The Signal: What exactly is your official title here at Georgia State?
Mike Holmes: I am the associate AD for communications. I took over that role this past summer. Before that, I served as associate director. I’m now in my eighth year working here in the athletic department. I also do my undergraduate and master’s here, [I] left for a little while and came back here in 2008 at that point actually as an assistant director…I oversee Men’s Basketball, both of the Golf team’s and I serve as a secondary contact for football.
The Signal: We saw the [Sun Belt Championship] rings on your Twitter, how many rings do you have?
Mike Holmes: [chuckles] Right now, I’m up to four rings. Honestly, I’m extremely proud of each one. It’s not easy to win a championship. I try to do whatever I can to help the team succeed on and off the field. First one came as the baseball championship back in 2009, it’s the first time we ever won a conference championship in baseball, so obviously that was a little bit special, it was also the first- basically my first year back here. Then there’s been two basketball rings. One from the conference championship two years ago and obviously this special one everybody cherishes from last year and then throw in a golf ring as well. So, I’ve kind of joked about it and it really is more of a joke, I’m on the outside of all this, but this is the year ‘One for the thumb.’ To be honest, I’d like to pick up one for the thumb and two for the other hand I’m working with for the two golf teams and the basketball.
The Signal: Is there any chance [laughs] student reporters can get a ring?
Mike Holmes: I don’t know if it’s gotten that far yet. But um, I have joked about, it’s more of a cost thing, the Braves have done it this year, that it would be neat to do giveaway of a replica ring. I think that’s more a[n] anniversary type deal, when we celebrate this team in 10 or 15 years rather than the following year. But they are something I cherish, my wife jokes about it a little bit, but I have them on display at home. I’m pretty proud of them.
The Signal: Is there anyone you’re coming for with the rings, like Phil Jackson or anyone…
Mike Holmes: [laughs] I’d be all for it, because if I did, obviously it would mean Georgia State would’ve won a lot of championships. At the end of the day, what makes me proud is seeing smiles on the faces when those guys get them. You know, not every student-athlete is not able to get one at the end of their college career. Obviously, you hope to get one, honestly you want to come up with four. I really hope I’m around Georgia State long enough to press Phil or maybe one of those guys. I do my undergrad degree here, I do my masters here, so I’m proud. When football loses a game, I’m hurt, when football wins a game, I celebrate- so you know, it’s more than a job to me, I mean this is my school. That’s how I look at it and that’s how I motivate myself to work up the ranks.
The Signal: You also went to the ESPY’s, can you just talk about that a little bit?
Mike Holmes: Um, I have never felt so out-of-place in my life. But, with that said, I have never had such great a time. I was actually only in L.A. for 30 hours because I was in the middle of my families vacation, but they treated us no different than they treat LeBron James or Derek Jeter or the Women’s U.S Soccer Team that just won the World Cup I think 10 days prior. They treat everybody exactly the same. What was cool going to some of the parties and some of the events was, everybody there was “a celebrity.” So, you’d have people…Urban Meyer came up and congratulated our guys for their run and our guys Ryann Green, Markus Crider and T.J. Shipes took a picture with him. Seeing guys like Odell Beckham, who obviously had an incredible year last year taking pictures with our guys- they knew who our guys were. From that run in the NCAA tournament, so I think it made our guys even wanna work harder to try and figure out a way to get back to the ESPY’s again next summer. What I told them was, we’re not gonna be pulling off anymore upset specials anymore. We’re probably going to have to do something really special to get back- if it means to push themselves to work as hard as going to a Final Four, that’s what they want to do. Being out there in L.A. was an unique experience, I had a lot of fun, there wasn’t a whole lot of sleep while we were out there, but I think the guys really enjoyed it. It was just the perfect culmination for what I consider the perfect season for the Georgia State basketball program.
The Signal: Okay, so you said the guys met [New York Giants receiver] Odell Beckham, how was that for you as a [New York] Jets fan?
Mike Holmes: [laughs] At the end of the day, I’m a sports fan. The teams that I cheer for and post about frequently on Twitter, have not had the most success over the years. I’m having a pretty good October right now, with the Mets starting playoffs this week, my Jets are off to a 3-1 start. At the end of the day, I enjoy watching the top athletes in the world. I may not be a Yankees fan, but I really enjoyed seeing Derek Jeter there. I like LeBron James-seeing those guys there, I enjoyed that stuff. I’m not a big Ohio State fan, no real reason why, but I thought it was cool to see Urban Meyer there. Everyone was on the same level, it was a big room of celebrities, there were no fans coming up to them or anything like that, everybody’s equal. So that was cool. Tara Lipinski, who’s a former Olympic athlete, was standing next to me- those are just the elite athletes that you like to look up to, so that experience was really neat. I think the guys really appreciated it.
The Signal: What was your favorite season from a team, from all the teams you’ve ever worked with?
Mike Holmes: Hmm….I’ve actually been asked this before. I pretty much had a cop-out answer at the time. ‘Cause each one has been special. For example, I work with the golf team a little closer, per say. I actually took them down to Key West earlier this year. Each one’s a little different. With that said, the NCAA tournament is an incredibly huge deal in this country. For a lot of reasons. From people filling out brackets, to the number of people watching it, all that. I think last year’s run, that five day, six day period that Coach Hunter likes to talk about, from that Sunday to that Saturday, is probably the most special. It did a ton for the University, to be perfectly honest and blunt, it did a ton for my career.
We had 5,000 article mentions over that five day stretch. 250 media request. From the time the game ended, and to be honest it’s still a little bit of a blur, to the time I got in the locker room, which is a period of…four minutes? I had 43 texts and 23 phone calls on my cellphone. It literally took me hours to get back, but I responded to every single person that reached out to me. It may have just been a smiley face, people that haven’t reached out to me in years but just to acknowledge they thought enough or the fact they were even watching, the amount of people watching those games was absolutely incredible. To be honest, where I stand, the amount of fellow sports information directors that reached out to me just to say, “hey congrats, that was awesome”- it meant a lot. It kind of what drives me. When, you get back from a Conference Championship at 2:45 in the morning and you don’t go home. You don’t go to sleep. You just stay up ‘till the next night to get done everything that needs to get done…I joked when I came home after a week and I don’t know if my two-year-old son knew who I was. but, it made it all worthwhile. It’s stuff that years from now I’ll be able to tell him about. At that point, when he starts to follow College Basketball and stuff, he’ll appreciate it.
To be honest- it was the perfect storm of everything- from Kevin Ware returning to the tournament after what had happened to him, Coach Hunter tearing his achilles and getting to go, to coaching RJ, so you know all that leads up to the shot that is going to be a part of the NCAA tournament for the next 30 years, you’re gonna see it. It does nothing but bring a smile to your face everytime you see that. Even when I talk to RJ now, it still pops in my head.