Devaughn Darling's death obviously had a huge impact on your football program.
"You wonder if you're doing the right thing. And you're wondering if another one is gonna die. So you back off. And we almost lost another one (Eric Powell). It was that kind of year for us."
Do you see any of those struggles lingering this year?
"Not one bit. It seems like a different set of guys. They've kind of given us the green light to go. Let's go coach, let's go do it right. I think it carried over. A lot of it is because you can't imagine how many times I talked to my coaches about, "Don't work em too hard. We can't afford to let something happen to one of them. The first thing you know you are not coaching the way you should be. In fact you're not even doing the kids fairly. These kids recognize that too and I think they don't want it that way. We've got to do what we think is right. Coach the way we know how to coach and that's what the kids want.
How do you think this team will respond?
"They have to respond from down inside. I can't make 'em respond in a certain way. That's the way you hope they respond, a response of vengeance. You hope it's a natural thing and not something I have to go out and preach, "Hey men let's go out and avenge those losses.'' Unless they're fooling me, I really think they are in a mode of payback. Let's make up for what happened last year. All the records were broken. How do I approach that, OK men, let's go start another one. We set a record there, it was broken, OK let's start another one. That's what our goal is. Now whether we'll do it or not, well, we'll find out."
Does FSU's struggles last season help the ACC in terms of perception?
"I think that's what will make the conference a better conference as far as outside judgment is concerned. To outsiders, Oh, that conference is so bad, Florida State just waltzes through it. Our theme the last 5-6 years has been complacency, let's don't' be complacent. You think I'll have to make that speech this year? I doubt it. We got kicked around. We don't have anything to be complacent about."
Are Anquan Boldin and Robert Morgan healthy?
"From what I understand, Anquan is ready to roll. Robert Morgan may be some skepticism about is he completely healthy or not? He's a fifth-year senior. He knows what's going on. Robert is a very diligent worker. He is a self motivator."
Are you worried about a 13-game schedule being too much?
"Not if we don't get anybody injured. If we get a bunch injured it could haunt you. I'd rather play than have an open date unless you're beat up as heck. On the preseason game, it seemed like it was the thing to do. We've turned down as many as we've taken. Last year we probably turned one down, I've always tried to do it at the right time. We've never played the Eddie Robinson Classic. I wanted to play in that.. ….. we've managed to win them, it's gotten us off to a good start. Year we won the national championship in '93 we were 12-1, Notre Dame was 11-1. I felt like that extra game made a difference."
Talk about Chris Rix and his leadership abilities.
"I think. ...you have to earn respect. I think he earned a lot last year. He'll learn some more. Too young right now. They don't like to follow freshmen. I thought they had problems at first last year, there were some skeptics on our team. That didn't think he was doing as good as he ought to be doing. But by end of the year a lot of that changed. Lot of people's feelings had changed. Everything was upbeat and positive. He had a good spring. I think they like that. He is a natural leader. Chirs is a leader. I said this last year to people, that I thought he was the best leader on our football team, but who was gonna listen to him? They ain't gonna listen to no freshman. The longer he plays the more respect he'll get from his teammates. Learning to give everybody else the credit is one thing he learned. That's one thing I noticed he's learning a little bit, give other people the credit.
"It's inexperience that you have to learn. I think he's just a natural leader. If you're doing something he don't like, he'll tell you. Most guys won't do that, but a leader will, even though it hurts. And he'll do that, but it comes across bad for a freshman to be telling this guy he's not doing it like it's supposed to be done. … that's why I say he's probably the best leader we had, but other guys weren''t ready to accept it yet. But he gained a lot of ground on it last year, boy. He gained a lot of ground. Experience, you can't teach it. You can lecture it, but you nearly have to let it develop. He's got to live through those experiences.. He'll not make those same mistakes twice."
Talk about all the construction at Florida State.
"It's kind of like Ann and I when we first had children. We had six children, like that. We didn't know what birth control was. Never heard of such a thing. And then you have that sixth child, you can't no more afford that child. We can't pay for that. But she's born and there she is and you think, how did I ever live without her? That's kind of like the stadium there. I remember how it used to be? But you look out there now and you can't believe it used to be that crackerbox we used to have out there. Dave Hart is the ideal fit. Dave Hart's legacy is a builder. That guy wherever he's been he's built great facilities _ he did the same thing at East Carolina. Other day I was driving around at football camp. There's baseball stadium being redone, there's the track getting redone, there's our offices knocked down. There's the goal posts being changed. Dave is perfect for what Florida State needed."