National Signing Day is all about the recruits, but somehow a much different genre of college football snuck into the headlines today: coaching rumors.
According to CoachingSearch.com, a source said that former Michigan Wolverines coach Brady Hoke was going to join Brian Kelly’s staff at Notre Dame as a defensive assistant following the conclusion of signing day. But wait …
It was then reported that Hoke sent Scout.com’s Sam Webb a text message relaying that he is not headed to South Bend. So what’s going on here?
“I can tell you, I have so much respect for Brian Kelly. Brian and I have been friends for many, many years, coaching against each other in the MAC,” Hoke said on CBS Sports Network’s National Signing Day coverage. “He and I had a discussion … but I’m not going to be coaching defensive line at Notre Dame.”
Would it make sense if Hoke were to join Kelly’s staff? Absolutely. He knows Kelly very well. He has over a decade of experience coaching the defensive line (e.g. Grand Valley State; Western Michigan; Oregon State; Michigan). He played for the Fighting Irish’s outside linebackers coach Bob Elliot back at Ball State, and current d-line coach Mike Elston played for Hoke during his assistant years with Michigan.
Hoke also doesn’t have a job, and that should be enough motivation to at least be interested. It is Notre Dame, of course, and would provide him the opportunity to land on his feet while he keeps himself available for the right head coaching position in the next few years.
“It’s time to go south for a little bit, not South Bend. (Wife) Laura and I are going to do that. We want to coach again,” said Hoke. “You miss the kids, you miss the game planning, you miss, every day, seeing those young kids come in there and coach them up. We’re going to take a year and do some things that we haven’t done.
“Also, as a coach, there’s always things that you can learn. That’s one of the things I really want to do.”
If there’s one flaw that every coach in America carries, it’s that each and every one of them abide by the unwritten rule to lie or fabricate scenarios that include job movements. However, in this case, I think it’s safe to say that Hoke is telling the truth; he’s not going to Notre Dame.
Per FootballScoop.com, Notre Dame leadership has backed Hoke’s statement, saying that “Brady Hoke will not be joining our staff at Notre Dame,” and that any reports saying so are “100 percent inaccurate.” The source also said that Hoke expects to take a year off from coaching.
Assuming Hoke is waiting for another shot as a head coach and really is looking to re-start his career in the southern states, where could we expect him to land in December?
There’s a good possibility that he’s eyeing several schools with potential vacancies following the 2015 season, with South Florida, Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic, FIU, and Georgia State being the most likely. However, Vanderbilt and North Carolina are two bigger programs to watch after titanic struggles in 2014, with Louisiana-at-Lafayette as a wild card with the possible departure of Mark Hudspeth (which would be a long time coming).