Waiting their turn: Michigan's Brady Hoke, MSU's Mark Dantonio, WMU's P.J. Fleck each get floor at MHSFCA clinic this week at Radisson
KALAMAZOO, MI – During the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association’s Winner’s Circle Clinic last January at Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites, an incident playfully dubbed as “The Interruption Heard ‘Round Michigan” raised the dander of University of Michigan and Michigan State supporters alike.
During a recruiting discussion at the clinic inside the Arcadia Ballroom, MSU coach Mark Dantonio re-directed the focus back on the topic as it pertains to high school coaches, while U-M receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski was using the time to detail the Wolverines’ recruiting plan.
Dantonio interrupted Hecklinski in the middle of his Maize-and-Blue spiel. When the story broke, message boards and blogs went wild, taking either side of argument follow the brief incident.
U-M and MSU will be represented again with keynote speakers at this week’s 41st annual MHSFCA clinic at the Radisson in downtown Kalamazoo. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, who could not attend the clinic during his time slot last year because of a prior engagement, is scheduled to have the floor from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday in the Arcadia Ballroom. Dantonio is slated to speak from 10 to 11 a.m. in the same room.
“This is a convention where college and high school coaches are working on their craft. It’s one of the largest conventions in the country,” MHSFCA clinic chairman Al Slamer said about the three-day event, which is expected to draw anywhere from 1,500 to 1,800 high school and college coaches from Michigan and other areas of the Midwest.
The clinic kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday. At that time, new Western Michigan University coach P.J. Fleck will be one of five college coaches speaking from 7 to 8:25 that night in various rooms at the Radisson. Fleck’s session will be held in the Glens 2-3 rooms and is titled, “Being ready for the job when given the opportunity, the new direction of WMU football.”
The clinic is designed for MHSFCA members and is not open to the public, with the exception of a free session from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday featuring representatives from Alma, Olivet and Defiance colleges. High school coaches who are interested in joining the MHSFCA can register for $90, which covers fees for membership and this week’s clinic. Registration will be available at the clinic.
Fleck, Hoke and Dantonio highlight the dozens of guest speakers from various levels of college and high school football. Constantine football coach Shawn Griffith, who guided the Falcons to the last two Division 6 state championship games, is scheduled to speak about his program’s wing-T offense from 7:30 to 8:55 Friday night in Glens 2-3 rooms.
“What we try and do clinic-wise is offer a great learning experience. It’s tailor-made to a lot of different philosophies,” said Slamer, the fifth-year Holt High School football coach, who spent 30 years at Battle Creek Central prior to Holt. “This year we’ll offer 60 speakers – anything from offensive and defensive philosophies to leadership to individual positioning, all those things.”
The positioning of the Hoke and Dantonio presentations seems noteworthy. From 9:30 to 10 a.m. Friday, between the presentations of the in-state rival coaches, will be a session called “Doing what we can to keep players injury free.” Speakers during that session include Mark Uyl, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, and Amy Teddy, an injury prevention specialist for U-M’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Given the buffer that Uyl’s and Teddy’s presentation will provide between the U-M and MSU sales pitches, perhaps their time slot could be termed, “Doing what we can to keep the peace.”
Slamer chalked up the Dantonio/Hecklinski incident as a misunderstanding and called it “about 30 seconds of controversy.” Slamer said the real intent of the Uyl and Teddy presentation is to get their message out to as many coaches as possible while the MHSFCA has a captive audience.
“If we have Mark Dantonio and Brady Hoke together, everybody’s going to be there. The information that Mark and Amy have, people need to be there,” Slamer said. “If we put (Uyl and Teddy) in a room, where people were to prioritize (other speakers at that time slot), that wouldn’t be one of their priorities. With having coach Hoke leading off, 500, 600, 700 and even 1,000 people will be there.
“We’re really trying to address that (injury-free) portion. Concussions are huge. What the NCAA has done with the reduction of hitting time (during practices) hasn’t been legislated to (high school football) yet, but it could be. And then the heat(-related) issues. We have to make sure we are able to address these areas and keep our athletes as safe as possible.”
Slamer is excited about the lineup of coaches at the upcoming clinic, including the Broncos’ new sideline general.
“He seems energetic, an enthusiastic guy,” Slamer said about Fleck. “Coach (Bill) Cubit always treated us great, but it looks like (WMU is going in) a new direction.
“There are a lot of good coaches out there in the high school ranks, college ranks and professional ranks, and it’s funny how great players make you look better. It’s all about recruiting.”
Email Scott DeCamp at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ScottDeCamp.