Gary Barnett Q&A, Part I

For the first time in months, <b>Gary Barnett </b>spoke at length with local reporters about what transpired in the past four months and what it means for the CU football program. Here is the first of three parts of that Q&A session.

Questions were asked by reporters from the Associated Press, Buffalo Sports News, Colorado Daily, Daily Camera, Denver Post, Longmont Times-Call and Rocky Mountain News.

Question: How far behind are you?

Gary Barnett: You know, I'm not as far behind as you might think because Brian (Cabral) and our coaches and the players operated at a pretty high level. I don't have a lot of back issues that have to be done or taken care of. So I can pretty much focus on the things ahead of me. The first thing is going to be hiring a secondary coach. That's No. 1 at this point in time.

I've got 780 e-mails I have to respond to and letters that I want to do. So I've got that. I didn't get a chance to meet with any players at all. So, I'm trying to catch some of those guys who are here right now. The first of next week most of them will be back for summer school and workouts starting. So I'll try to get with them one-on-one as much as I can next week. And for sure a team meeting one of the mornings.

Q: What are your thoughts on the things you walk back into here as far as the restructuring, and how that is going to affect what you do next year and the coming years?

GB: I don't think I can predict that right now. It's a little premature. I don't in any way look at it as something that is necessarily tying our hands or creating a situation that‘s unworkable. I just don't know what to expect.

My responsibility still comes down to the same thing no matter who I report to, who gets to know about it or who it has to go through — and that is recruiting, playing games and getting your guys -- making sure that they graduate and educating them about doing the right thing.

The bottom line, that's what my whole job is. Whoever I have to go through, and whoever needs to know what we're doing and how we're doing it, that's really no big deal. It may be more paperwork, it may be more people are privileged to the things that you do. But the bottom line is all those things are my responsibility, and I've got to find a way to do them.

Q: (CU president Betsy Hoffman) had said that you and her talked about conditions and she was going to keep that between you and her. Do you want to talk about it?

GB: Yeah. What we talked about is between Betsy and I.

Q:Did those things that she talked to you about come as a surprise to you? Or were there things that you had been mulling anyway?

GB: No, there weren't any surprises.

<Q Now that this whole thing is over, how do you go about rebuilding the image of this program?

GB: I don't think it's over. I think that'd be a huge mistake to make a statement that it's over because it's ongoing. I think the only thing that is over is my suspension's over.

Now I think we'll go back and we look at the changes that have been decided on, and then we see how it affects us and how best to go about doing our business within those changes.

For me coaching for years has been broken down into segments. And this particular segment that we're in right now is recruiting and right in the middle of some valuable evaluation time and camps. So we're making sure that we're getting as many people in here as we can that we're evaluating.

We meet a lot of parents and families that come through in the next 60 days to check out campus. So deciding how we're going to recruit and the things that need to be addressed with players and parents between now and the season is critical.

And I think we look at everything we try to do educationally with our kids during (August preseason) camp; player manuals, what needs to be updated, speakers that we're going to bring in, those sort of things is the segment we're in right now.

And I've got to hire a coach. I've got settle some things down that happened with me being gone. And all the things that they've had to go through.

Q When you talk about settling things down, are you talking calming down any talk of transfers?

GB: Exactly.

Q: Do you expect the NCAA or the Big 12 to follow with any substance the recruiting changes that CU has made?

GB: No.

Q: The Brian Calhoun transfer, have you dealt with that yet?

GB: I have not dealt with that yet because I didn't get a chance to deal with Brian's parents or with Brian. Coach Cabral and our coaches handled that. That's an issue that I want to at least try and have a conversation about it.

Q Is there anyone else that is wavering?

GB: I think there will be some other guys wavering.

Q: For what reason?

GB: You know, I think that this community and this school is a hard place for African-American student athletes to feel like they're comfortable. I think within the university and within the community it's become a very difficult place for them. I think that'll be an issue.

Q: How do you combat that reality and combat that perception from other coaches in recruiting?

GB: There won't be anything we can do about other coaches. That's just a dirty part of this business. I think the only thing we can control in our department is that our players see that we are going to make efforts to make this a better place for them. I think there are definitely things we can do within the university. I think there are definitely things we can do in the community, but we're going to need a lot of help.

Q: In your time away, did you ever sit back and think, 'Did I do something wrong here?' Did you have much time for introspection?

GB: Oh sure, I had a lot of time. Oh yeah, and what I did was not so much ask myself, but ask others their perception of things that I could have done better or things that I did wrong. I took this four months to learn. I learned something every single day. Otherwise it would have been a waste of my life. I took a chance to try to learn something as often as I could. Q Was there ever doubt at any point when you thought, "I might not be back?"

GB: Oh yeah, there were moments that my faith wandered a little bit as to whether or not what I felt was the right thing to do would be done. Absolutely. You can't hear and read all the things that were out there for four months without wondering.

I remember (one of you) said to me, ‘I don't know how you're going to live through this. I hope you do, but I don't see that you're going to survive this.' And that was early. And I think that was the perception that was out there. I don't think anybody gave me much of a chance to survive it.

So, yeah, you start thinking and you start making plans. I did have an enormous amount of faith that 'reasonableness' or what I feel was reasonable, and hopefully some degree of justice and what I thought was the right thing to be done would be done. I did that kind of faith.

Q: To follow that up, what got you through those times of doubt?

GB: E-mails, e-mails, e-mails, e-mails, e-mails. A couple of articles that I read, the phone calls from peers, notes, watching our players' parents stand up. I mean to have the parents, to a person, stand up, and go to bat for you, that's as rewarding as it gets. And former players, that's as rewarding as it gets.

It's like going to your own funeral. But this time you get to thank them for coming. The support was incredible. The Buff community was incredible. My family and I could not have gotten through it without them.

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