Brady Hoke is living the dream, back at the school he loves and this time, sitting in the head coach's chair. After impressing a lot of folks at his introductory news conference Wednesday at Michigan, Hoke spent most of Thursday meeting with his new players.
I caught up with the new Michigan coach late Thursday afternoon.
Here's the first half of my interview with Hoke.
What has stood out to you about the first couple days at Michigan?
Brady Hoke: It's been great. The people have been great. Dave Brandon, I can't say enough about his organization, his leadership, going through all the things you have to. I've got a new cell phone, so I've got to learn that, it's a little different than the old one. It's been a tremendous two days because I got to meet with about 30 of our players. That's a huge piece of what we need to do. It's been great, and we're just going to be busy, but that's what you sign up for and that's what you love about it.
What have those meetings been like with the players? Are you doing the talking? Are they?
BH: It's a great give-and-take. I want to make sure we're crystal clear on the direction we want to go. They have to understand the goal of the program and how we're going to go about achieving that goal, the accountability to each other, the toughness that we want to play the game with, the mentality we want to play the game with and the demeanor that you play the game with. We're very excited about everything that's gone on.
We heard a lot [Wednesday] about your passion for the job and how much Michigan means to do. How does that help you from this point forward?
BH: You coach because you get to be a mentor and an influence to kids. When you're doing it at a place that you have high regard for and you're humbled by and where you're privileged to work, you want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward on a daily basis.
How much does understanding the rivalries and making them a big deal help you guys toward winning them more often?
BH: It is a huge part. When you look at Michigan football and the tradition and the great rivalry with Ohio and the rivalry in state with Michigan State, coach [Jim] Tressel and coach [Mark] Dantonio both are outstanding football coaches with outstanding staffs and have done tremendous jobs. You look at the rivalry with Notre Dame that's been played over the years. It's a big part of the tradition. It's a big part of what Michigan football is.
How far away are you from winning those games more often?
BH: I hope we're about six months away. We're excited about the kids that are in this program and excited about getting down to the techniques and the fundamentals and coaching the game with them. We're excited about the winter conditioning and all the things that go along with it. We're just ecstatic to be here. We're moving in the right direction as far as trying to get things accomplished. The recruiting part of it right now is a big piece, obviously, and part of that recruiting is talking to each guy on this football team and also those guys out there who have a love for Michigan.
Do you feel like you have to recruit Denard [Robinson]?
BH: I don't feel that way. We've had great conversations. I'm so impressed with him as a kid and his humility and his vision and his love for Michigan. So that's been real positive. It's just fun being around him. He's a guy who wants a Michigan degree and he feels very good about Michigan.
Do you expect him to be with you guys going forward?
BH: Yes. I don't question that at all.
How do you adjust to his talents?
BH: Offensively, you never want to put a square peg in a round hole. We understand that when you have playmakers, you've got to be able to utilize them to their fullest so that they're going to help your football team. With Denard, his capabilities, obviously he's a tremendous athlete that can do a lot of things for you on offense. He'll be the lead part of that offense.