Brady Hoke said Tennessee’s final two regular-season games are about one thing: the seniors.
“These last two games are only about one thing, and that’s the seniors on this football team,” Hoke said during his Monday news conference. “They’ve 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 that we play for.”
Hoke was appointed by athletic director John Currie as the Vols’ interim coach on Sunday after Tennessee fired Butch Jones.
“As a staff, we are going to coach our hearts out for the seniors,” Hoke said.
Hoke, who formerly coached at Michigan, San Diego State and Ball State, is in his first year as UT’s defensive line coach.
Hoke commended Jones for his “hard work” and added that he thought Jones did an “incredible job” in his five seasons at Tennessee.
“We lost a good man,” Hoke said of Jones.
Hoke said he will make some changes and indicated that’s factoring into why he’s closing practice this week. Previously, the Vols had a portion of their Tuesday practice open to the media each week during the season.
“We will tweak some things because of the comfort level I have and how I would like to run a program,” Hoke said.
Hoke added that he will follow the advice he received years ago from former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler: Be yourself.
“I’ve got to be who I am,” Hoke said. “If not, that would be a fraud.”
Hoke has 12 years of experience as a head coach, most recently at Michigan from 2011-14. He was 31-20 in his four seasons with the Wolverines.
He also was a head coach at Ball State and San Diego State, holding an overall record of 78-70.
After being fired at Michigan, Hoke was Oregon’s defensive coordinator for one season in 2016.
You can watch his press conference here.