Dec. 3, 2007
COACH WEIS: With all the people here, probably the easiest thing for us to do is just for me to open it up and turn it into more of a question and answer kind of wrap up here.
There’s obviously a number of different directions that you may go. The only really new information that I have for you at this time is that we have four guys that were invited to the Senior Bowl, and we’ll all be attending and that have all applied and said yes, two on offense and two on defense. Both John Sullivan and John Carlson were invited to go offensively and both Trevor Laws and Tom Zbikowski were invited to go defensively, so all four of those guys will be going down to Mobile to play in the Senior Bowl. That’s about all the new information I have for you, so fire away.
Q. I know you haven’t had an in depth look, but have you started thinking at all about some of the things you know you’re going to change for next year?
COACH WEIS: No, I’m recruiting. That’s what I’m doing. I’m recruiting until December 17th. I was gone until late Thursday night, I came in on Friday morning, I watched the game on Friday morning. I had a bunch of appointments. I met with the team at 2:30 Friday afternoon to get the weight program going because we started that this morning at 6:00. So that was kind of — set the tone for the spring.
I told them the same thing I told you, what we were going to do. They had not been informed about December 17th and January 2nd, so I let them know what that schedule was, as well, but really Friday was a day I got together with them to get them moving forward towards the spring, and that started this morning with (strength & conditioning coach) Ruben (Mendoza) and his program.
Other than that, football wise right now, flying Thursday to get ready for the banquet weekend, and we’ve got a bunch of recruits in this weekend and I’ll go back on the road again and I’ll be out Monday through Friday of that following week and then Saturday we have to be off the road, and that’s the Saturday before the 17th, so that’s really where I want to be.
Q. Do you have any plans on — you’ve said you’re going to New England. Any other plans to visit any other coaching staffs?
COACH WEIS: I have several things in mind. I think that right now they’re just ideas, they’re not etched in stone. Even going to the Pats, that isn’t something that I have to touch a date in. We’ll just work it out when we can work it out. I just know that there will be numerous attempts by me and the entire staff to make sure we use the proper resources to try to help move in the right direction.
Q. Do you feel like you could go to any (indiscernible) — you talked before about changing how you were going to practice.
COACH WEIS: I’m definitely going to use college resources, but I think you guys greatly overrate the pro system when it comes to Xs and Os. All you’re doing when it comes to that, an analysis of your system, is the X and O part. That’s one small part of the grand scheme of things. When I say that I’m going to utilize the Patriots as a resource, why wouldn’t I? They’re the people that have the most familiarity with the Xs and Os part of the system.
That’s just one small part of this job. I mean, there’s a lot of facets that we’ve passed down through the years. There’s different ways of doing it, and I think that you have to make sure you at least exhaust — make sure you’ve gone through those different alternatives, and right now to say what you’re going to do would be a bit premature.
COACH WEIS: We’ll start together. We’ll start together in the morning. As a matter of fact, the first thing we’ll do is get together with Ruben and (head trainer) Jim Russ and go over medically and physically the state of the union with each player on the entire team with every coach sitting in there, so that’s how we’ll start that off. But it’ll start together.
And then obviously as the week goes on it’ll be separated to offensive staff and defensive staff and special teams and all the other things. But you don’t answer all the questions, you know, in a couple hours. You don’t answer them in a couple days. It’s going to take weeks to make sure you do a proper analysis.
Q. You’re starting a week later than a lot of these teams. Michigan is playing their third game and you’re playing your second. Is that a concern at all, that it’s hard to get into the season a week behind?
COACH WEIS: Oh, not really. I mean, it’s just when you’re starting. It’s just like anything else, the schedule is the way it is. We still have a bye week during the year. Would you rather have two bye weeks during the year? I think having one buy week, and I believe it falls right in between the sixth and seventh game, I’m not exactly sure of that, but to have a bye week right at the midpoint of the year I think is almost an ideal situation or the proper time to heal some bumps and bruises and give you a mid season evaluation point.
I’d much rather be playing every week to tell you the truth, because that’s the way the players get used to being into a regular flow of being off Monday, practicing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I think when you get to these weeks off during the season, especially multiple weeks off during the season, you break up your normal routine.
Q. How significant is it not having December practice when you’re not in a bowl game? Are you in favor of legislation that would allow the teams not playing in a bowl to practice?
COACH WEIS: I’d prefer to be practicing rather than not practicing, but I think that it gives you an opportunity to get a lot of young guys that haven’t had as many reps involved in your system, but fortunately/unfortunately for us a lot of those young guys were playing a good portion of the year, and I think that it’s almost as important to get started on your weight program, a heavy dose of the weight program, so we’re just countering that lack of practice time by the increased early start on strength and conditioning. And I think that that’s all you can do based on what the legislation is at this time is utilize it properly and get going like we did this morning on the strength program.
Q. Speaking of those young guys, individually it was obvious like (Jimmy) Clausen and (Armando) Allen, (Kerry) Neal, (Ian) Williams all got better as the season went on. Collectively in specific areas where do you feel that you made advancements?
COACH WEIS: Well, obviously our skill players, our freshmen skill players, we were pleased at the progress. We have a couple of guys on the horizon who really didn’t get into the action like Gary Gray and Harrison Smith at the end of — by this time of the year, these two guys looked like really, really good, solid players. We have four linemen who really didn’t get any action this year, one on defense in Emeka (Nwankwo) and three on offense, that we really liked their progress, as well. In addition to the guys playing, there were some guys that were on the cusp of being legitimate contenders on the depth chart going into the spring. I think it’ll be interesting to see how they push their way up.
Q. Right at the start of the season the motto was “tradition never graduates,” and obviously at a place like Notre Dame it doesn’t, but Brady Quinn does, Victor Abiamiri does, a lot of players do. When you look back on it, did you just incur too many significant losses?
COACH WEIS: There’s a whole litany of things that you can place blame on, but I really have a tough time placing blame just on graduation of players. Did we lose a whole bunch of key players? You bet we did. But that still shouldn’t lead to going 3 and 9 for a season.
Q. When you look at your staff right now, (indiscernible)?
COACH WEIS: Well, obviously you’re talking about the University of Houston, and remember (offensive coordinator/running backs coach) Michael (Haywood) is from Houston. I think that sometimes in the coaching carousel there’s times that guys get into a mix for a reason, and any time a job comes open in your hometown where you know all the high school coaches, and you know, have relationships with them, and you played high school football there, I think that that always bodes well for your chance for success because sometimes you go to a place and the chance for being successful isn’t that great, but it’s always — obviously the main line for success or the best way to be successful is to get good football players, and if you have good relationships with all the people in your hometown, that will be a good place to start.
Q. As far as your staff, do you anticipate making any changes?
COACH WEIS: I wouldn’t even think about that until after recruiting is over. There’s nothing I intend on doing until after recruiting is over. Right now the main — my main emphasis and everything I’m doing is making sure that we do a good job in recruiting.
Q. Could you maybe go through your definition and how you would explain in your head what a pipeline is, a recruiting pipeline, like how many kids you feel you need to have in reserves?
COACH WEIS: Well, because we recruit nationally, obviously there’s certain schools that we’ve had multiple players come here from. I really can’t get into the high schools because I don’t want to get myself into trouble with the NCAA and recruiting. I think that it’s really important as best you can, because we’re a national recruiting school, to forge relationships with as many high school coaches as you possibly can. I think that ones that you have more familiarity with leads to a higher success rate in getting players because the players can ask their coaches about the program and the coaches and everything, and it gives you a better chance there.
I think that we have a few situations where we’ve had multiple players from a school, but in reality, because we recruit nationally, I think our whole thing is to try to forge positive relationships wherever we go.
Q. In terms of early enrollments, you’ve had six. I wonder if looking back at those six guys you think it’s benefited them, and also do you anticipate having any of this occur?
COACH WEIS: Well, there’s definitely pros and cons coming in. I think it benefited all six guys in different ways. Sometimes it might be in playing time, sometimes it might be in conditioning, sometimes it might be academically, getting themselves settled in in school. So it benefited all six of them in not necessarily the same ways.
We will have at least one mid year, possibly two, mid year enrollees. Of course I can’t discuss who they are. But the one thing is, pulling yourself back for a second, the reason for having a mid year as a football coach, there are benefits to having a guy involved in your system and getting a guy settled in.
As a dad, I would never encourage it, as a dad. Because I would want my kid to matriculate through high school just like everybody else, go play baseball, go to the senior prom. I would want him to everything that everyone else did. But to stay up with the Joneses you have to have that venue open so you don’t lose a player that was dead set on going out mid year. I’ll tell every player that’s doing it that I’ll be glad to take them mid year, especially if they’re in good shape academically, because it makes it easier to get them involved in spring ball.
I also tell them that — when somebody asks for a recommendation, I never recommend that they do it that way. I just play by the fact that that’s the way they wanted it handled.
Q. In terms of — obviously Notre Dame is not in the BCS this year and you’d like to get back there soon. Was it difficult for you to pick out the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country this year?
COACH WEIS: Well, I just toed the party line this year down the stretch. I spent time with (director of football personnel) Tim (McDonnell). We looked at it every week. We just look at where everyone else is, and we say, okay, here’s where they are based on how they’re playing.
You can say whatever you want, but the way the thing all played out, I mean, I ended up voting Ohio State 1 and Georgia 2 because that’s where they were on the line. They were 3 and 4. Not that I’m a big fan of Ohio State or Georgia or anyone else, but if you’re next in line and you don’t play, and the two teams ahead of you lose, I think that you move up. I just don’t know how you get penalized for not playing. I think right now if I were (Georgia head coach) Mark Richt I’d be out there whining today because wasn’t he sitting 4 last week? So he’s sitting 4 but now he moves down a spot. He doesn’t play, he wins his last six games, one of the hottest teams in the country, and now he gets penalized. I don’t think he’s a whiner because I know the guy and I like the guy, but I think if anyone has a gripe today, it would probably be him.
Q. Someone asked you towards the end of the season about special teams, all the coaches being involved and so forth. I don’t think you were really ready to look at it then, and it might not be today. But do you feel like that’s one area you could make some changes in?
COACH WEIS: Yes, it has to be changed. I was not pleased with the way it went.
Q. Would you say that there would be one person overseeing that in the future?
COACH WEIS: If it were the right person.
Q. And as Jimmy moves into the off season, what do you think is the most important thing — obviously weight, you talked about him wanting to get up to 210. Beyond that, what would you like to see from him?
COACH WEIS: Oh, I think that that is the biggest thing for him. I think that the kid has a very good mind. He has a very good arm. He has a pretty good understanding about the basis of our system that we’re going to be able to expand going into the spring. But I think for him, more than mentally, I think that his biggest task is going to be to get himself fully healthy and physically ready to go and add some muscle. I think that for him that’s as big a thing as everything else in addition to becoming more of a leader.
I think that any time you’re a freshman it’s tough to be a leader or show leadership abilities when you’re a freshman because it’s tough for a fifth year senior in a huddle to look at a freshman and say, okay, I’m going to listen to everything. It’s a little tough just naturally doing it that way, although he got a lot of help from guys like Sully and Carlson to make sure that that’s the way things went around here. But I think that they are the two biggest things for him.
Q. Did you have a recent trip to D.C.?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I actually had to fly from Arizona to Washington. About six months ago the White House had sent a representative out to meet with me. They have a commission for people with disabilities in the country that has 21 people on it. They had sent a guy out to ask my wife and I, they wanted to ask me, but on behalf of what we do, whether I’d be interested in being on that commission. They had asked us if we would be interested in having a little visit with the Big Boss on Thursday. We thought that would probably be a good thing to do, so we did that.
Q. Are you going to be on the commission then?
COACH WEIS: It’s moving in that direction.
COACH WEIS: Oh, I haven’t really — what happens, a lot of times when you’re laying in bed you’re thinking about all the things going through, and you’re sitting there with a little pad and writing down notes and things like that, but right now they’re just a bunch of chip and scratch, scribble, because there’s no continuity as far as what you’re saying. Something comes up, you write it down, something comes up, you write it down. I just hope I can read my writing when I try to decipher all those things I wrote down there.
I’m probably going to drive my family nuts, but when it comes December 21st and everyone has a week and change off, I figured it would be a good time for me to come into the office and for me to start taking all those things and getting them all together because when everyone is going through their different — when coaches get away, spend some time with their families, it gives me an opportunity when my wife kicks me out of the house to get over here and see if I can’t pull those things together. That’s kind of the time frame that I’m giving myself because I like to do those when I have downtime and when I’m alone. That Christmas week, that would probably be the best week for me doing it.
Q. I was wondering if you could maybe talk about what you tell — in the middle of the season you told us you would tell the recruits kind of the inner workings of the system to give them a sense of ownership. Now that the season is over what do you tell them to keep them in that process?
COACH WEIS: I’ve got like 14 of them coming this weekend, so I said, I’ll see you this weekend. We’re going to have a whole bunch of them in for the banquet and get a hoops game. We’re going to go break this record (for consecutive Joyce Center wins) on Saturday night, so we’re going to be a part of that. We’re rooting for Coach (Mike) Brey and the basketball team.
I think that really the mess that we got into, every home of every kid that’s already said yes this past week and a bunch of others on top of it. I think the message is they’re going to be a part of something special. I think that’s the way they feel. It’s really encouraging that — it’s really encouraging that we toed the line and said this was going to be our stance on recruiting last year to see how guys under a very turbulent type of year where you had a really — you had all these roller coaster ebbs and flows and a lot more downs than ups, that these guys have all toed the line. And not only that, but these guys all become boys with each other, too, which is kind of nice to see.
Q. You talked about the men’s basketball game Friday. Do you encourage the players to go to the other sporting events?
COACH WEIS: I don’t have a rule about that, but I think that they know very clearly where I stand about supporting all the other sports. Regardless of what the sport is, I think it’s always good that the football players show support for other sports when given the opportunity.
Q. Do you have a rule in terms of the team about pick up basketball games in the off season?
COACH WEIS: Well, I let them play Bookstore (Basketball). I think Bookstore Basketball is part of tradition at the school. My big thing is as long as they’re healthy and in good academic standing, why am I going to tell them not to do that? I can’t tell you how many days I spent at the Rock (Rockne Memorial physical education building) when I was going to school here. Not that anyone goes to the Rock anymore, but I’m showing my age.
Q. I was wondering about the first touchdown catch in the Stanford game, just kind of your thoughts on that?
COACH WEIS: I think that we’ve had a very good relationship with the BIG EAST officials this year since we’ve gone to the BIG EAST, and I think that they do a very good job of keeping us informed on things that happen, and we’ll just kind of leave it at that.
Q. I’m sure you’re not surprised, but why does it not surprise you that during a 3 and 9 season you were able to hold on to every player?
COACH WEIS: I took a pretty big backlash last season when I said we were really going to get down to the word commitment and give them a clear explanation of what a commitment was, and I think that the guys that we’ve gone after have all understood that right from day one, what our stance was. And we’ve supported them and they’ve supported us and their families have been involved and their coaches have been involved and everyone has clearly understood that this was the way we were going to do it.
And I think that because when you recruit a bunch of high character kids that all are involved with all the other kids that you’re recruiting, they do it themselves. I think they’ve already kind of bought into that. That’s the way they’d like it to be done. Really it makes it a lot easier when the players are recruiting themselves. I mean, they’ve already got relationships going. They can’t back out on their friends. They’re already close with a whole bunch of these guys.
COACH WEIS: No, I look at it from when he got here last year right on through. You know, how it progressed. All I can tell you is he would like things to have turned out a lot better, so would have I. But I definitely like the direction where this is going.
Q. I think it’s kind of interesting that after the Stanford game that Jimmy had kind of a nasty mentality, which you don’t really see when you talk to him a whole lot. Did he have that attitude?
COACH WEIS: First of all, yes, he has the attitude. I think that what happens is when you’re a freshman, I’ll go back to what I said to somebody before, when you’re a freshmen you have to kind of wait your turn to be able to — I’m trying to say it politically correct. Let’s say, to be vocal on the field because you have to have done something, first of all; and second of all, there’s definitely a rite of passage there, and I think he’s moving in the right direction.
Q. Has he waited his turn officially now?
COACH WEIS: He’s moving in the right direction.
Q. Are you aware of guys that are going to need surgery in the off season?
COACH WEIS: Most of the things that we needed to be done have already been done. But I don’t have the complete state of the union on that one, either, because he’s on my docket here for later this morning.
Q. I’m wondering in the spring and the summer this year coming up as opposed to last year, how you feel about full contact?
COACH WEIS: First was all, in the summer I’m going to take more time off myself. Not that you care, but I’m going to do that in July (laughing). I think that there’s some lessons that you learn as you go on, and I think that that’s one that we’ll definitely explore.
But I think right now it’s a bit premature for me to make any value judgments on exactly what we’re going to do. There are several things as the year went on when I was trying this and trying that and trying this and trying that, there’s some things I liked better than others, and I think you have to be ready to go ahead and start getting them integrated into your system.
Q. You talked about keeping the guys, what a commitment means. Is 3 and 9 going to be a tough sell for Notre Dame when you start recruiting to the next class, the juniors now?
COACH WEIS: There’s been no evidence of that at this point. Maybe there will be some residual effects, maybe it’ll be guys that wait until next year to see, okay, now where are they going. That would be a logical assumption. But at this point the guys that I’ve been able to — that we’ve analyzed enough who had an extended offer have been thrilled that Notre Dame is in the picture.
Q. And about Mike Haywood potentially leaving, do you make sure you have more than one coach that has a relationship with the kids?
COACH WEIS: Absolutely, and that would be true with any kid that we’re involved in. Absolutely. As a matter of fact, one thing, for example, this month every kid will be seen by both the recruiting coach and their position coach and possibly a coordinator, as well. Every week between the head coach, the recruiting coach, the position coach and the coordinator, they might be seen by four people just in the month of December.
Q. To follow up, many of us mentioned it the week of the Stanford game, but Jimmy was demonstrative that week about winning. Did that bother you? Do you care? Do you tell kids a certain way to handle yourself after a win, or are we just stodgy sportswriters?
COACH WEIS: Maybe at this point, maybe I’m a bit oblivious to that subject. But I know one thing, that it was a fairly trying year for these guys. They were very, very happy to have won that last game. They said they were very happy for winning the last game. I would rather that they were very happy that they weren’t — I didn’t hear what they said. I expect our guys to carry themselves a certain way, but there’s nothing wrong with being happy about winning.
Q. One of the things you were really confident about saying last year was that Brady Quinn had game. Have you seen any of that from Jimmy this year?
COACH WEIS: There’s definitely evidence. There’s definitely evidence. Brady I didn’t feel that same thing the day I walked in the door, either, with him. But by the time we had gone through spring ball, by the time we got to training camp, you could see — you could feel it. Let’s not rush this, but I think that there’s definitely evidence that this kid could be something special.
Q. One of the things you changed at Notre Dame was your past defense, and then you bring in (defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach) Corwin Brown, all of a sudden you’re third in the nation. Could you evaluate Coach Brown’s performance, Corwin Brown’s performance?
COACH WEIS: I’m very biased towards Corwin, so I mean, I’m going to have a whole list of nothing but good things to say. But more than anything else, Corwin is very, very disappointed in the year just like I am, and more than anything I can say is I’m exactly on the same page with Corwin about where we are and where we need to go. I think that he’s driven just the way I’m driven, to make sure that not only will we not ever be in this position again, but we’re driven to get to the top, and that’s where we intend to go.
We can go over pros and cons in the defense, but statistically you know what they are. You know what the past defense was, you know what the rush defense was, you know what the stats are. I think more than anything else what he has done is given me a guy that I’ve known for a long time, who I’m very close with, that I know feels things and sees things exactly the way I do. I can’t get any more glowing a recommendation than somebody that is eye to eye on everything I do.
Q. Sounds like you haven’t thought too much about this, but are there any things obvious to you that you just wish you hadn’t done?
COACH WEIS: I’m going to wait until after — I’m really going to toe the line on this one. I don’t want to sit there and start saying anything rash before I’ve actually objectively pulled myself away and actually done it the right way. I could start a whole list of those things I’ve been chicken scratching down, but I’m going to wait until I’ve really done due diligence on that one.
Q. When you do go and talk to (New England Patriots head coach Bill) Belichick and the other people you know, what do you want to get from these guys?
COACH WEIS: First of all, they’ve got bigger things to worry about than me stopping to say hello. You’ve got to remember now, it’s just like you have boys that are friends of yours that you can write a crummy story, ask them what did you think, where did I go wrong on this one. Well, that happens to be what I have. I have friends, and they’re not the only ones I can call. I’ve got a whole bunch of people I can call.
Too much is made of, well, it’s New England. Well, these are my boys here when we’re saying that. It’s just for everyone else, ooh, it’s New England. These are the guys that are your friends. These are the guys you kind of grew up with, these are the guys you’ve been with for a long time. And usually the guys that will give you the most honest answers are friends. I think too much is played into the fact that it’s New England. These are the guys who I’m closest with as a staff. They know me the best and I know them the best, and who better to sit there and look at things and say, I wouldn’t have done that or what were you doing here, than guys that are friends of yours, just like when you write a crummy story.
COACH WEIS: Well, that’s the whole point. The whole point is it’s going to people who have familiarity with you on and off the field. I think that’s where you get the most honest answers.
Q. It’s kind of been your policy to take games one thing at a time. When do you guys start talking about the San Diego (State) game?
COACH WEIS: Friday of last week.
Q. You’re not losing a whole lot in terms of upperclassmen this year. You have a awful lot coming back next year. What do you think of that?
COACH WEIS: Still, you’re pretty light — you’re still pretty light in the upper class. But the thing is you’re going to have a lot of freshmen and sophomores that are now sophomores and juniors now with a lot more playing time. We will have, I’d say, close to half the team being that senior/fifth year type of class of starters, so it should be a nice plan. But the team is starting to get a little bit older, therefore a little bit more experienced. That’s the direction you definitely want to be heading.
Q. What benefits do you foresee your team having, having ended the season with a couple victories?
COACH WEIS: Well, there’s not one negative that can come from winning the last two games, the last game at home, the last game on the road. There’s nothing but positive. You think about going home at Christmas-time and being home for a month and everyone is saying, hey, what’s wrong with you, what’s wrong with the team, what happened this year. I mean, that’s what these guys have to hang their hat on. They have to hang their hat on they finished out with two wins, and they’re getting ready to get this right by starting to work in the off season, starting today.
Q. Talking about the assistant coaches and the evaluation process, do they know if they’re going to be changing — guys need to find another job?
COACH WEIS: Were you in here when — wasn’t that question asked here a little while ago? I said I’m not even going to think about that until after we’re done with recruiting. My answer is still the same. I’m not even going to think about it until after we’re done with recruiting. There’s not even going to be a thought in my mind until we’re done with recruiting. It’s a rhetorical question because I’m not even going to think about it until we’re done with recruiting.
Q. How grueling has this season been for you when you think about just coming in here and winning Super Bowls, BCS, BCS and then 3 and 9?
COACH WEIS: Well, ultimately the responsibility of the success of the program falls on my shoulders, as well as the failures. So the team goes 3 and 9, humbled. I don’t know if that’s the correct word. Disappointing, okay. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I’d probably say driven more than anything else. What it’s done is just made me even more driven.
Q. In your experience as a coach, and secondly, what did you learn about yourself most this year?
COACH WEIS: With very few exceptions I was able to keep my temper with media. I had a couple antagonists, hint hint. But for the most part — let’s reverse the roles here for a second. You’re 3 and 9, things aren’t going very well, you’re the leader of the program. You don’t make excuses, you take the blame. Okay, let’s use that as a premise. You come in after a loss, you’re going to have to have it after the game, then the next day, and kind of have a couple of overflow questions still on Tuesday. I mean, you think about that, Saturday after the game, Sunday and Tuesday, that’s a tough task to do it week in and week out, especially when you’re making sure that you’re holding yourself accountable when things don’t go so well.
That being said, if you sit there and try to worry about every negative thing that people said, that really doesn’t get you anywhere. So rather than worry about every negative thing that’s been said publicly or even written or anything else, then you’re just going to have to go in and go do something about it. You don’t do something about it by going to a public forum and going tit for tat with somebody. What you have to do is go win more football games. Really it’s the only way of answering it. Why play the game in the media? It really doesn’t do you any good. You think about how many times — I’m in a public forum. I’ve got the microphone right now. I could say something right now that could be on ESPN in about five minutes if I wanted to. But why go there? You just roll with the punches and realize the best way of answering the critics is going out and winning next year, and that’s what we intend to do.
Q. Did the criticism stink at any point?
COACH WEIS: It really doesn’t affect me too much because I didn’t read it, I didn’t watch it, I didn’t hear it because I was on my media ban, my self imposed media ban. But you still go home and it still affects your wife, it still affects your son. You walk home and you don’t even know what’s going on. You’re oblivious to it, and all of a sudden you’re getting, boom, boom, boom. Did you hear this, did you hear that, and I said no, no, no, no. And then my answer a lot of times is, what did you expect me to say. And then they get mad at me for that, too. I couldn’t win here and I couldn’t win at home, either.
Q. In terms of — you talked about going to talk to New England and alone time in your office, evaluating what’s going on, trying to get a feel for things. When do you bring in your staff and how involved will your own staff be when it comes to trying to solve the problems?
COACH WEIS: Oh, everyone will be involved in solving the problems. It’s not going to be me. Just like I’m not the only person who’s going to be asking people for advice on things. But everything we do is going to involve the staff.
Q. Will they accompany you to go to the Patriots?
COACH WEIS: They went last year. I mean, I wasn’t there last year. I was somewhere else. Almost the whole staff was there last year. I’m not going there to learn the system. That’s not what I’m going there for.
Q. It won’t show up in the spring but in fall training camp your numbers will be about as good as they’ve been. What will that do for you?
COACH WEIS: I think it’ll be interesting to see how many young guys walking in the door play themselves into the mix this year because I think that we’re going to have a bunch of really talented guys walking in the door. It’ll be interesting to see how the guys that are here in the spring fight off the challenges from people walking in the door. You know, I think that it’s always good when there’s more competition, when people feel the heat. I think that that’s always a good thing, not that you’re looking to get people looking over their shoulders the whole time, but you want them to feel the heat. I think that any time there’s more competition, that’s a healthy thing in football.
Q. Just kind of getting back to recruiting a little bit and getting a lot of commitments early, was that more important this year because at least you thought you wouldn’t have the season that you had last year and the year before just because there was so much inconsistency?
COACH WEIS: We try to lock them down as early as we can every year. That just happened to be the way it fell this year. I don’t think there’s any set pattern for how — at three years, it’s all happened different in each year. It has not been the same, it has not been like they all jumped on board the same in each year. But I think that it’s a very promising class, as long as we do our due diligence and finish it off in the right way.
I don’t know if next year’s will be different than this year’s. Each year has been its own separate entity with how it’s played out. It’s just been so far, so good for this year. That’s all, so far, so good.
Q. When you brought in Corwin last year, was part of it just to maybe get more of a fire and brimstone guy on the staff?
COACH WEIS: I don’t ever want to say anything derogatory about Rick (Minter). I think that’s the wrong word for me to use. I think the only positive is I’ve known this guy for so long, I already know that he knows me and I know him, so I can just look at him and I don’t have to say it, he already knows — or if I say handle this one, he knows what handle this one means. You know, like if I have a problem with a player I’ll say, “You know how I want this handled.” He already knows the answer to the test. You don’t have to coach the coach on exactly the way you want things done. I think that’s the only major difference as a coach.
Now, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses as a coach, but I think probably the best thing and more comforting thing for me is to have that level of communication that he and I have.
Q. There was a book written earlier this year called (indiscernible), part of it was about you, and he had taken a trip to Ole Miss, the coach of Oregon, the Ole Miss coach, compared with you who has much more of a laid back style. Was part of just getting any coach in there who was maybe more motivating, like jumping up and down type of thing?
COACH WEIS: I mean, everyone has their style. I’m just a big fan of Corwin’s so I’m openly biased towards Corwin. If I go there too much, I’m saying something derogatory about someone else. I have an open, positive bias towards Corwin.
Q. With Mike Haywood in Houston, what do you know about that process right now, how far along it is? Obviously he interviewed last week. What else do you know in terms of where that’s at?
COACH WEIS: All I know is I spent about a half hour on the phone prior to him being involved with that. I spent about a half hour on the phone, which was followed up the next evening with them getting together and having a few other people that they’re talking to, and then they’ll be moving the process along probably, and probably later this week. That’s as far as he knows and I know.
Q. And just as far as moving things along from 3 and 9, when you have such a young team, does that sort of in a weird way create optimism in terms of these guys can make significant strides forward but also they are equally prone to the mistakes here and there where you’re not quite sure how quickly this thing can move along given the youth?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think the biggest two positives that come out of that is, hey, now a lot of these guys have playing experience and you don’t have to go through the growing pains of them getting playing experience. But they haven’t gone through the strength and conditioning part of the off season, like we cited Jimmy as an example. I think Jimmy’s progress this off season is going to be physically, not mentally. I think we have a number of guys that are in that boat.
Let’s look at the two young linebackers that we talked about with Brian Smith and Kerry Neal. Imagine those two guys now after a whole season, they’ve been playing all year long, had a pretty productive season, but now they’ve got the whole off season to change their bodies and get them ready to keep on playing with the big boys. I think that now they have playing experience and conditioning in addition to having a whole off season conditioning program, you can expect those players that played decent this year to play significantly better next year.
Q. Maybe this is an impossible question to ask, but how fast do you think things can get to the level where you want them to be at?
COACH WEIS: Oh, not fast enough. That’s probably as fair an answer as I can say. I think that the arrow is definitely pointing up. You already know what my goal is every time we play, and every time we play my expectation is to win that game. But we can’t get good enough fast enough as far as I’m concerned.
Q. Kind of off topic, with the National Championship game, I know that it’s teams that you’ve faced the last couple years. Will you comment on that?
COACH WEIS: I think it’ll be an interesting match up. I really haven’t followed these two teams because they really haven’t been in our tape breakdown mix this year, for this year’s games. I did watch Ohio State’s game last year versus Michigan at the end of the year because we played Michigan early in the year. I knew that they had a number of changes. I do know that their defense is really D’d up very well, but I really haven’t seen them play very much.
LSU, I know that they were big and fast and when we played against them last year, I know that they were really stout on defense. I really don’t know how the changes personnel wise have affected them offensively or defensively, and I just — I have a lot of respect for both programs, and I have no rooting interest for either team. I really don’t care. It could be a 0-0 tie and I’d be happy with that, too.
Q. And kind of looking at all the coaching changes that are going on, your thoughts on that?
COACH WEIS: The biggest negative with all these coaching changes is that there’s a lot of families that are affected. One of the things that people definitely miss the point on is every time there’s a coaching change, it isn’t just that coach. A lot of times that coach has years left on his contract and there’s money and a buyout and there’s monies that go to that guy.
But he has nine assistants, too, that their lives are being affected, too. Guys that have very, very successful careers that end up leaving a place, all those assistants then are in a state of flux. And sometimes they have time left on their contracts, sometimes they don’t. But there’s wives and there’s kids and everything that are affected.
Every time a coach gets let go, I think it’s a bad thing. I’m never in support, and I never, ever root for a coach being let go because they hire coaches for a reason. The more places where — there’s going to be ebbs and flows in every program. I always find it a sad day for not only that coach but obviously all those assistants and their families when there’s coaching changes.
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