Early Objective For Hoke Is To Hold Recruiting Class Together

Tennessee's Interim Coach Has First Press Conference

Monday, November 13, 2017 - by Larry Fleming

If anyone was wondering, Brady Hoke, Tennessee’s interim coach for the next two weeks, is approaching a tough situation with a no nonsense attitude about whether the Vols can prevent wholesale losses of committed high school prospects.

“It’s always a concern and we’re going to work our tails,” Hoke said Monday during his first press conference one day after ex-coach Butch Jones’ firing.

“We’re going to stay committed to the kids that are committed. We’re going to stay out there recruiting, we’re going to make the calls and do what we’re supposed to do. This is a job and it’s a job we have to finish.”

Tennessee had 19 commitments on Saturday when the Vols suffered a humiliating 50-17 loss to Missouri to five athletic director John Currie the final straw that cost Jones his job.

Before the sun came up Sunday, that number was 17. Receivers Shocky Jacques-Louis and Coffee County star Alontae Taylor said publicly on Twitter they were looking at other schools to extend their football careers.

Two others – defensive lineman Dorian Gerald and cornerback Tanner Ingle -- announced they would remain committed, but look at other options.

Gerald is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound junior college standout who committed to UT in July. Ingle committed in June.

The Vols host LSU on Saturday and the following week entertain bitter rival Vanderbilt, which is scheduled to be a big recruiting weekend in Knoxville.

Is that still on?

“We’ll just see what happens,” Hoke said.

The recruiting hits started even before Jones was fired.

Perhaps the plum of the 2018 class was offensive lineman Cade Mays, whose father played football in 1991-94 and was the team captain his senior year. The younger Mays decommitted on Nov. 7 after being committed since July 2015.

Mays has helped Knoxville Catholic (9-3) reach the TSSAA Class 5A playoff quarterfinals and play at Oak Ridge (10-2) Friday at 7 p.m.

Hoke was asked if Nathan Ollie, a defensive graduate assistant in his third season at Tennessee, would be hitting the road over the next two weeks evaluating high school prospects. Hoke the subject has not been discussed.

“You’ve got Thanksgiving coming up and the state championship after that,” Hoke said. “We’ve got to do the things we need to do so these kids can do their best in the games we have left.”

As for the “state championship” Hoke referred. That’s Vanderbilt. Tennessee already has lost to Kentucky. It doesn’t want a loss to Vandy on this year’s resume` to set off even more furor over the disappointing 4-6 season.

While this interim gig is new to Hoke, two coaches on staff – offensive coordinator Larry Scott and quarterback Mike Canales – have knowledge of the role and the former Michigan head coach can draw form that while preparing the Vols prepare for the Tigers and Commodores.

“Larry and Chico are both guys that have been interims,” Hoke said. “It’s new to me, but at the same time we’ve got some really intelligent football coaches. It’s always good to share ideas and do those things.

“I know this. I have to run the program the way I would run a program.”

Following a meeting on Sunday at which time Currie fired Jones, Hoke met with the AD and came away with the “interim” tag. Did Currie indicate he would consider Hoke as candidate to replace the departed Jones?

“John and I had a good conversation,” the gravel-voiced Hoke said. “That’s really about all of it I want to get into, or would get into. We had a great conversation. I was honored that he entrusted this to us and we just want to win for those seniors.”

Two other points of interest for Hoke are the 18 seniors listed on the 2017 roster and chances of this team becoming bowl eligible.

“These guys have won 29 games and three bowl games,” Hoke said. “When you look at what the guys have done, the guys that lasted, they’ve put their hearts and souls into it. I think, personally, that’s important and they should be appreciated a little bit.

“Being her for nine or 10 months, it’s really fun to see how Vol Nation embraces and how passionate they are about Tennessee football. Those passions go both ways and we understand that.”

After taking a breath, Hoke continued his remarks, throwing in a couple of twists.

“When you look at it for the young people who play the game, it’s hard than it used to be,” he said. “You guys (media) have made it harder, social media has made it harder. My point is (those players) should be appreciated. It’s not like they laid down. It’s not like they haven’t practiced hard. It’s not like they’ve not stayed together. That’s a tribute to coach (Jones). It’s exciting and why we’re living in the present.”

However, not many UT fans are making plans for holiday trips to wherever on a trip to see if the Vols can extend their bowl winning streak to four. While they haven’t been anywhere close to duplicating the euphoria of winning the 1998 Fiesta Bowl that included a national championship, Tennessee has claimed wins in the TaxSlayer, Outback and Music City bowls in successive seasons under Jones.

So, how does Tennessee get back to a fourth straight bowl?

“I think we have to win six (games), right?” Hoke said, satirically. It starts this Saturday.”

Hoke has experience in the past what Jones is going through right now. The 59-year-old Hoke is, obviously, cognizant of the rough-and-tumble world of coaching at any level, but he said it’s becoming more and more difficult to handle it at pressure-packed universities all over the country.

“If you keep it in perspective of why you do it, everything happens quicker, you make decisions quicker, who’s involved and social media and all those things go into it,” he said. “I got into coaching to help kids because I had coaches who helped me.

“If every day I’m not helping kids by coaching, then I’m failing those kids. But if you are doing it right, at the end of the day you can feel good about what you’ve done. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s what it comes down to.”

And Hoke will lean on the sage advice he received from legendary coach Bo Schembechler years ago.

“When I took the head football coaching job at Ball State, and I was an assistant at Michigan at the time,” Hoek said. “Coach (Bo) Schembechler told me one thing one thing before I left. He said: ‘Be yourself. You can’t be Lloyd Carr, you can’t be Bo Schembechler or Gary Moeller. You have to be yourself.’

“Like I talked to the players (Sunday), I’m going to be who I am. If I’m not, that would be a fraud.”

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)

 



Dalton State Roadrunners Slide By Brewton-Parker

Dalton State got a huge game from All-American Carnilious Simmons and used a late run to slide past Brewton-Parker, 90-78, in Mount Vernon, Ga. on Thursday night. The Roadrunners got off to a good start, jumping out to a quick eight point lead, 17-9, with 14:54 left in the half. The Barons would fight back, in large part due to the play of Michael Volley, and take a two point ... (click for more)

Hamilton Heights Teams Romp In NACA National Tourney

Hamilton Heights’ boys’ and girls’ teams posted opening-round, late-night victories in the NACA Division I national tournament at Fort Bluff in Dayton, Tennessee, on Wednesday. The Hawks (23-7) defeated Mountain Mission of Grundy, Virginia, 60-36, and the Lady Hawks blasted New Hope from Landover, Maryland, 69-34. Coach Zach Ferrell’s Hawks built a 20-15 lead, but took ... (click for more)

City Officials Believe Fish Kill In Small Creek In Hixson Is Related To Weather Changes

City officials said they believe a fish kill in a Hixson Creek is related to weather changes. Officials said, "The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is presently investigating the cause of the large numbers of dead fish seen in a wet weather conveyance that runs into the Tennessee River. At this point, officials believe that the cause is related to weather   occurrences earlier ... (click for more)

East Ridge Council Approves Funding For $2.3 Million Camp Jordan Upgrade; Christopher Harris Chosen As Administrative Hearing Officer

The city of East Ridge is continuing to make improvements and upgrades in the city’s appearance and facilities. At the Jan. 11 city council meeting, approval was given for moving forward to make improvements at Camp Jordan Park. This overhaul for the 40-year-old park includes upgrades to restrooms, concessions, fencing, bleachers, grading baseball and softball fields, turfing the ... (click for more)

Reflections On Billy Graham

Sandra and I are saddened this morning after learning of the death of Billy Graham. We rejoice today, because Mr. Graham once said "It will be reported that Billy Graham has died, but that won't be the truth. He said the truth is that he had only moved to a new location".  I remember when we named 15th Street as Billy Graham Avenue, his daughter Gigi came for the dedication ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We’re The Angriest State

WalletHub, a financial-health website that has found it can draw a lot of attention by ranking the states on which is “fattest,” smartest, and so forth, has just announced its “sinful” rating and Tennessee churches should be ashamed of the job they are doing in making the Volunteer State a haven for puritans. Then again, our tourism may soon explode … remember Sodom & Gomorrah. ... (click for more)