Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 44 of 267

outside his sphere of direct knowledge, Hoke knows precisely what he's seeking. That was the case when he brought in former U-M player Curt Mallory to coach the defensive backs. "I've known Curt for a long time, but when you interview him, and you know his substance and the Michigan side of it …" Hoke noted, as if nothing more needed to be said. "Roy was a no-brainer. After watching him grow when he was a graduate assistant here, I knew he'd be back here. I'm really excited about what he's doing. It's allowed Greg to go back to coaching the front, the two outside guys. That's been really good for us." Familiarity is no smaller matter, Hoke reaffirmed. In a program built on trust and accountability, it adds a measure of protection. "A lot of the guys, on the first staff ever at Ball State, were guys that worked the Michigan camp," Hoke said. "Guys I'd met when I was at Michigan and I was coming in and working it, and guys I'd met when I was a position coach, and watched them coach and interact with kids, watched them teach. It's guys you want to be around. "The support they have from their wives and families, that's great, because of the hours and travel and all that this job is about." Here are those guys, talking about how they came to be part of what this staff is collectively building in The Big House. Greg Mattison Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison saw early on that Brady Hoke was going places. The fact that they eventually ended up in the same place — a pretty prominent venue — should come as no surprise. Mattison served early in his career at Western Michigan under Jack Harbaugh, and went from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator when the opening arose. The Broncos then needed a defensive line coach, and Mattison made a recommendation just based on observation. "I didn't know Brady," Mattison said. "If he walked in the room, I wouldn't have known him. But I recruited the west side of the state, and had the Grand Rapids area, Muskegon. I'd always run into this guy from Grand Valley in schools. "This guy worked hard at it. He was a young guy, and I thought, 'This guy's pretty good.'" When Mattison told the head coach he might want to take a look, Harbaugh urged his new defensive coordinator to get Hoke to Western Michigan's football camp. "He came and worked our camp, and he was one of the best coaches at the camp," Mattison recalled. "Everybody went, 'This guy can really coach.' We hire him there, and we become very close friends — really, really close friends. We worked so closely together. We both were D-line guys. We just became best of friends." That staff eventually got released, and the two friends went their separate ways — Hoke to Toledo and eventually Oregon State, Mattison to Navy and then Texas A&M. They never lost touch. When Mattison found himself in a bowl game and Hoke didn't, the invitation would go out, with Hoke and his wife, Laura, heading for the site. Mattison eventually preceded Hoke to Michigan, and a familiar scenario arose. U-M needed a defensive line coach, and Mattison recommended the best one he knew. Only in this instance, Mattison knowing Hoke well wasn't necessarily an immediate plus in the hiring process. Then head coach Gary Moeller wanted to make certain all the right people were in place in his staff. Mattison recalled: "I'll never forget, I went right to Mo and said, 'The best D-line coach I've ever been around is Brady Hoke. This guy is a great coach, he's a great recruiter, he's a great person, a great father, the whole thing.' "Mo looked right at me and he goes, 'We're not hiring friends, here.' I respected him so much, but I was kind of mad at first. I said, 'You would think I would hire a friend, at this place, where we've got to have the best coaches? Coach, he's the best D-line coach out there.' "He said, 'All right, gosh dang it, bring him in here for a visit.'" Hoke came for an interview … and survived. "We're in the room, and Mo gets him on the board," Mattison said. "I swear, he interviewed him for five hours. Just grilled him on everything. Brady just blew him away. "Afterwards, Mo goes, 'All right, I'm going to hire him.' And that was it." Of course, that's not the end of the story. Mattison eventually moved on to some other prominent venues, with Hoke striking out for Ball State and then San Diego State, fulfilling his desire to become a head coach. Eventually, the two reunited, at a place they both love. "When I was at Notre Dame, then at Florida and in the NFL, I'd probably call and talk to him at least once every two weeks," Mattison said. "When he was at San Diego State, my wife and I got a TV package where we could get their games, so we could watch them play. We were pulling for them." When Hoke landed the Michigan job, he executed a nifty pull himself, getting Mattison to leave the Baltimore Ravens and come home. "It's been a great relationship," Mattison assured. — John Borton Mark Smith Inside Linebackers Smith gets a grin on his face when he contemplates his service with Hoke. He's known the Michigan head coach as long as anyone on the staff, going all the way back to 1983. Smith worked then as an assistant coach at Bowling Green with Jon Hoke, Brady's brother. A few hours north, Brady Hoke launched his career as an assistant coach at Grand Valley State. Jon Hoke introduced the two, and the future coaching partnership began on the open road. "We spent some quality time together on a long trip one time, when he and I went to a national coaches convention in 1983," Smith recalled. "We were both young coaches, looking for jobs, and we were supposed to travel with the full-time coaches from Bowling Green. They all backed out. "Well, Brady and I decided we were still going to go to this convention in Dallas. He and I jumped in my '70s love van that I had back then — the mood light, and the carpets. He and I drove together down to Dallas. "We probably turned it into a longer trip than it needed to be, for various reasons. That's when Brady and I really kind of forged Smith has known Hoke as long as anyone on the current Michigan coaching staff, going back to 1983, and he was part of Hoke's staff at both Ball State and San Diego State. photo by per kjeldsen The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 43

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