Transcript of ESPN College Football Media Conference Call with Urban Meyer & Chris Spielman

College FootballFootball

Transcript of ESPN College Football Media Conference Call with Urban Meyer & Chris Spielman

Listen to a replay of conference call

Earlier today, ESPN held a media conference call in advance of the 2011 college football season, which begins Thursday, Sept. 1 and features 32 games in the first weekend. On the call were analysts Urban Meyer and Chris Spielman. Meyer, who will work ESPN’s Saturday noon ET games with commentator Dave Pasch. Their first game will be Akron at No. 18 Ohio State Saturday, Sept. 3, at noon on ESPN. A transcript of the call follows:

            Q. – For Urban, I know you’ve worked with [Michigan coach] Greg Madison; obviously you know what you can do. Can he turn this defense around quickly, and what’s reasonable to expect from Michigan’s defense, and also for Chris, as a Buckeye, what do you think of Brady Hoke constantly referring to Ohio, having the countdown clock to Ohio and the emphasis he’s brought back to that rivalry? 

            URBAN MEYER: I guess the first question about Greg Madison, I went there in the spring practice and watched a practice, watched real close, spent time with Greg and Brady, and I was expecting something much worse than what I saw. I saw a bunch of good players out there running around and being well coached. I don’t think they’re near as far off as what you saw at the end of the season last year. I think it’s going to be much improved if they can stay healthy, and all coaches are a product of what players they have.

            So I think Greg is going to do a great job. He did for me at Florida, they did a whole year together at Notre Dame.  But if they don’t have the players ‑‑ like I said, I was pleasantly surprised what I saw, the athleticism of the guys running around there in the spring, so I think it’ll be much improved.

            CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well, first of all Brady is from Ohio so he understands and comprehends what the rivalry is. And I think the fact that it’s been so one‑sided, I love the move, kind of going out of Tressel’s playbook when Tressel first got the job. I love the move of at least putting the emphasis on it publicly and getting the players reengaged and maybe the community and the fan base reengaged. He’s coached there, so he understands how important it is not only to coaches and the players but to the fans, and frankly in my opinion to college football. I’m glad he’s embracing is the way he is.

            Q. – Chris, is it insulting to you that he calls Ohio State “Ohio”?  He refuses to say Ohio State.

            CHRIS SPIELMAN: I love it, I think it’s great, because I always say Michigan football would be nowhere without players from Ohio, and the best guy to coach Michigan was from Ohio, Bo Schembechler, so they have to come to Ohio to get what they need to fulfill their football program. So I feel like we’re a major contributor to that. So no, of course I’m joking, but I love that. That’s something that I’ve always embraced, and I think being from the state, most people do embrace it is the answer. It goes back and forth.  I know Brady does, and I love it. 

Q. – If we could have Urban start and then Chris, but sort of from a fan’s perspective from Ohio State this year with the changes, do you think fans should be sort of intrigued to see what this year will be like or do you think they should be more concerned about what this year will be like with Ohio State, with a new quarterback, with a new coach?

URBAN MEYER: Well, Chris and I are doing the Ohio State game next week, and as a result the last couple weeks, I know I have been and Chris has, as well, been really watching them. They were really good last year. I didn’t realize how ‑‑ the reason they’re so fresh in my mind this morning, I was watching them, and however, there is a lot of ‑‑ I didn’t realize because I was busy the last several years how good Terrelle Pryor was for that offense.

I know there’s a lot of intriguing story lines with Ohio State, none more important than the fact that that quarterback is no longer taking a snap there, and whoever they pick, Bauserman or Braxton Miller, the impact, that’s going to be significant, because I think one is going to realize the impact that Terrelle Pryor had on that offense. I heard about it, but watching it on film and seeing what a weapon he was, just scrambling around and making plays and forcing the defense to be very vanilla, I think that’s going to be a big part of Ohio State’s success if they can manage that offense without him. 

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well, as you know, I’ve got a little advantage over Urban living here, so I understand, and I think everybody is intrigued, not only with the quarterback situation but replacing all those defensive starters and how are they going to do without your top receiver, your NFL‑caliber left tackle, your top returning rusher. I’m anxious to see it from an analytical point of view, and then after I’m done with the broadcast the fan point of view, if these Ohio State kids rise up like they always have in the past. One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity. 

I think it’s going to be a different offense, and Doug, you might have numbers, but Terrelle Pryor, at least to my eye, probably accounted for at least 85 percent of the offense that was gained last year, and the intriguing thing for me and I think for Urban and all people is it’s Luke’s shot, man, this is it.  This is a 38 year old guy, home grown, what, 50 starts as a player, it’s like the dream job and he’s coaching Ohio State, and what’s he going to do with it.  That’s the thing that interests me. 

Q. – Urban, I had a question for you about the way you used Leak and Tebow in 2006 I was curious how that process evolved, how maybe easy or difficult it was to commit to it, and how did the team respond to it when they first saw the design? 

URBAN MEYER: It was not something we went into the season planning because we really didn’t know what we had with Tim. You don’t know until you get into the game atmosphere, and his value we learned rather quickly. So it evolved throughout the course of the year.

It was a very fragile situation and very unique where if you don’t have character guys that are playing that position, you can see where it could become a locker room issue or become a chemistry issue. The parents were fantastic. You’re talking about a quarterback at Florida, which is a very high profile position, on a team that had a chance to be really good. So it was incredible to work with two guys that are built like Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.  There was absolutely no ego, there was no anything other than what’s good for the team, and their families were on board, and the team really bought into it, as well, too. 

Like Chris made a comment, which is if we didn’t win then it probably would have been chaos, but winning cures all evils, and we won a lot of games and we had one stumble and that was against Auburn. But to see that team rally back from that, and really both quarterbacks were a major, major part of that. 

Q. – Once you got to the middle of the season, were you still fine tuning when you brought Tebow in? Was it kind of an evolution type thing?

URBAN MEYER: It was during the course of a game. And you talk about one of the most enjoyable times of coaching, because really no one had done it at the time, the spread offense, single lane offense we were in with Tim was so unique compared to Chris Leak, and Greg Madison was our defensive coordinator at the time and Charlie Strong, and I would always go to their room and say here’s what I’m thinking of doing, and I could tell their reaction, like oh, no; if it was going to be a thorn in the side of the defense we were going to do it.

So a lot of our game plans were done as a result of what our defensive coaches said would be darn near impossible to prepare for two styles of offenses, so that’s how that came about.

Q. – Alabama hasn’t named a quarterback yet and might not going into the first game. Can it work for a National Championship caliber team with two quarterbacks who aren’t used simply situationally, and what are some of the potential pitfalls if you don’t have a clear No. 1 going into a year?

URBAN MEYER: When you start throwing the word National Championship around, I get kind of uneasy because there’s so much involved. When you start talking about the quarterback, that’s important, but the ’06 Florida Gator National Championship team was one with probably the best defense in America, excellent special teams and an offense that didn’t screw it up.

Alabama is one with very similar formula; great defense, very good special teams and an offense that’s really efficient. So the answer is probably yes, but there’s just so much involved in the health of your team when you start talking about words like National Championship, but it can certainly be done.

CHRIS SPIELMAN: I’m not a big fan of two quarterbacks unless you have two different type of quarterbacks and an exclusive offense like Urban had with Tim and Chris Leak. But to me I’m that old belief that if you haven’t decided and you’ve got two going in, that means you don’t have one that’s good enough yet. And I think it puts a lot of pressure on a kid because he’s going to be looking over his shoulder.

But that being said, I know that Nick knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to make a decision based on what’s best for the team, and I’m sure if you would ask him, and maybe I’m wrong, but if you would ask him, I’ll bet you he’d be a big fan if one of those guys started pulling away and showed that he was able to handle the full load. But I think most coaches would love to have that one guy. That’s my ‑‑ if I were coaching I’d certainly ‑‑ if I had two and they were even, that would tell me that one’s not good enough to be the guy. I’m a little bit of a pessimist by nature, though. 

Q. – I have two questions. First one is evaluate Oklahoma that’s ranked by No. 1 in every preseason poll, and the second one is how do you see the future of the Big 12 Conference considering all the stuff that’s been said about A & M and Nebraska and Colorado of course leaving last year?

CHRIS SPIELMAN: I think now we’re talking about one quarterback in Landry Jones, and I know Urban went down to Oklahoma and interviewed Landry, and I got to see that interview and comment on that interview actually, and I think that that kid has just a lot of ability. Coach Stoops can recruit. They have talent. Losing a linebacker might hurt them a little bit, but if you’re like Oklahoma or Florida or Ohio State, usually those guys ‑‑ one guy goes down, you’ve got the guys waiting on the sidelines to replace him, look just like him coming in. So I think Oklahoma is as good as advertised. 

The Big 12 conference, I have no doubt that A&M is going to go in the SEC. I think A&M is on their timetable and nobody else’s. But I think that’s happening sooner rather than later. And the Big 12, I don’t know if they’ll survive that. I don’t know. They’re taking hit after hit after hit. 

URBAN MEYER: My comment on Oklahoma is that the guy that I spent time with down there, Landry Jones, and the quality of kid, the quality of leader he is, I walked away from that campus really impressed. I’ve always had a great relationship with Coach Stoops. We coached against him in a big game one time, and I actually got to walk through the weight room with guys working out, and that is a great looking football team. I think their schedule is on their side, and just so many things can happen. If they stay healthy I think they’re going to have a great year.

I’m a traditionalist. As far as the Big 12, to see Texas A&M really leave Texas and go to the SEC, I’m not in all the meetings about the television contracts and everything else, but it’s hard for me to ‑‑ after the last 40 years watching Texas play Texas A & M and from the Big 8 to the Big 12 and those rivalries, to see those things disintegrate, I’m just not sure if that’s great for college football, take away all the money issues. And I’m sad ‑‑ to me I’m just sad to see that happen. I’m like Chris; if Texas A&M leaves the Big 12, I’m not ‑‑ the survival of that conference is going to be in question. 

Q. – Just a couple questions about Jeff Tedford at Cal. He obviously had so much success right away and it’s kind of plateaued a little bit over the last few years. I was wondering, does that kind of show it’s hard to stay at such a high level, or why did that happen, and also, do you think that he was kind of a victim of his own early success so much that he was never really allowed a chance to kind of take his lumps as a coach and then have success after that?

URBAN MEYER: Well, yeah, if you look at Jeff Tedford, when he took over the program, the program was in bad shape.  He came storming out of the gates and had some great players in obviously Aaron Rodgers and some other great ones come through there. Offensively they were doing some fantastic things, and he’s a very good friend and a close colleague. In the coaching profession I have a lot of respect for him because he does it the right way. So I think that any time that Cal ‑‑ they’ve had many bad seasons, just not under Jeff Tedford.  I think that’s part of his own making, but they’ll be back. He’s that good a coach; Cal is a great school, and they’ll get the good players in there. 

Q. – Coach Meyer, I wondered your impressions of Kellen Moore who obviously wasn’t highly recruited out of high school. I know you spent some time with him this summer, and secondly, as someone who coached in the SEC can you talk about that Boise State‑Georgia game and what you expect to see in the Georgia Dome? 

URBAN MEYER: Yeah, another impressive guy. That was a great trip. It was almost refreshing to go out there and to visit with Luck and Jones and Kellen Moore and some of those guys. Extremely impressed. 

What’s most impressive about him is he’s a coach on the field.  His father was a football coach. He has a complete understanding. He has his career mapped out. He understands his shortcomings, and then I want to step further because for an ESPN piece we studied him. I did, I sat and watched a lot of game film on him, talked to a couple coaches that coached against him, and the word that always comes back is he’s the game manager and does it about as well as anybody in college football. 

There’s two things involved in the game management, and that is getting you in the right play in the run game and then also checking the ball down instead of forcing it into the coverage. He’s about as good as I’ve ever seen at doing that. Boise State very rarely is in a bad play, and that’s either the play caller is really fortunate or that quarterback is getting you into the right play, and I know it’s the second. They are calling good plays, but the quarterback is making sure they’re in the right play with his checks. So very impressed. 

Q. – And then your thoughts on the opener at the Georgia Dome, Boise State against Georgia?

URBAN MEYER: Oh, it’s huge game. It’s big for Boise, but I think it’s even bigger for Georgia.  Boise can rebound because of their conference and they can go on a run and they might not make the title game, which I imagine is probably one of their goals with all those players coming back, but this is a must for Georgia.  Georgia has got to win that game. 

Q. A couple questions for Urban. How much have you thought about next week you’ll be at a game but you won’t be on the sideline, won’t be coaching and thought about what Florida will be doing without you here?  Have you thought about it or has it weighed on you?

URBAN MEYER: Sure, it’s weighing on me real heavy. It’s also ‑‑ but Coach Muschamp has been great to myself and I’ve been around there and talked to him, talked to the coaches, so I think Florida is going to be one of the most underrated teams to come out because I think they’re loaded. The offensive line, and if they can ‑‑ if John Brantley gets some help at receiver and their running backs stay healthy. I think they’ll be very good. The defense is going to be outstanding with those young defensive linemen. 

Q. – Can you kind of explain what he [John Brantley] went through last year? It seemed like his confidence really by the end of the season took a hit and he’s maybe got a little bit of that back going into this year. Can you just explain what that season was like for him? 

URBAN MEYER: Oh, it was tough. The quarterback is the guy that’s going to get ‑‑ if they lose all their running backs this year and their tight end gets hurt and their fullback gets hurt, I think they’re going to struggle on offense, as well. If Jeff Demps and Rainey don’t play for most of the season, if their fullback doesn’t play, and then if Jordan Reed gets hurt like he was last year, I think they’re going to struggle. 

But I think from what I’ve heard that those guys are all playing well, they’re all healthy and they’re going to be good. So I think a quarterback is the product of the guys around him, and if he lacks confidence in the guys around him he loses confidence himself. That was a very difficult situation for John last year. 

Q. – Did that happen last year where kind of things didn’t go right around him, and it wore on him by where you guys were in November and kind of struggling there at the end?

URBAN MEYER: Oh, my gosh, yeah. Every day was ‑‑ he’s such a good person and good guy that we were just trying to pick him up and trying to do the things ‑‑ we made a big deal about he’s not a running quarterback, and he’s not. But to be an I formation or on‑your‑center quarterback, there are certain components you need to have your offense, and that’s running back and tight end and fullback. Obviously the injury bug and disciplinary issue at the tailback position just wiped that position completely out for about eight games, and then not having a tight end really in the program because the guy we were counting on was hurt and then we had to move him to quarterback to overtake the issue at running back. 

So it all ‑‑ at the end of the day it all affects the guy that’s the trigger guy, and that’s the quarterback, because he’s the face of the offense. And when the offense is struggling for whatever reason, it puts a lot on the quarterback. 

Q. – Coach Meyer, what don’t the folks in the Big Ten know about playing in a league with a conference title game that they’re about to find out? You’ve obviously been there. What are the things that they don’t understand that they’re going to figure out as they go forward?

URBAN MEYER: Chris and I met with the Big Ten, and that question came up, and the one thing the SEC does is the conference championship game, without taking anything away from the BCS National Championship game, that is as big, and in some people’s minds even bigger, the whole atmosphere, the arrangement, the way they treat you, obviously the fans, that’s an incredible environment, and I think the Big Ten with their fan support will have a similar ‑‑ I’m sure they will. The Big Ten office will do a great job making it. 

To me that game has got to be bigger than any game of the year, and once you do all respect to the Bowls and everything else, but make that thing huge so the players look forward to it because it is a grind. You reach that point in the season where you’re dealing with injuries, you’re dealing with fatigue, and you know a Big Ten team goes through that and if they can somehow win that game they’re probably going to play in the National Championship game.

I think it’s great for college football. I think it’s one of the great experiences. It’s also one of the most fatiguing, nerve wracking experiences that you can go through. 

Q. – Chris, you’re an old Big Ten guy. What concerns do you have about this as it kind of breaks tradition and moves forward your old league?

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Zero concerns. I think it’s about time. With the addition of Nebraska, I think it’s great.  It’s long overdue. It’s a benefit. I know it’s a grind for players and all that, but I’ll tell you if you look an informal poll that the players love the idea. You win your division, you get to play for a championship, and there’s a lot more on the line. I think it’s awesome, like Urban said. The Big Ten will make a big deal of that, and I believe that our fan base will embrace the game. So we’ll see. I’ve got Wisconsin winning, by the way.

Q. – Who’s the other side of that thing? 

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Boy, I’d probably have to go with Nebraska or Iowa. 

Q. – I’m working on a story about [Florida offensive coordinator] Charlie Weis and his relationship with the players. I’m not sure how well you know him in terms of how he coaches and his style and that kind of thing. If you could just talk to me about the man you know and I guess you’ve been around Florida the little bit that you have since he’s been there, what you’ve seen and how he coaches in relation to the guys.

URBAN MEYER: Charlie ‑‑ I have not watched practice, but I’ve been around, and from what I understand the players are extremely impressed with his knowledge of the game. It is a brand new offense. It’s all been a positive from what I’ve read and from what I’ve heard coming out of training camp. 

Q. – You mentioned earlier that you’ve thought about going through the season not coaching, but do you miss it at all? Is there anything about it that you miss, or are you kind of really happy with what you’re doing right now? 

URBAN MEYER: Well, my two daughters are starting Division IA volleyball players, and so tomorrow I’m going to go watch her play twice and then one up on Saturday, and my wife is going to be at Georgia Tech watching the other one start, and I’m getting to watch seven of eight of my son’s football games this year, so that part overweighs the sincere missing of coaching. I miss it horribly, but it’s the right time to do what I’m doing, and that’s working at ESPN and watching my kids play. 

Q. – You have lived in this environment in Florida football for five years, I know he doesn’t ask you for any advice probably and you don’t need to give him any, but what would you say to Coach Muschamp about just what’s about to happen and surviving Florida football essentially? 

URBAN MEYER: Well, we did have a nice talk one day, and we get along great, and I made the comment, that’s probably the loneliest chair. There’s a lot of head coaches across the country that sit in those lonely chairs because there’s only so many guys you can talk to. All your colleagues now are basically enemies because of the recruiting circus. You can’t call a guy up with an issue or what you’re dealing with or staff issues or player issues or whatever is going on. So you have to have a relationship, and those are really, really hard to find. 

I found that out. I was warned that. I talked to Mack Brown and some other friends of mine about that, but you have to be so cautious what you say and who you say it to because it becomes such a national story every time something occurs.

I told him I was there for him, and we’ve had those great conversations. His demeanor right now, obviously he’s not coaching a game, but he’s got a handle on it. I’m really impressed with the magnitude of the job that he is so focused. He’s hired some really good guys, I know. He’s got director of operations guy that’s really helping him, as well, so he’s really focusing on the defensive side of the ball. He trusts DJ Durkin on special teams and he trusts Charlie Weis on offense. So really impressed with the people he’s put around him. 

Q. – Urban, obviously it’s been a season, off‑season of scandal and strife in college football, and your love for the game comes through when you talk about all the visits you make. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the direction things are going right now?

URBAN MEYER: I’m optimistic that the strength and the foundation of the institution of college football will survive everything. I just pray for the decision makers and the people that are ‑‑ when you start talking about conference realignment, when you start talking about rules, when you start talking about playoff championships, and once again, Chris Spielman and I had a recent meeting with a group of folks, and both of us said, now, who’s fighting for the game, who’s going to fight for the integrity of the game of football. And as long as there’s people fighting for the integrity of the game as opposed to always discussions about the negative stuff and conference realignment and someone actually protecting the integrity of the game, I think it’s going to survive. I know it will because it’s too strong not to. But I do get concerned. I think it will survive. 

Q. – This question is about objectivity in the booth and the studio, and Chris, you’ve been at this a while and certainly you’ve had strong opinions about your alma mater, but how do you explain the line you walk or sort of your approach so a viewer can trust that your analysis is unbiased? 

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Because I’m a pro. I take pride in what I do when I sign my name to what I do. If I don’t have that, I don’t have any credibility with the people that I answer to and my peers and coaches. I think I maybe go the other way when I do Ohio State games. And I don’t try to, it’s just that I’m aware of not rooting or cheering for a team. 

But I get paid for my opinion and my analysis, and so I’ve never had a problem doing that. I don’t think I’ve ever been called on it, especially the recent issues with Ohio State. I was out there a lot, and I would say that 50 percent agreed with me, 50 percent disagreed with me, 50 percent thought I was too hard, 50 percent thought I was too soft. I thought, well, I must be doing my job.

Q. – Coming into the booth, how do you approach that same issue? You’re not maybe quite as identified with one school as Chris is, but how are you approaching coming into the booth? 

URBAN MEYER: Ever since I made this decision, I’ve been trying to study and learn from the best, and obviously being with Chris and Dave Pasch, I’m going to lean on them for a lot of that help. But I’ve been watching a lot of videotape of the great analysts in college football and pro football.  I’m actually up here in Baltimore today, going to watch the Monday Night team work, so I’m just trying to learn the best I can. I’m not overly concerned, because I’m hired to analyze the game of football, and I look forward to doing that, not being a fan. 

Q. – Chris, first of all, you’ve obviously known [Ohio State’s] Luke [Fickell] for a while now. I was wondering your impressions of the job that he’s sort of walked into and the tasks ahead of him. I know you touched on it briefly, but if you could tell me what you think about what he’s got lying in front of him now. 

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well, I think Luke, when I had a chance to talk with him, he’s embracing this challenge, and it’s something that came his way, and he knows that this is his shot. He’s also ‑‑ I think ‑‑ now, he didn’t say this, but I think he’s also auditioning just in case it doesn’t work out at Ohio State; say things don’t go the way everybody wants them to go that’s a fan of Ohio State or a fan of Luke Fickell, then there’s a chance there could be a coaching change. But the way he’s handled himself thus far has been exemplary.

I think he’s been a little bit more open at practices, there’s been a little bit more access by the media, so he knows what he’s doing. The bottom line, though, for Luke, and he knows this, you’ve got to win, and you’ve got to win now. No matter what your circumstances are, no matter how you got the job, you have one job, and you’re judged on one thing here in Columbus. We can talk about all the other stuff, but ultimately you’re judged on wins and losses, and he knows what’s at stake. I think he’s up to it, but time will answer that question.

Q. – Chris, is there a magic number he has to hit to keep the job?  Is it wins? 

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well, I don’t think ‑‑ I don’t know they’re anxious to change. They’ve gone through so much this year. I would say 10. If they get 10, this is just purely speculation on my part, if they get 10, I think he’s got a really, really good chance; if he’s nine, he’s got a decent chance; if he’s eight and four, he’s got a slim chance.  That’s the best way I can break that down, and that’s just pure speculation. That’s just how I view it. 

Q. – Urban, for you, your name always seems to get linked to that job, and I’m just wondering if you feel yourself getting back into coaching at some point in life and if you would ever be interested in that job. 

URBAN MEYER: I’m in a little bit of an evaluation phase in my life, also. I’m trying not to look too far in advance. There’s a big part of me that hopes I love what I’m doing and really enjoy witnessing some of the things of my kids growing up. But I do miss coaching very badly. So I don’t know.  I’m not going to evaluate until it’s time to evaluate. 

Q. – Urban, I have a question for you. When you hired [Michigan’s] Greg Mattison, if you can kind of take me through what you figured you were getting as a coach, and also, I know you’ve been around him for a long time, what he’s like as a recruiter when he’s kind of going after a kid. 

URBAN MEYER: Those are great questions. He was the first phone call I made when it looked like there was going to be an opportunity at a big, big‑time school. He was the first call, the first hire I made, and we were fortunate to have him for three years. He did an incredible job, not obviously coaching the D‑line and being a co‑coordinator; that was not what his forte is. His forte is the chemistry guy on the staff. He sets the tempo in recruiting. He was my right‑hand man on key points during a game or key decisions that I had to make about personnel or coaches, he was my guy that I could talk to. So very knowledgeable, but extremely high character guy that works his tail off.

I think the easiest way to explain Greg Mattison recruiting, and I tell our staff this, it’s a little bit like when you see a Rottweiler grab a hold of something and won’t let go. Once he gets his mitts on you, you can shake as hard as you can but he’s got his teeth into you and he’s not going to let go. 

Q. – You had mentioned about him being the chemistry guy on the staff. How exactly did he go about doing that? 

URBAN MEYER: Just being a genuine good person, good guy, good teammate. It’s no different than how those great locker room guys are just genuine good people. They’re not full of you‑know‑what or trying to cut corners or cheat; he’s just a good guy that works extremely hard and has a great sense to him. He’s one of those guys people like to be around. 

Q. – Is there a specific instance or story that kind of stands out of him being able to do that in the three years he was at Florida or even at Notre Dame? 

URBAN MEYER: Sure. One of the great stories is his recruiting of Tim Tebow. We were way behind when we got hired with Tim, and Tim had some concerns about ‑‑ we had a commitment from another quarterback, we had another guy that came in. We had all kinds of obstacles in the way, and Greg kept that thing together, and Tim would be the first one to tell you a big part of why he chose Florida was the relentless pursuit that Greg Madison put on him and his family, absolutely relentless approach to recruiting him. He did that on many, many occasions. 

Q. – Urban, I have two questions for you. The first one is going back to the quarterback competition, specifically here at Alabama. I want you to speak generally, what are some of the potential pitfalls a coach faces when they’re dealing with that type of a competition? 

URBAN MEYER: Well, you have to look, the negatives are, like Chris said, you don’t have that one leader, and there’s no question the guy pulling the trigger is the leader. But there’s a positive side to that.  You’re always concerned if you have that one leader and the other guy has never played and something, God forbid, happens to your starter, you’re in that bad situation. So the best I’ve ever felt about the depth of our quarterback is when we were playing both of them because I knew if someone sprained an ankle or someone broke a chin strap and he was out for a play, the other guy played and he wouldn’t drop a snap or be overwhelmed. 

There’s no one better to make that decision than the coaching staff at Alabama. So the pitfalls are that you’re going to not have that leader, not have the guy that everybody looks up to, but you also, if that’s what you’re dealt with, then you’ve got to make the most of it. And why it’s a positive, the other one, you have not just one, you have two. And if you have two that are functional guys, which Alabama is going to have now, then I think there’s some positives about that, as well. 

Q. – And then my other question is can you get a sense of what it’s like in the locker room when you have two high‑profile guys such as quarterbacks in that competition and how it kind of affects what’s going on internally with the team?

URBAN MEYER: Yeah, you have to be on your toes as a coach because human nature is that certain people, the media, the fans and then most importantly the people in that locker room are going to have their favorite guy. You just try to in team meetings and situations during a game, you try to manage that situation as much as possible. It all worked out perfectly in 2006 because we won, but everything gets exposed if you lose. Then all of a sudden ‑‑ the locker room was fine on, what was it, 13 out of the 14 times, the locker room was really good after a game. One time it wasn’t; it was when we lost. 

Q. – Chris, as an analyst, obviously you’ve seen there’s been some jarring criticism of Ohio State. I read something that was even particularly scathing this morning, kind of portrayed the former head coach as a guy who only cared about winning and not in developing people or doing anything outside of the program. I’m just wondering if ‑‑ this is coming from an alum who also works in the local media here in Columbus. I wonder if you ever bristle when you read something like that, or is this part of the deal; sanctions are coming and this comes with it?

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well, I think we all make mistakes, and I think Jim Tressel’s record outside of football and what he’s done and what his players say about him says a lot. I think he made that mistake, and I think he regrets it, wish he wouldn’t do it, and there were consequences for a big mistake. It’s that simple in my eyes. 

Nobody who admires a man wants to see him take that kind of hit. But I think that’s what had to happen.  That was evident. But that doesn’t change what he’s done for this community, his charitable work and what his players say about him. We all make mistakes, and when you’re in a higher position then people watch you and you’re constantly being criticized, and you have a contract, you’ve got to live up to it, all that stuff. If you don’t do it, there’s consequences, pure and simple to me. But I don’t think he was all about winning. I think he was all about what he said he was about. 

Q. – Coach Meyer, I just wanted to ask you about [Ohio State’s] Stan Drayton; he’s a guy we’ve really enjoyed watching in practice because he’s high energy and he’s got a young group he’s really trying to mold. I’m just wondering if you can comment on what type of assistant coach he is and also what he brings to the table as a recruiter, as well. 

URBAN MEYER: Well, he’s got it all. He’s on top of everything that you just mentioned. The word character is the first thing I think about Stan. He’s a great husband and a great father, which was rule No. 1 when I went out and tried to hire a coach because he’s going to be standing in front of a group of players, and I expect that out of our guys, and he was great. He was one of the best recruiters. I think he’s coaching receivers now. I never had him as a receiver coach, but his guys play hard, he loves the game and he loves to go out and work them. He’s one of the best I’ve had. 

Q. – What about the recruiting aspect?  He was a recruiting coordinator there, and obviously Ohio State has maybe revamped their outlook on recruiting here. Will he be part of that do you think or what will he bring to the table? 

URBAN MEYER: Well, recruiting, if you do it the right way, which Stan Drayton is going to do, and I’m not talking about the nonsense, I’m talking about the good hard‑nosed recruiting, it’s nothing but labor intensive.  There’s no other way around it than go work, find, evaluate, and then just nonstop relentless approach to recruiting a guy, and that’s what Stan is all about.

He understands that recruiting is very simply you get rewarded for hard work. He’s going to follow the rules, which he did for us and he will do because that’s the kind of guy he is, and he’s going to work his tail off and his guys will see that and they’ll follow his lead. 

Q. – With [Florida’s] Coach Charlie Weis coming in and bringing his own style of offense, and you’ve gone into situations before where you’ve changed the offense, how much of a period is there, an adjustment period, to get used to a new offense and get the players accustomed, quarterbacks in particular?  Does it take a year to get your system fully in place? 

URBAN MEYER: Oh, it all depends on what kind of players you had. I think if Jeff Demps wouldn’t have come back it would have taken a little longer. If they get hurt, it’s going to take them longer. So it’s more dictated on the people, on the personnel. 

I think obviously Coach Weis had success a lot of places, but also there’s a lot of young talent on that team that if they stay healthy that’s the whole key. I don’t think it’s going to take that long. If they don’t stay healthy, then I think you’re going to see some bumps in the road, but if they stay healthy and that tight end stays healthy and their tailbacks, I think they’re going to be very good.

-30-

Back to top button