Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.
By Jeff Borzello
LAS VEGAS -- The hardest part of being an assistant coach is not losing a game, losing a recruit or losing sleep.
For Mike Hopkins, it's being away from his family for so much of the year.
"It's very hard," Hopkins said.
The actual season lasts more than five months, with road trips and late nights in the office taking up much of that time frame. Factor in more than 20 days on the road in July, recruiting trips throughout the year and in-home visits in the fall, and assistant coaches are forced to truly make the most of their time at home.
"It's a long season," Hopkins said. "The biggest thing is the pull that you have [from home and from the job]. It's almost like, when are you home?"
While at home, he said he puts his phone in a different room after around 7 p.m. and only check it periodically during the rest of the night.
"I was getting too many phone calls," Hopkins said. During my time with him, his phone rang dozens of times and buzzed with text messages on countless occasions. Being on the road is a different story. His sole mode of communication with his family is via phone.
Hopkins, who has a wife and three kids back home in Syracuse, speaks to his wife on the phone several times a day. He tried to FaceTime on his iPhone at one point, too. (It failed, due to lack of Wi-Fi in the gym). A text message from his son early in the morning made his day, while videos of his daughter jumping off a diving board and going down a slide for the first time brought a smile to his face.
"You don't want to miss any moments," Hopkins said.
For an assistant coach on the road, it's becoming harder and harder to do that -- but some still find a way.