Lovie Smith might not remember it, but Jon Hoke recalls first meeting him at Humble (Texas) High School outside of Houston.
Smith was working for Ohio State at the time and landed prized wide receiver David Boston for the Buckeyes. Hoke, who was hired Tuesday as the Bears' secondary coach, also recruited the Houston area at the time for Missouri.
The next stop in Hoke's career was at Florida, where he became defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier and that is when he got to know Smith. Members of the Gators staff would occasionally travel to Tampa to visit the Buccaneers coaches.
"It's funny,'' Hoke said. "The majority of the time I was there I was sitting in Lovie's office.''
Hoke will have his own office down the hall from Smith now. He was let go by the Houston Texans after seven seasons there. He was a holdover from Dom Capers' original staff. Current coach Gary Kubiak retained him, in part, because Texans owner Bob McNair thought so highly of him but Hoke went out the door along with the defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and a strength and conditioning coach in a shakeup. Had Hoke not landed with the Bears, it's expected he would have had multiple jobs to consider.
He has never coached the Tampa Two scheme before but has watched it closely. The Bears made some changes in their technique in the secondary this past season after being beaten repeatedly on quick slants. They moved to playing less outside technique, which was allowing opposing receivers an easy path inside for quick catches. The defense got nickel-and-dimed up and down the field this way on more than one occasion, and eventually the corners shifted inside a little.
It will be interesting to see how the defense evolves this offseason and having not worked in the system before, Hoke will be able to provide a different perspective.
``I've just studied the [Tampa Two] and I'm anxious to learn it and see how it's taught,'' he said.
Hoke, who replaces Steve Wilks, declined to speak on Bears' personnel specifically because he has not worked with the players yet but said he likes the mix of veteran and young players he will have. It's expected that the team will look for an infusion of talent at safety.