As the disappointing losses mount for Michigan talk of Brady Hoke’s job security intensifies. That makes the job of luring most top recruiting targets into the fold all the more difficult. But in the case of Tyrone Wheatley Sr. it won’t be as big a consideration. That’s because his dad, former Michigan Wolverine and current Buffalo Bills running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley Sr. is making sure it won’t be.
“First and foremost we told him, we’re not looking for a place for a head coach,” the elder Wheatley said. “We’re looking at bricks and mortar and internal. The landscape of college football is three and out. Three and out, you lose and you’re gone OR three and out, you’re hot and you’re gone. Either way, whether the coach is doing well or doing badly, coaches are gone.”
It is with that mindset that the Wheatleys ventured out on unofficial visits to Michigan, USC, UCLA, and Alabama over the last few years. In each place they made sure to thoroughly vet a range of criteria that have nothing to do with football.
“What I’ve told him is, ‘look at it this way… go to a campus (and) walk around the campus,” Wheatley Sr. said. “Just walk around, chill out… don’t even think football. Get on the campus, feel the buzz, see the buzz. Then go back a second day.’ We went (on visits) and college coaches didn’t even know we were on campus. This way you can say, ‘is this a place that I want to be if I wasn’t a football player (and) if this is a place that I’d want to be if this coach wasn’t here. I told him you have to look at it as all coaches are jerks. All coaches want to win. I mean that in a good way. All coaches want to win, they’re going to be hard, they’re going to be stern, they’re going to be tough, and they’re going to push you to the limit where you don’t think you can go. You’re going to curse them, but every coach is going to be a jerk. They’ll flash their pearly white smiles in recruitment, tell you everything you want to hear, but as soon as you sign your name on the dotted line, they have you. Now it is time to get to work. That’s the part that the kids don’t see. It goes from ‘Wheatley, I love you’ to ‘damn it Wheatley, you suck!’ I told him to look at all coaches as jerks and then look at the bricks and mortar, the internal, meaning the academic people. Who is going to support you? Those are things that matter most. Right now (talk of Hoke being on the hot seat) and all this other stuff makes absolutely no difference because we’re not paying attention to it.”
That is, they aren’t paying attention to it from a recruiting perspective. From the perspective of one of the all-time great Wolverines, however, he can’t help but take notice.
“It is one of those things as a former player (and) alumnus, you can take on one of two roles,” he said. “You can look at it and be real critical or look at (and say) what can be fixed? What can be done? Just from my perspective, looking at kids from 18-21 years old that put in some hard work over the offseason, they thought that hard work and determination and all that stuff was going to carry over into the season. You come out and have a very decisive win over Appalachian State. Then all of a sudden when you start playing these top 25 teams, guess what? They had a hell of an offseason too. They lift weights as well. They ran hard in the offseason too. I think right now it is just things are not clicking. What I mean by things not clicking… it just felt like a step or two slow catching a pass, maybe the pass overthrown, maybe protection breaks down here and there. I’m saying this not to be politically correct, but when I look at the film and I look at the tape, the right calls are being made. The right calls are being made. It is just the execution. I think if Hoke and those guys could get to the point where they can execute the plays, it’ll be there. If you go back and look at some of those calls and look what’s going on, the plays are there now. The calls are there, kids just have to convert, kids just have to execute.”