Coach's Corner: Stoops pleased with progress

Mike Stoops took some time out from recruiting to address the media. He's spent very little time in Tucson and it gave the local reporters a chance to catch up with what is going on with the football program. In keeping with the family atmosphere he has promised, Stoops attended the media gathering with his five-year old daughter Payton on his knee.

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Mike Stoops initially said he would just take questions, but then gave a brief opening statement.
Mike Stoops: "I am very excited about the way things are shaping up at this time. I could not be more excited about our staff. We have started our strength and conditioning this week, and the guys have done a great job this week. I am really happy with what Corey (Edmond) and Mark (Hill) are doing with our program right now. I am very excited about the progress we've made in a very short period of time in all aspects of our program. I feel like we have the right people here to do what we need to get done, and that's a comforting thought to me and to our players as well. I think there is a different look in the players' eyes right now, and that is a positive sign. Everything is going as well as we could have planned.

"I can't think of any changes right now personnel-wise. Obviously, there will be some changes. But, right now, I will concentrate on getting accustomed to each player. Their specific needs are something I will concentrate on as will the position coaches. It has just been hard through the recruiting process, and everything has happened so fast, but our personalized attention now will come with our players here."

How much of a shock to the system will the new conditioning program be?
Stoops: "It is something that you train for. Our guys aren't conditioned for it as well as we would like, so it is an eye-opening experience to some effect. But, I think the players understand what has to be done in order to be successful in this league or in any other league. There is a great commitment that comes with being successful. Our players are starting to realize that, and they know what they have to do in order to put our team in a position to win games."

How important is the conditioning factor?
Stoops: "I think it just helps your program in so many different ways. Not only does it help you physically, but also the mental toughness part is really how your team is formulated. We want to be known as a physical and tough football team, and those are things that we would like people to recognize in our program. At the programs that I have been associated with, those are things that people knew, that we were going to be a tough and physical team. I don't know if we are that right now, but that is what we are going to strive to become."

If the past summer workouts have been described as 'voluntary', will they still be labeled that way?
Stoops: "They are voluntary, and we expect our players wholeheartedly to be here in a way that gives them the best possible chance to compete for a championship. You get what you put in, so if you don't put much in, you are probably not going to get much out. It is an investment that each and every one has to make individually, and if they want to have a successful football team, I would imagine that they would want to be here and do it on their own. It is a great correlation to the types of summers you have and the types of seasons you have. I have been around teams that have great summer workouts and have great seasons. Our players have to realize that it is a commitment that comes from within, and they need to have that inner toughness to get it done."

What has a typical day been like?
Stoops: "They all have been busy days for everyone. Things change so much day to day with recruits. In addition to all of the recruiting, I am getting a feel for our players and making sure that their needs are taken care of at this point. We have to make sure that we don't leave our players out. It is time consuming, but we have made up a lot of ground in a very short period of time. I've learned that you can't do everything in one day. We are getting there; we are much stronger than at any point last year. I know that is not saying a whole lot, but we are excited about our possibilities."

Do you have a timetable to hire the final coach?
Stoops"Well, we have one spot left, but I have taken my time because it is very important to get a staff that fits well together. I'm waiting for it to fall into place. It is amazing how coaches are here and want to be here, that excites me. It is like recruiting because I think that you get the kids you are supposed to get, and the same thing is true with hiring coaches. I have waited purposely to find people that fit in and want to be here. I am excited about that. The last spot will be filled in the same way that the others have been filled."

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