Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Football coach Hoke says, 'We will always be about the team'

Brady Hoke fielded a lot of questions Wednesday during a press conference introducing him as U-M's new football coach. His answers contained the themes of accountability, character, toughness, and — above all — team.


More information

Video of Wednesday's press conference
Comments from President Mary Sue Coleman and others
Biography of Brady Hoke
Career timeline

"We will always be about the team at Michigan. This is never gonna be about Brady Hoke. This is about a football program. This is about a team," Hoke told the crowd of media, current and former Wolverine players, administrators and other invited guests at the Junge Family Champions Center.

His public introduction came immediately after Hoke met with the team, and one day after Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced he had hired Hoke, the head coach at San Diego State University from 2009-10. Hoke becomes the 19th coach in the 131-year history of U-M football.

He returns to take charge of a program where he spent eight years on the defensive coaching staff, from 1995-2002. He was part of Big Ten championship teams in 1997, 1998 and 2000, which included the 1997 national championship team.

  Wolverine football coach Brady Hoke answers questions during his introductory press conference Wednesday. (Photo by Jared Wadley, News Service)

Plain-spoken, and occasionally self-deprecating and emotional, Hoke made clear his love for U-M football and his joy at being chosen to lead it.

Referring to the overnight flight he, his wife Laura, and daughter Kelly made to be in Ann Arbor, Hoke declared: "We would have walked to the University of Michigan." Asked if he wants to be at U-M forever, he answered, "Yes, no doubt. No doubt."

"This is an elite job and will continue to be an elite job. It's Michigan, for God's sake," Hoke said. "Everyone who's gonna touch this program and deal with these kids is gonna have a fanatical love for the University of Michigan or they aren't gonna work in the football office."

In his introduction, Brandon said Hoke met his 12 criteria for a new coach. Two of those that he highlighted were Hoke's "love for this football program and his intense desire to compete for this job, and secondly, his reputation as a coach who can take a program over, recruit great players, and wins because his players want to play for him."

"Brady understands Michigan and what football means here. He has lived it as a coach and he knows what it takes to be successful. He doesn't have to learn the words to 'The Victors.' He sang it many times in the locker room."

Brandon said he visited five cities in six days for face-to-face or telephone interviews with several potential candidates. He would not give details other than to say he met with Hoke for several hours and offered him the job Tuesday morning.

"This is a special guy who can do great things for Michigan football," Brandon said. He said Hoke's contract is for six years and that other details will be forthcoming.

Hoke, who has not yet firmed up his coaching staff, said he intends to build the Wolverine football program on a "foundation of toughness" that makes winning the Big Ten championship its yearly expectation. "If you don't win your conference championships, there's no way in heck you're going to win the national championship," he said.

Growing up in Kettering, Ohio, Hoke said he became a Michigan fan early, even as his friends rooted for Ohio State. At various times Wednesday, he answered questions about U-M's rivalry with an institution that Hoke said he respected but couldn't bring himself to mention by name, referring to it only as "that school in Ohio."

"That rivalry is special. It's like none other in football," he said.

"It is the … most … important … game … on … that … schedule," Hoke said, jabbing the podium with each word. "When you play for Michigan, and you wear that maize and blue, it's gotta be personal."

Just as important as on-field success, he said, is working with players to develop the character and respect that will guide them in their later lives. A criminal justice major at Ball State University, where he also was head coach from 2003-08, Hoke said he first got into coaching at the high school level to help kids.

"Character wins in life and character wins on the football field." Hoke declared. "The character teams are the ones that play together, the ones who stay together, the ones who are accountable to each other. And we're going to be a program that is going to be accountable."