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Ike Hilliard: Interview/CIH on his coaching philosophy


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I love this guy! He seems like the quintessential coach that CBH is looking for.


In his own words: Ike Hilliard came to Auburn 'to be different than I've ever been'

ike-hilliard-auburn-football Ike Hilliard (Photo by Justin Hokanson/Auburn Live)

AUBURN  Ike Hilliard isn’t a transparent or open person by nature.

Don’t take my word for it, just ask him.

“I’m a very private, to myself person,” Hilliard said on Wednesday in a moment of honesty.

Auburn’s new receivers coach was incredibly accommodating to the media on Wednesday, as he discussed his receiver room and their progress during fall camp.

As the conversation continued, the questions delved more into Hilliard’s approach to his players. What transpired was an incredible dialogue of openness from Hilliard into why he chose to take the position at Auburn, and how he approaches coaching his student-athletes.

It was so impressive, in fact, that allowing you to read what Hilliard said in full seemed more appropriate than trying to parse his words.

So, enjoy.


The players have talked about being able to call Ike Hilliard anytime to talk about life, class, football…has that enable a quicker transition into building relationships with his room?

“It’s more of the percentage of why I got into the business. I’ll be honest with you, and I probably shouldn’t go on record saying this: I came here to be different than I’ve ever been. I’m not an open and transparent person. I’m a very private, to myself person. I came here to be different. I’m sharing. I enjoy being able to coach. It really is a cool thing for me. I have a wife and five kids, and I’m here. I’ve missed a lot of life like most coaches do. My girls are in a different state. I love these dudes like they’re my own. I embrace the opportunity to be invited to weddings and asked to be godfather, I enjoy this. Seeing how they react to certain situations, dealing with the highs and lows, I embrace that. Everything they aspire to do, I’ve done. I truly enjoy this, I really do. I love, love, love what I do. Expectations and the experience need to be separated, and those have been the challenges to me.

I’m going to coach them however I want. My conversations are going to be different because of my perspective. I’ve been in the shows that they are now in. I can call bull****. I don’t have to go down the street or around the corner — fluff. It is what it is. It’s that simple. I’m no trying to be cocky, it’s just true. They embrace that, that I’m transparent and open, and there’s no fluff. They’ll tell you. It’s not right in your face, but it’s in your face. This is as loud as you’re going to hear me talk, and this is how I catch. I like to be a teacher.

How as Ike Hilliard been able to build his players’ confidence in a short period of time?

“I still like me against everybody at 46-years-old, and I can’t run to save my life. I will always bet on myself. The idea is to change the narrative in the room. Those kids, their game is plenty good enough. If they don’t believe that, shame on them. I can’t believe more than they do. If nothing else, watch me move, watch me work, feel like me.

Does Hilliard’s coaching change depending on the player or the situation?

Football is football. I can’t be anybody other than me. Now, how I communicate what I need to get across might be different, but what I’m teaching is not changing. The messages are the same.

Does Hilliard like to yell at his players to get their attention? (of note, I’ve never heard Hilliard raise his voice during media viewing windows, it’s actually impressive to watch his tone and approach)

I don’t have to yell and scream. I’m an acquired taste, I’m not for everybody. Coaching for me is that way. I don’t know if that’s to my detriment or not. I don’t have to yell at a kid to tell him he’s not playing well I think he knows that. They don’t go out there to screw it up. To yell and scream, that’s not for me. Some of those kids go through enough mentally, emotionally, life itself, to then get yelled at because they’re not trying to screw it up, I don’t look at it that way. I think they appreciate it. I think that changes their outlook on how they go about their business. You’re giving me too much credit. It has nothing to do with me. I know they’re not out there trying to screw it up. It’s been interesting for me.

What are the biggest differences from NFL to college for Ike Hilliard?

s*** that has nothing to do with football. There is a lot of s*** that has nothing to do with football that has been an eye opener for me. The coach-player relationship that also involves that also involves the parent when necessary. I’ve never had to do that piece, so trying to find a rhythm in that. You want to be a part of the life circle with these kids. You have to tread lightly to a degree, at least that’s what I’m thinking. I’m still trying to find my way in that. Every parent thinks their kid is the next greatest athlete in the world. I get it, but it’s intriguing to have some of these hard conversations with people that expectations that are unfair to the kids. Because I don’t blow smoke up people’s asses, it’s been a challenge in that regard. I come from places where it’s the bottom line and that’s all. There is no grey. I don’t know how to be (grey). I truly believe that the experience needs to be the most important thing and the rest will take care of itself, and there are people that are not on that wave length. That’s been interesting for me.

Edited by toddc
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Love the part where he admits still figuring out where the coach fits into a dynamic where every parent thinks their son's the next all pro. Truth. Anybody that's coached any sport at any level understands that.

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Surprisingly honest take from a football coach, but you can get away with that a little more as a position coach. Makes me wonder what players or recruits parents he got in a dust up with? lol

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Love the part where he admits still figuring out where the coach fits into a dynamic where every parent thinks their son's the next all pro. Truth. Anybody that's coached any sport at any level understands that.

One of the hardest parts is dealing with the families.

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