STEVE HATCHELL: Good afternoon, everybody. Nice to see
you. Welcome to Dallas, America. As you will learn, we are here
for football's sake. It's nice to have all of you here. In fact,
I'm not sure that the proper way to get this started is to just
say welcome, everybody, because if you're into college football
and you're into the promotion of it, everybody in this room really
cares about football, and when you bring friends together and people
who have a wonderful understanding and appreciation for the sport,
it just makes it so much fun. So it's terrific to have you here.
like to we have a lot of things to do and there's a lot of welcomes
and there's a lot of people that we're going to ask you to sit through
just to be greeted to have you here, because a lot of people have
participated in this.
First of all, because this is our first year, we had many people
step forward to help us in a financial sense as financial partners,
to get it going. We'd like to start off by saying thank you to the
Fiesta Bowl for lunch today, and John Junker and Shawn Schoeffler
are here, so if you didn't like it, if you'd drop them a note, please.
This is a no holds barred deal.
But anyway, thank you to our corporate partners, our friends,
I guess is a way to say that.
The room is wired for Wi-Fi. FastScripts will be distributed
on Monday of all of the proceedings. So if you take notes like I
do, you'll get something that's a lot better than your own notes
so you can just listen and participate.
If you could check with Phil Marwill for one on one interviews
with the panelists, and outside this room we have it set up with
a backboard and helmets and all of that, so if you need to do separate
interviews or whatever, you can do that in between sessions or at
the end of the day.
I have a very simple task here today, not only to welcome you
on behalf of the Football Foundation, and our chairman is here and
several of our board members, which is wonderful, and Archie will
speak in a minute. But my job today is as we put this together,
our whole idea was to make sure all of the little things were handled
because obviously at the Football Foundation we love football, love
it 13 months out of the year. And whether it's the credentials or
your key for your room, whatever we can do to show that football
is really special, we tried to incorporate it into this.
|Florida State University president Dr.
T.K. Wetherell, U.S. Military Academy athletic director
Kevin Anderson, and Notre Dame athletic Director Kevin White
were among the panelists at the 2008 Football Forum. (Photo:
We were also very, very fortunate in that we had a lot of people
to serve as moderator, and we were very fortunate to have Chris
Rose come in. Chris, as you know, does Fox's coverage of the BCS
games, big college football person. He's the host of the Best Damn
Sports Show, Period, and now we can say it's the Best Damn Football
Forum, Period, that we have Chris here. A lot of fun to visit with
and you'll find out about some of the guests he's had in. He's had
over 1,000 guests and over 1,000 shows that he's conducted in his
run. So that's the good and the bad and the ugly of sports.
He's got a lot of experience coming into this, and we hope this
is just the first of many times and many opportunities that we have
Chris to do things with the Football Foundation. He's anchored FSN's
National Sports Report, anchored broadcasts for CNN and CNN/SI,
lots of things. He's been a local anchor in Reno, Nevada, and Cincinnati,
Ohio. He's from Shaker Heights, Ohio. Fun stories; as you know,
I was part of rodeo for a while and really fun stories hearing about
Chris when he tried to do celebrity rodeo things and when he was
in Reno. We'll leave out a lot of parts of those because Chris gets
the microphone next.
If you would just take a moment to say hello to Chris Rose who
gave up a couple of days and be here to be our moderator for the
first football forum. Thank you, Chris.
CHRIS ROSE: We're not going to relive those Reno rodeo
stories. Basically I had a steer that didn't like me very much.
It came a little south of the Equator, if you know what I mean.
I was down for the count, but my wife was actually she was kind
of pleased about that (laughter).
I want to thank everybody for coming. I think this is a real
great opportunity for the media to mingle with some of the biggest
names we've got in college football and college athletics. I've
been able to cover a lot of pretty cool events in the 15 years I've
been working in television, everything from Super Bowl to Tiger's
run at the Masters and the Final Four and everything else.
I can honestly say that the BCS is far and away the best thing
that I do. There's nothing like walking into a stadium and basically
seeing the colors split down the middle.
I mean, I know most of you have probably been to a Super Bowl.
It's kind of an antiseptic feel, I think. But when you walk into
last year the Allstate BCS National Championship game, you're walking
into a feeling where it's family.
And it goes back to all I can think about is like a couple of
guys I grew up with, two of my best friends from grade school on,
Jay Novotny and Bailey Rice. Being from suburban Cleveland, Ohio,
we're huge Browns fans, we're huge Indians fans, we've huge Cavs
fans, which means that basically as a Cleveland sports fan you're
95 percent scar tissue anyway.
Then you get to college sports, and Jay used to take me to Buckeyes
games back when Earl Bruce was roaming the sidelines, and he used
to take Bailey, too.
And then Bailey, I don't know what happened to him, but he decided
to go to the University of Michigan. Things pretty much went downhill
So they live near each other in Chicago these days, and we root
for the same teams except for Saturdays during the fall, and there
is nothing better than watching those two go at it. I know that
if Jay I've got Jay's number if you want to give him a call (addressing
Coach Tressel). He'd like to talk to you about certain play calls
I know at some point in big games. Bailey does not want to hear
from you, and we wouldn't want it any other way.
I think that's the great thing about college football is you
can have friends that grew up next to each other and have common
interests and common goals, and on Saturdays in the fall, forget
it. They're not talking and they're yelling at each other, and I
think that is the coolest thing that we've got going in this sport.
College football is at an all time high. I think ESPN, if you
listen to those guys, did a recent poll and found out that only
the NFL supercedes college football in terms of fan interest, and
I think that is an amazing thing if you look at the sports in our
country. Major League Baseball, supposedly the national pastime,
way down the ladder; NBA, which has had a little bit of a revival
in recent years, way down the ladder, as well. College football
is healthy, the numbers are amazing.
Coach Tressel, I saw that 76,000 people attended your spring
game. What's going on there? How do you get 76,000 people out there?
COACH TRESSEL: It was raining (laughter).
CHRIS ROSE: Nice. Good effort.
Overall last year over 48 million people attended college football
games, including almost 2 million for the Bowls. The ratings were
outstanding across the board for ABC, for NBC, for ESPN, for Fox
SportsNet, for Fox. I think we did okay, as well. And so obviously
there's a lot to look forward to in college football, and we're
going to cover that over the next two days.
We're actually going to give you guys an opportunity to ask questions
throughout these four two hour sessions, so we have a microphone
that will be traveling around the room, and if you can't get to
all the questions now, you'll have ample time hopefully to talk
to the coaches, the athletic directors, the university president
here, as well, SIDs are going to be roaming around, so hopefully
we'll get to everything you want over the next two days.
There are going to be a few 15 minute breaks sponsored by the
AT & T Cotton Bowl, so we want to thank those guys. Tonight there
is a reception at 6:00 p.m. hosted by Schutt Sports. If you want
to get some real answers from the coaches it's a good time to get
them to do this (indicating drinking) and then ask them the good
stuff. That will be followed by dinner at 7:00 hosted by the Davey
O'Brien National Quarterback Award, and then you guys can do I don't
know what you all do at night but go have fun, and then we'll see
you back here at 7:00 a.m. for the breakfast hosted by the FedEx
Orange Bowl and then we're back here for tip time at 8:00 a.m. and
then we'll conclude with a noon lunch which is hosted by the Football
Writers Association of America, so that's pretty simple there.
I want to hear from a few hosts before we get going and throw
out our very interesting topics over the next few hours. The first
man is a 14 year board member here, current chairman of the National
Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. He's been a college
football Hall of Famer since 1989. He was a Pro Bowler with the
New Orleans Saints, he was the NFL's MVP, he has a son Cooper and
apparently two others that work for DirecTV (laughter). With that
being said, Archie Manning, welcome to the podium.
ARCHIE MANNING: We know what a great job Fox has done
in promoting college football, especially since it took over the
BCS, so it's an honor for us to have you, Chris, and appreciate
you being the moderator for the next two days.
About a year ago in Phoenix, National Football Foundation president
Steve Hatchell, NFF vice chairman George Weiss, FWAA president Steve
Richardson, Malcolm Moran and Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline met
to discuss the idea of a football forum. This group wanted to ensure
that the nation's top football writers had access to the leaders
of college football, where the major issues of the day could be
discussed, explored, and more importantly, advanced in a relaxed
Thus they proposed a football forum. What will take place over
the next two days is a testament to their vision, and we thank them
for their leadership and their foresight.
In addition to our esteemed panelists, whom Chris will introduce
in a moment, I'd like to thank the sponsors of our event. They certainly
care deeply about the future of our sport. Real quickly, our presenting
sponsors, the Heisman Trophy Trust; the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback
Award, a great event I've had the pleasure to attend several times;
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and board member John Junker is here with
us today; the FedEx Orange Bowl; the AT & T Cotton Bowl, Schutt
Sports; collegepressbox.com and I6.
A few other special thank yous need to be made, including our
partner the Football Writers Association of America; the National
Football Foundation staff, which works tirelessly to help make this
vision a reality. We continually ask them to do more and more, and
they seem to always rise to the occasion. Their passion for this
event and attention to detail is truly appreciated.
The National Football Foundation board members in attendance,
including particularly George Weiss, who played a founding role
in this event, and I'm here to tell you there's nobody that cares
more about the National Football Foundation or has given more of
their time and counsel than George, and we're certainly grateful
for his leadership; Chuck Neinas, who played an integral part of
designing all the aspects of the meeting today, selecting the panelists,
establishing the agenda. And we all know this, too; there's nobody
more knowledgeable about the state of college football than Chuck,
and he adds a great deal of credibility to our efforts, and Chuck,
we thank you.
Collaboration and integrity have been hallmarks of the relationship
between the media and the leaders of college football for as long
as anybody can remember. Hopefully the football forum will perpetuate
these values becoming an annual opportunity for us to come together
and discuss freely the challenges and opportunities that face our
So relax, enjoy, don't hesitate to share your ideas and your
concerns, and we are all here for one goal, and that's to promote
the game we love, college football. I'll turn it back over to Chris.
Thank you very much.
CHRIS ROSE: Thank you, Archie. Up next we have the 65th
president of the Football Writers Association of America. He's a
college football writer for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Ron Higgins.
Step on up here.
RON HIGGINS: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it. And of course,
you being the warm up act for John Calipari every night on the Best
Damn Sports Show, every time I turn on the show, Cal is on there
as one of your panelists.
Anyway, I want to thank the National Football Foundation for
this gathering. This is a great opportunity for the media and coaches
to kind of discuss and learn more about what each other does, and
hopefully we'll have a better understanding of each other. Anytime
you get the coaches and media together and communicate about what
each other does, it's good. I think a lot of times they may not
know exactly what we do and we don't know exactly the things they
go through, and I think it's a good thing that we finally get here
and open a line of communication.
I want to thank Steve Hatchell, the president of the National
Football Foundation. I've known Steve forever. Back in the metro
conference days, that's like three or four résumés ago, I think,
I also want to thank Archie Manning, chairman of the National
Football Foundation. We held this in the basement today so there's
no paparazzi following you around from the wedding.
It's just great to be here among friends. I see a lot of people
I know, Charles Davis, who I covered when he was a football player
at Tennessee and I'll always consider him the best media interview
I've ever covered. There's no surprise where he is now.
Anyway, again, this is a great deal. I'm looking forward to doing
this every year. Welcome, and thanks for coming.
CHRIS ROSE: Finally, helping us out, a professor from
Penn State, and Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, 30
years as an award winning journalist with the New York Times, USA
Today, the Chicago Tribune and News Day, are you sure you want to
be here? That's impressive work right there. Malcolm Moran is here.
MALCOLM MORAN: Thank you, Chris. As I was preparing for
this, I filled up a legal pad with all kinds of stuff, and I had
my observations and deep thoughts because that's what professors
are supposed to deal with, deep thoughts. And then I looked again
at the people that were going to be here, and I realized when I
thought about all the help that they had provided for me and for
people that do what I used to do that I really don't need any of
this, and I think it would be much better to speak from the heart.
The reason that we're here is we really need to talk. There are
serious problems in this business. The relationships that used to
exist in most places, not perfect, but workable, are all but disappearing.
The acceleration of the rate of information as it's presented to
the public is spinning at such a rate that even somebody that's
interested in doing honest work has a hard time keeping up, and
the scrutiny that reporters and columnists are under, much less
coaches and athletic directors, is at an unprecedented level.
Jim can back me up on this. We listened to somebody yesterday
who portrays himself as a journalist describing how it's not necessary
to ask a question to write something, and my answer was, if you're
going to report something, you have to learn it first. And if you
don't ask a question, how can you learn it?
I mean, going back to that dinner before the BCS Championship
game a year ago when we were talking about all this and the importance
of doing something about it, I mean, that's why it really is an
honor to be a part of it and to see it grow.
Steve, is it okay if I embarrass you with praise for a second?
My thanks to Steve. He has been helping people communicate and understand
each other for a very long time. When it's 12:30 a.m. eastern time
and you're sitting in Miami, Florida, and you don't know who's going
to win the Orange Bowl and they aren't handing out scripts in the
press box, you need all the help you can get.
One of the great achievements in Bowl history is that Steve dragged
the Orange Bowl kicking and screaming into the 20th century, and
the reason that's such an amazing accomplishment is before he did
that, he had to drag it kicking and screaming into the 18th and
19th centuries. Then after that, it was 16 years ago in the other
Hyatt at this airport, Steve assembled a group of reporters from
across the nation to talk to us about this plan that was on the
drawing board to try to find a way to tweak the Bowl system to give
us a better chance to have No. 1 against No. 2 at the end of the
season. I always get confused whether it's the alliance or the coalition
or the chicken or the egg, but that was really the beginning of
it. He sought us out to create dialogue.
What this is about is to keep that dialogue going so that we
can understand, and I still say we, because I still feel like I'm
invested in the business, so that we can understand the people that
are coaching, that are playing the game. I mean, from the seat I
sit in now, students in general, not just student athletes, the
lives of students are so much more complicated than they were 100
years ago when I was in school. There are so many more things on
their plate, there are so many more issues, how a high profile athlete
can deal with the academic load and perform at a high level when
even before you're going through the intrusion in their lives from
the recruiting process forward, I have no idea how they do it.
So whatever we can take away from this conversation to have a
greater understanding of how their lives work and how we can describe
them and so that people in your positions can have a greater understanding
of the needs that we are dealing with, I mean, that's going to be
the value of this.
I was born on a college football Saturday. The Florida Rams beat
the University of Miami about four hours before I was born. One
week later, the Rams went to Penn State and lost to a team that
was coached in part by a fourth year assistant on his way to law
school, and I'm still trying to figure out how Joe has less gray
hair than me (laughter).
Thank you for taking the time in advance when you get ripped
in your areas for not being on campus 365 days a year. We are grateful
that you're here and you're helping us, and I hope we can grow this
into a wonderful thing. Thank you.
CHRIS ROSE: Thank you, Professor. We appreciate that.
It was very nice. We're about to hear from everybody that you want
to hear from and you want to ask questions to these guys, so just
real quickly I want to introduce our esteemed panel. We're going
in alphabetical order.
We're going to start off with the director of athletics at Army,
This guy is the commissioner of the Big 12, and I've got to tell
you, sometimes when you get in Manhattan you've got to split cabs
with people, this guy hopped on the Fox plane from Bowl game to
Bowl game. "Can I grab a seat?" Yeah, of course. Welcome, it's Dan
Beebe. He kept us up all night, too. He wouldn't stop talking. At
least I didn't have to talk to my bosses.
Also here with us, a guy that led Kansas to a school record 12
win season, also champion of the FedEx Orange Bowl, Mark Mangino.
Thank you, Coach.
Another coach, this is a home game for him, so it's party at
Patterson's house tonight, TCU coach Gary Patterson.
Also here, a man that has coached in nine national title games,
including the last two. He won a championship in 2002 at The Ohio
State University, Jim Tressel.
Also with us, the lone president on the panel, the president
of Florida State University, Dr. T.K. Wetherell. Also went to Florida
State on a football scholarship, correct? Played what position would
DR. WETHERELL: I was a receiver a long time ago.
CHRIS ROSE: For those of us who are just getting to know
you, who was your assistant coach at the time?
DR. WETHERELL: A young assistant named Bobby Bowden.
CHRIS ROSE: We also have the director of athletics at
Notre Dame, Kevin White, who's with us.
And also here, the man that led Stanford to its first Rose Bowl
appearance in 28 years. He was the only first year coach in Notre
Dame history to put out a ten win season. Now he's reviving the
program up there in the Pacific Northwest, Washington coach Tyrone
Willingham. Coach, it's good to see you.
I know there are some of you out there that are saying, ok, we've
got Kevin White, Tyrone Willingham, they're like seats away, what's
going to happen; they're great friends, they go back many, many
years, and we've already set up a best two out of three steel cage
match on Fox, so you can't have it.
Before you start asking the questions and hearing the answers,
I want to introduce a few people that are out here in the audience.
We've got AFCA President Grant Taft, also a member of the board;
BCS administrator, Bill Hancock, although Bill is not here right
now, will be joining us later; Mitch Dorger from the Tournament
of Roses is here; NFF board member and also from the Tostitos Fiesta
Bowl, John Junker is here, as well; Chuck Neinas, we saw him earlier
and he is responsible for putting the panel together; and commissioner
of the Sun Belt Conference, Wright Waters, as well.
We're going to get going with our first session, and these are
the challenges to college football, and we're going to start in
the world of academia. I guess over the last few years, it all starts
with the APR, which is a formula personally I know I'm not that
smart because I've had trouble figuring it out. I've gotten through
the quarterback rating easier than this APR thing. I'm going to
ask the two athletic directors on this. How much do we pay attention
to that and I guess its importance in the world of college football?
KEVIN WHITE: I think we would be naive to think in athletics
that the score isn't important. We keep score in sport. I think
the APR has become pretty darn important, particularly on our campuses.
All the different constituency groups I think at most places pay
close attention to academic progress, and I think we're making great
headway in that regard.
It's not perfect, it'll continue to be tweaked, I'm sure, but
putting young people in a position to be academically successful,
that's not pollyanna, that is the right thing to do, and I think
we're responsible for that outcome. I think our constituency groups,
particularly on our respective campuses, will hold us to that, and
I think that's a good thing.
CHRIS ROSE: Mr. Anderson, is it a fair measurement?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I believe so. I think there are challenges,
particularly for those schools that don't have the financial wherewithal
of some others. So I think that's going to be the major challenge,
how do you get that balance.
You look at one of the schools in California just came out and
lost, I believe, 19 scholarships. So how do you balance that and
try to win football games and also create financial aspects for
the university so you can balance all three of these. That's the
biggest challenge I think that we have.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, as Kevin White said, we
do keep score in our games. You guys have a lot on your plate each
and every week. How much time do coaches spend looking at the APR?
COACH WILLINGHAM: I don't know if our time is all dedicated
to the APR, but I think you are aware of anything that can affect
the scholarships that you have for your young people.
But what I would be as concerned about as anything with the increased
competition on the collegiate campus to be in any major, and now
you have majors that are very restrictive. Does the APR in some
form force young people out of majors that they may be able to have
success at based on the requirements of the university, and therefore
you're getting some of that watered down concern that I think some
people have about what is a by product of the APR.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Tressel?
COACH TRESSEL: I just want to preface for a moment with
a little context. We listened to Malcolm at our Big Ten meetings
the other day talk about some of these issues and really why we're
together, and as it relates to the APR, the thing that he left us
with that I thought was impactful is that many of you are in this
battle, if you will, or reality of getting it right or being first.
Isn't that the phrase you kind of left us with? And we went through
a lot of those discussions.
I don't think that that's any different thing than we face. Doing
things right or being first, you know, there's a big tug and everyone
wants to know who's first, first in your league, first in the nation,
first in whatever. But doing it right is really where we feel most
strongly pulled toward, just like I could sense that from the good
folks that visited with us at the Big Ten.
So as you relate it to the APR, we want to do things right and
make sure that our young people have an opportunity to grow academically,
to take the opportunity to get that degree. And as good as some
of our players are and get drafted in the second round or whatever
it happens to be, they don't last long in their dream area. And
we want them to have the opportunity to have some choices after
their playing days are over.
Any time you add a measuring stick that gives some accountability
like the APR does, I think it's healthy. I think that any time your
feet are held to the fire, there are some issues. As Ty brought
up, some guys get maybe put into some majors because right now that's
the number of credits they have towards something and they need
to be eligible, so it's a little bit of a battle from that standpoint.
But from an overall standpoint, in us seeking what's right, and
that's having our kids grow and have a chance to succeed in the
future, the APR I think has been a healthy addition a little bit
of a pain in the neck, and we're going to have to do some things
as Kevin Anderson brought up. There's a lot of people that don't
have the resources to have as many tutors and academic advisors
and things like that, that we're going to have to come up with some
ways that they can survive this without too many hits.
But I think it's a good process, a process that's in work, and
we can tweak it and make it helpful.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Patterson, Coach Mangino, at the same
time, there are kids that play football and that's their dream;
as little kids that's what they wanted to do as a professional,
and there's nothing wrong with that. How do you convince kids, maybe
even some borderline kids, guys, that degree is important?
COACH PATTERSON: Number one, I think the families get
more involved in the process of recruiting. I think they're starting
to realize with the APR we've made it not just be the student athlete's
responsibility. I think the families are starting to decide we'd
better pick the right school or university that my son is going
to get an education.
I asked the question for our five years ago at the head coaches'
meeting when we have it wherever it was held, and my question was
what are we going to do for the student athlete? We've added the
12th ballgame, we've reduced to 85 scholarships. You're a coach
where you need to win X amount of games. It used to be that we red
shirted freshmen, but in a 12 game ballgame, now you play 13, possibly
talking about a 14th game, let's say on average you red shirt 20
freshmen, now you're playing a season with 65 scholarship athletes,
and you're asked to win ballgames. If you have any injuries at all
I think there has to be a common balance.
That was the question I asked Miles Brown when he was at our
meeting was what are we going to do for the athlete, because we
put the APR in place and I do believe in it. We graduate a very
high percentage of our kids, and it's not just the academic people's
job. I believe it's also the staff's job, myself and our coaches,
to make sure they're part of going to class and what they do.
But I also think it's the university's responsibility. I believe
that once you get a young man in, and one of our biggest concerns
is I believe kids are a lot more knowledgeable in this day and age,
but I don't think they're as mature because of the internet, and
they have a lot of information. And I think one of the things that
came down upon the head football coach of that university is it's
our job to set goals, time management, things that parents used
to do, we try to do it on a six to eight week basis to try to get
kids to grow up and understand that you have accountability.
The word I hate right now in the world is entitlement. You have
it in the soccer teams right now where everybody that the winning
team and the losing team get the same trophy. It's okay. We don't
teach anybody any of those things.
I think it goes a little bit farther than the APR. It's one of
those things, and it all falls right in our lap of what we're going
to do about it because we're the ones that are on center stage.
For me, I go back to what are we going to do for the student
athlete. I understand the APR was put in place for the accountability
aspect, but in my place, what are we actually going to do that's
actually going to help them, besides the tutors and all the other
things that go on, because money, obviously monetarily you need
to move forward, but at some point in time we've got to go back
to them. That's one of the questions I've been asking for a while
is how do we go back and help them.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Mangino, how active a role do you play
in the academic situation of your players?
COACH MANGINO: You have to play an important role as a
coach because with the accountability of the APR and the fact that
you want your players to graduate we always said at our place that
this football window is just a small window in your lifetime, and
it's what you use you use football to get an education, don't let
the game use you.
And what we have is we have a situation where a lot of kids that
come into our program don't always have the same backgrounds. Some
of them, the high schools or the resources at their high school
just weren't good enough to really support them. They got passing
grades, they met the basic NCAA standards for test scores and grades
and core courses, but they didn't have maybe perhaps the kind of
academic support that other kids have had.
The APR is great. I'm in favor of the APR. But I'm concerned
about the student athletes that just didn't have the resources in
high school to prepare them for the challenge of college. Does that
mean they shouldn't have an opportunity to go to college? I don't
think so. In fact, I know so. Every young man and young lady should
have an opportunity to get an education if they want to, and if
it's because of an athletic scholarship, I think that's great. I
mean, some kids have no other means to go to college other than
But the challenges we face as coaches is that we play a major
role in the academics because we talk to the academic advisors every
day. After each and every practice I mention something about academics.
Every team meeting I talk about things that need to be done in academics,
and I know most coaches do that because you have to be proactive,
because if you're not, you're not graduating kids, they're not getting
the education that they deserve in preparing them for life, which
is part of our job, and also, you start losing scholarships because
of the APR.
One thing you don't want to do, you don't want to be turning
around a football program when APR was instituted here. I think
it makes it tougher. I saw it from our aspect. It's much tougher
to come in and turn a program around when you have to deal with
APR, because at one time new coaches came in, and if kids didn't
follow a certain set of guidelines or standards, they left. You
can't do that anymore.
CHRIS ROSE: With academic standards changing, it's tougher
to get into college now than it was even eight years ago. There's
a reason I didn't get into Northwestern, I got into Miami of Ohio
actually several hundred, I think, Dr. Wetherell, where are we in
terms of academic standards? Every school has a different set, and
we're talking about it making an unfair playing field, don't you
think, for different institutions?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, every institution has its own personality
and its own purpose in being, and they're not all the same, nor
should they be the same, I don't think. I mean, what's at Florida
versus Florida State versus a community college or small, private
institution, whatever, they shouldn't be the same.
Going back to the APR for a minute, from a president's perspective
and I think a coach's perspective, no one is going to come out and
say we're against the APR. The problem I see with it is it's more
of a public relations issue. Clearly you want to do well, and if
you look, most presidents and probably a lot of athletic directors
and coaches probably couldn't explain it, but we have to live by
it. Same with the IRS tax code; we can't explain it but we have
to live by it. Most presidents go down and to the right; they pick
up USA Today, look where Florida State is, I go over, are we 922
or 933, whatever we have to be, if we didn't lose any scholarships,
and we had to do good.
But that's not really what the thing ought to be about, nor the
academic standards. What concerns me is I think we keep talking
about student athletes, but there are so many rules put into place
that conflict with a student athlete really being a student first.
Academic standards are increasing. There are more and more students
wanting to go to college. But if you look, what qualifies you to
meet NCAA standards may be significantly below what it takes to
get into any institution, quite frankly here, or any other student.
Now, that's not uncommon for other students, either, so I don't
want to mislead anybody in that process.
In the state of Florida we have a program called Bright Futures.
You can qualify to be a Bright Futures student and get a full scholarship,
but you still can't get into the University of Florida or Florida
State. I think the same thing is probably true of Ohio State if
I'm not mistaken in that area.
So you're seeing a bunch of things that are good and well intended.
But instead of working on the issue, we seem to be more concerned
about the number, did we meet it or not.
CHRIS ROSE: As far as the academic standards go, have
you had coaches that are you can tell they're frustrated, that there's
a certain kid they want to try to bring into school that's going
to help their program on the football field, and boy, it's a risk,
a real risk to bring this kid in? Do you see that happening?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, sure, that happens in athletics.
It happens in every institution. Every president is faced with it.
Most of us have a limited admission program for certain students.
Many people in the public think that's athletics. Most of those
limited admissions aren't in athletics, they're in music or art
or drama or other types of programs.
It's not uncommon for a coach to come over and say, you've got
to let this one in. He can go to Washington or Ohio State or wherever,
and I'm sure somebody at Ohio State is saying you've got to let
him in because he can go to Florida State. Well, that's probably
true on any one given, but Bobby has got a list of 25 of them that
he wants. I say, wait a minute, we can't handle 25, we're talking
one or two here (laughter).
But once you make that commitment to admit that student, I think
that student deserves every opportunity that any other student would
get, including while they're in high school. Now, that violates
a number of NCAA rules. We have a program called Care at Florida
State. You look at U.S. News & World Report, you'll see we're actually
graduating African American students at a higher rate than we are
white students at one of the highest rates in the nation. The reason
we're doing that is the programs we put in place before they get
to Florida State.
But if I send those same counselors out to talk to a football
player, I'm going to be slapped with some kind of a violation. That
doesn't seem right to me. But you've got to take the chains off
of us if we're going to deal with those students.
CHRIS ROSE: Dan, your thoughts on this, because I'm sure
you have coaches that come to you as the commissioner and share
their frustrations, don't you?
DAN BEEBE: We haven't had it as much at the conference
office level, and frankly, in our conference the coaches have accepted
this pretty well. I think the most difficulty is when you get a
new coaching situation where a lot of the players leave and transfer
away and they get hit with the lack of retention or eligibility
point, and that causes a problem with the APR and then causes them
to lose scholarships or other things.
With the coaches that are in programs for a long time, and a
lot of our coaches have been in that, particularly in football basketball
we've had more of a turnover have accepted it pretty well. Let's
remember, this marker of 925 relates to a 60 percent graduation
rate. I don't think that's outlandish. I don't think anybody here
would say that's an outlandish marker to make.
There have been concessions made about transfer students. This
has all been data driven. The data has shown that if you achieve
at 2.6 and you leave an institution and go to another institution,
you're as likely to graduate at that second institution as the one
you leave. So therefore the rules changed to not dock the school
from which that student is transferred.
So there are considerations that are being made, and I've just
been put on a football working group panel to look at the particular
issues about football. We've had it with baseball, and there's an
active panel right now with basketball and the APR to see if there's
adjustments that might need to be made in this regard.
I think the main thing is, and the coaches can speak to this,
is for those great, great athletes you're going to make concessions
to get those athletes. But what I've heard from coaches and you
get down the line and you have Dan Beebe who may not be as prepared
to succeed at Kansas and Kevin White is, and I may be a little bit
better athlete, I think Coach Mangino is going to say let's get
Kevin White, he's prepared to graduate from here, we may be able
to develop him into a better player, he's shown the hard work and
dedication in the classroom that's probably going to show up on
the field anyway. So those decisions, when I've talked to coaches,
have been made on the other players.
You're not going to pass up on the great all star player who
can get into your institution because if you don't take, them your
rival will, and then Coach Tressel is going to answer the question
of why did you let them go somewhere else and beat you for four
But those other kids, those other 20 through 10 or so, I think
coaches are making better decision based on the preparedness of
those youngsters to make it at their institution.
And let's face it, Doc Wetherell stated, we've got institutions
in this country that are created to host a number of different types
of youngsters. I went to a regional state university. I was commissioner
of a conference of regional state universities. Those missions and
the creation of those institutions are for youngsters that don't
have quite the prepared backgrounds of others, of the institutions
that are represented in the Big 12 or here at this table.
So we have that disparity with students generally, and what happens
in athletics is sometimes we try to fit the great athlete who may
be better prepared to go to Austin Peay at the University of Kentucky,
and those are issues we have to deal with.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, graduation rates. When ESPN
on SportsCenter does something about a coach that gets hired or
unfortunately gets let go, they talk about their record, they don't
talk about the graduation rates, very rarely. We see them in the
papers sometimes and on the internet but we certainly don't focus
on them. When you get in your hand and see graduation rates for
Washington, what's going through your mind and your body?
COACH WILLINGHAM: The first thing is I want to know what
our won lost record is. That's as much important to me as anything,
is how you're winning and losing.
I think this, I'm going to step away for a second. I've often
said that education is not just for those that are educated, and
that should really be the role of our institutions, to educate all
of its members in the community to the best of its ability.
In saying that, my concern is more so of the individuals' abilities
to survive and prosper at a university than just to be there and
compete. I think one of the worst things we could ever do to any
individual is to have a young man on a campus and he wakes up in
the morning, and he says, "I can't make it." That would be a mistake
because what you know is he will not be there, regardless of how
talented he is, for three or four years. He won't be there. Something
is going to happen, be it negative or he leaves, but something going
So we have a responsibility, first of all. Even though a young
man may be weaker academically, we have the ability to make sure
or should have the ability to ensure his success based on the fact
that he'll work and we'll give him the resources and support that
he needs to be successful.
Now, the graduation rate issue, I spoke I think it was the other
day over in Spokane, Washington, and there's always this thing about
kind of what comes first, do you win or graduate, which one is first
and which one is most important. I did a quick eye test of the individuals
in the room, and asked them, and they were all professional people,
businessmen, which ones had built their businesses doing things
the wrong way, and not one raised their hand.
The same thing exists for us in football. You're going to have
the most successful program and develop longevity by doing things
right, and right means winning and graduating and not not graduating
and not winning.
CHRIS ROSE: We're going to have time for a few questions
on the academic arena, so if you want to fire away, and I apologize
for not knowing everyone's name in advance.
Q. For the administrators, with this disparity, and a lot
of this has come from the BCS conferences versus the non BCS conferences
and the money that has gone with that as far as the trying to develop
the academic framework and the infrastructure necessary, is there
any thought of any further redistribution of wealth in order to
allow those schools to better compete in that area so that they
can have more players in school? They're not going to lose scholarships;
they're going to have a more level playing field to deal with.
KEVIN WHITE: I'm not sure that there's any conversation,
at least that I'm aware of, about redistribution of wealth. That's
a pretty difficult subject to kind of get anybody to sit down and
talk about, so I won't even begin to try to dance around that one.
Let me say this about young people, and I'm listening to the
panelists, it's kind of already been suggested, kids today are great
consumers. I've got five kids, five of my own children and four
have long gone through college, and the consumer level of the kids
we deal with today is far different than our experience, our collective
experience in this room. I think that's pretty darned important
to remember. This is a sophisticated group of young people with
sophisticated and some gallery people around them that help them
make the kind of decisions as to where they should go and which
institution they should attend. And I think that's really important.
We find ourselves in living rooms, and then when they make the
official visits on campus, talking about delivering a certain experience,
a world class academic experience and a very high end athletic experience,
if you will. We'd better not only deliver that, we'd better over
deliver it, because I think the kids today, because of all the opportunities
they have to communicate, the internet, the chat rooms and the blogs
and everything else, and these young people know who's going to
kind of deliver and/or over deliver what's been promised. I think
that puts great pressure on us.
The last question or I guess the last bit of my response, and
I want to come to your question, I think there's a real lack of
homogeneity across our education. I don't know if, T.K., you would
see this better than anybody from your position, but I'm sitting
up here thinking about it. It's almost like, if you'll excuse the
analogy, it's like the ballroom from "Star Wars," different sizes,
shapes and colors; we've got privates, we've got publics, we've
got big, we've got small, we've got different missions. And so it's
really hard to get everybody to look at these issues through one
Sometimes I talk to the staff, and Stan Wilcox is here, and we're
colleagues at Notre Dame together, but we talk about creating a
lens neighborhood. There's no way we're going to get everybody looking
at all these issues through the same lens.
So your point or your question, there is a lack of a quality
in terms of resources, not only between BCS and non BCS or what
used to be called non BCS, but within a conference. It's amazing.
Having been in the Pac 10, there's haves and there's have nots.
You find yourself in a position where you've got to find a way to
make your situation work and work for you. But I'll tie it back
to my first point, you'd better deliver what you promised in the
living room because we're in the people business and the referral
business, and the young people that are in our programs today, they
close the deals with the next generation, and I think that's really
important that we keep that foremost in our thoughts.
COACH PATTERSON: To go along with what Kevin said, I think
we're talking about the financial aspect, but I'll be honest with
you, the bottom line to it is we've got to make the kids be accountable.
We want to talk about the university, we want to talk about the
haves, the have nots and all of it, but the bottom line, the coach
says you're going to make him go to class, you're going to make
him do all the things he needs to, then you need to make him do
If we don't follow that, I don't care how many tutors you give
him. It's like, you can fix breakfast for them in the morning; they
don't have to eat it or get up. I mean, you make them make their
bed. The bottom line to it is you have to hold them accountable.
We can give them everything they want to, but if they don't want
to go to class and don't do the things they need to do, then that
comes down to the responsibility of the coach and the university
to make sure we hold them when we get them on campus because they
are given a lot just to make sure they do that.
I think that's one of the things we forget. We get so busy, coaches,
with how early can we get a kid committed three years in advance,
what are we building, we've got to win or lose, we forget about
the guys that are there. I think one of the things we have to do
as a football community is we have to when we go on to campuses
we have to make kids go to class, do everything they're supposed
to do, because whether they're a good student or a bad student,
if they really believe that you care by making them do that, then
I think we're going to have a chance. If we don't, then they're
going to be the ones that fall along the wayside.
It's like your own kids; if you don't make them make the bed
and do the right things, then they're not going to do it. It's not
only going to be the kids that aren't good students. As soon as
the good students see that you're not making the bad students do
the right things, then they're not going to do it, either. The bottom
line to it is if a kid wants to succeed, as Tyrone said, if he wants
to succeed, that kid that really wants to, then we give him the
opportunities and make him do it.
The problem is we're also dealing with the ones that came there
for just football possibly that we didn't know about because we
recruited him, we only spent X amount of time with him, and he doesn't
want to go to class and he's your best player, so what do you do?
And at some point in time you're going to have to say, look, if
you don't want to do this, then the team is bigger than the player.
And when you do that, then they set the example and they all step
But until we all do that, and I agree with everything that's
said, but the bottom line is we have to have the responsibility
DAN BEEBE: Well, this is a maverick idea and the coaches
may not like this at all, and I spoke with Wendell the other day
about it, and one of the things that I think we're hampered by in
football and men's basketball is not having a situation like we
have in baseball, where youngsters who have no interest in academics,
who are just going there to play football, can be drafted by a professional
team and have the chance to there's nothing wrong with a young kid
that doesn't want to go to college at that time, at 18. I've got
friends, brothers, others, who went into military service, that
went other places because they weren't ready for college at that
time. But in our system, in American sports, we force them into
this situation when they may not want to be there.
So if they were drafted like we have in baseball at 18, those
that went would play professionally, try to take their vocation
of football or men's basketball as far as they could, and those
that didn't, that wanted to have the academic experience, would
occupy the scholarships and the places on our rosters and be willing
to go to school. That's not something we can control, but it is
something that at some point we may want to have a dialogue about
because I think we're just not in a situation where we necessarily
get all those kids that want to be a part of higher education in
Q. Dan, your line of thinking, how many 18 year olds are ready
to go play NFL football physically? I mean, it's different there's
a different disparity than NBA basketball in the NFL. How many 18
year olds do you think would be physically ready to play in the
NFL, because I have to imagine it would be very, very little?
DAN BEEBE: It would be very little. You'd have to have
a farm system like you have in basketball, and perhaps with football
because there's such a physical nature to it, maybe that's a farm
system with an age limit to it. It would have to be created differently
than what you have in basketball.
Q. And this is for any of the football coaches. Have you signed
or have you considered signing say you have a walk on in your program
that's been there two or three years and he might be able to help
you and may not, but you think, I know this kid is graduating. I'm
going to give him a scholarship because he'll help our APR. Has
anybody done that?
COACH TRESSEL: I think we've all signed walk ons. I don't
think it's solely because we thought that would help our APR. It
was because we thought they deserved it and had done the right things
and maybe they can contribute on the special teams or on the three
deep or whatever. But I don't know that we've ever sat there saying,
hey, this guy will be a good APR point, let's put him on scholarship.
COACH WILLINGHAM: I'd agree with Jim on that. I've never
looked at it from the perspective of the APR. It's all about the
value of the young man to the program and what he's given in terms
of his contribution.
COACH MANGINO: I've never heard of that in our conference.
But I will say that at Kansas we've probably promoted in the last
five or six years, promoted more kids from walk on status to scholarship
status. I don't remember anybody in the staff room saying, hey,
this will help our APR if we get this 3.9 guy. It's what his value
is to the team and has he earned it in the program.
CHRIS ROSE: If so a lot more of you would have played
college football I'm guessing. It would have been a nice way to
get on the field.
Q. Gary, you mentioned doing things for athletes. I just wonder,
the coaches, what would you think about granting a fifth year of
eligibility for scholarship athletes?
COACH PATTERSON: Well, when the 12th ballgame came apart,
the fifth year of eligibility was part of that. When we voted unanimously
in the head football coaches meeting, that's when it all started;
it was all together. But obviously that didn't come about.
I think there's a lot of factions out there that believe that
we're trying to get an advantage or there's something negative about
the fifth year. But to be honest with you, really what we should
call it is the four and a half year because really that's what we're
trying to get accomplished at TCU is get them graduated in four
and a half years and then they could play a fifth and then you didn't
worry about the red shirt.
Everybody can say what they want to, but you have the medical
hardships, you have so many gray matter issues that nobody really
knows where to put kids. What's it, 20 percent, 30 percent, wherever
they play, and then all of a sudden he happens to hurt his ankle
or his knee and can't play.
It would sure help us as football coaches, because then you knew
those kids some kids do come on at the end of the year there's plenty
of examples out there where a young man you're in a Bowl game and
a kicker gets they kick him in the final game, or a guy who comes
and plays, he plays five plays and it uses up his eligibility. But
you ask him on the sideline in front of 80,000 people, hey, do you
want to go in and help us win the ballgame. What's a freshman going
to say? Yes, I'm going in. But then afterwards he's sitting in the
locker room and when he goes home for Christmas break, he goes,
what did I do that for?
I think we have to be smart. The fifth year did come up, and
I think it is a positive thing, but right now we haven't had a lot
of conversation about it lately.
COACH TRESSEL: I think it died out a little bit because
some of the conferences had a little bit of a split opinion as to
do you want to infer to a young man when you bring him on that he's
got five years, and what if you'd rather not have him that fifth
year. I think that discussion was brought up.
I think the other thing that came up in some conferences was
that the faculty rep groups couldn't put their arms around the fact
that we're talking about the fact that let's plan on five years
to graduate, and we'd really like to have a little bit more ambitious
look at graduating a little sooner than that.
And as Gary said, the reality is it's four years and one fall.
But I they those are the two things, that it lost a little bit of
its steam and fell off. Grant, you did some surveys and so forth,
Q. Yeah, just about an issue that was around for about 25
years that started at TCU, by the way. The problem is exactly what
you said. For some reason we have not been able to sell the concept
to the presidents, by and large, to the academic people, and even
the student athletes. We have had the student athlete committee
of the NCAA, which is obviously not made up of football players
and basketball players in its totality, it's a broad organization
or a group, and we can't it's dying a natural death. And one of
the things that I've heard a lot of people say is it makes too much
sense for it to get passed. Whether that's true or not, I don't
know. But it does fall into that category.
CHRIS ROSE: Guys, unfortunately we do have to move on,
but we appreciate the questions. We'll keep them going as we continue
with the subject matter. We're going to move on to a fun one. This
would be media relations. All I can say is I'm a man, I'm 37 (laughter).
I'm curious, I want to see hands from everybody on the panel, on
a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most trustworthy, 1 being least trustworthy,
how many of you guys on the panel trust the media more than 6, from
6 to 10? I'm talking about a decent amount of trust in the media.
COACH TRESSEL: The media as a whole?
CHRIS ROSE: I want to know the media as a whole. (Hands
raised by Coaches Mangino, Tressel and Patterson.)
COACH WILLINGHAM: My level must be obviously a little
lower (laughter). Chris, you'd probably like some type of explanation
CHRIS ROSE: I'm just a man looking for answers.
COACH WILLINGHAM: Let me give you a couple. I think I'm
blessed in my background that obviously most of the coaches will
tell you they have wonderful wives, and I have a wonderful wife.
My wife in her early career was a newscaster, and about the time
that we had children she made a decision, one, because we had children
to take care of them, but the other one was because the media at
that time was changing. It was changing in the media what we thought,
and we talked about it in our home, that it was changing from reporting
news to making news, and to me that's a huge distinction between
So therefore when you go about making news, and obviously with
the internet and all the other things that are happening, the speed
of information now and trying to produce a story and get the big
one has kind of changed perspective. So therefore I don't have quite
the trust in those that are making news as opposed to reporting
CHRIS ROSE: How do you decipher that?
COACH WILLINGHAM: It's just the nature of the environment
that we're in. I don't blame those that have to do it because that's
their business. So it is a change.
CHRIS ROSE: So you have a protective guard with everybody?
Do you feel that guard come up when you speak to the media?
COACH WILLINGHAM: No. I understand their job very well,
but for me it works better if I'm that way.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Tressel, you're the biggest game going
in the state of Ohio basically, we're talking even pro teams, as
well. I mean, Ohio State football is king, I can tell you that.
Do you watch, do you read, do you get on the internet?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, our world, the four people here,
is really a race against time, and the biggest problem we have is
time. I wouldn't even know how to get on the internet to look at
a thing, a website or something like that.
Now, do we have people that keep us aware of this recruit is
visiting Kansas this week and he's in Washington and all that? We're
kept aware. But along with what Ty is talking a little bit about,
I think my sense is not a distrust of the media; I feel bad for
the media because there's a lot of guys that cover us every day
that have wonderful things in mind and get pushed from somewhere
else to talk about this or talk about that. You're getting ready
to go on interviews sometimes and the guy puts the microphone down
and says, I don't really want to ask you this, but upstairs they're
making me, and all that business.
As Malcolm mentioned with our group that we had yesterday or
two days ago at the Big Ten, it's become a thing of who can get
something first versus who can get something right. And if coaching
ever becomes all about who's in first rather than who's doing it
right, I don't want to coach.
So I feel bad for the media. I don't distrust them, but I know,
as Ty said, what they have to do. I feel bad about that.
The other thing I feel bad about is that our worlds are so busy
that we have a lot less time available, and we have to make decisions
where we're going to spend our time, because recruiting is way out
there now, and you're looking at sophomores, you're getting phone
calls and texts we can't call them; I've had three phone buzzes
from recruits. I'm thinking, now who's more important? I look around
this room (laughter), and for the moment I'm going to say this group
is, but our time is so pulled Mark and I were talking, it's so easy
to communicate with us that every person from the state of Ohio
that's in Iraq I hear from, every person that's in every one of
our University hospitals, I hear from them or their cousin or whatever.
So we have all of these things that are pulling at us, not to
mention our 105 teenagers and the 30 that we're recruiting forward
and the other good causes that we'd like to be a part of. I feel
bad to when it comes down to you don't give the media as much access.
Our time is limited and we give them less time.
I don't think that it's the trustworthiness of it. I enjoy the
time I have with the media, I really do. I just don't have as much
time. We had a guy in our panel the other day who was a blogger,
and I've never even seen a blog. But he said, you ought to take
time, coaches, to have lunch with a blogger (laughter), and I said,
I don't even have lunch with my wife (laughter). I don't know when
I would have time to have lunch with a blogger and get to know where
they're coming from and all that.
So I feel bad for the media. I don't distrust them, and I don't
think he distrusts them
COACH WILLINGHAM: He does (laughter).
COACH TRESSEL: But I feel bad for them, and I feel bad
that we don't have more hours in the day. When I start writing down
my priority list, should I talk with my freshman who's struggling
a little bit or should I stop over at the hospital to see this person
or should I return an email to a young man or young woman who's
serving in Iraq or should I maybe even watch some film which would
be fun, wouldn't it, to have a minute to watch some film? calling
another press conference or going to have lunch with a blogger or
whoever, I feel bad that those times with the media don't rate up
CHRIS ROSE: Well, we are in a different time, and although
I love your comments about bloggers, it's changed. The players you
guys coach are blogging. Those are facts. They're out there, and
bloggers, they're out there to just share their opinions.
COACH TRESSEL: The good news about our players, everyone
keeps bringing that up, that they're the bloggers, when they get
hit in the head with that silver helmet in practice, they're not
thinking about that blog anymore. I don't care what that blogger
said, that they should be playing or this or that; there is a good
dose of reality when they walk into our building.
CHRIS ROSE: But I've got to guess that you guys do hear
some things, even though you don't maybe check out the computer
and watch TV as much as you would like, or maybe not like. But I
remember a few years ago there was that website, fireronzook.com
at Florida. And I felt terrible for the guy. Whether you think he
was a good coach or not a good coach, I'm sure, Coach Tressel, you
probably think he's a better coach now than he was a few years ago,
but the fact that those things are out there, does it bother you,
COACH PATTERSON: I think you have to use it to your advantage.
I don't think coaches have time to look at it, but I think it's
in our best interest that if somebody is giving out bad information
that you have some way to give out the right information.
CHRIS ROSE: How do you fight back?
COACH PATTERSON: For me I'm not going to look at it. For
me, for recruiting purposes, for program purposes, I tell my kids
all the time not to look at it because I do believe they're influenced
by it. They're freshmen, that's one of the hardest parts I have
about playing a freshman; if it doesn't turn out well for him, he's
mentally not stable enough sometimes to be able to handle it and
it can break him. I think you have to be able to have somebody within
your system that goes out and checks what is on line so that you
know what people are saying so that you can actually give out good
information, not necessarily fight it.
I've always felt like, I guess because of growing up in the metroplex,
being here as my first job as a head coach, I took the stand that
I was going to help the media do their job. But under the same breath,
I also felt like also it's my job to protect my kids, my program
and my university. And if I can do at some point in time if I can
do both of those at the same time I have to give them a lot of credit.
I had a young man this year that was a preseason all American
that had a lot of troubles off the field, and I think because of
our relationship with the media here and always being as honest
as I could be, I think that they helped protect the young man as
much as we could as far as trying to get him back on track without
the whole world thinking I do believe they have to be our friends.
I think there's only one way we're going to get through it is if
we're on the same page.
I feel bad, Coach Willingham, that there is not a trust, because
I think in some way it's hard to do our job without it.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Mangino, a few years ago we talked about
it on Best Damn, the comments you made I think it was after the
Texas game, was it not?
COACH MANGINO: Uh huh.
CHRIS ROSE: After that happened, did you think to yourself,
boy, this is it, or did you say, boy, I said what I said, I'm living
with it, that's okay?
COACH MANGINO: Well, the way I approached it, first of
all, is I had a reason to do it. My reasons are such that we had
lost some difficult ball games that year, and our kids after that
game were just crushed. I had never been around a team that had
been so disheartened about a loss.
So I just warned people, some administrators on my way to the
pressroom, what I was going to do, and it was to save the team.
I knew I was going to get criticism for it and take some bullets,
but Kansas hadn't had a winning program for many years, we were
trying to get it on its feet, we were getting close but just couldn't
get it over the hump, so I took a bullet for it.
But I do understand that that's not the way to do it. I learned
a lesson that there's other ways to get that done. But at the time
I felt that was the best way to do it.
Was it good judgment? It wasn't. But my feeling is that we're
talking about our dealings with the media here, and I want to get
back to what we were saying here a minute ago.
I feel dealing with the media is like anybody else, any other
profession in life. I call it the 90 percent rule. 90 percent of
the members of the media are hard working people trying to take
care of their families, trying to do a job. They have a boss to
answer to, and I understand that. I don't care if you're talking
about football coaches, if you're talking about businessmen, if
you're talking about the media. 90 percent of them are going to
do a great job.
There's 10 percent that are lazy sometimes or they take shortcuts,
but every profession sees that. The way we deal with the media,
and my thoughts are that the media is a general term. You're encompassing
a lot of people when you say "the media." I base my respect or like
or dislike on an individual basis with the members of the media
that cover us, whether it's nationally, regionally or locally. That's
how I do it. I judge everybody and they judge me, too. But it's
on my relationship with them.
That doesn't mean they have to write nice things about us all
the time. A lot of them don't. But I think they're doing an honest
job. They're doing it to the best of their ability, and they're
not trying to create news, they're covering what's taking place.
CHRIS ROSE: So now we've got 10 percent of the people
out there trying to figure out who's fitting in that group. Once
again, I'd like to hear from the two ADs, the two Kevins. You've
got a football coach that's interesting in front of a microphone,
he really is. Have you ever had to call him in or a different coach
to say, hey, listen, you're the face of our university?
KEVIN WHITE: I think most football coaches know in what
we used to call the 1A, I have not transitioned to the new codifications
at this point, but in 1A I think most football coaches know they
tend to be the face of an athletics program, if not an institution.
I think that comes with the territory.
As I listened to the conversation, I'd have to say that I don't
know if it's a matter of trust or not trusting the media. There's
key competition today. I don't think there's any question about
that. A lot of competing interests, I don't think anyone would disagree
with that. Immeasurable number of perspectives, I think that's where
the differences lie. I won't take you back through my lens thing
again, but I think it's the way you look at these things that really
kind of drives what you think about.
I think if you look at all the different perspectives, if you
sit in one of those head coaching football chairs or athletic director
chairs or president's chair or conference commissioner's chair,
if all those perspectives kind of have an impact on you, you're
going to find yourself in a state of paralysis. So it's a pretty
good idea, at least in my opinion, to kind of have I think Jim said
it best, to kind of have people keep an eye on the landscape, the
real trigger points, but basically you've got more information than
I know that sounds arrogant, but you've got to do what you think
is right at the end of the day because you're the person that's
going to be held accountable, whether you're the football coach,
the athletic director, whatever.
I'll give you just a quick anecdote. This isn't really the media,
however at times it does play out in our local media. Maybe it was
six months ago, I can't really recall, but I had two meetings back
to back on campus. In one meeting, I vividly remember that I got
chastised by an external group because we still had the calculus
requirement at Notre Dame. Of course the last time I checked I was
not the provost, but we still had the calculus requirement.
About 30 minutes later I found myself in front of another group,
a faculty center group, who were really kind of encouraging me,
if we could just elevate the academic performance up just a tad
bit and improve the performance of our student athletes. And at
that point, we were the clubhouse leader; we were number one in
the country in graduation rate; we had a very high APR.
So the two different perspectives, and at some point I think
you've got to kind of get to the place where you kind of think you're
doing what's right based on all the circumstances based on your
body of knowledge.
CHRIS ROSE: Kevin Anderson, is your job different because
you're at one of the military institutions?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, first of all, if you read the business
journals, there's a lack of productivity across the board. I can
tell you what most of these people are doing, they're either on
these blogs or (laughter). If you look at the activity, it's mostly
during 9:00 and 5:00, it's not coming at night.
No, it's no different. The thing that concerns me is when it
gets personal. You know, we're all in a business and we understand
that. But when it gets personal, particularly on these chat rooms,
and when the media makes it personal or the coach makes it personal,
that's when you draw the line. Coach Brock is the new head coach,
and he tells it like it is, and he's put himself in a couple positions
where in telling it like it is, he took the stance where I'm not
backing down. And I agreed with him in those instances, but you
have to know when to choose those situations and when you put yourself
in that situation.
But at the academy it's no different than anyplace else. Sports
and competing at this level is very important, and it doesn't change
in my estimation.
CHRIS ROSE: I'm curious what the coach's reaction was,
and I kind of openly joked about Coach Gundy's stance during the
season about, "I'm a man, I'm 40." Coach Tressel, tell me you saw
COACH TRESSEL: I missed that one.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Patterson can fill you in. You guys
saw it. I mean, what did you think? Were you hooting and hollering
because, hey, a coach stood up, in the middle of a press conference,
to a member of the media, where you're like, oh, boy, he's in trouble.
What do you think, Gary?
COACH PATTERSON: That person that watches the recruiting
boards let me know about it. I mean, I think there's pluses and
minuses. You feel like, again, maybe he fell under the category
of protecting his young men. Again, I think all of us, as Coach
Mangino said, we don't get any second chances. You don't get take
four after a ballgame.
A wise coach once told me that going into most interviews that
before a ballgame to tell to think what you would say before if
you won and what you think that you would say if you lose, and then
gather some of the other points after the game and then usually
you find something in between. I think only one time I really Wendell
and some of the people in here, I've had my one instance of doing
that myself where I told the team I was going to do something and
then wished that probably I wouldn't have done that, so I would
have to say that I probably couldn't have a comment on Coach Gundy
because I've been there before.
CHRIS ROSE: Dr. Wetherell, you have guided and stroked
the media like none other over the last 25, 30 years in Coach Bowden.
Everybody loves talking to him. He seems like your buddy, whether
he's your grandpa or your uncle or your older brother or whatever.
He's been the face of your university, right, for the last 30 years?
DR. WETHERELL: I think most presidents realize that if
you did a word search and looked for their names and then looked
for the coach's name, the coach's name is going to come up a lot
more than the president's name, and most of us like it that way.
In terms of Coach Bowden, I'm blessed to have him because he's
like everybody's grandfather and you can't get mad at him no matter
what Bobby says. Most of the time, and 99.9 percent of the time,
he's saying the right thing.
From my perspective, though, on the press, I'm kind of closer
to Coach Willingham than Coach Tressel on this one. The press has
changed so much, particularly with this technology stuff, and whether
we want to admit it or not, this blogging thing has really become
a big deal, even with the guys in the press. And most of these people
that are writing the papers are writing for blogs, whatever they
I'm kind of like Coach Tressel. I've never seen one, don't like
what they look like them, don't eat with them, certainly wouldn't
want to pray with them (laughter), but it's really become a whole
institution in its own right.
And while we may not deal with it directly, we have to deal with
it indirectly. And when it does get, I think Kevin or somebody said,
personal, and it has a tendency to get personal, these people have
no accountability. They can say anything they want, and unfortunately
the newspaper will print it. I understand there's some kind of problem
if they edit it and they get into liability and all that kind of
stuff, but it really the articles in the press aren't as bad as
what they spin off with these bloggers who have no accountability,
but since it shows up on the web page of the paper, everybody thinks,
well, that's what the paper said. I am real concerned about the
The other thing, I guess, that concerns me about the press, and
I've dealt with them in politics, I've dealt with them now as a
university president, in the five years I've been at Florida State,
I have never seen anyone in the press say, "Oops, I'm sorry, I missed
that one," or "I got it wrong." I have a list in my office of about
36 issues that have been written relative to Florida State University
that are factually incorrect. They have been printed, put on the
TV or in the newspaper, and I can show you from an impartial standpoint,
that is not a true statement that was made. I have taken that to
the given editor and shown it to him. Not one time has anybody stood
up and said, "You know, you're right."
The best you might get is over on the eighth page under the funny
column or in the obituaries, oops, there was a misprint. My problem
with the press isn't when they get it right, it's when they get
it wrong and won't admit it. They expect us, universities, athletics,
whatever, to be straight up, tell the truth, I called the wrong
play, I did whatever. But when it happens on the other side of the
ledger, you'll never see it admitted.
CHRIS ROSE: I think you're learning we're pretty thin
skinned. We like to throw stuff against the wall. Fox is as guilty
of it as anyone out there. We don't take criticism very well. We're
great at dishing it out, though.
DR. WETHERELL: That's true. The point is when you make
that mistake, you make it in front of 20 million people, and they
don't know that you screwed up. I know you did. Maybe that kid that
you take to task, who happens to be an football player, knows it.
His parents may know it. But y'all just move on to the next one.
And I think it's just unconscionable sometimes.
Some of the stuff I've seen written scares me. Hell, it's one
of the reasons I worried about coming here today (laughter). We've
got 500 athletes at Florida State, and most of them do a great job.
They go to school, they graduate, they do what they're supposed
to do. But every now and then one of them will do the same thing
that one of those 40,000 students do on campus every Friday night.
They may be down at Bullwinkle's and they probably ought not be
there, they're 20 years old. 56 kids get rung up for DUI, but boy,
if that happens to be No. 5 or No. 11 or whatever, it's on the front
page of the newspaper.
CHRIS ROSE: But you understand why that is, don't you?
Because most people aren't watching the kid play violin on Saturday.
They're just not. But we are watching your football team on Saturday.
So we do have you do understand the distinction. I agree with you,
college kids are college kids, whether you strap on a football helmet
or you're strictly going to biology class, but there is a difference,
I think, between the kids. Fair or unfair, there is just a difference.
DR. WETHERELL: Well, what it is, you're talking about
an 18 year old kid. You may influence his or her life for a long
time because they made the same mistake that their roommate made,
and the roommate is playing the violin or whatever. And it's just
it seems to me, the press ought to cut them some slack if they're
doing the same thing another college kid is doing.
That goes back to my problem. You tell me you treat my athletes
like students and make them abide by the same rules, et cetera.
They're held to a totally different standard. It's absolutely different
when you're an athlete, and probably if you're an athlete at any
one of these schools up here, you're probably held to a different
standard than you are at some other school, some other place.
It doesn't make it right. I know it's a fact, but I think the
press ought to think long and hard before they write some of those
stories. It's amazing to me that I see an athlete rung up for a
DUI when it's on the front page of the Tallahassee Democrat. Two
pages over, three people get murdered, and it doesn't really seem
to matter. There's something wrong. The press' morality, they need
to look internal to themselves, not what we say about them.
CHRIS ROSE: With that I definitely want to open the floor
because I think we've got a lot of questions here. Malcolm is going
to get us started.
Q. If I could follow up on the issue that you were just discussing,
it seems more and more in the last two to three years, one of the
problems in that area is that chat rooms, blogs, unofficial sites
are passing information about potential, unconfirmed legal problems
that athletes may face, when all the university has said is that
the athlete is ineligible because of a team violation, whatever
it may be. The university has not said anything else, law enforcement
has not said anything else, no charges have been filed. And yet
there's speculation ricocheting all over town about somebody being
in trouble and you've got honest reporters that are trying to catch
up to what is on line. Is there anything in place at your institution
that is a way to deal with that and to get out credible information?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, there are federal laws that prohibit
you from saying certain things. You might want to. As a matter of
fact, I know some people who have leaked certain information to
try and get it more credible. But we cannot it's frustrating. You
can't even give the parents who pay the ticket the kid's grades.
So we can't give it to you, as much as sometimes we would like to
give it to you.
We went through a situation in the Bowl game here a few months
ago where everybody is running around deciding who was eligible
and who wasn't based on certain information. Hell's bells, they
had it so screwed up, they couldn't even figure it out. They had
people ineligible that were walk ons that were graduating and just
didn't want to go, so they didn't go. They decided, well, they had
done something in some class. We couldn't say you're wrong, and
we sure as hell couldn't say you're right.
So the press' obsession with scooping one another to find out
the names, to me the press should have controlled themselves in
that case. They were the ones that were creating the feeding frenzy,
not the students, not the university.
Q. Dr. Wetherell, in your perfect world, how is the media
function serving the right of people who are buying tickets and
jerseys and consuming your sponsors' products, serving their right
to know, balanced against what ought to be the fair right of privacy
of your student athletes?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, I realize, first of all, I don't
live in a perfect world, don't misunderstand that, and I realize
Q. If you were in charge, how would it happen?
DR. WETHERELL: I think you'd treat the athlete just like
you would treat a music major or whatever. Why differentiate? Why
differentiate between them? The difference is, somebody mentioned
here, they're going to play in front of 20 million people in that
BCS game versus their family and two uncles and an aunt come in
and watch their recital. You don't really think there's much value
you, the press, doesn't think there's much value in talking about
what a great recital that person did. What they're more interested
in is how many yards they gained, how many passes they caught, because
more people are watching it.
Q. For the coaches, you guys probably have never seen YouTube
or Googled anything, but Chris mentioned the Mike Gundy situation,
his rant. That's not biodegradable. We're going to be seeing that
forever. You say something, if it's a quote or anything, if you
want to go check exactly what you said after that Texas game, it's
real easy to go find it on the internet. Has that changed how you
guys deal with the press, knowing now that it's not something that
somebody is going to forget in a couple days, that you are filmed
after a game being upset where you just kind of lose it that people
are going to see it forever? Does that put up a shield at all for
you guys to not maybe want to be yourselves?
COACH MANGINO: I think as coaches we make no bones about
we live in a soundbyte society, and I am careful what I say in press
conferences and after practices, meetings with the media. I'm not
trying to withhold anything, but I work under the premise, number
one, I don't criticize our players publicly. If I want their trust,
certainly I have to earn it.
But one thing, if you want to decay the relationship between
player and coaches, be critical of your players in a public forum.
And I don't do that. Put it this way: I coach them, and if they're
not performing well, the buck stops here; it's my responsibility.
But by the way, I have Googled people, but I'm not real computer
savvy. I just think that you have to be careful what you say because
with instant media, if you say something that's really stupid, and
I have done that on an occasion or two or three (laughter), you
know, my director of football operations is going to run down to
my office 20 minutes later and say somebody posted that you said
this, and you've insulted this person or you've hurt somebody's
feelings. So I want to be respectful of everybody.
But I understand that I can't go to no coach can go to press
conferences every day and just have the same information I try to
give them insight about our team and the game of football. I don't
discuss injuries. I think most well, some do, some don't. Why? Well,
the only people that need to know about injuries are gamblers and
the opponent. I don't see why they need to know.
When we have problems with players, if it's a serious matter,
I give the information that I think is appropriate to the media.
But I want to keep in mind that an 18 to 22 year old young man is
going to make some mistakes and have some indiscretions. They're
college kids. I don't want him to be Googled 20 years from now when
he's trying to get a job when really he's a great person, he's a
smart guy, he's qualified for this position. I don't want to ruin
his future, so I'm protective in that respect.
I just feel like there are let's put it this way: Everybody in
the room here, who wants to be accountable for everything they did
in college? Not very many people do, even if it's just one day I
didn't see any hands go up (laughter).
But that's my point in a fun way is they can have an indiscretion,
they can make a mistake. I don't want it to ruin their entire life.
If the guy is a repeated mistake maker, we try to help him, counsel
him, get him through it. And if you can't, then obviously he has
to move on.
But I just firmly believe that you folks have a job to do. We
try to give you all the technical and you know, schemes, opponents,
everything like that, but there are some things that I just don't
KEVIN ANDERSON: There is a national publication that I
notice at least once or twice a week, they dedicate maybe a half
a page or a quarter of a page to indiscretions of student athletes.
My question is what good does that do?
Q. What publication?
KEVIN ANDERSON: It's a national publication, and it's
one that covers sports a great deal, and every week I notice there's
at least a quarter to half a page dedicated to saying, Johnny J.
got arrested here or Susie got arrested here, and they're all student
athletes. It's dedicated to pointing out indiscretions. It's USA
Today. You read USA Today and you go through that and see those
and it's at least once a week.
Q. I can't answer that question, but I think what you're talking
about is just a section in the newspaper in which we run wire notes,
and I don't think it's a certain day. I think it's all lumped together
in one, and literally it's taken off the wire. If you look at how
the Associated Press wire runs, it lot of it goes back to the president's
comments earlier, sort of why is this news, and sort of the give
and take that took place. It's news because we're not covering,
as Chris said, violin players. I think it's not a concerted effort
of the newspaper to just devote a certain part of the newspaper
to that. It's just the daily give and take of what comes across
Q. I guess one thing that I in listening to everybody and
hearing people in our profession talk and with coaches that I deal
with in the Big 12 south teams is, you know, "the media," as a term,
is this all encompassing umbrella which covers everyone from the
New York Timeses of the world down to the guy who got crazykansasfan.com
up and running, and it also encompasses the radio talk show hosts
who never have stepped foot on your campus, much less shaken your
hands or anything like that you but sit on the radio from 3:00 to
5:00 and say Coach Tressel is an idiot.
COACH TRESSEL: But that same umbrella is when they say
football players. One guy fouls up and then it's all the football
players. So live with it, just like we have to.
Q. I guess my question is are we so far down the road of society
or the blogosphere or talk radio or newspapers or whatever, are
we so far gone that from now on it's just going to be "the media,"
versus, like Coach Mangino, you know that the Kansas City Star,
whoever covers the beat, is someone who's going to show up every
day, and you know this person and I can deal with this person if
there was something that wasn't fair or whatever, same thing with
the Dispatch, the Star Telegram and Seattle Post I would guess it
But none of y'all can take on the guy who starts firegarypatterson.com
hypothetically, but that person is still "the media."
DAN BEEBE: Maybe you guys need a licensing program for
Q. So do you think we're so far removed
COACH TRESSEL: You know, Joe Paterno brought up a good
thing I thought in our meeting yesterday when we were with the ADs,
assistant ADs, men's basketball, women's basketball, when we had
this discussion about the media and all that. He said, you know,
we were brought in as football coaches three days ago; one of the
things that the commissioner said to us in our little football coaches'
only meeting was we want to make sure we focus hard on sportsmanship,
do a good job making sure our teams are having the right behavior,
and we don't want to see personal fouls, we don't want to see excessive
celebration. We want to make sure we represent.
And what Coach Paterno said is who in your business calls you
in and admonishes you and says, hey, let's get the facts. Let's
not be the first guy out, first gal out with not the real story,
but you're going to be the first. I don't want to see this anymore.
And his point was, until you regulate yourselves, you know, we're
going to have a little bit harder time concerning ourselves with
Tim May is our beat writer. Tim May as far as I'm concerned can
come and sit in my staff meetings. Now, what would the rest of the
guys write about me? They already say, "Oh, you give Tim everything"
(laughter). But until you can regulate your own, I'm not going to
invite the blogger to lunch and sit in my meetings or have the time,
and that's real.
Q. And unfortunately none of you have the time to really weed
out, okay, this guy is respectable, this guy is an idiot, this guy
is okay on some days?
COACH TRESSEL: As soon as we weed them out, they're going
to do firejimtressel.com or whatever, as soon as you weed them out.
My dad gave me advice long before the bloggers. He was a coach,
and Mark was on my staff my first year as a head coach, and I tried
to follow this advice, he said, "You'll have 1,000 opportunities
in your life to keep your mouth shut; use every one of them" (laughter).
You know what? I've had a lot more than 1,000 opportunities. He
didn't know about all the bloggers that were going to come along.
As Mark said, we don't ever want to say something that would
hurt one of our kids and say, well, this was the reason we lost
the game, gosh, if he would have made that tackle or whatever. We're
not going to do that.
So sometimes we get looked upon as not wanting more access or
not telling more about what the story is. I think all of us enjoy
our time with the credible media and so forth, but we're never going
to do anything to hurt our kids. They're like our own children,
and we're not going to do anything to hurt our university and hurt
When you lump all of media as one thing and lump all of football
as another thing, and Grant, and Tyrone is our president of the
AFCA, football is more than just about the teams that go to the
BCS. Football is about how many teams do we have in college football,
Q. More than that, 700?
COACH TRESSEL: 700 college football teams. We don't lump
it all together. Granted, he said what about the sponsors and all
the money. We agree. We give them as much as we possibly can, but
we're never going to hurt our kids, and we're never going to break
federal laws. As Mr. President said, I'm not going to go out there
and say this happened on campus and I'm going to kick him off. You
guys are going to write that I'm a great disciplinarian. I'm not
going to do that.
COACH WILLINGHAM: My perspective is we're not too far
down the road, but the concern that I have is the speed, the speed
of information. When you put a story out there and you don't tell
the whole story, that individual that's in trouble, you know, you
may list something that's really not what's taking place, and you
have to be vague because you have to protect the athlete or the
individual. So that would be my concern.
But I think the key to all of this will be both sides' ability
to be honest and shoot straight with what's going on. You can be
open and meet with the media every day, but there are certain times
that you can tell them certain things based on the release of the
information, and you just can't give them any more at that time.
I don't think we're too far down the road, but I do think obviously
there needs to be some adjustment on both sides.
Q. I see it kind of occurring now, but I'd just be interested
from a coach's perspective, start with Coach Willingham, how concerned
are you with all this talk about mainstream media and new media,
that the new media seems to have more and more of an influence in
recruiting, where you have less contact now with the athletes than
you've ever had before and these non mainstream media now are influencing
recruiting, much like just to make a parallel, the AU coaches did
in basketball. How much of a concern is that for you guys?
COACH WILLINGHAM: Very concerning, because I've always
said I have to win two recruiting wars. One is the publicity war,
and one is the actual war in terms of getting the right kids. You
have to win both of those, because the day you don't, then you don't
build up the enthusiasm in the public about your program, so therefore
you don't get the energy, you don't get the funding, you don't get
the support. All those things seem to be minus. And if you don't
get the right players, you're certainly not going to win on the
I'm certainly concerned about being able to match up both of
those. But I do place a lot more value in our ability as coaches
to look at players and make the decision on who we think is right
based on the public opinion of who is right.
COACH TRESSEL: It is a real problem. We can call, what,
once in the month of May, Ohio State can call once, TCU can call
once, et cetera, yet the recruiting service can call the kids 400
We had an issue at our spring game. We had a bunch of guys that
were incoming '08 guys and a bunch of guys that were looking at
the '09 class, and they're at the game, and they have to get off
the sideline before the game starts and they have to go sit in the
seats and all that, and all that happens.
Well, right at the kickoff it started raining. We find out later
that one of the recruiting service guys, who happened to be at the
game, was sitting upstairs in one of the suites, texts one of the
kids, who he texts with constantly and we're not allowed to text
with, says, hey, it's raining, you guys look like you're getting
wet down there, why don't you come up into the suite. So what do
those kids know? We walked them to their seat, said, this is where
you're allowed to sit. Honestly, I didn't tell them, now look, if
it rains you can't go upstairs and get under cover. I didn't say
that. So a couple guys go up and wiggle their way up into a place
where it's dry. Fortunately they got scurried out of there, but
that's a violation. So we've got to go through all the gyrations
of all of this.
But they have a relationship with those kids that we don't even
have. So is it an issue? It's certainly an issue.
Q. Going back to the access issue, I don't think many of us
have a problem as far as access to head coaches, but one of the
problems we have is in many places you can't talk to assistant coaches
or coordinators, you can't talk to freshmen. You have very limited
time with players to talk with them, understanding there's schedule.
But what I hear from coaches is mostly, how come you guys don't
write more feature stories; how come it's always a news story or
maybe negative? And one of the reasons is when you write a feature
story you like to have as many voices from assistant coaches who
knows the kid that's a position coach or grab the kid more than
just coming off the practice field when he's tired and wants to
go eat. That's the access problems we have, and that's what we're
trying to bridge. How can y'all help us or we can come to a meeting
in the middle here on access? We don't have an access problem with
head coaches, but I know they want to limit information so you can't
talk to assistants, you can't talk to freshmen, more and more keep
you out of scrimmages. You can't talk to parents, and in some places
when you're trying to do a story on a kid, a good story that y'all
like to see but we can't do because we don't have access, so what
ends up happening is the editor says what do you have for tomorrow,
and you say, I was going to have a feature but I don't, so what
you've got is you take what ends up being a little part of your
notebook and you blow it into a news story that you know in your
heart that this is garbage, you shouldn't even write this but he
wants something. The coach might say, why is that even in the newspaper?
That's the process that happens with us. So we're trying to get
from y'all just a little access, not from y'all because y'all are
great. You have press conferences, we can catch you at certain times.
It's the people around you that we have trouble getting to. I just
wanted to know where y'all stand with that.
COACH PATTERSON: My issue with that is not having anything
to do with the feature story that you want to write. My problem
is that's what you tell me you want to write, and then I believe
it's my job as the head coach to be able to spell out the level
of where our football team is and where we're at. It's not my freshmen's
nor my seniors' job to do that. If you're writing a feature story,
I don't have a problem with talking to a coordinator or talking
to a freshman or talking to a senior.
The problem is that's five questions, and then the other one
is, well, how do you think we're playing on offense. Well, it's
not the freshman's job to have that opinion, because he's affecting
again, I go back to the two things I said earlier, he's affecting
this football team and somebody else.
And so as long as you're asking him about, okay, how's my life,
I grew up in a family that I had ten kids and I was the youngest
and I didn't have anything, I believe that we should give all the
access we possibly can to do any of those things. My stand, though,
is I'm going to protect my university and my team and my players,
and if it goes past where they start asking the question that about,
well, why are you not moving the ball on offense, I don't believe
it's the player's job to give that opinion, and I think that's the
head coach's job.
So as long as you're going to ask the questions about that feature
story, about how he grew up, how he matured, how he did things,
then I think he can say those kind of things.
My thing comes with trust. I think you give kids the opportunity
and writers an opportunity to write the stories, and if they write
a story, whether it's good or bad, as long as it's straight, then
I think you let them have another one. If you say to them, well,
here's what the story is and then you see another by line along
with it that has to do with why the offensive coordinator is not
calling a great 3rd down play; that's not his job. That's where
as coaches, I think, we've been burned a little bit by that. Again,
I go back to it's our job to help you do your job, and as long as
both of us are straight up and that's what you want, then I think
we should give it to you.
If you go outside those lines, when it comes to protecting the
university or the team, then I think it's the head coach's job to
talk about that. That's just my philosophy.
CHRIS ROSE: President, you get the last word of the session
DR. WETHERELL: Let me suggest two things the media could
do, and you could do these. You don't need the Federal Government
or the university to tell you, first of all, you're in the business
to report the news, not make the news. You're in the business to
report it fairly, particularly the print media. Most of you have
gone to an on line paper, and most of you print blogs in those papers.
Most of you know that those blogs are not totally accurate and generally
do not even reflect the comments of the article.
I think you ought to get out of the blog business in your newspaper,
because it's severely hampering your reputations, and it's become
a thing to do. If y'all want to set up a blog page over here, then
blog to your heart's content, but when you do it under the name
of the stpetetimes.com or whatever, people assume that you believe
that and that's part of your paper. And whether you like it or not,
that is you. You are accepting, I think, liability, quite frankly.
But that's another issue.
The second thing you need to do, to answer your question. You
call one of the coaches and you want to do a nice fluff piece on
a player, and you do your fluff piece on the player, and somewhere
in there the kid said, yeah, I did something wrong in my youth,
I drank a beer, I smoked dope, whatever. Well, you go write that.
Maybe just one sentence in there, but you turn that in to your editor,
and you know what, you don't write the headline, somebody else writes
the headline. "Reformed drug dealer making a name for himself at
Ohio State" is what the damn thing says. The article is really pretty
good, but the headline is a killer. I think the guy that writes
the article ought to have to write the headline and stand behind
it, but in 99 percent of the press, the headline writer and the
article writer aren't the same. And you call up to complain, and
they say, well, I don't do that, that's this department. That's
your problem internally.
You know, and I've had umpteen press people apologizing saying,
well, gee whiz, that's not what I meant, but that's not what comes
out 90 percent of the time.
Q. Do you think we like writing blogs? Most of the guys in
this room hate writing blogs.
DR. WETHERELL: Then don't do it.
Q. I'd like to point out your comments about what people say
in the blogs, and I'm not defending how we backed into this internet
business, because it has nothing to do with journalism, quite frankly.
But a lot of y'all are confusing what a blog is. We are being asked
to write stuff on line because we're trying to save a dying business;
whether that's good or bad, I don't know. But the fact is we have
to contribute stuff. When I write a blog or I make a blog item post,
that has my name on it. The only thing I have in this business is
my name. If somebody comments to a blog, it's other papers, they
don't even have to sign their name. They can say Seminole Fan No.
1, and they can say whatever they want to say, and that I'm not
saying I don't know if you saw the HBO thing recently about the
media and the debate was on there about blogs and how basically
we've gotten to where any kind of dialogue that we have involves
invective and involves attacking people, involves extreme lack of
courtesy. You know, I don't know what we can do to unring the bell,
but that's kind of the way it is right now, and low a lot of us
are against that. Coach Tressel, you said about controlling the
media; we have to control some of the media people that are doing
things out there. I can guarantee you there's some media people
on line and blogging that I would damn sure like to control, and
I wouldn't use the word control; it would involve a Louisville Slugger.
COACH TRESSEL: I did watch the HBO thing. I watched it
in my hotel room, and the language was unbelievable. It was unbelievable.
CHRIS ROSE: So I lied earlier. This is it, and then we've
got to take a break.
DAN BEEBE: I want to go on record that I did not raise
my hand about the initial question, but everybody in this room I
trust except one (laughter).
But I did make a slight comment about licensing. But I do think
that perhaps the media the true media, the journalists, can perhaps
help themselves. If it's a certification program or something elsewhere
you certify if it's through the Football Writers Association that
these folks are folks that we certify go by certain standards so
on this side of the table we know who those people are and we know
who we can report to if they're not going by certain standards.
All of us are frankly in the media business. You write something,
if we think it's incredible we're going to use our media to put
it out that it's incorrect. So we're all in the media business.
But who are the journalists out there, how do we know them and
how do we know whether to have lunch with them or not? I think if
you all took it upon yourselves to govern your own industry, perhaps
that could help us on this side to know who we're dealing with.
CHRIS ROSE: And because I want Coach Willingham to trust
COACH WILLINGHAM: You're working your way there (laughter).
I wanted to answer your question from my perspective. Obviously
almost every coach in the country will be different in how they
handle this, but I have never limited a player or assistant coach's
access to the media, nor for the most part have I ever limited mine,
even though I still respect what they do, but I have that distrust
of what they make mistakes on.
But I do limit practice. I limit practice for this reason. In
many cases, the error that is often reported by our reporters is
not an error by the individual that they reported on. Some days
my receivers drop a lot of passes, and yet it'll be written that
our quarterback had a terrible day, okay, didn't have completions,
didn't do this, and I'm the one that has to go back in there and
build my quarterback back up when he's had that public embarrassment
about what happened that day, and the accuracy of what is being
reported is a problem with me. So therefore I limit that aspect
of it, and then I can answer to what did or didn't happen at practice,
CHRIS ROSE: Guys, we appreciate the open dialogue so far.
We're going to take a quick break, which is hosted by the AT & T
Cotton Bowl, by the way.
(A short break was taken.)
CHRIS ROSE: We hope you enjoyed your break presented by
the AT & T Cotton Bowl. We're going to continue on talking about
player conduct, what's expected out of our young men Monday through
Friday and Sunday. We see what happens Saturday and Saturday night,
I guess, as well.
Coach Tressel, what do you tell your kids as incoming freshmen?
Let's remember, they're 18. I didn't get a speech when I went to
college about what was expected from me, other than from my dad.
COACH TRESSEL: I think all of us coaches do a lot of the
sermonizing and talking about how they're under the microscope and
all those kinds of things. What I have found most effective with
young kids is having the older kids talk to them. In fact, a number
of times within our first preseason that a kid is there we will
have a time period set aside where the coaches leave the room and
we have it kind of orchestrated as to the topics that the older
kids need to talk to them about in their own jargon, in their own
language, what to stay away from, who to stay away from, tell some
of the horror stories of things that have happened when our guys
have made mistakes. We've found that it's better coming from players
than it is from us coaches being up there lecturing because we do
it and we talk about it and the first thing they do is have a three
hour compliance meeting when they arrive and sign all these forms,
and it's like the worst day of the year. And then it goes to the
So we try to spread it out a little bit and really almost like
story telling, passing down the legend of if you don't act right,
here's what's going to happen. And you remember so and so when this
happened, and these kids are young. They don't remember Eddie George
is ancient history to the kids that we're recruiting. They were
seven years old or something. So we can't assume that they know
our wonderful things like Eddie or know some of the problems we've
gone through over the years. So we really have that responsibility
come from our older guys.
CHRIS ROSE: Is that the way the rest of the coaches do
it up here on the panel?
COACH MANGINO: I think Jim makes an important point. We
don't do it exactly like he does, but one of the things we started
about four years ago was a program that we call Character First.
I got together with the dean of students, who also has a degree
in psychology, and we put together a program to challenge our kids
the way they think and the way they make decisions. We do it in
the off season, and a lot of it is exercises where the kids have
to work out problems amongst themselves. We give them a scenario
or Dr. DeSalvo gives them a scenario, and then they have to work
amongst themselves how to solve it.
What you'll find out is who are good problem solvers, who are
the leaders that will take the reins and try to initiate solutions
to the problems, and you'll find out who doesn't care about it.
And the ones that don't care and we just observe as coaches. I don't
say a word. I sit in those meetings for an hour and I don't say
a word, and what comes of it is by observing you understand what
kids need help.
There's also mental brain teaser exercises that deal with solving
physical problems with we had how to balance hoops with another
hoop, how to we told the kids one day how to get from one side of
the indoor to the other, but their shoes, their feet could not touch
the turf. We didn't tell them how to do it. One guy who's a heck
of a leader on our team and a couple other guys, they took off their
shirt, put it down, stepped on the shirts. I mean, guys were standing
around trying to figure it out.
So what we're trying to do is trying to promote leadership and
try to make them make good decisions, be problem solvers, be critical
CHRIS ROSE: But uh oh, something happens. Like what happens
before, it probably happens every Saturday night on a campus, kid
gets in trouble, fight in a bar, where do we go from here? We don't
want to overreact, but Coach Willingham, something has got to be
done. What do we do?
COACH WILLINGHAM: We first, in my case, I think what I've
tried to do is make sure our young men understand that they're not
above the system, and I think that's important, and I think that's
a mindset that we try to create in the program, that there's no
one bigger than the team and there's no one bigger than our society,
so therefore you have to be responsible to all aspects of your life.
And when that moment happens, then you simply let the nature
of our laws run their course is what I do. There's no interceding
on my part based on the individual. What happens after that, okay,
is probably more in my control than at any other point.
CHRIS ROSE: And what does happen?
COACH WILLINGHAM: It depends what took place. If it's
a simple fight, then you probably have one reaction for it. If it's
something that's premedicated or something of that nature, you've
got another response, and you go on with the severity of the incident
and how you respond to it. But still, the laws that govern, the
municipality, university, oversee anything that I would do. I usually
wouldn't respond until after that with any kind of punishment or
anything from my standpoint.
COACH PATTERSON: Well, really, the other thing that we
have during two a days when everybody comes in is we have a policy
manual, and within the policy manual we have anywhere from the FBI
to campus life to the equipment man come in and talk about the rules,
how we're going to handle things, how we're going to do things.
It's got about 70 pages in it. After practice every day we do about
a 45 minute segment because I've found if you go any longer than
that, they quit listening.
In answer to Tyrone's, there are some parts in there exactly
how things are going to be handled. But that way when they get to
the end of it, we have them sign it and then I keep that piece of
paper, so I know all of us know that our kids have great parents,
none of them have any complaints. So if they ever say, "Well, my
son didn't hear that," well, on page 65 it says how we're going
to do that.
Under some of the disciplinary actions, they're also at head
CHRIS ROSE: That's a gray area.
COACH PATTERSON: Which I think in this day and age you
have to have at some points because every situation is different.
One of the things I found that I used to get upset at my kids because
we are held to a higher standard, but I've also found out that there
are people out there that want to take them down, and I think one
of the things I've had to do a better job of here in the last five
or six years is to listen to their side of the story and not make
them guilty before they've been proven to that standpoint because
I think one of the things that happens is, just like everybody else,
if you're not careful, you represent all of us and you get mad and
do it, and sometimes there are other situations and inputs that
actually cause it to be different.
CHRIS ROSE: You're the commissioner of an entire league
down there. How do you see player conduct?
DAN BEEBE: Well, it's a critical issue. We deal with it
mainly as it relates to the game conduct, and we have stringent
rules in our conference about how players have to conduct themselves
in the game. We expect officials to carry out the rules of the game,
and then if there are any other problems after that, we may have
to deal with it, whether it's by way of suspension, public reprimand
or some other aspect of it.
But I think all of us here, and I think these gentlemen are great
at this, are here in this business to teach youngsters a lot of
great lessons. I was a product of that. I came from a household
where I had an alcoholic father, not good guidance in the home.
Football as much as anything else in my life helped me through college
and other things, learn things, consequences for actions that I
had. I wouldn't want to be held to the same standards some of these
youngsters are for some of the things I did between 18 and 22.
But I think when there are mistakes made, the greatest opportunities
are there to teach proper conduct and things that can carry on with
that youngster for the rest of their lives. So the programs that
I've seen, and we try to encourage it in our conference, that have
the rules and the conferences clearly spelled out, are the ones
that are most successful. I think all young men need that to some
There are certain circumstances where you need to have some sort
of ability to treat them in a different manner, perhaps, but from
a conference perspective, we just try to encourage our institutions
to ensure that they have proper conduct, policies on their campus,
whether it's by sport or throughout the athletics department, and
it'll be interesting to hear from the two athletics directors which
way they do it, and then we obviously carry out conduct policies
that we have for the games themselves, and we also reach into the
We had an unfortunate incident at one of our games where the
officials had to vacate the whole student section. Stop the game,
vacate the section. It looked strange from that point on to have
that section empty, but we're going to take that course of action
if it's necessary to ensure proper conduct at our facilities.
CHRIS ROSE: Let's hear from the two Kevins on player conduct.
KEVIN ANDERSON: I believe that the athletic department
sets the tone, and it's not just the coaches, it's everybody who
works there with these young people, that they have to role model
certain behavior and they have to have expectations, and if they
see something that's not right, they need to address it, and if
they need to go and talk to the coach or whoever is overseeing that,
they need to have that conversation, as well.
In some cases I've worked in departments where people turn a
blind eye to activity, and the results were what they got, that
they had difficulty with the student athletes, and then I've worked
at departments where everybody did really have a passion for what
they're doing and they cared about the young people, and you would
see that they would start role modeling and taking on that behavior.
So I think as we've talked before, the expectations have to be
set high and then you have to hold people accountable to them, but
you have to have people who are committed to role modeling and dedicated
to these young people and say these are the expectations and this
is how we work and do things.
However, they are 18 to 22 year old people and they are going
to have some indiscretions and make some mistakes, and then we have
to work with them, particularly when they get in those difficulties,
that we set the standards and we help them better themselves through
I think that, you know, the worst thing that we can do is Tyrone
talked about it, you jump to conclusions, you don't get the entire
story, and then there's allegations that are made, and then that's
how things get on these blogs and websites, because we haven't done
our due diligence as well and gone through a process where we've
gotten all the information and sat down and came up with a reasonable
It's just like if we're talking about game day conduct and what
happens on the field. I think that if you look at these four gentlemen
now, you'll see their teams act a certain way and then there's other
teams that act another way. That's who sets the standard, and it's
either acceptable or it's not acceptable.
I think a great deal of the coaches do set the standards, but
it goes far beyond that, because they can't be around these young
people 24/7 and we can't have that kind of expectations. As Hillary
says, "It takes a village to raise" a family or children or whatever,
and I think that's what we need to do as far as athletics is concerned.
KEVIN WHITE: You just stole my Hillary quote. "It takes
a village to raise a child." I do believe that, though, to be honest
with you. It's a combination of our collective efforts. But I think
intercollegiate athletic programs, we all have like student athlete
orientation; every program, every team has an orientation; I think
a lot of us now have put in place leadership institutes for our
It's already been said, team leadership is pretty darned important
in terms of setting the tone player, upper classman leadership is
really important. But the expectations are brutally high. They're
really high. They're high academically, athletically. They're high
with regard to service. A lot of our kids are busy with so many
things out in the broader community. They're held to the standard
of doing the right thing when nobody is watching.
I'll go back to what T.K. said in the last session or kind of
alluded to. I think it's true; I mean, I don't know that there's
any empirical data to suggest that student athletes, or football
players for the sake of this conversation, misbehave any more than
the general population, that the 105 kids misbehave more than the
I can actually say this; at my institution, we actually collect
that data and we take a good hard look at it. It's pretty consistent.
Our student athletes, they find their way out of the fairway about
to the same percentage or the same degree as the general population.
It's pretty consistent, but boy, it surely gets highly publicized,
and for all the reasons in the last session, whether that's right
or whether that's wrong, it kind of takes on a life of its own.
But the kids live under a microscope. I think we all work really
hard to let them know that's the environment that they're kind of
Our basketball coach at Notre Dame, Mike Brey, uses an expression
that I love, "This is what we signed up for," and I think we've
got to reinforce the fact this is what they signed up for. This
comes with it.
COACH TRESSEL: Chris, you said, "Then something happens."
We talked about how we're going to go through the training and whatnot.
One thing we've found has been helpful is after the unfortunate
happens, and we get through the legal prospect, because ours is
the same thing, we're not above what the legal process will be,
then when it comes down to, okay, we know what the score is legally,
we know what the score is institutionally, now what are we going
to do as our group, we've had a lot of good fortune to have a group
of players called an honor committee that makes a lot of decisions
because really they know more than we do about what really went
on that night, or maybe even more truth than is out there than we
could gather, and they're usually a little tougher than we might
be as coaches because they were the same older guys that talked
to them in preseason; we told you not to be at those places, we
told you this was the problem. And now they've got to go face that
body again. We've had pretty good luck with them doling out the
punishment, if you will.
CHRIS ROSE: Gary, let's just say I'm one of your players,
a freshman, something happens. You know what, kid down the hall
was doing it, too. Nobody is getting in his face. What's the big
deal, I'm a freshman, I made a mistake?
COACH PATTERSON: Well, in my answer earlier, anything
that had to do with the policy manual, that had to do with team
rules, that didn't have anything to do with legal ramifications
or anything else. I would say one of the things that I do believe
and that one of the Kevins said about a village, I take the village
a little bit further. I think the village is not just the athletics
department's job, it's the university's job to be able to do that.
One of the groups we have a great relationship with is our Campus
Life Group, and when a kid gets in trouble, how are we going to
grow this kid up. Whether it's about education or maturing them
as a person, they're going to pay in the papers just like we do
as a university, and one of the things we try to do is try to take
it a step further where I mean, they work with a lot of different
types of kids. What we try to do is get in front of them, here's
how things are, because we're in the same boat as Jim is.
I have a leadership council that actually delegates a little
bit of authority. Sometimes you have to rein them back in a little
bit, but I tell them it's about chips. There's kids that put chips
in the game, they do the right thing, they're the one cleaning up
the room, they're the ones that act as a team, they're the ones
doing all the things. When you have more chips than somebody else
does because you've always done the right things, you're given a
little bit more leeway when something does go wrong than somebody
that every time you turn around it's the same way in your own household
with your own kids.
I think all of us could sit here, and I think most of the coaches
are, we're people persons. You get along with people, and I think
we understand what's good and what's bad. And I think when you're
dealing with people, we all want to deal with the perfect child.
He's a great player, he's a great student, he acts right. He has
one girlfriend. Nobody has a girlfriend anymore, one girlfriend,
goes to church, quiet kid, but on the field he rips your head off.
That's what you're looking for.
That doesn't happen. But we've tried to take it to another level.
We've tried to talk as a university, not just as a football program,
about problems that may have to do with outside of football and
how we're going to handle that and what the discipline is going
to be and how we're going to try to grow this young man up as far
as community hours or what we can do so he can understand the difference
between right and wrong.
CHRIS ROSE: The NFL comes sniffing around your programs,
I imagine. I'm not really privy to this side of things, but Coach
Mangino, how do you handle that? You've got kids that are juniors
that might become eligible for the draft, you've got kids that are
seniors and they start daydreaming about the next level and things
like that. What do you tell your older kids about staying focused
and making sure they're doing the right things, whether it's agents
that might be trying to reach out or anything that happens at that
COACH MANGINO: Well, certainly we haven't had that problem
until recently (laughter). We didn't have a whole lot of agents
or NFL people coming around. They're starting to now (laughter).
I think, number one, you kind of have an idea of who the kids
are that are going to get the attention of the NFL and rogue agents
because agents that have a great reputation and do things right
are not bothering these kids. But the first thing you do is you
talk to them and you have a practical conversation about all the
things that can go wrong if you don't handle yourself properly.
And the only way you can enhance your ability to be drafted or
drafted high is based on your performance in our program. Some kids
don't understand that because they have kids that maybe played before
and tried to play in the NFL and were in our program and tell them,
don't get hurt now. And that's not true; you just do the things
that you've been doing to get that kind of attention.
We do put some precautions into place. We have our compliance
staff meet with those kids as a group and one on one and go over
all the rules pertaining to the NCAA, agents and the dos and don'ts.
Then in training camp, that one meeting that the coaches were
talking about that is three hours long about compliance, they go
over that again and spend at least a half hour talking about agents
and how things work and what can hurt your eligibility, what the
consequences are for doing something that's not appropriate.
So it's better to be proactive on it. But if we see anybody that
looks like a runner or an agent around the place, we call security
and throw them out. I mean, we just don't fool around.
They want to come to pro day and things like that. A couple of
them who are KU grads said, "Well, as an alumnus I have a right
to watch pro day in your indoor," and I said, "Not as long as I'm
the coach you don't." Now, the alumni center is up on the hill,
and you can walk up there any time (laughter).
CHRIS ROSE: Dr. Wetherell, from a presidency standpoint,
where do you sit on player conduct? Do you ever get involved?
DR. WETHERELL: More than I want to (laughter). More than
the coach wants us to, too (laughter).
The thing that's amazing to me, when I showed up at Florida State
in 1962 as a freshman football player, my mom and dad drove me up
there in a 1957 Ford. I had a Samsonite suitcase, a Royal manual
typewriter, a ream of erasable bond paper, a handful of Bic pens,
and I moved into Smith Hall, the athletic dorm at the time. You
look at a kid coming in today man, there was a pay phone down there
that we all tried to get to and put quarters into to call home to
our girlfriend who was patiently waiting at 7:05 when you were going
Today they show up with iPods and the kids are so much different,
and the coaches have to deal with kids so much differently than
four or five years ago.
What we've done at Florida State, and just in the last year or
so, we've made some rather significant changes, or the coaches have,
not necessarily me. From a player's perspective we do all the things
that you heard. But I really believe, particularly in football and
basketball and we deal with women's sports different than we deal
with men's sports, and if that's politically incorrect let me make
my apologies and please don't quote me. But the fact of the matter
is they're different, how you want to deal with them.
With football in particular, we found that you do all the stuff,
don't do this, don't do that, blah, blah, blah. Bringing in NFL
players, active NFL players, Derrick Brooks, more is done in our
case and I'm sure in other people's, and getting the coaches out
of the room and letting them sit down and talk to them about the
ramifications of you doing something wrong for you getting to that
level, how much money that's going to cost you, those things that
we can't say, seem to work better than anything.
The other thing when I was that kid going to Florida State in
'62, the worst thing you could do to me back then was get me up
at 5:00 o'clock in the morning, have Bobby Bowden standing on the
50 yard line and you go up 76 flights of stairs, down those flights,
up 83 on the other side, and you run stadium steps for screwing
up or whatever. That was terrible. We didn't want to do that.
Today these kids can run all day long. They can run longer than
you can stand there and they don't miss a leap. What they respect
is playing time. And when you start taking away playing time, you
get their attention pretty dadgum quick.
So we've gone to a process of trying to treat those athletes
like anyone else. First thing you start dealing with is the code
of conduct that the university has. But then there are other issues,
whether they be felonies or misdemeanors. And ultimately, the penalty,
more than running, more than study hall, more than moving into the
dorm, you're going to miss some playing time. And when you miss
playing time, you don't get on the field. You may practice, but
you don't get on the plane, you don't go to the game. If it's a
home game, you buy a ticket and you go sit in the stands and you
have to explain to your teammates and to everybody else why you're
Now, the other part, though, that somebody mentioned on the student
body, from a president's perspective, I can tell you, I look at
a ballgame a lot different than I used to. I look at the crowd,
how many do I have, what's my ticket sales, where's my concessions,
how many cops do I have, where is everybody sitting, is everything
going cool. Oh, and by the way, what the heck is the score.
But from a student standpoint, I've had an opportunity to be
on a lot of college campuses and people do great jobs. But I'm going
to tell you, Notre Dame does about as good a job of anybody I've
ever seen welcoming people, students, faculty, boosters to a campus.
We went up there and played those guys a few years ago and beat
them pretty bad, and I thought, man, we're going to have to fight
our way out of this place because we kind of scored some late that
Bobby was even ashamed of. Those people shake your hand, good luck,
have a great year, see you next year, rah, rah, rah.
Our kids have started doing some little spirit thing, selling
tee shirts, getting everybody to wear their tee shirt, where it's
not just the spirit but it's an idea of sportsmanship, that kind
of thing. Students can sell other students quicker than we can,
lecture them at a pep rally or anything like that.
So from a player's perspective, game time, playing time seems
to work. From a student standpoint, let them sell each other. They'll
come report somebody doing something in the stands a lot quicker
than we'll find it frankly. So that's what we do.
CHRIS ROSE: We're going to take a few questions on this
Q. Jim, you were confronted with a situation several years
ago that really doesn't come with an instruction manual. Your team
was getting ready to play Miami for a National Championship, your
tailback had something to say, now all of a sudden that becomes
a topic of conversation that dominates the National Championship
game. When you reflect back on that experience, how did we perform?
How do you think you handled it? Is there anything that we can all
take away from that experience now several years later and learn
from it if something like that happens somewhere else down the road?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, I think because it was one of those
mass media type setups that the media handled it fine, I thought.
I didn't really read all of what they wrote later about it, but
I didn't see anything occur when they were asking their questions.
As far as how did we handle it, I thought we handled it properly.
A lot of times your instincts are, well, we want everyone to
know really what's going on, but then the other side of you says,
well, you're still, regardless of if a youngster is having some
problems, you just want to protect him, and you don't want to throw
him out under the bus.
So I thought our people handled it pretty well. I didn't feel
as if anyone wrote anything unfair or talked about it unfairly.
But again, I didn't read the stuff, so I didn't sense any of our
team or anything struggling with any allegations or anything about
any indictments of our group.
Q. Anything to be learned from the experience?
COACH TRESSEL: Anything to be learned?
Q. In terms of what could happen at a future high profile
event if an athlete somewhere is in that kind of situation, how
it could be handled by everyone.
COACH TRESSEL: Again, I can't speak for how the media
should have handled it. The youngster could have handled it a little
bit differently from the standpoint of being able to do what he
wanted to do. But it just didn't have the T's crossed and the I's
dotted and so forth. I thought our administration handled it well,
because again, they could have gone off talking about this and this
and this, and they just kind of took it, which is sometimes again,
because the kids are what's important, sometimes you just have to
It goes all the way to you still have to live with yourself as
to are you doing what's right, and in your world, not was I the
first one that popped it, but in our world were we first place,
but are we doing it right.
So I think sometimes you just have to accept criticism, but maybe
all the facts aren't on the table. But as long as you feel good
about what you did and the decisions you made, again, that's ultimately
Q. With all due respect to the football coaches that are here,
given the nature of discipline, the high profile nature of the business
that you're in, what is at stake for them? Is it not better that
you as the athletic director in charge of not only the football
program but of the entire department be the one that ultimately
is responsible for determining the punishment as opposed to the
coach who might have a vested interest in the outcome?
KEVIN WHITE: If I may, I've kind of digressed in this
direction a couple times already, I apologize, but we're a little
bit different at our particular institution. Unlike the other places
I've served, if it's a behavioral issue and not a team rule issue,
it'll be the sanction will come from the university, not the athletic
department and not the coach at our institution. So we handle discipline
business a little bit differently than say my time at Arizona State
or Tulane or other places.
But at the end of the day I think we need to be really involved,
to get to the heart of the question. We should be held accountable,
and I think we are. I think everybody in the athletic department
is held accountable, and the athletics director and the head football
coach are actually held accountable for the behavior of the young
people that are in our football program, no question about that.
But at our place, again, it plays out a little differently.
Q. But in general should the issue of ultimate discipline
if there is a transgression or if you break the law as opposed to
even breaking a team rule, if we're going above that and it's in
the general realm, should that be taken out of the hands of the
football coach and into the hands of the ultimate
KEVIN WHITE: At our institution it is taken out of both
of our hands, as I said, and it goes to student affairs, and that's
where it gets adjudicated, and we have very little involvement.
At our particular institution we have a long history of doing it
just that way.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Our place is different, too. However,
if you hire the right coach, then it's not going to be elevated
to your level because they'll do the right thing, and whatever needs
to happen, happens. If it does get to your level in some of these
cases, then you have to question who's working with you and for
you because it shouldn't get to that level.
I could just talk about our recent coach. There were some issues
that happened, and I knew about them. He called me and told me this
is what we're going to do, and I thought he was probably being harsher
than he needed to. Those are the kind of people you want to have
work for you because then you don't have to deal with it. If you
do have to take it into your own hands, then I think you're going
to have trouble at the coaching level and the program is probably
going to be in some kind of fluctuation.
COACH TRESSEL: There's always interaction, though, between
the athletic directors and the coaches. If a kid misses class they'll
let us take care of that, but if there's an issue a little bit larger
than that, I don't think I've ever had a time where we didn't visit
with the athletic director and get his counsel and say what do you
Q. For the coaches, obviously you can't be responsible for
what goes on with your players 24 hours a day, but you're held responsible.
So I was wondering, how do you monitor the guys around your guys?
Coach Mangino mentioned if it's a rogue agent or a runner you can
throw him out of pro day, but how do you monitor a situation if
that activity occurs outside when they're around you?
COACH MANGINO: You can't. You can't be with these kids
24 hours a day. You hope that the values that their families taught
them and that we've helped them with and taught them, that they'll
make good decisions and that they understand right from wrong.
I mentioned earlier this afternoon about it was said to me about
the media, what do you think about the media. I said, well, there's
a 90 percent rule and a 10 percent rule. We joke about that with
our players. We've got the 10 percenters, and they're the guys that
you've got to remind them all the time. You have to get after them
But we've been very fortunate because it goes back to recruiting.
When I first arrived at Kansas, we had a low level of talent. That's
the politically correct way to say it. Others in here have said
we stunk. So we made a decision we were going to get some really
talented players, some good junior college guys, and we really did
a lousy job of checking their character and their background, and
we found out it wasn't really much fun being around those guys.
We made a conscious decision in the winter of 2004 that we were
going to do extensive background checks, even if we had to hire
an outside firm, which we do sometimes. We felt, number one, you're
better off being around kids of character. Sometimes they won't
be the most talented but they'll do the right things, you can count
on them when things are tough in a game, and also, which I think
is key, I spend more time around our players than I ever have around
My wife and I, we've worked hard to try to raise our kids with
good values and try to do the right things. I don't want to go to
work every day with 105 knuckleheads running around and you're like
a warden rather than a football coach. So I had some assistant coaches
on my staff who thought that was a terrible idea, that you have
to that old saying, you need a couple of thugs or criminals. I don't
buy that. We may recruit some kids that had some problems in the
past, but we've checked them out and they've made a mistake.
I think it goes all the way back to recruiting, and I know all
the coaches sitting on the panel here, they have a reputation for
recruiting kids with character. It's made a world of difference
in our program. It's made it much more fun to go to work, it's much
more fun to be around the players. And when we were in tough games,
those kids everybody said were a step slow or too short but they
were good kids, they helped us win a lot of games.
COACH WILLINGHAM: On the issue that we're speaking of,
discipline and probably player conduct, I think what you're hearing,
I believe, at least what I'm hearing, is that there's a concerted
effort on our part as coaches to create an environment that's a
positive environment that allows the individual to make the right
It would be no different than for any of our kids to sit in this
room. It's impossible to monitor your son or daughter for 24 hours.
But if you've created the right environment, they're going to maybe
stray, but they will pause at some point and consider the right
thing, and in 90 percent of those cases, as Mark said, they're going
to make the right decision.
What we try to do, and I think what all of our coaches try to
do, I try to sit down with every department that has any interaction
with our football program, and I tell them the story about pouring
water on a table, and if you notice anything about water on a table,
it goes to the lowest point. We want to eliminate the lowest points
in our program. We want everybody to share the same values, to have
the same beliefs for our program. Therefore you're creating an environment
that the kids see. They can't turn to a low point and expect a different
level of behavior or acceptance of behavior at any point in our
program. So therefore you're creating a culture that believes in
doing the right things, and you win more with kids doing the right
things than with kids doing the wrong things.
COACH TRESSEL: It is one of our toughest things, though,
the people that try to get around our kids. We're in a pretty good
sized city, 15th largest city in the country, and we've had some
good fortune to have some good, talented kids, and it's one of our
biggest issues is everyone wants to be their friend, everyone wants
to get around them. It's probably why we've closed things a little
more, which bothers the media at times, because we want it to be
a little closed. We don't like the runners or those kind of folks
around. We don't like the bloggers who I'm going to have lunch with
(laughter) around at practice writing that we ran two reverses or
whatever. So we've kind of tightened things down.
Even the eBay people, we put a gate around our player locker
parking lot because the eBay people would be sitting out there with
their footballs for them to sign.
But it's one of our biggest issues is who are you around. So
we ask our guys for the answer to that problem. Amazingly, even
though they moan and groan every time we ask them to do something
extra, because we ask them to do a lot just in football and study
hall and all that business, but they really think we should have
more situations where we bring in a speaker to talk about things
and do agent education and have a team bowling night and do more
things where it's just us to insulate ourselves away from some of
those negative outside influences. So they tell us that's what they
want to do.
Then we schedule them, then they moan the day that we're going
to do them, and then when they get there they love them. Tonight
we have a guest night at our facility where a guy can bring his
buddy. Maybe he doesn't live with a football player, and this place
is like Fort Knox and you can't get in, but bring a buddy and shoot
a game of pool or play some basketball or racquetball or softball
or whatever they're going to do out there tonight.
But they have asked us to create more things for them to, I guess,
keep themselves together and have less idle time, then maybe someone
can get around them. But it's hard, the hardest thing we have.
CHRIS ROSE: Unfortunately we do have to move on.
COACH PATTERSON: It's like the old phrase the cat's in
the cradle. If you don't pay any attention, they grow up like you
do. I think one of the biggest problems we have is we've gotten
like CEOs. We've become like a parent that works all the time. If
you don't go back and be the football coach and ask them about their
girlfriend, ask them about their kids, ask them about what's going
on with their life, then that's a mistake. If you ask all those
questions and they lie to you or they don't tell you and there's
somebody bad, then there's a mistake. But if you never ask the question
about who's in their life, then it's our fault.
But I think most everybody sitting at this table, and I think
most coaches do, I think that's my hardest problem is trying to
be a CEO and do all the things we want to do, and then also be the
dad to 105 kids, because to be honest with you, because at least
on my team it's happening, there's a lot more one parent or no parent
student athletes, so they need that kind of attention. If you don't
give it to them they're going to look for it somewhere else if they're
not getting the attention.
For us I think the hardest part I have is trying to look back
and give them the attention and being able to give that to them
so they know they can come to me if they have a problem because
if they don't they're going to go to somebody else, and if it's
a bad person that's going to be the person they listen to.
CHRIS ROSE: As far as recruiting goes, Coach Tressel,
let's start with you, since one of your incoming recruits either
made a statement or had a press conference at a later date he was
going to announce where he was going to school, and we're talking
about Terrelle Pryor here. Here's a guy who had a major announcement
and now the whole world has seen his high school tape and everything
else, and if he's not the best quarterback since Jim Karsatos at
Ohio State, then he's a failure. I mean, in the last ten years they
now have specialty shows on ESPN and ESPN U and there's websites
out there strictly dedicated to this stuff. We're almost setting
the kid up to fail, aren't we?
COACH TRESSEL: It's hard. I know we had two quarterbacks
come in six years ago. One was supposed to take over the world,
and the other came in as a, quote, athlete, and I told him he needed
to play defense or something for a year before someone else graduated
and then he could have a shot at quarterback. He ends up winning
the Heisman Trophy, and the other guy is not playing.
We do put pressure on the kids. And again, it's that desire that
everyone wants to know what's going on and hype up this and write
about that, and it's real. It's what happens. Terrelle is a guy
that is going to have high expectations. All of those lectures that
all these coaches just talked about that you need to give to kids,
you need to give to him. Try to stay away from the wrong people,
try to keep focused on the right things, and try not to allow those
expectations to overwhelm them. But it's tough.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, what's the biggest difference
in recruiting today as opposed to 15 years ago? What's the biggest
challenge for you?
COACH WILLINGHAM: I would say it's obviously the exposure
that the kids get today. But I'd also say it's the way that the
young man has developed. I think most of the young people that we
recruit nowadays are all superstars, and I think that changed. I
think there was some time ago that some of us went off to college
knowing that we were a role player and maybe we got to be a superstar
with a lot of work and development. But I think because of the nature
of the kid today, that he is a superstar, the exposure and the coverage,
you get a parent that invested a great deal in that young man's
development, from camp here, camp there, and now you have a whole
environment that's looking for a return on investment with product,
and that develops a totally different mindset than you've ever had,
I think, to deal with before in coaching.
COACH TRESSEL: Personal trainers and all this stuff.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Mangino?
COACH MANGINO: Well, I think that the exposure that these
kids have before they're actually recruited and then when they're
in the recruiting process is a problem. They have a lot of people
writing about them, they're on the internet. It has an effect on
I think some of the internet sites that cover recruiting and
what I mean by that is we have run into it, and I know all the other
coaches here have run into it from time to time, is that a young
guy will commit to a school in March or April, and then he realizes
about June or July that he committed so nobody is calling him, no
more internet services calling him, because he's committed. They're
not writing any features about him, but the guy across town at a
school that hasn't committed to anybody yet is getting all this
publicity and all the companies and websites are calling him every
night and writing about him every night, and they feel like they're
not getting attention. So what do they do, they open up their recruiting
again and start over so all the recruiting services will call him
every night and they can get on the websites and read their name
and their quotes and coach's quotes and things like that.
There is an impact that the media has that really concerns me,
if you can call it media totally, are the recruiting websites. I
think kids say the darndest things on there, they tell stories,
they lie, they a kid accused me of having lunch with him. His father
said I had lunch with him. Yeah, I did; it was a junior day, and
in the Nesmith Room at Allen Fieldhouse we got 20 tables with 20
families and I went to all 20 tables to talk to everybody, and they
paid for their lunch.
But my point is there's disinformation, there's misinformation,
because the kids even play games with these guys now and stroke
them about they're going to take a visit here when the school is
not recruiting them, and saying that they're considering Kansas
and we talked to the guy the night before and we can't get to first
base with him.
That's one area, that I think kids get too much exposure in this
recruiting process, and it's brought out all the little league dads,
and it makes it a little bit more complicated, I think, for coaches.
CHRIS ROSE: Gary, how much pressure does it put on you
guys? National letter of intent day, personally I don't give a damn
about because I don't know what an 18 year old is going to look
like when he's 21, whether he'll be a contributor on the field.
Okay, so TCU has a top ten recruiting class. Boy, if Gary Patterson
doesn't get it done now, look out.
COACH PATTERSON: Here's why we've never gotten more than
a C, to be honest with you. I always call them paper tigers, and
I your question was what has changed. I think the early commitment
thing is a problem.
One of the people I worry about with it is the high school coach.
We have another sport which I think that recruiting and character
and everything has gotten out of hand, and I don't think the high
school coach has much to say about it anymore. It's gone the AAU
level and all this and all these other things. If I had one thing
to protect in college football it would be that the high school
coach still has a little say because I think they help mature kids.
The early commitment thing I have a problem with even though
you have to do it a little because you don't know what sometimes
if you don't do your background check, again, like Mark talked about,
you don't get good character.
For me, if we have to work a lot harder starting in January for
the next season and take away from some other things, again, from
your own team a little bit, development and doing some things so
that we can work on doing character checks on kids for the next
following recruiting class so that you don't make any mistakes,
we've had to push everything in the process up so that you don't
get in a situation where you took well, this kid is supposed to
be the best quarterback, but he's not a good person. Not a good
person, not being that he's made a mistake, but he's just not a
If you're not careful you get caught up in making a mistake where
you a bad person in our system at a small, private university is
going to have a problem because every little thing is going to stick
out. So you've got to be very careful. Having been there now going
on 11 years, you kind of learn what the pluses and minuses of those
things are and work around them. It's better to have them there
sometimes than not to have them at all.
CHRIS ROSE: What about the administrators on the early
signs? Do you guys want to see them get rid of that, modify it?
KEVIN WHITE: Be more specific because I want to make sure
I'm on the same page as you.
CHRIS ROSE: Just as far as Gary was saying, it's shuffled
his scheduling around and getting the right kind of kids into the
school and things of that nature. It sounds like things are sliding.
KEVIN WHITE: Well, the commitment, period, by way of football
and basketball and other sports frankly is much earlier than it's
ever been, the verbal commitments. We've read here in the last week
or two, eighth graders and ninth graders, it's incredible. This
thing has become a very early on activity in high school. We have
no idea whether these kids are going to be able to do the work academically
and what they're going to look like physically and the rest of it.
With that said, I guess, and I don't know if the coaches would
agree with this I'd love to hear some retort to this I would be
in favor of an early signing period in December, mid December.
I just asked Bill Lewis who's on our staff, and people may know
Bill Lewis, head coach at Georgia Tech and East Carolina, Wyoming
at one point, and he's on our administrative team at this point.
And I asked him to get me some data for this conversation today,
and he got it yesterday, which suggested that in mid December, on
average, in 1A, institutions have more than 13 commitments, 13.2
commitments per school.
It would be really good in my view to get those kids signed,
done, delivered, and then move on to the rest of the recruiting
class and let those kids go back to being high school students and
take some pressure off the whole scene. It just seems to me to make
some sense. I don't know how the coaches would respond to that.
COACH TRESSEL: Well, you have some numbers that the whole
1A Association came up with in terms of interest in it.
GRANT TAFT: We have, for several years, looked into an early
signing day for many reasons, and we have for years been about 50/50,
so we've never felt like we could take action.
Two years ago we asked the assistant coaches, and that's where
the information that you got came from, they did a survey so we
would know exactly how many youngsters are committed at what time
of the year, and it's staggering now how that's changed in the last
five or six years, the early commitments.
What happened is that our system coaches a year ago did a poll
through their system coaches that came up through the head coaches,
and it was about 65 to 68 percent for an early signing day, somewhere
in that neighborhood. We did a new poll this last couple of months
from our head coaches in Bowls subdivision, and it was around the
70, 72 percentile.
I was just sitting here thinking as you were talking about it,
we have four coaches there. If the statistics were true nationwide,
three of the four were probably for an early signing day. The big
question was when do you have an early signing day.
I think with that 50/50 that we've had for several years, one
of the reasons was we didn't have a defined concept of where an
early day would be. One of the things we did with the assistant
coaches is to figure out where the best signing day would be, and
that was the December 15th or the mid December that you talked about.
So we have our head coaches, we have the assistant coaches.
Now, there are stakeholders in this game that we respect and
trust and feel very strongly about. Not only do we have them in
our association, but they are an integral part of the total process
of college football, and that's our high school coaches.
So we have meticulously in the last two months set up a system
where we are polling every high school coaches association in the
50 states to get their leadership to fill out a survey so we know
what the high school coaches feel. We've made a concerted effort
to make sure that the high school coaches know that we are not going
to do anything that is going to in any way damage or hurt their
The numbers are coming in now. They are rather heavily in favor
of a signing day, the high school coaches are. Where they would
like to have it, we're still doing a study on that.
But there are two other factors that have to go into making a
change. The conference commissioners are the ones that really control
the national letter of intent. They would have to agree with us
to make the time to change. If it were in December, we would probably
not have to have NCAA legislation. If it were earlier you'd have
to have NCAA legislation to have a dead period around that time.
So that's where we are now with regard to the early signing day.
I suspect that we're moving rather rapidly in that direction.
COACH PATTERSON: One of the things I'd say, because we've
had a lot of discussion, and my biggest thing is the parameters
of the signing day. Can I go out and sign 25 and don't care if they're
going to be qualifiers or not, so once you sign them, then they
don't make it, then by the middle of January you find out that they're
not, then you go back and start recruiting the next group? There
has to be some parameters.
I think it would be 100 percent if everybody understood exactly
what the early signing date meant and what we were going to and
the kind of kid that you could go ahead and sign early. Does he
look like you could be somebody you could actually look at and say,
yeah, he's going to be a qualifier, or are you signing a whole bunch
of kids that aren't going to qualify and now they can't go anywhere
else and then you're going to go out and get another 15.
I think those are some of the arguments or discussions that go
on as far as that's concerned, especially from, quote, maybe a not
automatic bid school where maybe you have that problem where a team
would come back down, come back out, then try and come back a sign
a kid, one that's already committed to you, that might not necessarily
fall into that category.
Q. I guess this falls under recruiting. USC is being criticized
by a lot of people nationwide for having two agent issues right
now. I'd like to ask the coaches and Dr. Wetherell, as well, how
responsible are you as coaches and as presidents for knowing the
whereabouts of your star players? We're talking about star players,
Reggie Bush and the like, what they're driving, who they're seeing,
who they're going around with, because that seems to be the issue
with USC right now, not only did they not know, they didn't want
COACH TRESSEL: Well, it's hard. I'll tell you, it's very
hard. We are responsible for keeping track of their audible registration,
and I have to sign off that I know what everyone is driving at all
times, which makes it difficult, because I get there before they
do and I leave after they do, so I'm not even in the parking lot
in the light of day. But we're responsible for it.
We, and I'm sure these guys do the same, they have people who
try to keep an eye around the facility as to who's driving what,
and all of a sudden there's someone coming in with these new wheels
or whatever, and I guess what we're trying to do, too, is trying
to keep them busier. I know it probably breaks that 20 hour rule,
but it's not football activity, but we're trying to keep them busier
and having to come more and all those things, in part to protect
them from someone that may try to latch onto them, and maybe secondly,
to keep more of an eye on them so that maybe you could notice.
But I would not throw any stones from where I sit at USC from
the standpoint of it is so hard to keep track of people. If people
have an interest in doing things that they don't want you to know
they're doing, they're going to make it hard for you to see.
DR. WETHERELL: From a president's perspective, I think
most of us try and hire an AD that you have a lot of confidence
in, and some of us get involved in that more than others, I guess.
You do the same thing with coaches and you kind of let them do their
From a recruiting standpoint, I think it's the coach's decision
as to who they're going to recruit and the talent. Where I try and
protect a coach, usually it's some booster or major donor calling
up that's got a kid that's probably a pretty good player but maybe
not to the level we are and wants to see the kid sign and come to
Florida State. My job is to let the coach sign who he needs to sign
and keep him away from that.
My biggest concern in recruiting right now is juniors and this
early recruiting stuff. And it's more from a public relations standpoint.
I try and think back to when I was 17 years old, and you had Meyer
or Bear Bryant or Vince Dooley or somebody coming around, telling
you how wonderful you were, feeding you steak dinners when you were
a senior and you knew you were going to go next year. If you started
that when I was a junior, man, my head would have been huge, and
I'm sure I wouldn't have paid a lot of attention to English and
history and math and that kind of thing.
All of a sudden this kid has a great junior year and a great
senior year and it's all in the local hometown paper that he's coming
to Florida State, well, he hasn't paid any attention to that academic
stuff and that 16 credits and all that other, and before you know
it, the university has been embarrassed because he can't get in,
his parents have been embarrassed, we can't work with him because
of the NCAA, we can't send a coach down to help him. That's the
biggest problem I see in recruiting.
Back to your other issue, how do you look at it, part of the
whole thing with discipline isn't just what you hand out when they
break the rule, it's being involved with them day in and day out.
I guess everybody does about the same thing in terms of telling
them what the rules are and stuff like that. But the most successful
programs seem to me to be those programs that have coaches or maybe
assistant coaches or trainers or whatever that are constantly involved
with those kids. They're talking to them and they're listening to
them and they're hearing them in the training room and they're hearing
them whenever and they know what those kids are doing. You know,
I can go by practice and I don't know all the kids, but I know if
a kid comes from a single parent, lived in the projects, mother
rode the bus to work at the hospital, and he drives up in a new
Bimmer, think about that for a minute. Or he's got a new set of
wheels on his Hummer or whatever. Coaches need to start looking.
The people in the athletic department, the trainers, they see
all that stuff early, and they know about it and they talk to them,
and that's the best way to solve that problem. I think when you
hire the right ADs, the right coaches, they hire the right people,
most of that stuff will take care of itself.
It's easier for us in maybe like Tallahassee. We're 15 miles
from the Georgia border, 15 miles from the gulf, 200 miles from
any major city with nothing but pine trees in between. We see those
kids pretty well. If you're in LA or Columbus and then the NCAA
doesn't let you have athletic dorms, doesn't let you have training
tables, they're eating all over the place, you don't get to touch
them except when they show up for practice, it really becomes difficult.
The temptations out there are pretty great when you're 18, 19
years old. I'm not sure most of us would be able to resist them,
so I would hope and wish that the NCAA would think a little bit
more about the ramifications and some of the decisions and then
let coaches get more involved with players.
Q. This is kind of a follow up to what Dr. Wetherell was talking
about and then the previous talk of player conduct. The limitations
you guys have as far as recruiting, where right now you guys probably
wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the rule that says you guys can't
be out recruiting during May. How difficult is it for you guys to
really assess a player's character when you're recruiting them now
about the limitations you can't text them? It seems like they're
making it more difficult, the NCAA is, to actually get to know the
players that well. And also just their academics, going back to
the APR thing, how well can you figure out how good a student a
kid is going to be?
COACH MANGINO: With the limitations in recruiting the
head coach is not allowed to go out in the spring. You get one contact
a week, but for your assistant coaches head coach only has one shot
off campus. It's very difficult. What you have to rely on is, number
one, you have a quality staff of assistant coaches that leave no
stone unturned and that they really they know the kid better than
the head coach does, there's no question.
We may be recruiting 200 kids even into December, so I'm not
going to know everything inside and out on every single one of them,
but they will.
We have taken some steps, we have used an outside firm to check
on some background if something comes up in regards to problems
in their background, we've done that. We try to get as much information
as we can from the coach, the head coach at the high school, but
sometimes, you know, they're looking out for the best interests
of the kid, and most are pretty honest, but you have to be careful.
It's very difficult. It is something that I'm concerned about,
the limited amount of contact and evaluations you have with these
kids, yet you have to pick the right kids that are going to have
character, you're not going to have problems with, they can win
games, they can earn a diploma. I think it's a real challenge for
You have to put a lot of time and effort into it to find the
COACH WILLINGHAM: I would say, also, that the statement
that Mark made about the information and the source of the information
is critical because there are very few communities that you go into
that someone wants to be known as the person that denied Johnny
a scholarship. There are not going to be many of those in most of
the communities you go into. So even for the assistant coach to
get the information is very difficult.
Hopefully that's where the experience of the staff comes in,
when the coach says he's all right, you understand that there's
something in that statement, he's all right. And that's very difficult.
So the gaining of the information I think is probably the most
difficult thing in the process, which allows you to gauge and really
understand the character. I think we can assess the academic information;
I think that's pretty straightforward. But the character issues
I think you have to reach deeper. And if you were to have a young
man that at a youthful age did have a problem, anything on him is
probably sealed, so how do you get that information? Even with a
service working for you, it's very difficult to get to the heart
of what all the problems were.
KEVIN ANDERSON: To go back and talk about that early signing
day, one thing that helps, helps the coach establish a different
kind of relationship with that young man because during that recruiting
process you're wooing them and you're not finding out what kind
of character he really has. So after you allow them to sign, then
the relationship becomes far different and you're able to help mold
that young person and give them an opportunity to find out who you
are and who he is before you bring him to campus.
COACH TRESSEL: With the inevitability we think of an early
signing coming, one thing that we as a Big Ten coaches took to our
administrators, and they're acting on it today whether they're going
to take it forward, is we're recommending that our assistant coaches
be able to have one contact in May, in the May recruiting, where
they can sit down and if the parents want to come to the school
or whatever, to get to know more about them. Because right now they
can't have that contact with them; it's just evaluations. And to
really get to know more about them, we're going to try to sponsor
some legislation to have a contact in the spring.
KEVIN ANDERSON: I think the thing that we've done with
all these rules is that now we're guilty until we're proven innocent.
And that's really harmed the relationship that we've had 20, 30
years ago when the coaches could go out and be role models and talk
to young people and you didn't have to worry about that. So now
we don't trust one another, and so we put ourselves in a position
where we can't find out who these young men and women truly are.
So I think that we need to go and re look at some things. Yeah,
there's going to be some people that will push or cheat, but we're
damaging our relationships with these young people not doing what
we're truly supposed to do because we have a lack of trust in one
another whether we follow the rules or not.
Q. In basketball recently there's been more examples of eighth
graders being offered scholarships at prominent programs, and I
was wondering, in terms of football, if you see it as a trend for
freshmen and sophomores in the race to be first and best.
CHRIS ROSE: I think you were talking about a verbal commitment
to Kentucky recently from an eighth grader.
COACH TRESSEL: I know what's happening in our state, a
lot of the schools from out of the state, colleges from out of state,
are coming in and just offering all kinds of sophomores. We really
haven't gotten to know them as well, and it puts a little bit of
heat on us being the home school and all that, so it's put a little
bit of all of a sudden now you're trying to find out more about
that 010 guy or 011 guy. I'm hoping we don't get into the eighth
and ninth grade deal, but everything in this world is getting faster.
COACH WILLINGHAM: It's coming. I offered my first freshman
a couple weeks ago, so it's coming. The problem and the concern
that I have, and I think it was mentioned by one of the coaches,
we are now taking the player away from the coach. How does a high
school coach coach a freshman that's been offered a full scholarship
to the University of Washington? Most likely that player can say,
So that's something that we shouldn't have had and something
that we don't want to have happen. We'd have to deal with the same
problem when we get the runners, when we get the agents. They get
to our seniors, our upper classmen that are eligible for the draft.
That Coach Willingham, he's using you the wrong way. I'd step back,
I wouldn't do anything right now. I'd just wait and take my chance
with a pro.
Those kind of influences are detrimental to all of the game.
We've got to be very careful that we aren't instituting the same
kind of problems at the high school level.
DR. WETHERELL: One thing, it's kind of funny that we're
talking about it because it is frustrating to deal with it from
an athletics standpoint, but I would remind you that most universities
on Saturday before a game have a group of recruits up and you feed
them and take them to the game and all that. We also at most universities,
at Florida State, have a group of merit scholars on campus. We do
exactly the same thing with the merit scholars that we do with the
The difference is we start with the merit scholars, particularly
in the sciences and math, in the eighth grade. We're taking kids
at that point in time that have probably taken a PSAT and in some
cases even an SAT or ACT and scored perfect or close. So we're playing
that same game on the academic side of the ledger.
No offense to you guys in the media for this; we don't get a
damn bit of press for that. They're having the same steak dinner.
It's just over here in this room versus that room.
Q. Well, it's not as much of a crapshoot because
DR. WETHERELL: I agree it isn't.
Q. It's easier to obviously someone who is bright and intelligent
are going to show those things coming up through fifth, sixth, seventh
and eighth grade that would make you as a university want to chase
after that person because you think that person could be a Rhodes
scholar, whereas on the athletics side it seems to me to be a total
crapshoot to go after eighth graders and freshmen. Their bodies
can change, so much can happen from a freshman in high school to
where they actually arrive on campus because it's all about your
COACH PATTERSON: Because they have a standardized test
to tell how smart you are. The difference for us, the only way that
we'll be able to stop it is to say nobody can do it for the betterment
of the kid. For the coach and everybody else, what we need to do
is you can't offer scholarship to anybody less than a junior. I
mean, if we want to do something about it, then we say as a whole
group you can't take or offer anybody less than junior year in high
school. Then we put it back in the coaches' hands. We can set it
at seniors if we want it to.
COACH TRESSEL: Really we can't, because we can't write
them until September 1 of their junior year, so we already that
have rule in place.
COACH WILLINGHAM: I can't offer you a scholarship right
now, but if I could (laughter)....
COACH PATTERSON: As a group, presidents, athletic directors,
we have as coaches, we have the opportunity to say, hey, if we really
do believe that we want to do the best thing again, I keep going
back to the student athlete, if you want it to be the best thing,
then what you do is say no one can offer a young man before his
junior year in any form, and everybody has to live by it. It's kind
of like the head coaches can't go on the road.
You know, I don't have a problem with not going on the road as
long as everybody doesn't have you don't want anybody to get an
advantage. As long as everybody says, this is the way it is, then
everybody plays by that rule. I don't think in our profession I
don't think anybody has a problem with that as long as everything
is the same. That's the only way you're ever going to stop where
it's eighth grade, ninth grade.
At some point in time the reason why we're having this whole
conversation is trying to do what's best for college football and
relationships. To me it sounds like the best thing we can do for
college football is that would be a great rule, that you can't offer
a kid before his junior year. Then you'd be doing everybody a favor.
You'd be doing the high school coach, you'd be doing the family
and all of us a favor because the more and more we keep going farther
and farther out, guess who we're not paying any attention to, our
DR. WETHERELL: Supposedly going a different way, none
of the coaches would like this too well. There was a kid in Orlando
a few years ago called Darryl Dawkins, and I think in the seventh
grade he could dunk the ball. It was pretty obvious he was going
to be a pretty good basketball player at some point in time. Suppose
you were able to go in and take that freshman and he was able to
commit to Florida State or Washington or Ohio State, but at that
point the university could start working with him on an academic
program, et cetera.
Now, if he changes his mind, he can't play as a freshman wherever
he goes. He gives up that season or something. There is some penalty
process where you may be able to take five or 20 or two or some
number and sign early and start working with him academically to
have him ready to come to that particular university, but the penalty
is you're on the hook for the scholarship. Kid gets hurt, you still
owe him a scholarship.
On the other hand, if he squelches on the deal, then the NCAA
says you can't play for a year or two years or whatever, now, at
that point in time you've got something in my mind you can start
dealing with as opposed to just going out and winking and nodding
and having everybody else statements and doing things.
Q. Why do you feel compelled to offer, and again, how does
he project in football? You can almost understand a Darryl Dawkins
or Billy Gillespie.
COACH WILLINGHAM: I thought this one was ready. I thought
physically he could probably do it right now.
Q. Can I ask what position or what side of the ball?
COACH WILLINGHAM: No, you can't.
Q. You can't or you won't?
COACH WILLINGHAM: You can't, and I won't let you (laughter).
CHRIS ROSE: Moving on to the coaches and their role on
campus outside of being a football coach, blowing the whistle and
things like that. I want to start with the administrators on this
one. We ask an awful lot of our college coaches, not only on Saturdays,
but there's a lot of hands they've got to shake, they've got to
help raise money, they've got to help make sure kids are being student
athletes, and it would be nice if they showed their face on campus
with the rest of us non players every once in a while. Kevin White,
what's the role of your coaches in the university community?
KEVIN WHITE: I don't think there's any question, our coaches
are pretty significant ambassadors of our institutions. We kind
of said that earlier. They play a pretty large role internally and
externally. Their annual responsibility goes beyond the football
program. That's just again, that's what you sign up for. That's
what it's evolved to.
It's a never ending I'm listening to Jim Tressel in the first
session when he talked about, in before the sun up and the last
guy to leave the parking lot. There are just a lot of demands on
the guys that have these jobs.
Q. Is it too much?
KEVIN WHITE: I would suspect let me just say from my perspective,
I would suspect it is too much. We want them to do an awful lot,
and we put them in a position to represent, again, not only the
interests of the football program, the athletics department at times,
but also the institutions. A lot of expectations, just a lot of
expectations internally and externally.
CHRIS ROSE: Kevin Anderson, isn't there a danger of spreading
these guys too thin and then too much stuff is falling through the
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, it is the nature of the beast. We
talked about hiring the right people to work for us, and that's
why they have assistants and that's why they have to have people
to support what they can and cannot do, and they have to understand
what they can and cannot do. And then it gets to a point where if
it is too much, my guy needs to come in and talk to me and say,
you know, I can't do that. And if it's within reason, and I understand
that, because as Tyrone said not too long ago, every coach has said
on this panel, it comes down to winning or losing. It makes it easier
when you're winning not to have to do some of those things that
we ask. When you're losing, it makes it difficult to say no.
CHRIS ROSE: Has anybody said to you it's too much?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I've had my guy say, I've got something
else to do, I'm going on the road, I'm recruiting, maybe we could
do it at another time, and that's acceptable. We're in a position
right now where if we don't win, none of that other stuff matters.
CHRIS ROSE: Believe it or not, you're all human, too.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the end of the day?
COACH MANGINO: Well, I think there's days every coach
feels like that. There's a lot of things that are asked of you and
a lot of people tugging at you in different directions. The rule
of thumb for me is I do everything and anything necessary to make
our football program better and in any way that I can help in a
small way to help the university be stronger.
The good thing that I've got going is I don't golf, I don't bowl,
I don't hunt, I don't fish, so I take care of my job, my family,
spend all my free time with them, and then selective things in the
community maybe that I can be helpful in. My wife and I have worked
with the library, giving not only monetary assistance but led a
campaign for them. My wife has taken a position on the advisory
board. The library doesn't have alumni, so they have to raise their
I like to get involved in things, but the number one priority
for me outside of my family is whatever I have to do to make the
football program better.
Sometimes our AD has asked me to go to different events where
there were boosters who were considering giving money, and I go
because that was important. After seven years we're going to move
into a brand new football complex in July. I didn't raise all the
money for that, but I certainly cultivated a lot of relationships
with people that made major contributions because it made the football
program better. Whatever it takes for our team and our program to
be better and wherever I can help on campus that my time permits,
I'm always willing to do it.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, how often do you do stuff
because you have to?
COACH WILLINGHAM: Never. And I say that from this standpoint:
We had some people come in as part of the conferencing that we do,
when we talk about developing our young people. One of the points
that I made that I practiced before I heard it from them is there's
nothing in life you have to do; you choose to do it. But if you
choose not to do it, there are consequences, and you have to understand
So the things that I do and been asked to do, I do them because
I'll do them, not because I have to do them, so therefore if I don't
then I'll understand the consequence that comes with it.
But in going back to your general question about I don't think
it was overwhelmed, but having a lot on your plate, I would think
that for me and maybe for some of the other coaches, we may share
this, that probably the biggest disappointment or the place that
you feel most lacking is that you don't give your own kids enough
time, because if you're the first one in the parking lot before
it turns light and you're the last one to leave, then that means
my son doesn't get a whole lot of time.
I think I said this to someone when we were sitting at the table
when we were having lunch that I think I saw somewhere in Men's
Health recently that they asked how many parents, or men, spent
less than two hours with their kids a day, and I think it was like
42 percent if I'm correct in quoting that number. I know you can
find it in there, the accuracy of it, but that's a huge number,
that during the course of the day you don't spend two hours with
your own kids, and I know I'm guilty. If there's ever a place I
know I'm lacking and don't give enough time, that would probably
CHRIS ROSE: I'm interested from the other two coaches,
Coach Tressel and Patterson, about being overwhelmed and having
COACH PATTERSON: For me I thought it went along with the
job. I think every university is different. At our place it was
about getting people in the stands, it was about building tradition,
getting back to the ways that TCU used to be 50, 60 years ago. My
wife and I are very involved in charity work, eight or nine charities,
have our own foundation. At some places that might mean that I'm
not trying to win enough football games.
I think you have to evaluate as a head football coach what that
community, what that university wants from you, and to do your job
plus your own personal interests, and then you have to plug it in.
I think every place is different. I don't think any university that
plays Division I football where you have a football coach is the
same; I think they're all different, and I think you have to have
a personality to be able to go into any of those situations, and
I think that's why you see I use wine and beer drinkers all the
time, they ask why is a CEO highly successful at one place and he
doesn't make it at another. Well, usually it's because he took a
job because of money, he didn't go to where he felt like he was
those people didn't relate to him.
And I think one of the common mistakes that I think we make not
just in football but in a lot of professions is we take jobs because
of the monetary part of it and we don't look at the inside and gather
information and find out if the way we are and what we believe actually
fits the university's philosophies, the athletics philosophies and
everything else that goes along. If they don't, if you don't have
a good plan, you're not going to be successful.
So for me, as you look into it as being a younger head football
coach, for me my whole deal is as you look at people or across the
nation as you watch people move, if I was ever going to tell a young
football coach about moving, what not to do, it's do not go somewhere
just because; see if you actually fit that format. The old saying
about the grass is greener I think is actually true. I think you
have to be in a situation where you fit, and I think if you fit,
then I think you have a chance to be highly successful. If you don't
fit, then it doesn't matter, everything that goes on is going to
be a problem. That's the way I look at it.
I think you've go to do whatever it takes to make sure that you've
got a chance to be successful. I agree with Tyrone. I think it is
about I decide. I don't think we ever do anything we don't want
COACH TRESSEL: I think at times I feel a little guilty
that work is more fun than fun (laughter). It's like I've never
thought, oh, I've got to go to work tomorrow or I can't wait to
get out of here, and you feel guilty about that at times. As was
mentioned, your family gets slighted, your friends get slighted,
you yourself get slighted as far as taking care of yourself and
growing outside of what you're doing.
But we're very fortunate to do what we do, and to watch those
kids grow and just be taken by being around a university is very
energizing in its own way, but I think we take a lot of pride in
the fact that we can make a difference for our school. When we go
to alumni events, let's face it, probably more people show up at
those events than if some scholar went, and that's probably not
right. But if we're involved in fundraising campaigns, it helps.
If we're involved in student groups on campus or whatever, it helps.
But you do at times feel a little bit guilty that you're the
one having all the fun and some of the people that make a difference
for you, you wish you could spend more time with, your players,
your coaches, your family. But I always say, "This beats working."
CHRIS ROSE: What was the last movie you saw?
COACH TRESSEL: "Jaws." (Laughter.)
CHRIS ROSE: Sometimes the football coaches are also the
highest paid employees of the state, so I guess this goes to the
president of Florida State University. How does the rest of the
faculty usually handle something like that?
DR. WETHERELL: Not too well, usually (laughter). Actually
when you really begin to look at it, most of the time it's not the
football coach. It's usually the dean of the medical school and
some of the faculty over there or the law school. But I think most
of that money comes from boosters and private sources and non state
sources if you happen to be a state institution. And I think all
presidents recognize that your athletic department, certainly at
this level up here, is your window on the world, if you would.
We don't apologize for that. We're pretty proud of it. We don't
try and walk away from it. But we use our coaches in a number of
different ways; they expect that.
But they're a little bit like presidents. I'm expected to raise
money and go see donors and do that kind of thing. We usually use
the president to find the bigger donors, not every donor that walks
down the road. So I think presidents have the same obligation as
coaches to try and use them strategically and not infringe upon
that too much. But we know by using them it's important, and that's
what we do.
We're blessed at Florida State to have Bobby Bowden, and he is
a unique personality in his own right. In his case we actually spend
more time protecting him by the nature of his personality than we
do using him because Bobby is extremely available and he carries
his own suitcase, walks in the front door of the hotel and checks
in, and usually he's just descended upon. So we've usually got some
people that work with him, and we figure out is he getting a little
tired, do we need to do something, do we move him through a crowd
and that kind of thing.
But in terms of the pay, yeah, they're paid a lot of money. But
a lot is expected of them, not just winning football games and developing
an image for a university.
In Bowden's case, and I know I saw a piece a couple years ago
on Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, and I don't know how you get publicity
better than that. There was a kid I think terminally ill, Weis went
to see him, told him what the play was going to be, I don't know
if it was a true story or not, but they ran theoretically the play,
the first play of the game, the kid was whatever. How do you put
a value on that publicity going out to millions and millions of
Every year Bobby Bowden brings several kids down from the Make
a Wish Foundation. He brings them down on the field, when we played
you guys a couple years ago, a fairly significant game for Florida
State to have Notre Dame down with 85,000 people five minutes before
kickoff. Bowden has got this kid in the locker room, and they usually
do a little pep talk and a prayer before they go out, and the kid
runs out on the field with Bowden. And in the stands, everybody
is all hyped up about the game. But for that kid, it's a lifetime
experience. He passed away six months later.
So how do you put a value? To me they earn everything they get.
I don't apologize for their salary; it's more than mine. I wish
I could make what they were making. But they earn it, and they're
kind of like pro athletes. It's for a limited amount of time. So
we don't apologize at all. We pay them what we think they're worth
and we realize their value goes beyond a 10 and 0 season.
CHRIS ROSE: Do you go into the faculty lounge with the
chemistry professor, like hey, what's up? How are you guys accepted
within the rest of the academic community?
COACH WILLINGHAM: Just to kind of touch on that, I think
depending on the coach and depending on his persona and how he interacts
with the university as a whole, I would like to believe that mine
has been pretty good in all aspects of our university. I've been
called on at almost every university I've been in to assist in recruiting
faculty, other students, other sports, other programs, go out and
fund raise, not just for athletics but for other programs at the
So I believe that, depending on your personality and how you
interact, that it could be across the board very well.
COACH TRESSEL: I think it's based upon are you there for
everybody. Are you there for the faculty when they need you or the
fundraising campaign for the library when they need you or the Capitol
campaign or recruiting of students or freshman admissions day when
all the freshmen are coming in? I think if you make yourself accessible
and make it very obvious that you're part of the team I haven't
noticed any negative. I'm sure there are some people that think
we're vastly overpaid, and we probably are, but there are some other
people that probably recognize the contribution and feel as if it's
CHRIS ROSE: Before we get out of here, if there's any
questions about this area of the discussion, we'll take them.
I think everybody appreciates the time and the candor of all
the people up here. We've got a little reception at 6:00 o'clock.
We've got dinner at 7:00.