Michigan football coach Brady Hoke maintains busy schedule before spring drills begin
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has been on the job 38 days and hasn’t slowed down.
He’s getting settled into his new surroundings, working on shaping next year's recruiting class and becoming acquainted with his new team.
The Wolverines begin spring drills next month, which will conclude with their annual scrimmage on April 16 at Michigan Stadium.
"We're not ready yet," Hoke said Wednesday night before serving as a judge in the 12th annual Mock Rock competition at Hill Auditorium. "We've got to get through some of the weight lifting and conditioning and some of the competition stuff and the physical stuff that we do like to do this time of the year.
"But before we teach the system, we have to teach the mind and how we play the game. It's about a mindset, it's about the accountability in the classroom and on the field and in everything we try and do. It's all about making the right decisions and doing the right thing."
The transition is nothing new for Hoke, who was hired Jan. 11 to replace Rich Rodriguez, who was fired after three seasons and a 15-22 record. Michigan is Hoke's third head coaching stop. The former Michigan assistant turned around programs at Ball State and San Diego State before returning to Ann Arbor.
So far, getting familiar with his new players has come mainly through early-morning conditioning runs and weight room sessions. His staff then spends half the day working on installing a new offense and defense and the other half trying to catch up on junior recruiting. Squeezed into that schedule is making time for players who want one-on-one time.
Hoke scrambled to assemble his first Michigan recruiting class before signing day earlier this month. The 20-member class was ranked 21st in the country by Rivals.com.
"We've got a lot of work to do, and so it's full bore," Hoke said. "Our guys have done a good job so far, but we've got a long way to go."
Hoke said players have been working hard in off-season workouts, training with new strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman. Hoke said weight room sessions are about teamwork and about being selfless.
Former players, including linebacker Dhani Jones, have been impressed with Hoke's work so far. Jones, who emceed the Mock Rock event, played for the Wolverines when Hoke worked as Michigan's defensive line coach.
Hoke had Jones speak with his team on Tuesday before the two spent an hour together on Wednesday. As tough as the last three years have been for former players like Jones, he said Wednesday he senses a change in the program.
"He brings passion and energy - he's a fun, passionate, lovable guy," Jones said. "But he cares about his players, and I think that's the most important thing."
Hoke said Wednesday night he enjoyed getting the chance to see his players involved in activities outside of football. His players finished second in Wednesday's Mock Rock competition. Many of them Tweeted about the event on their personal accounts - something Hoke said he doesn't plan to do any time soon.
"I'm not a big fan (of Twitter) at all," he said.
Asked if he would join other "cool" coaches who maintain Twitter accounts to keep fans abreast of what's happening in their program, Hoke said he won't join in.
"I'm not cool," he said. "I've never tried to be cool."