- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- Brady Hoke stood up and started pacing on the stage Wednesday afternoon in the Southfield High School auditorium, addressing some players who are already committed to Michigan, others he is trying to recruit and more still who will never have a shot to play for the Wolverines.
The second-year Michigan coach was invited to speak at the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy and spent a little more than 18 minutes touching on a variety of topics, ranging from explaining to the high school players there how he starts a team meeting with his players to the importance of senior leadership and accountability.
“It was tailored a little bit for what these kids are going through,” Hoke said. “What we try and go through to give them an image of who we are and what we are all about.”
He was also honest. He spoke about Michigan’s three rivalries -- Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan State. He spoke of his school’s desire to play and beat those teams, and how one of them lately has had the upper hand on the Wolverines.
“We have an opportunity to play Notre Dame, a great national rivalry in many ways, so we cherish that, those opportunities,” Hoke told the crowd. “We play an in-state rivalry game with Michigan State, which they have kicked our a-- the past four years. There’s no other way to look at it, it’s been an a--kicking, to be honest with you. Pardon my language, but it’s true.
“Then we play the greatest rivalry in sports, Ohio. There’s nothing like that football and there’s nothing like, I can tell you, the respect that the guys who put on that winged helmet that played in that game or coached in that game, there’s a respect the two schools have for each other.”
Hoke finally says “Ohio State”
The question was innocuous enough. Why, a reporter asked, has Ohio State never had the same success recruiting in Michigan that the Wolverines have had in Ohio.
For a second, though, the question startled Hoke, who offered a quick response.
“I’m not at Ohio State,” Hoke said. “I have no clue.”
Since his first day at Michigan in January, 2011, Hoke has referred to Ohio State as just “Ohio,” so this was a marked change.
It didn’t last long. By the time Hoke gave his speech to players at the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy later that afternoon, he was back to referring to the Buckeyes in his preferred nomenclature, “Ohio,” instead of Ohio State.
Watching his kids
The Sound Mind Sound Body Academy also allows Hoke and his staff -- along with other college football staffs -- to interact with the high school players in training and instructional sessions throughout the two-day period.
It gives those coaches a chance to evaluate players in more of a combine setting against some of the better players in the Midwest. It also allows the coaches to interact with their commitments.
They also were able to watch how players interact with each other and take note of intangibles they sometimes can’t see as athletes are being coached by college coaches.
“You’re always looking at athletes, looking at body control,” Hoke said. “You’re looking at change of direction, attitude, how does a guy handle it when he gets beat. How does a guy handle it when he’s getting coached hard. I know our coaches that are actively coaching positions, they coach pretty hard.”