that go along with it and it's having something that's special that you want to present to families and young men and we have that in the University of Michigan in the legacy and tradition of this program. Believe me, we will be busting our hind ends to get guys that are going to get guys that are going to represent this program and fit the character and models of what we want in this program.

QUESTION: Something that people watching at home can't see are the many people behind the cameras right now. How humbling is it to see former players come from wherever they are to be here for you, distinguished alumni to come here from wherever they are to be here for you? How humbling is that?
COACH HOKE: It's very humbling, we feel very privileged. You know, not to just be head football coach at Michigan but to have touched the lives of those guys who are back there and those guys who had the opportunity to come back out and wanted to be here. So it's extremely humbling and if I talk about them too much, a guy like James Hull and Jansen and those guys, I'll get a little bit emotional. Now if Glenn does something wrong, then the emotion would got other way. (Laughter).

QUESTION: People nationally have said that this isn't an elite job anymore. Why in your mind isn't this an elite job?
COACH HOKE: Who says that? (Laughter) And I'm being serious.

QUESTION: ESPN --
COACH HOKE: God bless them. They have a job to do and they have an opinion that they might have. But this is an elite job and will continue to be an elite job. This is Michigan for God's sakes. It's what this is all about. You know, people can say what they want to say, and people are going to have opinions; shouldn't have hired him, he doesn't know what he's doing. Doesn't mean a thing. All it means is when we get together, those 115 kids and we start our preparation and we start the things that we have to do as a football staff, as a team, then we'll decide. But it baffles me how people with make a comment like that, and I'll probably get bashed in the press from it, but they are wrong. This is Michigan.

QUESTION: On the program...
COACH HOKE: This is all new. This is all new. You know, there's great kids in this program. Just having an opportunity for an hour and a half to visit and walk around and have lunch and do those kind of things, there's great people at Michigan. There's great people. And the one thing I want to make sure I'm crystal clear on, we all are going to work for those players and those student athletes and those young men, and I don't care if you're the manager who spots the ball, we are going to have a pride in who we are. People thinking that Michigan is on a downward spiral or doesn't have that national acclaim, shame on them and shame on them if it's people who are Michigan people, because everyone who is going to touch this program and deal with these kids are going to have a fanatical love for the University of Michigan, or they won't work in the football office, I can tell you that.

QUESTION: Dave (Brandon) and others have characterized you as a player's coach. What does that mean in your mind?
COACH HOKE: I don't know. I really don't. You know, you hear that sometimes, and people think you're soft, and I think Warren, if you go back and ask those guys in the back of the room if I'm a soft guy, I think you may find an opinion on that. But I think this: When you realize, and this is something I think we realized, Laura and I did, when your whole sense is to help develop kids, in academic, social and athletic standpoint and that's what you look at and that's what you lean on, then those players are going to understand that you really care. And I can promise you that that's where we care the most about.

QUESTION: All of those players, when they are off the practice field --
COACH HOKE: Here is what's changed is this (referring to people present in the room) and Internet. There's a couple things that have changed. There's a couple guys back here that I can tell you that I worried about on a nightly basis and have been very successful in what they are doing in their walks of life. But no, it's a part of it. But that's where you've got to educate, and your leadership. And you have to communicate and you have to be crystal clear on the communication. You know, our expectations for what we expect, we have won 42 Big Ten championships; well, the goal every year, and I have told the players, the expectation is to win the Big 10 Championship. And that's where it starts. And if we don't do that, we have got to retool it, refix it, do whatever we have to do, because we are going to do that for Michigan.

QUESTION: You've referenced a couple of times that school in Ohio. I wonder how deep your passion for that rivalry runs, and how quickly do you think is it fair for Michigan to be competitive with Ohio State again?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, I think that rivalry is special. It's like none other in football. Being engaged in that battle for eight years, and growing up in the state, you knew. Bo and Woody, the great fights they had. It is the most important game on that schedule. And not that the others aren't important, but it is the most important game on that schedule and how we play the game and how we prepare.
So it's very important. It's almost personal.

QUESTION: How familiar are you with the roster?
COACH HOKE: Great question, and I got to see a couple games this year, and we play a lot of night games and if you have a 12 o'clock start, you get bits and pieces. Mike Martin is a guy I tried to recruit the heck out of to go to ball state when I came to Michigan camp, and dang, I thought I had, but didn't work out that way. I know some of those kids. Not that I know it real, real well, but believe me, I'll know more after ten o'clock tonight than I do right now.

QUESTION: Coaches are measured by what they do on the field; talk about the pressure that you're under right now to get this turned around almost instantly.
COACH HOKE: It's a great question. I'll be really honest with you. There isn't pressure. Got a little silence there, didn't I.
If you don't have that self-imposed drive and competitiveness and again, a mental toughness to prepare your guys in the right way, to do all of the things that is encompassed in being a football coach, that should be where the pressure is, and your drive to do that. I know one thing, our kids are going to be prepared. I know that they are going to play and they are going to be a tough group of guys and they are going to be guys who play with an outstanding effort. They are going to be accountable to each other. And that is clearly the definition that you always need to have for a team. They have got to be accountable. That means that you're going to class so you don't let your teammates down. That means that you're doing the right things in the community and on campus. And those are all measurable. But every time you do something that's out of character or you have to enforce bad decisions, then it tells that you this guy is being selfish, this guy is not being accountable to who he should be, and that's his teammate.

QUESTION: In the last eight days, the media frenzy, you were never scene or heard from, give us a rundown of the last eight days.
COACH HOKE: He offered me the job yesterday morning, and I immediately accepted the job. Like I said, we would have walked here from San Diego. But we were working. We were working for San Diego State and I can tell that you and we were out recruiting and doing all of those things. I know that Dave and I did have a discussion and sat down a week ago. We really had told ourselves -- they had no idea, you don't want to look on the Internet and listen to all the stuff, but it was really, for us, you know what I mean.

QUESTION: You've been talking a lot about how the objectives of this program are winning conference championship.
COACH HOKE: Yep.

QUESTION: I have not heard the word National Championship.
COACH HOKE: Right.

QUESTION: Shouldn't that be the ultimate objective?
COACH HOKE: No. Because if you don't win your conference championship, you don't have a chance to go after the next one.

QUESTION: True, but other conferences, if you're not winning the National Championship, the conference championship is usually considered a consolation prize.
COACH HOKE: I tell you, I've got Big 10 Championship rings, a National Championship ring, and I can tell you they mean an awful lot to us and I know those guys in the back, they mean an awful lot to. And I understand exactly what you're saying, but I can tell you, if you don't win your conference championships, there's no way in heck you're going to win the National Championship.

QUESTION: But that's the ultimate goal? You consider the ultimate goal?
COACH HOKE: I didn't say that. I told you our goal is to win the Big 10 Championship, multiply, consecutively -- I made that word up. You'll get used to it. I do that once in awhile. (Laughter) I'm good in Scrabble.

QUESTION: Can you talk about going into that meeting what you wanted to learn about him and what you wanted to impress upon him?
COACH HOKE: I think what I wanted to know about Dave, I did a little homework, you know, myself. But I know that he has a vision for Michigan. I don't think you take a career that he was at the apex and the highest point and then decide to coming an athletic director if he didn't have that love and that affinity and that vision for Michigan. And then to be honest with you, I'm an old linebacker. I played linebacker and I coach with a linebacker's mentality and we are going to be aggressive in what we do and how we do it. I let Dave get to know about the things that are important about being a head football coach.

QUESTION: I believe you use a lot of 3-3-5 defense at San Diego State; can that work at Michigan?
COACH HOKE: Sure. It's funny, it really; you can talk about the 3-3-5, you can talk about 4-3, you can talk about a 3-4, you can go back and play a 6-2. I mean, people need to be educated on what that defense is, because there's multiple ways to play that with depending on the personnel that you want to have on the field. And the one thing that I can tell you, rocky long is really one of the creators of the defense, and you know we played with four guys on the line of scrimmage, five guys on the line of scrimmage, three guys on the line of scrimmage. It just depends. It's flexibility that it gives you, is something that was good for us. When we went in there, San Diego State was 119th in defense. This year, playing against the same guys to some degree, we are in the Top 3.

QUESTION: You said you have not finalized your staff, when do you anticipate doing that? Will you have an-campus recruiting visits this weekend and is it impossible for you to say Ohio and State together?
COACH HOKE: No, I'll probably get a lot of people unhappy with me but that's okay.Staffing-wise, as soon as we possibly can tie up loose ends and go through that process a little bit. When you talk about the recruiting part, it's the lifeblood of your program. You know, obviously this is a little different and very similar to our first year at San Diego State. I think we started January 9 was our first day. We are not having a weekend this weekend, but staffing hopefully will be done in the next three or four days.

QUESTION: You mentioned the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry being personal for you; is that because of growing up there?
COACH HOKE: Sure.

QUESTION: And what was it like being a Michigan fan growing up in Ohio?
COACH HOKE: Fortunately, I didn't get beat up much. But you know, it's what it should be in respect to both universities, and that's the one thing that's great. I have great respect for Ohio. I mean, there's no question about it. But I can tell you, if you know the last Saturday in November, at 12 o'clock, that ball being kicked off, just didn't like it. So when I said personal, I wouldn't take it like -- I don't know, take it as you want. I really don't care. But it is; if you're at Michigan and you play for Michigan, you wear that blue, that's got to be personal.


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