Q&A With Coach Mark Carrier

His departure may have been more surprising than fellow assistant Mark Helfrich to Colorado, but there's little doubt that Mark Carrier's hire by the Baltimore Ravens as their defensive backs coach carries great prestige. In this exclusive Devils Digest interview, Carrier talks about the move and his tenure with the maroon and gold.

DevilsDigest: Coach, congratulations on the hire. Can you tell us how this career move came about?

Mark Carrier: "A friend of mine who coaches the Baltimore Ravens called me Friday or Saturday, telling me that there may be an opening that I may be interested in. I told him that I'm very comfortable at where I'm at, and things are going well for me. He told me that if this goes down Coach Billick will give me a call and let's see what happens. I didn't really think much of it, because I have other stuff going on in my life right now. So, Coach Billick called me and asked me to come down and interview for this position. It really caught me off-guard."

DD: You were a college coach for just two years, but was being an NFL coach one of your aspirations or you weren't thinking that much ahead?

MC: "I wasn't thinking that much ahead and I was looking at what was in front of me now. The NFL wasn't something I was looking to in the near future. Down the road? Maybe. But not right now. I talked to a bunch of friends and people in the business that I trust and respect, and everybody to the person, including my wife, said ‘take the interview so at least you know what it's going to be like, when it's time for you to do it.' That's why I went to the interview."

DD: Does this move carry a little more allure to it because you're going to a team that has been considered one of the top defensive squads in the NFL the last few years?

MC: "That's definitely something that you look at when you do your research and see what this job is going to be like and what you're gonna get yourself into. You know how established they are defensively, and I wanted to be part of that and contribute to it. That was an exciting factor, but not the major factor in my decision."

DD: The fact that you haven't been removed from your playing days for that long, and that you were a three-time Pro Bowl selection when you did play as a defensive back, do you think that you will bring instant credibility to your new position?

MC: "The way I look at is that the players I will work with, will look at me and say ‘here's a guy who played the game and knows what actually goes on the filed.' That's automatic. Will it bring the trust and respect? No. I said that when I first came here and I'm saying it now. The trust and respect from your players, just like the trust and respect you give your players, has to be earned and that will help you be successful. So, that's the biggest thing for me going in. I need to earn that, get on the same page and see what we need to do as a unit to achieve our ultimate goal. You're gonna have a lot of different personalities on the team and I know that from my years of playing. So now you have to mesh together and get that goal. If you can do that, you'll have a great relationship."

DD: As someone who has lived in the Valley of the Sun for several years, you know how desirable the Phoenix area is to live and raise a family in. Does this career move involve a challenge to go and uproot your family to the Baltimore area?

MC: "No doubt. We'll keep our house here, and my family will be with me in July in Baltimore. My wife and two kids were a huge factor in this decision. I never said ‘I wanted this job' and that was it. It was a whole process with long discussions with my family, talking about what it will be like there. I really wanted them to understand what this was all about and I wanted their opinion. I wanted to be honest, because if they were unsure I would never look at this job and I would have no problem with that. I wanted to make sure my wife and kids were comfortable and they said ‘let's go for it.'

DD: How would you sum up your two years at Arizona State?

MC: "Successful. The experience was outstanding. I learned so much and I don't think Coach Koetter gets enough credit for the type of coach and type of person he is. He's a quality individual on and off the field. He gave me chance and I will always be in debt to him for that. All the coaches on the staff are very good, know what they're doing and are very organized. They are the best teachers I have been around, and that's why I chose to come to ASU and work with this group."

DD: When people talked about the struggles of the defense in 2005, the focus seems to be more on what was happening up front rather than the secondary. When you look at how players like Mike Davis and Josh Golden preformed, are you pleased with how they played as well as the rest of the cornerbacks group?

MC: "I'm very happy with what those guys gave the team. But when the defense struggles it hits me hard like it does everyone else. Linebackers, defensive line, secondary…when one does good we all do good. When one does bad, we're all bad. Make no mistake about it – it's all about the team. Those guys (the cornerbacks) gave me everything they had, and they gave us a push at the end to get into the bowl game and win the bowl game. I give those guys a lot of credit for that."

DD: Looking at the cornerbacks group in 2006, losing senior players like Davis, Golden, and R.J. Oliver, some folks will look at this position with concern because of the lack of experience. What's your take about this unit going into next year?

MC: "It will be an inexperienced group with some new faces. A lot of players haven't had a lot of game time playing – there's no question about that. We didn't have a lot depth last year and we didn't want to burn redshirts. But the talent they have and what's coming in is very good. I told those guys that they're in a great situation because they'll have a new coach, who's gonna formulate his own opinion, and everyone will get a chance at playing time so go ahead and take it. It will create a lot of competitiveness and that will start before they hit the field, when they start their workouts."

DD: Looking back at your ASU tenure, what is your most fond memory from the last two seasons?

MC: "That's a great question. The win against U of A - beating your rival at home and how that happened, was really good. I think the Sun Bowl will always be (the best memory) in my mind, because the game really epitomized everything that happened to us that year. Everything the team went through, and to finish on top like that…I was spent mentality and physically just like those players were. The players gave me as a coach their all and I couldn't be more happy for them."

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