Over the weekend, Weber State University lost its third-straight game of the season. Despite the tough start, I’m not worried about this team.
During the game, I overheard some reporters talking about how they were disappointed in WSU’s performance against McNeese State and how they thought the Wildcats should have played much better, since they were taking on a team in their own division. I had to disagree.
For one thing, MSU is a very good football team. They’re nationally ranked, have already beaten an FBS team this year, and their offense was probably faster than Brigham Young University. But this column isn’t going to be a WSU apologist’s column about why we’re better than our record. I want to talk about something I saw after the game.
I was really impressed by two things during the post-game press conference. The first thing that really impressed me was Mike Hoke. He showed a real maturity and acted like a solid leader. When asked what went wrong, Hoke took the blame for some of the mistakes that happened offensively.
Throughout the press conference, he talked about how the team can improve, and didn’t dwell on the tough start to the season. I could tell from the way he talked, the way he acted and the way he carried himself that he cares about the team, he wants to win, and I think he’s committed to doing whatever it takes to get better.
What really impressed me, though, was when interim Head Coach Jody Sears came in. Sears missed the first few minutes of the press conference; he quietly came in, sat down next to Hoke, who had his head down, and looked a little disheartened after the loss.
The first thing Sears did after looking over at Hoke was reach out, pat him on the back and put his arm around him. It was just a small gesture, but it really stood out to me. You could see he cares about his team and wants them to succeed.
He continued to impress me as he answered questions. It was the first time I’ve been in the room with Sears, and I didn’t really know what to expect in the press conference. He seemed calm and relaxed answering questions. When someone brought up the fact that Hoke put the blame on himself, Sears didn’t seem surprised, and said that’s what a good leader does.
He said he doesn’t want his team to get down on themselves, but expects them to walk tall and keep getting better.
“We just have to throw our shoulders back and move forward,” Sears said, “no crying and whining. Just get back to work on Monday.”
When John L. Smith left WSU before ever coaching a game, I felt a little worried about what might happen to the culture of the team. Ron McBride built a strong program and instilled a winning culture. I thought getting left at the altar by Smith might have some lasting effect on the morale of the team, but I can see after Saturday that it doesn’t.
Sears is what WSU needs. I think he’s a good coach with a good game plan, who, from what I’ve seen, really seems to care about his team and players.