After coaching with the Texans for a few seasons you've kept a low profile. What have you been up to the past year?
Well I've been coaching defensive backs for the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL (United Football League). They've been around for four years now and have a lot of similarities to the NFL – they have the same computer systems and one of our guys got signed by an NFL squad as well. I wasn't sure what it was going to be like when I first started but I'm glad I did. Football is football and it was a fun experience.
Why did you decide to accept the job of defensive coordinator at the University of Houston?
Well in 2011 I spent a lot of time over here (at UH) and got to know a lot of the guys and living here in Houston meant that I didn't have to move my family. I had made a decision a few years back to try and get back into college football and I was just looking for the right opportunity. I had actually taken a job at Louisiana Tech as the DC there in Ruston for a few weeks when Tony called and gave me the opportunity to come back here to Houston. Also playing in the Big East plus working with some guys I already knew made this a pretty easy decision for me. I'm happy to be here. I've known Coach Levine for a long time and the type of coach he is so I think this program is ready to bust out.
You've split your career coaching between both the NFL (9 years) and college (10). Which would you say is your favorite?
Oh there are pros and cons to both. The good thing about college is the kids are young and you can help to shape them not only in football but also in their lives off the field. Plus I've always enjoyed recruiting because that's a competition within itself and the Big East will only help us.
Speaking of recruiting, is there a specific region that you're responsible for?
Right now it's pretty much set up to where I oversee the defensive aspect of recruiting. Now my experience is that I've been a recruiter for the Metroplex (Dallas – Ft. Worth) and the Houston area in the past when I was at both Kansas and Minnesota. Needless to say I'm really looking forward to getting back out there on the recruiting trail.
Speaking of recruiting as a member of the Big East, do you think that will help your efforts to recruit more nationally?
Like I said when I first got here, we're in the middle of Houston where there are plenty of good football players and good athletes all within a 50 or so mile radius. Now sometimes you have a relationship with another coach somewhere else in the country and that, along with recruiting specifically for need, is the only reason to recruit nationally.
You've been on the job for a little over a month. The NCAA limits the amount of contact that coaches can have with players during the off-season, so what have your meetings with the current student-athletes been like?
Oh we've had plenty of contact with the players already here and I've been talking to the recruits over the phone. We're allowed to meet with our players a few times a week and their always around either here (at the football offices) or the academics center. Just getting to be a part of their everyday lives and getting to know them all is a fun part of the job. We start spring practices on Monday. We've got a lot of work to do but we're all excited.
A question a lot of fans are interested in is what defensive scheme will the Cougars be playing this season, a 3-4 or a 4-3? When I look at the roster I see only one defensive player over 300 pounds (Joey Mbu). Is that a factor in determining what defense you'll be employing this season?
Well those are all good questions. The way the staff looks at it is that we look at the types of offenses we play against. If we were playing against all these spread offenses running 90 to 100 plays per game I would think the bigger defensive linemen wouldn't be able to play as much. There's a fine line – if you're playing against bigger SEC offensive lines that will line up with two backs and try to run you over then you play bigger guys. I don't think size is going to be a problem for our guys. I like our defensive interior. I think we have quite a few guys that are good football players. Now me saying that and them actually going out there and playing the right way is what we have to get done. We're just looking for football players. That may be a copout answer but its reality. I'd rather have a 280 pound player who could play half or three quarters of a game over a 300 pounder who can only give me 20 to 25 snap. So like I said, I like our defensive interior and look forward to watching them grow and mature.
Going back to the Big East and the types of offensive styles you'll be seeing this season, have you and the staff started breaking down your opponents for this coming season yet? If so how would you classify the league as a whole, offensively speaking?
Well we've started looking at a few of them but the problem is coaching. Cincinnati has a new offensive coordinator for example. You look at them but are you really breaking down what they do? Obviously you can break down Louisville, which will probably be a pre-season Top10 football team. South Florida has a new head coach and the list goes on and on in our conference. We won't do anything until spring ball is over with anyway but we'll have plenty of time over the course of the rest of the spring and summer. One good thing about starting spring ball so early is it gives you a little more time on the backend for spring recruiting and prepping for your future opponents.
How would you describe your coaching style, laid back or intense?
(laughing) Honestly I don't know. I'm just trying to coach these kids the best way I know how. If it takes screaming and hollering that's what I'll do. If it takes loving some kids up then that's what I'll do. I won't treat them all the same since they come from different backgrounds and all that. I'll coach with some enthusiasm and emotion and if that's considered hollering and screaming then that's what I am.
You were hired as the defensive coordinator, but which position will you actually be coaching?
I'm going to assist with the secondary and linebackers.
What are your hobbies off the field?
I love playing with my kids (Gibbs and his wife, Debbie, have one son, Hudson, and one daughter, Charlie Grace). They're very active so rarely do I leave home when I'm not on the field coaching or out recruiting. I might go bike riding with my kids but my football coaching and my family are pretty much my hobbies and my life.