'I'm not expecting to be the next Joe Rogan': Ex-WMU coach Steve Hawkins launches podcast

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

In early March, Steve Hawkins owned one of just 350 Division I men's basketball coaching jobs in the country. Now, as of this week, Hawkins is just one out of some 850,000.

Welcome to the world of podcasting.

"I have no idea what I am doing with any of this," Hawkins, the former Western Michigan men's basketball coach, said with a chuckle. "I'm not expecting to be the next Joe Rogan. It's just something that I think is gonna be fun, I think it's gonna keep me busy, and I'll keep me connected to the basketball world."

Steve Hawkins was the Western Michigan men's basketball coach for the past 17 seasons.

Hawkins on Monday launched his "Next Possession" podcast, with his first guest the always entertaining and unfiltered Tom Izzo, Michigan State's men's basketball coach.

Hawkins, working out of his home, plans a podcast every week, at least for now, with the potential to add a second one in due time. At that point, one episode will be interview based, and the other will be more motivational and educational, from Hawkins' perspective.

The podcast, Hawkins said, will be a hybrid between the basketball and entertainment worlds, given his laundry list of connections to both industries.

The idea has been months in the making, since he was fired by Western Michigan in mid-March, after 17 seasons as head coach. He did his research, talking to friends, colleagues and experts in the digital space.

"Obviously, the timing of my exit at Western Michigan during a pandemic was not ideal," Hawins said. "Everybody is gonna remember the pandemic for the rest of their lives, that time period in which nobody was allowed to go to work, basically. And for me, it was a time to spend a lot of time with family, to reflect on my career, to reflect on everything.

"I literally had to now live what I had preached to my players all these years, which is I gotta get to the next possession."

Eventually, the goal of the podcast will be to somehow monetize it, though it's not an immediate priority, given his buyout of more than $200,000 and his years of drawing a salary that paid him more than $300,000 a year.

More importantly, Hawkins said, is simply getting his feet wet and finding his lane — which in the oversaturated space of podcasting is no small task.

Just finding the right equipment — microphones, Garage Band, etc. — and learning to use it properly was an accomplishment in and of itself for a man who's 57, and who's main job since 1981 has been coaching basketball, without so much as a year break. He had to Google what "interface" meant.

Hawkins still wants to coach, though opportunities were severely limited after his dismissal from Western, given a COVID-19 pandemic that didn't just shut down sports, but also mostly froze hirings and firings.

"Coaching is not out of my blood," said Hawkins, who had been at Western Michigan since 2000, first with three years as an assistant, followed by the 17-year run as head coach that included two NCAA Tournament appearances. "But I knew it'd be next spring in terms of coaching jobs, that would be the first opportunity for coaching jobs, most likely.

"I figured this would be a good way to keep me busy, and still say something, and have fun with it."


Twitter: @tonypaul1984