Buffs May Expand Recruiting Areas

In Friday's Q&A session with local reporters, <b>Gary Barnett</b> spoke about the possibility of looking into other areas of the country for football recruits. In this final installment of the interview, Barnett touches on that subject, and others, as well as what it was like to watch spring practices without his coaching whistle in April.

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

Q: You got a lot of support, but are you pleased with how the university handled this whole thing?

GB: You know, it is what it is. I'm pleased that I'm able to be back in this chair, and I'm pleased that what I thought was the right thing to do was done. And I'm concentrating on what my responsibilities are now as a head football coach; and what my responsibilities are as a member of this four-person team (Hoffman, Byyny, Tharp and Barnett) to restore the reputation of the University of Colorado.

Q: Is there any one thing that bothers you more than anything else — that just sticks in your craw – more than any other factor in this whole thing?

GB: Yeah, there is. I don't know that I can share it with you.

Q: Did it get too personal? People hammering on you personally. I mean, you didn't do this. You weren't at that (Dec. 2001) party that night.

GB: The people that it got personal with, it wasn't a surprise that it got personal. The biggest surprise to me was how quickly nationally (opinions were formed). And the way it got out nationally. I guess that shouldn't surprise me because that was the only information they had. Most of it was the way it got out because of Sports Illustrated, and because of my comments about Katie (Hnida). That's all anybody heard. And the way it went across the tickers. The way it went out affected so many people and formulated so many opinions.

Q: That's your recruiting base. You're talking about Texas and California. Are you concerned that (out of state) kids are getting this all third, fourth, fifth hand and it's all probably nothing but negative at that point and does that increase the importance of getting all the good kids in-state?

GB: I really think we we're hurt more in-state than out of state. Our coaches have a lot of really positive responses from high school coaches out there no matter where we go, and in-state as well.

It's always a little bit harder recruiting in-state than out of state just because there is more information disseminated and most of it negative. The kids in Texas and California know less about what's going on than the kids in Colorado. In some ways it's easier for us to go out there.

One of the things I do see as a possible adjustment that we're going to have to do is we're going to have to do more nationwide recruiting. That was one of the things we found at Northwestern because of the parameters, and it cost us more money because we had to go further and see more people in order to have a big enough pool to recruit from.

Q: East Coast?

GB: I don't know where we would go. We would go where the numbers are. Pure speculation would be Florida, places where there are more numbers tied in with grades. Probably more Midwest.

Q: Do you know if Marques Harris will be part of the team next year?

GB: That suspension is indefinite.

Q: When you go into an out-of-state living room, do you think you'll have to initiate the conversation (about all that's transpired)?

GB: I will initiate the conversation. Lots of times they think those are embarrassing or difficult questions to ask. I'll go right into it.

Q: When you're talking about these adjustments in recruiting, which piece of reform is going to affect you the most? Is it the change in academic standards?

GB: I'm not sure which one's going to affect us the most. I know that if we are affected, that means we're going to see more people. If you've got a population where we could've recruited 40 percent of it, somewhere you've got to make up that number. You've got to go to four different places to make up that 40 percent you lost out of your pool.

Q: What time did you get to work this morning?

GB: 6:45.

Q: Is that normal?

GB: This time of year, we'd come about 8 if things were normal.

Q: How many resumes do you have for the secondary job?

GB: I don't have a lot. They're not lining up when they find out our coaches are on month-to-month contracts. There isn't any other place in the country that's on month-to-month contracts. Over 60 percent of the schools out there are on June-to-June. Our coaches are on one-month contracts. So there ain't a lot of people too excited about coming here knowing that if something happens, they got 30 days or 22 days of salary left.

Q: Is Vince Okruch a candidate?

GB: I'm going to hire a secondary coach. That's what I'm looking to hire at this point in time.

Q: What's your timetable on making that hire?

GB: I'd like to do it before camps start (June 9). At this point in time because there's no practice, I don't have to necessarily stick to that, but I would like to do it by the time our camps start.

Q: What was it like for you going to spring practices and not being able to coach?

GB: That was one of the most difficult things – reaching for my whistle and not having my whistle. My parking spot was gone.

Q: Who had that?

GB: Mr. DiBiaggio. (reporters laughter). But I can't tell you how many times I'd go to blow the whistle. One of the things I always do is when we go to teamwork is watch and see if (Chris) Wilson's guys are offsides. And so whenever they were offsides I kept reaching for my whistle.

And Brian was coaching a position, so there was nobody to see the big picture. So I'm watching the big picture but I can't do anything about it. There were definitely things that I would've changed, but nothing that's probably that significant, anything that we can't make up for when we start meeting again.

And then not being able to talk to your team at the end of practice. It's 30 seconds or a minute. But before practice you choose your words and you coach character in that minute.

Q: The first time any one of them screws up, there'll be a huge headline.

GB: There will be. But you've heard me say this before: When the pupil is ready the teacher will appear. And there's some guys you can pound and pound and pound, and it doesn't get through. And when they're ready for it, it means something. Hopefully, all this stuff creates a situation where their level of awareness is so heightened, that they're extra-careful. But it puts them in a tough spot.

Q: Do you think you're going to make any alterations to your life-skills program to address what they're going to face now?

GB: I wish you could just walk through and be in our life-skills program and hear all the speakers that we bring in and hear all the things that we talk about. I don't know how much more it's going to be expanded, but it will be, I'm sure. Whatever it takes for us to continue to drive these points home is what we'll do.

Oversight of it will be done by one of the vice-chancellors. I'm sure that's to make sure that we've got everything in there. I think that everybody will be surprised to see how much we've done.

Q: Given the fact that you teach them life skills and you are a pretty strong disciplinarian, and the fact that these were isolated incidents, have the media, has the nation overreacted to all this?

GB: I don't want to answer that. I'm going to spend my time dealing with what's out there and what we have to do to correct it. I don't want to point any fingers at anybody. It just doesn't do us any good. We've got the scenario, and we've got to fix it, and that's the way I'm thinking about it.

Q: What were your thoughts when you were watching the changes in your defense during spring practices?

GB: I thought we were much simpler; I thought that the kids were able to just play and not get bound up mentally. But I also saw a more experienced team playing. I saw guys that a year ago weren't ready to play, that are now much more ready to play.

Q: Hearing your offense say it's a lot harder to move on this defense. Was it nice to hear that?

BG: It is. You don't like to see anybody move on your defense in the spring! (reporter laughter).

Q: Did it look like Mike (Hankwitz) changed a lot from when you worked with him last time?

GB: I don't think so. But we're in a different system than we ran when he was here (before.) (Coach Bill McCartney) wanted to be in a particular defense and so we're playing a little bit different defense than when he was here before.

Q: How good does it feel to know that eventually you're going to get more football questions and less of this other stuff?

GB: When that happens, that will feel good.

Q: What do you have to do to beat CSU?

GB: (laugh) I haven't gotten that far. I've had a few other things I've had to consider.

Q: Any chance you can predict a win, or anything?

GB: We're going to be there. And it'll be out here (at Folsom). That much I know.

Q: You just don't need to restore the faith of African-American kids in Denver, in Los Angeles and in Houston, you need to restore the African-American people period, that it's OK for an African-American kid to come play at Boulder. Have you pondered the enormity of that?

GB: Yeah. I don't have a solution yet. But we've got to get started on it. Every day that we wait, it makes it worse. Yeah, the enormity of it – there's no question. But we've got to get started and do something. At least get going in the right direction.

Q:Are you going to try to work with the city on that? It's not so much the university, it's what happens to my kid when he goes home, or when he goes out downtown?

GB: Right now it's probably very difficult for me to affect the city. I think I've got to concentrate on the areas that I can affect. And that's the people that directly deal with our players. And then within the university community. But I think that there are other people that can work in that direction.

Q: The reality of it is that the vast majority of your African American players have had wonderful experiences here.

GB: That's true.

Q: Does it bother you that the image is anything but that.

GB: It does bother me. And that's why I said I'm going to call on our former players and our current players that have had good experiences here. Most of the ones that have struggled are the younger players who are in such a different atmosphere and they haven't adjusted yet. It's a shame they have to adjust, but they do. But there needs to be some adjustment on everybody's part. We can't just say that every young African –American male that comes here is going to change. Everybody else has got to move a little bit too. That's what I hope happens. But it's an enormous undertaking, there's no question.

Q: You've talked about establishing some new recruiting bases around the country. How about your old ones? Are you OK there?

GB: We are. We really have been well received with the high school coaches. Really well received. And, probably, we've been better received by the recruits than what you would think. But it's early right now to tell where that's going to go. Those kids haven't been affected by other coaches and other people saying how could you possibly consider that place – all the things that are going to get said about us.

Q: So you're concerned that the people you're recruiting against are going to use this stuff against you?

GB: Well, they always do. They've used the racial issues here, and a lot of things, for years. Yeah, it's going to happen. And that's just the way it is and we'll just have to deal with it.

I think that one of the things that's gotten lost in this whole process is that most kids really do make good decisions. Of a thousand kids that get recruited, do you know how many choose to go to a school because of a party atmosphere? I'll bet you it's one percent.

And so most kids are really good kids. They just want to go someplace comfortable. They're leaving one family and they're going to another and they want that family to be a comfortable place for them.

These kids are all getting portrayed much differently than they really are.

Q: The other thing is, this is not your normal state run institution. Normally you can walk across a state run institution's campus and you can see kids who you know their parents are taking their last dimes to get their kids there. You don't see that here. So not only is it a racial aspect, but there's also (an economic aspect to Boulder that's different from a lot of schools.)

GB: I don't think they ever see it until they get here. They're certainly not going to see it now (with the 24-hour visit rule). I think that's something you become aware of once you live here. Then you've got to learn how to deal with it.

Q: Does that hurt you in state?

GB: I think the reputation of Boulder being what it is hurts us in state. It attracts or hurts. It attracts a large number of students in this state. There are a lot that apply and don't get in.

Q: Do you feel like you have the support from most of the people around here?

GB: I want to say yes. Just based on the kind of support I've gotten the number of e-mails and letters I've gotten, compared to the negative ones. It feels that way, but I'm sure that somebody who doesn't like me that doesn't support me is sitting home saying, 'I know who all these guys who don't like him. I don't know how he gets his job back.' I know that's out there, too, but it feels that way to me.

Q: You said at one point you don't know a lot of the professors. Is that going to change?

GB: I don't know. I have no way to predict that. Those are administrative things. My actual presence (with the to-be-formed academic/athletic committee), I don't know if that's going to happen, or if it will get delegated or what. We'll just have to see how it works out.

Q: Do you have a rough estimate of how many e-mails of support you got?

GB: I'd say well over 2,000.

Q: How about the other kind?

GB: Well, out of 79 today, I got three bad ones.

Q: Have you had any contact with Katie (Hnida) since then?

GB: No.

Q: Do you wish to have any? Would you like to talk to her if you could?

GB: I'd say that certainly in the right situation in the right environment that I would welcome a conversation with her.

Q: For all the women out there. When you started the comments that started this whole thing, you said, ‘Not only is she a girl.' Let us all know that it's OK to be a girl. Because it seems like that's what women latched on to. Women that I spoke to couldn't understand why you said.

GB: Well, the question was: Why wasn't she respected or like by her teammates? And I said, ‘Well, not only was it a whole new thing for them to have a girl on the team, but she wasn't very good. I was trying to explain that she was different; she was a girl. We have 105 guys, and (being a girl) made her different. Whenever anything different comes along you're reluctant to accept it. That was my point.

Q: If a girl came out and she could really kick, would you have her here?

GB: I will deal with that when it occurs.

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