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Posted on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Brady Hoke's Michigan football recruiting pitch? All team, all the time

By Nick Baumgardner

Roughly 450 high school football players sit inside a hot, sweaty auditorium in June, ready to hear what one of the most popular college football coach in the Midwest has to say.

But before anyone takes in a life lesson, before anyone shares a laugh, nods a head or makes a mental note, Brady Hoke has a bit of housekeeping to take care of.

"There's an empty seat right here, there's an empty seat here, an empty seat here, an empty seat here and an empty seat here," the Michigan football coach barks out while pointing to various gaps among the hundreds of wide-eyed youths. "I need five guys from that back row to get their butt down here."

It is Hoke's first lesson in teamwork and togetherness. Within seconds, all five seats are filled.


Michigan football coach Brady Hoke's message to 450 high school football players on Wednesday was similar to the one he sends to the Wolverines on a daily basis.

Melanie Maxwell |

Speaking earlier this week at the Sound Mind, Sound Body football camp in Southfield, Hoke had the opportunity to send out roughly the same message he delivers to each and every recruit he sees throughout a calendar year.

He doesn't quote Bo Schembechler's "The team, the team, the team," speech -- but then again, he doesn't have to.

The chairs are full, postures are upright and every pair of feet are planted firmly on the floor. The building filled with 450 strangers minutes earlier, now suddenly looks like a team.

Exactly the way Hoke likes it.

"The first meeting I went into as the head football coach at the University of Michigan," Hoke recalled, "I went into our full team meeting room, and our guys were scattered. They were all over the room. That wasn't the impression I can remember from being an assistant at Michigan.

"And (now), when we go to work every day -- whether it's in the classroom, the community, socially, the field or in the weight room -- we're going to do it as a team. That means we're going to be side-by-side. That's how it starts."

Asked by reporters earlier in the day if his speech to the hundreds of potential prospects -- which included five-star 2013 Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris in the front row -- would be a recruiting pitch, Hoke goes quiet.

He says he wouldn't treat the speech as a recruiting tool, but rather a chance to inform college prospects what it takes to become a student-athlete.

Hoke says it's not a Michigan recruiting pitch, but that doesn't mean he's not about to leave a rather large maize and blue imprint on the brain of anyone in the room that's paying attention.

The foundation of Hoke's presentation is based on a team meeting. And, with that in mind, he walks the players through the introduction of every team meeting he conducts inside Schembechler Hall.

Hoke talks about Michigan's 42 Big Ten championships, and how it's important to remember the conference title is the program's main goal each and every season.

He talks about how Michigan is the winningest football program in the history of the sport, and how this September, the Wolverines will take the field and celebrate their 133rd anniversary in Ann Arbor.

And, last but not least, he goes over the team's three most important games of the season. A year-to-year series with Notre Dame, an in-state fight with Michigan State and, of course, "that last Saturday in November" and the Wolverines' longstanding rivalry with Ohio State.

After a few minutes of teaching, Hoke's team of 450 kids have already bought into how things work at Michigan.

"Good afternoon," Hoke shouts.

"Good afternoon," they respond in unison.

"Championships?" he asks.



"One hundred and thirty three."

"Beat ..."

"... Ohio."

Not a lot of flash. Not a lot of sizzle. Not too much preaching. But more than effective.

With no gaps in the seats and no eyes wandering around the room, Hoke wraps up his 18-minute speech the same way he started it.

Straight and to the point.

"Commitment, accountability, respect and trust," he says. "Thank you.

"And go blue."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 3:08 a.m.

Hokeamania Baby!!!!


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

Brady Hoke is special because he truly loves Michigan and he conveys that love to his players and the kids he recruits. They know his story and know he will be in Ann Arbor as long as he is coaching. Can anyone really say that about the coaches he is recruiting against?

Terry Star21

Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 5:25 a.m.

That's right. There isn't one coach that invested in a school. At ohio and msu, both could leave in a heartbeat; medical leaves, Facebook firing page, failure to beat Michigan in the future, caught cheating, etc. - most likely all of the above...


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

Hoke is awesome.

Terry Star21

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Another fantastic article. Outsiders keep wondering what makes this coach so special. Why do his players want to be so good (for him) and why the (best) recruits are sprinting to get into his program ? Rest assured, Coach Brady Hoke is in command for Michigan's future - to the dismay and chagrin of all foes and outsiders. MgoBlueForTiM....forever the best time of Michigan football

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 10:55 a.m.

Michigan football is in great hands thanks to Brady Hoke.


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 4:57 a.m.

..caps with that .. Go Blue! v


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

I have been able to talk with recruits and commits on my site and they all say Coach Hoke is the real deal and is the most down to Earth coach they've talked to.

Paul R Lamse

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

And what makes him even more interesting to the kids is, they know he was an immature kid, like them. He admits to "wanting to drink every bottle of beer in Ohio". Something like that.

Steve McQueen

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

"I went into our full team meeting room, and our guys were scattered. They were all over the room. That wasn't the impression I can remember from being an assistant at Michigan. No one man is more important that the team. It is great to have the concept back in Michigan football. Thanks Coach Hoke!


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

It would be nice to see an article on Urban Meyer and his approach also.


Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Ted, that would be nice. Then, when kids get to compare the two side by side, it will make their choice to come to Michigan that much easier. Go Blue!

Terry Star21

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

ted, you are getting just too predictable. Mix it up a bit, remember you're a self prescribed 'Michigan Man' ! Let's see some of that 212 theo ry.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

I thought ted was being facetious. You know...This is how Brady Hoke operates. Now, let's look at, well, you know what I'm thinking.

Steve McQueen

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

This is a Michigan related website ted. Ohio fans such as yourself should check out the online 'paper' down in columbus. you know...the one that had that Bogus "clock" on it... when Ohio was beating Michigan by using ineligible players and breaking NCAA rules. you know the one? yeah...thought so. Go Blue.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Yes, it would. The latest is UM wants to recruit more in Michigan. It seems he's a real follower of Brady Hoke...what Hoke does, he'll follow and tailgate recruit. He's quick to follow a Michigan scholarship to the same kids soon after Hoke issues his. Gotta love it.

Steve McQueen

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

"I went into our full team meeting room, and our guys were scattered. They were all over the room. That wasn't the impression I can remember from being an assistant at Michigan. No one man is more important that the team. It is great to have the concept back in Michigan football. Thanks Coach Hoke!


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

You have to love his approach - intense, focused, goal-oriented, the team philosophy. It's easier now to understand why Coach Hoke has been successful in recruiting early on. Aside from the great university and excellent facilities, he comes across well to the athletes. He instills respect and confidence in these kids. Who wouldn't want to play for him after that speech?


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Yep, a great 2012 recruiting class and a totally awesome 2013 class in the fold. Now I get it.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Wow, I can see why others are so enthused. This is a very moving, exciting look into how Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke works. I'm ready to head for the locker room too! And thanks, Nick Baumgardner, you did a great job with this piece.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

Count me in...GO BLUE!!


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

I just got some great ideas for the spring meeting I'm holding for my school's boys' soccer team after school today. Go Blue!


Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

I commend you garrison; young athletes need to received positive teamwork words from their coach. Accountability does many things...two I can think of, it takes away excuses, and discourages individualism. Take care of them coach and they will run through a brick wall for you! Go Blue!

Keith Frye

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

I want to strap on my helmet after 30yrs! Lets play some ball! His players would run through a brick wall for this man. Coach Hoke is Michigan.

Rabid Wolverine

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

Having gone through the horrible 3 year stint, having Hoke hear is so much sweeter. This is what Michigan was needing. Someone who understands tradition, but pushes through with new ideas and new energy. Go Blue! TiM!


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

I gotta give it to Coach Hoke, he doesn't get his great respect by bad mouthing other schools and their coaching staffs.

Paul R Lamse

Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

Well, and he doesn't play "dirty". But I think we'll find his fine-line vs State, after the way they played last year. He never mentions it, but if he's like me, he'll never forget it. OSU is THE game, but we owe MSU for last year. It will be intense, for sure! I can't wait!

Steve McQueen

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

Good point. Coaches that lack class, and have to resort to name calling etc. at other local schools do not realize that they lose respect in recruits eyes every time they do so. This may explain why Michigan is cleaning up flat out, with all of the top recruits in Michigan and most of the top recruits in Ohio. Coach Hoke is pure class and they know this. A friend of mine who is an Oregon fan and knows little about Michigan football....saw Coach Hoke in the post game celebration vs. ND last year...and he immediately emailed me to tell me what a classy guy Coach Hoke is and that Michigan is lucky to have him. He represents Michigan very well.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:21 p.m.

"Where's the threat"?


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

coach HOKE is MICHIGAN. . . the right guy, in the right place, at the right time!!! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

Where do I sign???