FULL TRANSCRIPT: Brady Hoke’s first press conference

(Source: WJHL)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The following is a full transcript of interim Tennessee football coach Brady Hoke’s comments at his inaugural press conference:

Opening Statement:

“Number one, thanks for coming out. I’d like to make an opening statement and then go from there. First and foremost, I want to start with recognizing the hard work that Coach (Butch) Jones and the effort that he and his family, Barb, Alex, Adam and Andrew have put into the program and the incredible job that he did for the University of Tennessee and Tennessee football. I want to thank John Currie for having the faith in this opportunity, and Chancellor (Beverly) Davenport for their support.

“These last two games are only about one thing, and that’s the seniors on this football team. They have been part of 29 wins, three bowl wins and they’ve laid a foundation for this program that was badly needed. They’re the ones who we play for. The foundation they laid now and for the future, I think is really positive. As a staff, we are going to coach our hearts out for the seniors. Our hope is that in the next two weeks, the next two games, the team, coaches, former Vols and Vol Nation make it a great experience for those kids. At the end of the day, that’s what this game comes down to; the development and nurturing and teaching and mentoring of young men that are in the program. They’ve had a tough year, but they do deserve that recognition in these next two football games. Our focus as a team and as a program again is on the seniors. We’re going to live in the present, we’ll meet at 2:30 today, and we will start preparing for LSU.”

On whether he will coach the team differently as an interim versus his past experiences as a head coach:

“When I took the head football coaching job at Ball State University, and I was an assistant at Michigan at the time, and Coach (Bo) Schembechler told me 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 yesterday, I’m going to be who I am. We will tweak some things because of the comfort level that I have, and how I would like to run a program. There’s a lot of similarities that we have done, but there are some different things in the way we’ll practice. There will be a couple different things with how we approach each day, but I’ve got to be who I am. If I’m not, that would be a fraud.”

On the reaction from the team after being informed of Butch Jones’ departure:

“It was a team meeting, and I’m going to keep it at that. What was said, what wasn’t, reactions and whatever, that’s a football team deal.”

On who will handle the defensive line since he is taking over as interim head coach:

“Nate Ollie as you would figure, being a Ball State graduate also, has done a tremendous job. With what he has done with our defensive line and assisted me, I have a ton of confidence in him. He will still work together with me, but there will still be times when I will be somewhere else. He has the respect of the guys on the defensive line. He will do a great job.”

On whether or not he has thought about being a head coach again:

“That’s a good question because, you live each day. You live in the day. I don’t think of that a lot. I haven’t thought of it a lot. Again, we, and I, have to stay in the present because of what we want to accomplish for these seniors. To me, that’s the what this is all about, finishing out for them in a positive manner.”

On what kind of tweaks will be made to the program:

“I’m just going to keep that to me and the team. To be honest with you, I just think that it is best. As this team moves forward there will be some things that we do different.”

On an injury update:

“I will get with you on injuries later on during the week. You always have guys beat and banged up after and before a game, so we will talk about that after when I get a little more updated. I kind of know, but at the same time I want to see how some guys react today.”

On closing practice to media:

“I just think right now it is the best thing for us. Remember, I said I was going to tweak a couple of things.”

On what went wrong earlier in the season:

“Those are things that we as a staff, everyone has a part of everything. I don’t think that is fair to comment on what went wrong or what didn’t go wrong. I think there were a lot of things that went right. I think when you look at a couple of the football games where maybe we didn’t play as well, for one reason or another, that’s on us as coaches. There are also three games in there that could have gone either way if we made some plays. Overall, that’s something for you guys to talk about and figure out.”

On whether he has talked to the team about trying to not duplicate the losses after a coaching change like what happened at Florida earlier this season:

“No, not at all. Every football team in the country, I think there are 128 in this level of football, each team is different. We are different. The players and I will meet today. We will have a very good heart to heart and we will go from there.”

On the emotions of the last 24 hours:

“I think, number one, we lost a good man. That I will say. That was the first thing you deal with from an emotional level, a respect level and a friendship level. Then, you have to move forward because if we don’t move forward with our competitiveness and our energy as coaches, then you won’t get that from the players. These next two weeks are all about coaching our hearts out and coaching for these seniors on this football team because for many of them, this will be the last football they’ll ever play in their lives. It’s important, in my opinion, that we’ve been focused that way the whole year and we’ve got to finish that.”

On his role in recruiting the 2018 signing class:

“Well, it’s always a concern. We’re going to work our tails off. We’re going to stay committed to the kids that committed. We’re going to stay out there recruiting. We’re going to make the calls. We’re going to do what we’re supposed to do. This is a job. It’s a job that we have to finish.”

On his conversation with Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics John Currie:

“John and I, we had a good conversation. That’s really about as much of it as I want to get into, or would get into. We had a good conversation. I was very honored that he entrusted this in us. We just want to win for those seniors.”

On the official visit weekend for the Vanderbilt game:

“We’ll just see what happens.”

On leaning on the interim head coaching experience of offensive coordinator Larry Scott and quarterbacks coach Mike Canales:

“Larry and Chico (Mike Canales) both have been guys that have been interims. It’s new to me, but I think at the same time, we’ve got some really intelligent football coaches. We’ve got some really intelligent coaches on our staff. I think it’s always good to share ideas and do those kinds of things. But, I do know this, that I have to run the program the way I would run a program.”

On how difficult the coaching profession is:

“Well, I think you keep it in perspective of why you do it. We’re at that stage of life where everything happens quicker. They make decisions quicker, who’s involved and social media, all of those things that go along with it. The one thing that I’ve always kept in perspective is I got into coaching to help kids. If every day, I’m not helping kids that I’m coaching, then I’m failing those kids. If you are at the end of the day, then 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.”

On getting back to a bowl game:

“Well, I think we have to win six, so it starts this Saturday. We have to have a great week of practice. We have to do a great week in the training room and the weight room. We have to be focused academically. We have to be focused in meetings, and we have to lean on each other. We have to understand that it would be great to take our seniors to a bowl game for their last year.”

On the message to the fans with the games being home games:

“These guys have won twenty-nine games, three bowl games. This senior class is what I’m talking about. When you look at what they’ve done, the guys who have lasted, they have put their heart and soul into it. I think, personally, that’s an important thing that young people be appreciative of what they’ve done. Believe me, this is a great place. This is a great history in college football here. Being here for ten months, it’s really fun to see Vol Nation and how much they embrace and how passionate they are about Tennessee football. Those passions go both ways and we understand that. I think when you look at it for the young people who play the game, the game is much harder than it used to be. You all have made it harder and social media has made it harder, so my point is to be appreciative. It’s not like they’ve laid down. It’s not like they haven’t practiced hard. It’s not like they haven’t stayed together. That’s a tribute to Coach and I think it’s exciting and that’s why we are living in the present.”

On recruiting these next two weeks:

“We have not talked about that yet. I don’t know if we’ll go evaluate these next two weeks. You have Thanksgiving coming up and then the state championship after that, so we just have to do a good job of doing the things we need to do so these kids can play their best

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