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Hoke takes over sad sack Aztecs

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- It's Brady Hoke's turn to see if he can turn around San Diego State's sad-sack football team.

Hoke was hired away from Ball State on Tuesday to take over a program that hasn't had a winning record or gone to a bowl game in a decade.

He didn't set a timetable for turning around a team that is coming off the first 10-loss season in school history, but said it can be done.

"We're going to have a program that expects to win," Hoke said, repeating himself for emphasis. "By playing with great toughness and playing with great effort and understanding the details, we will do that. But we've got to make sure we're going to be accountable and expect to win."

Hoke was given a five-year contract worth $3,525,000 to replace Chuck Long, who was fired in late November. Long was 9-27 in three seasons at San Diego State, which hasn't had a winning record since 1998. The Aztecs were 2-10 this year.

While it could be viewed as a lateral move, jumping from the Mid-American Conference to the Mountain West Conference -- neither is a BCS conference -- Hoke pointed out that MWC rival Utah will be playing in its second BCS bowl game.

"As a coach and as a competitor, the vision and the dream that we want to share with our players, you like to put yourselves in a position to get to that level," he said. "At the Mid-American Conference level, it could be limited in that respect."

Hoke was 34-38 in six seasons but led the Cardinals to a 12-1 record this season. Their loss was against Buffalo in the MAC championship game.

Hoke said he won't coach Ball State in the GMAC bowl on Jan. 6.

The new coach met with the players at 7 a.m. PST on Tuesday.

"We're not going to put limits on what we can do," Hoke said. "I think when you put limits on things, you're shutting your boundaries down and we're not going to do that. We're going to be a program that understands those expectations and how we get there and how we're going to work to get there."

At Ball State, he didn't have a winning season until his fifth year.

Athletic director Jeff Schemmel thinks Hoke can win quicker at SDSU.

"You never know with records," Schemmel said. "I would expect us to improve immediately. And now what that means record-wise, I don't know. He's going to bring a different approach to things, I can feel that already. So I would expect that to take hold quickly."

Schemmel said he liked Hoke's intensity and fire.

Quarterback Ryan Lindley thinks Hoke is a good choice.

"He's definitely coming in and has a lot of things he's already planned," Lindley said. "Effort was the main thing he talked about. That's the right way to go."

Lindley feels Hoke is the coach who can finally get the Aztecs on a winning track.

"You have to think so. With the way he's talking, and players are ready, too," he said. "Guys have been waiting for something like this, waiting for a guy to push them to the next level like this. I think it's a great fit for what we have right now."

Hoke promised to recruit hard in San Diego County. He recruited California during his six seasons as an assistant coach at Oregon State and eight years on Michigan's staff.

Hoke will make $675,000 in each of his first two seasons. In subsequent seasons he'll make $700,000, $725,000 and $750,000. His contract also has incentives tied to attendance and revenue.

Ball State had offered Hoke a new contract that would have made him the school's highest-paid employee, with a $390,000 salary plus $60,000 in Mid-American Conference performance incentives.



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