March 8, 2010

CMU AD Dave Heeke discusses marketing and coaching searches

In the final installment of a three part discussion with Central Michigan Director of Athletics Dave Heeke, ChippewaCountry approached the subjects of athletics marketing and discussed his lasting thoughts on the extensive head coaching search in football that concluded with Dan Enos.

On whether CMU will continue to develop original ideas in regards to marketing

"I don't know if we're going to do the Comerica Park billboard, we're evaluating some of those things," said Heeke. "But, I want to do some creative things, I don't know how that will happen or develop, it has to come natural. But I want to do some creative things going forward. These are challenging and in challenging budget times, we have to be careful with how we spend out budget dollars. But we've had great feedback from that and we got tremendous value for what we paid for it."

His thoughts on the Comerica Park billboard and whether or not he was surprised by its impact

"You know… I thought it was a pretty good idea and I thought it was going to be well received. I thought it would be a dynamic, different thing that they haven't done here before. It really pushed us out there, people were like 'Whoa, what's Central Michigan doing out there?' But that's why we were doing it. But you know what, my dream, I want the building in right field at Comerica Park, that's outside, and I want to do a full forty story wall-scape of something about Central Michigan athletics. But, that's a big nut that I have to crack" said Heeke with a laugh.

On whether the football program will do anything special with the uniforms this upcoming season

"We'll do something with the uniforms this year, we're looking into probably one thing. We'll see how it goes," added Heeke with a grin.

Will CMU retire the white jersey with maroon pants combo that the Chippewas wore twice…in their only two losses to Arizona and Boston College

"No, let's wear them again and go 1-2, let's break the steak then," laughed Heeke. "I'm not one of those guys that puts a lot of stock in uniforms, the same socks or the same colors, because my experience is I've won as many games as I lost in the same stuff."

Heeke came to CMU from Oregon, where they seemingly had a different uniform every game. Is CMU heading down that direction?

"We're not going to get to that point, but again I think it's been very well received and our recruits have liked the energy around our Adidas apparel program and the ability to have, what I think, are some really attractive uniform combinations. And the different combinations, that's become a little bit trendier and now your seeing lots of schools do this type of stuff. And that's important to recruits, and we'll be in that game. I don't see multiple helmets though, don't look for those, too expensive."

On the differences between the two coaching searches the CMU football program faced

"It's amazing because we've done so many searches, we did both basketballs, we did soccer, we did track, but specifically for football, each one has its own certain life so to speak. But, I thought probably the biggest thing I noticed this time (Enos) was the overall interest in the job. And that's a credit to what's happened here before with previous coaches and the success of the football program. We're on the national landscape and people know this is a strong program, it's just not a flash in a pan, it's a move that you can make and have success. It's not where you better flip it or this could be the end of my career. So I thought that the amount of excitement, passion and energy about our job was fun to see, and it was neat to be around that. That was definitely different then when Brian (Kelly) left and we hired Butch (Jones). It was happening, but people weren't to sure. While there was some interest, there wasn't as much."

On his personal feeling towards the two coaching searches

"They are all consuming and exhausting at times, but they're great. I take it as one of the most important things that I do, is that I have the ability to hire coaches because they are the key to our programs, they're the connection point to our student athletes, they're the mentors and the people that make it go. So hiring good coaches who also have the ability to see through the weeds and have a vision of where they're going to take the program, it's important. So, it was good, I'm glad it's over though. I think it's harder now because it's such a public event, and fans get really involved and energized, which is good, I love that passion to, but there is a lot of criticism and second guessing without knowledge of all the steps and all the things that are happening. Don't get me wrong, we want to win. We want to throw the ball. We want to be exciting. But it's good to have it done."

Thoughts on the effectiveness of both searches

"But good searches, both were really good searches and led us to the right person. We're not going to run a search like some places where they want to hire someone within 48 hours. We want the right person and it might take a little more time on the front end so it's better on the back end. We did a very thorough job in both cases and found the right people."

On the amount of times he has been asked about the offense Dan Enos will run

(Laughs) "Usually by someone sending an email saying he's not running the spread. Where is that coming from? I want to win, and I want to be exciting, and yes that's our brand a little bit to be open and whatever 'spread' is, now that's hard to define. But everyone out there thinks they know what the spread is, there's only about 42 different variations of it, but that's why Dan and I joke, let's play tomorrow and get a game so we can play tomorrow and everyone can mellow down a little bit. At the same time, most of the people who are afraid of us losing the spread are the same ones who are mad that we can't gain one yard and score on fourth and goal. We have to go into the shotgun formation and run six yards to gain one. When Butch and (Mike) Bajakian were here, they agonized over not having a fullback, they agonized over not being able to line up in the I Formation and blast it one time when they needed to. We had to rely on Dan LeFevour to make it happen. That's why need to play a game and everyone can see, but if we have success, everything will take care of itself."

We here at thank Mr. Dave Heeke for taking the time to share his thoughts on a number of interesting subjects. From the time he stepped on campus, Mr. Heeke has proven to be a tremendous leader of CMU athletics and has effectively changed the culture around Mount Pleasant to winning, and winning the right way. Look for more discussions with Mr. Heeke later in the year.

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