Aztecs coach Brady Hoke eager to focus on football rather than NIL, transfer portal and realignment

JULY 26, 2023 7:13 PM
San Diego State football coach Brady Hoke is counting down the days to the start of preseason camp.
Make that day.
Camp begins Friday, which means Hoke can stop fielding questions about the transfer portal, NIL and conference realignment — wait, Colorado might be returning to the Big 12? — and focus on football.
Such topics were sprinkled throughout conversations both at Wednesday’s press conference on campus and last week’s Mountain West football media days in Las Vegas.
First the portal, which giveth and taketh away.
SDSU added safeties JD Coffey III (Texas) and Deshawn McCuin (TCU) to offset the departures of Patrick McMorris (Cal) and C.J. Baskerville (Texas Tech).
The Aztecs got offensive linemen Myles Murao (Washington), who will compete at guard and center, and Jordan Sandlin (Florida Atlantic) while losing right tackle Josh Simmons (Ohio State).
NIL and the portal are inextricably linked, with dollars often dictating destination.
Hoke would at least like to see people be up front about it.
In January, Simmons announced he was leaving, though he had to wait three months to enter the portal.
Hoke questioned how “ethical” the recruitment was of Simmons.
“There were a couple teams from the SEC to the Big Ten,” Hoke said at media days. “The only thing I would appreciate, because the guy didn’t want to be here, so I wasn’t talking him into staying, (but) I would appreciate coaches to at least call you. Right?
“Particularly when you know guys. No. 1, I’d want to talk to the head coach about the guy, his character, what he’s all about, and their culture and all that stuff.”
Asked if he believed schools reached out to Simmons behind the scenes, Hoke said, “I’ve probably talked enough about that.”
Asked Wednesday if he believes the portal still needs to evolve, Hoke said: “There’s no question.” The Aztecs open their season Aug. 26 against Ohio.
“There maybe have to be more guardrails on it still,” he said. “The time. How long is the portal going to be open and all that. What’s fair? Right now it’s all fair for the players. I don’t know if it’s all fair for the universities yet.”
Surrounded by media members in Las Vegas, one person asked if Hoke would like to see Congress step in and make sweeping regulations.
“I don’t know if Congress can do that,” he said. “Look where we’re at right now. They’ve got a lot on their plate.”
Apparently, it’s a big plate — two bills have been proposed the past two weeks.
That includes one co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin and Tommy Tuberville, the former college football coach, that would make athletes disclose how much they receive from NIL deals, provide regulation for collectives and place tighter restrictions on transfers.
Stay tuned.
“My point is, we’ve got to figure it out, someway,” said Hoke, adding, “I don’t like anything about it, but I’m sitting here complaining without a solution.”
What about the NCAA’s role in all this. It is, after all, the governing body for college athletics. Shouldn’t the NCAA be on top of these issues?
“Be nice,” Hoke said. “I don’t know. Tennessee just got in some stuff, right?”
The reference was to the Volunteers football program, which was fined $8 million for more than 200 infractions.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard the NCAA in awhile do anything,” Hoke said.
Interestingly, he noted that “this is all player-driven now. If it’s NIL. If it’s transfer portal. The players, right now, they’ve got the best hand.”
And some, apparently, are bluffing.
“Who you believing?” Hoke asked. “Some of these guys are saying, ‘I’m getting a million dollars.’ Well, no, you’re not. There’s some reality to it.”
Hoke, like most coaches, chooses to focus on what he can control.
“We’re just trying to do the best we can,” he said, “with the guys who love to be an Aztec, guys who love to be in this program and guys that have come in for the last three or four years and worked their ass off to be a good football team.”
Those are the ones Hoke is eager to join Friday on the SDSU practice field.

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