Monday, March 23, 2009
Hoke Springs Eternal
New football coach gives the Aztec faithful a reason to believe.
Aztec football players. Photo: Stan Liu
The foundation of a successful football program isn't constructed solely on the field. It isn't built only in the film room or at practice. A large part of it is put together in living rooms across the country and during conversations with families.
Ultimately, a program’s success depends on families believing the words of the coach in whose hands they are putting their sons’ futures.
San Diego State University’s new football coach, Brady Hoke, has been visiting high schools and homes day and night, telling athletes and parents why they should become part of the Aztec tradition. To Hoke recruiting isn’t a science; it’s a philosophy.
“We want to recruit kids who have high character and have integrity, guys who understand the value of a degree and guys who have a passion to play,” said Hoke, underscoring the importance of a student’s mental toughness as well as his physical gifts.
That’s not to say Hoke won’t recruit the best athletes he can find. But he believes his job is to develop young men as well as to win football games. The philosophy he shares with parents and potential recruits is based on “Hoke’s Rules.” This is Hoke’s Rule #47: Blame no one. Expect nothing. Do something. And #3: Don’t set limitations. We won’t. Rule #13 is a favorite: Make history. Embrace the tradition.
Hoke and his staff have taken his rules on the road, meeting with players, parents and many of the coaches he has known since his time recruiting Southern California as an assistant at the University of Michigan.
“The thing that’s exciting is the wealth of talent in San Diego County and Orange County and all through Southern California. I think the high school guys in this area do a tremendous job of developing kids,” Hoke said.
In Hoke’s world, the fruits of his recruiting labors aren’t fully realized each February when players are allowed to submit their National Letters of Intent. It happens long after that. The real reward of coaching, Hoke says, is the opportunity to witness growth.
“To be able to see these young men develop, and to watch them walk across that stage with a degree, to see where they were as freshmen and where they are as seniors; that’s the fun part of recruiting.”