Monday, January 17, 2011

Big Ten Coaches React to Hoke Hiring

I recently completed a four day road trip to interview the head coaches from the other Big Ten schools to gather their opinions on Michigan hiring Brady Hoke. The following are some of the highlights...

Ron Zook, Illinois- Coach Zook would not answer any specific questions about Hoke, but did drop down and knock out 40 one-handed push ups. I can only assume he was trying to intimidate me.....or court me, I haven't been able to figure out which. Since our meeting, he has sent me 15-20 strongly worded texts a day.

Bill Lynch, Indiana- I was chagrined to learn that Lynch was fired. He had a tumultuous relationship with Rich Rodriguez, and was hoping for some insight. New coach Kevin Wilson was busy recruiting, and was unable to meet with me.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa- After being a rumored candidate to replace Lloyd Carr during the last fiasco, Kirk Ferentz holds unique insight into the workings of a Michigan coaching search. He was unable to comment on David Brandon, since his dealings were with Bill Martin. He did however offer me a scholarship to play RB.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State- I mistakenly wore Maize and Blue as I walked into Coach Dantonio's office. Big mistake. He would not let me record the conversation, but if memory serves me right, he uttered the following phrases.
  • If Michigan were battling prostate cancer, he would root for the cancer
  • He rhymed Hoke with "choke, joke, smoke, poke, and broke". I mentioned that he forgot "toke", and Charles Rogers appeared out of thin air. Dantonio also chucked a stapler at me.
  • He was afraid that Michigan could no longer be considered the "little brother", an obvious reference to Hoke's size.
  • He offered a moment of silence for the U of M program.
He then excused himself, explaining that he needed to pick up his new starting RT, and that traffic in Jackson can be hectic.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern- Coach Fitz was another supposed candidate for the vacancy in Ann Arbor, so I was looking forward to meeting with him. Unsurprisingly, as an NW alum, his answers were bland and filled with big words. In a nutshell, he was complimentary to Brandon, and wished Hoke well. He looked forward to continuing the rivalry with Michigan both on and off the field.

Bo Pelini, Nebraska- I figured I should get the Cornhusker perspective, since both Hoke and Pelini would be making their Big Ten debuts in 2011. He said he had just started to watch tape of Michigan's offense the day Rich was fired, and was gathering tape on SDSU as we spoke. I asked if he had ever run into Hoke on the recruiting trail, and he proceded to poke me in the chest, and call me a pussy for suggesting such a thing. I ran away, and decided to never step foot in Nebraska again.

Jim Tressel, Ohio State- Apathetic, or maybe unconcerned would best describe the 35 or so seconds we spoke. He welcomed Coach Hoke into the Big Ten, saying "Michigan succeeding was good for Ohio State, The Big Ten, and the NCAA". As I took a sip of water and pondered my next inquiry, I tripped over a box in the hallway labeled "Scarlet Vests" and spiiled some of my water on him. His head started spinning around, and smoke billowed from his ears and he slumped to the ground. Minutes later, the IT department introduced me to the real coach of the Buckeyes.

BXDG7799, Ohio State- I don't speak binary, but this is what printed from his robot mouth..."010001100111010101100011011010110010000001001101011010010110001101101000011010010110011101100001011011100010111000100000010010010010000001101000011011110111000001100101001000000111010001101000011001010010000001100101011011100111010001101001011100100110010100100000011100110111010001100001011101000110010100100000011000100111010101110010011011100111001100100000011101000110111100100000011101000110100001100101001000000110011101110010011011110111010101101110011001000010110000100000011000010110111001100100001000000111010001101000011011110111001101100101001000000110011001100001011101000010000001100011011010000110100101101100011001000010000001101101011011110110110001100101011100110111010001100101011100100111001100100000011001000110100101100101001000000110111101100110001000000100000101001001010001000101001100101110"

Joe Paterno, Penn State- "I remember when the Hoke family first stepped off the Mayflower. I was just starting at Penn State, and had a terrible case of Chilblains, and couldn't find my wooden spoon. I told George " Things are going to be tough for the horses this winter, maybe I should eat a sandwich". Well, Bill had gone to the well, to fetch a pail of..Llama's once abducted my favorite sweater, so I shot a bald eagle with a feather pen." At that point, I smelled feces, and Coach fell asleep. I let myself out.

At this point, I realized that, like most Michigan fans, these coaches had no idea what to expect. I canceled my trip to Purdue. Coach Bielema from Wisconsin happened to be in my area, and stopped by, but once again offered little in the way of insight. He did get his haircut 3 times during our 15 minute meeting, which I found odd.

All in all, it was a fun trip. I have seen these coaches on TV, but never in person. Coach Fitzgerald was extremely nice, and the Ohio State thing was strange. Coach Dantonio asked me to accompany him on his "recruiting trip", but only if I would swallow these strange balloons. I declined, and he parted with words that will haunt by nightmares.....


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