Robb Akey press conference (Part II)

Akey continues his discussion with the media Wednesday, fielding questions from the new Turf that is expected to be installed this spring in the Dome, to his regionally famous high-jumps on the sideline, to discussing his plans to interview the current staff in the Idaho program.

Outdoor vs. Indoor football on the Palouse… "It's like I said. Every kickoff it'll always be 70 degrees and sunshine. We don't have to worry about those elements. It'll be a good thing. I'm excited about it."

About the jump from coordinator to head coach… "The uncharted territory you mean? No, I think that's part of the excitement. I think one of the things as coaches is that we're competitors and we're always looking for that new step to be able to take. There has to be a first time for everything. Several years ago I hadn't been a defensive coordinator before and had the opportunity to do that and organize….I hadn't been a special teams coordinator prior to doing that. I think that you also see and learn as you go on. While this is my first head coaching opportunity I've coordinated three different phases of the game on defense, special teams, and the recruiting efforts of a university; so I think that has helped me be able to set the table to where it is that I need to be. I've also had the opportunity to break in a few first time head coaches of my own. I had the chance to do that at Weber State, my last year at Northern Arizona with coach Showers, and then obviously you know the transition that took place at Washington State when coach Doba took over. I've seen how that transition works. You're always making your notes and thinking, ‘Well, this is how I want to do things when my time comes.' Now my time has come and we'll see if we can get it done the right way."

About lessons from Mike Price and Bill Doba as head coaches… "Well, I think the number one thing I learned there is how you treat people - that makes all the difference in the world, and that's the way we're going to build this program. It's going to be about the people – the people that run it and the people that we bring to be a part of it and the way we treat them. If I've learned anything from those two men, that's it, and I think that tells you everything. If you treat people right you can make things happen, and those are two of the most first class people in college football, or just people in this world, that you're ever going to meet."

About the amount of work ahead to rebuild this program… "We've got a great deal of work. We only won four football games here last year. I also looked…I was told when I came to Washington State, ‘You were a coordinator at NAU, why are you coming to that? Y'all can't win at Washington State.' Well, we did. We had three 10-win seasons, a Pac-10 championship. We weren't supposed to be able to do that. We made it as high as #3 [2002] in the BCS. We weren't supposed to be able to do those things. I don't think you listen to that. I think you look and you see if there's an opportunity to do something. I think it we all buy into ‘This is where we can go, this is what we can do with it,' and we do this in a positive fashion we can make anything happen. I watched this football team play last year. We prepared and had to play against them. I watched this football team hang in there and compete for 60 minutes against a Big 10 team in Michigan State. Thanksgiving weekend we didn't have a game to go to of our own and my boys and wife and I came over here…we thought we were just coming to watch a college football game. I didn't know it was going to turn into all this, but I watched Idaho play San Jose State University. That was a close ball game. San Jose State, they won eight ball games this year and they're playing in a bowl game next week. I think there's a great deal of promise here, and everything is going to take hard work. There's no question about it. But I also know how to do it that way, and that's the only way I know how to do it; so I'm excited about it, but I don't see that as a negative."

Now that he's been elevated to Head Coach, will the jumping around on the sidelines end? "Absolutely not. We're going to have success here, buddy."

"Well, you know what? It'll be a little different because obviously I've got to be…there's a different way that I'm going to carry myself on the sideline…but I will promise you this. It is still a game, and you play games for two reasons: You play ‘em to win and you play'em to have fun, or they're not worth playing; so we're going to keep this fun, and you've got to play with emotion. It needs to be coached that way. If I want them to play that way they need to see the ability of this old man to go and be energetic about it. I think that gives them freedom to play that way we want them to. You're still going to see that. I might just be a little more controlled."

What would you say to the team today, if they were here, about the adversity they've been through… "That we need to use that adversity to make us stronger. I've got some work to do to make sure that they can trust me. The transition that has taken place - what has gone on in the last two years - why should they trust me different than anybody else? So that's the work that I think I've go to do. I think that the way things have gone there's a pretty good chance, and from what I hear a very strong chance, that those players are uniting together due to the adversity that they've been dealt. Well, that's one of the toughest things to do, get that unity amongst a football team. If that has helped to make that happen, that's a lot better. They're going to see who I am. That's the only way I know how to coach. They're going to see who I am, and I hope they're going to appreciate that, that they're going to like that. That I think is how I'm going to get to them and they're going to see they are going to get coached by the coaches I'm going to bring here the same way. But I think that relationship is easier to build than the one getting them all to become united. I think that's my challenge - OUR challenge I should say is a better way to put it - over the next several months. It's going to be a building process, a recruiting process from now until they get back here in January, and it's going to be a building process from now until spring ball. Then we're going to put it in action out there and they're going to find out, ‘Hey, this is how these coaches have shown me that maybe they do care about me.' Spring practice out there we're going to show them how we can help them get better, and then I think that's how you build trust."

About plans to keep any of the current staff… "I'm going to talk to every member of this current staff, and if there's a chance…I'm not going to say either way, but I certainly am going to give them a fair shake, just like the other coaches in the country that are out there that are available right now. In our profession, things are hard. Whether we have the ability to raise our families and feed them and things like that are based on the decisions of young people that are still growing up. I feel for these coaches. Some of these guys have been left behind by two former bosses, and that's real hard on them. I completely understand that. I think I owe it to them…we're all in the same boat in regards to that in this profession, but I've also got to make sure we do things the way they need to be done. If it works out that suits the University of Idaho, then that's the way it'll be. But if there's another way to do it, it could go that way also."

Any formal meetings with the current staff so far? "Not yet. I've had conversations, brief, with a couple of them. Obviously I've known some of these guys for a period of time. I want to do that formally and will most likely do that tomorrow. Sit down, one-on-one, we can visit and let them know the time frame that I'm dealing with and what those possibilities would be."

About opening on the road against USC next year… [Smiles] "I came over here anyway, I'll put it that way. [laughter] I knew…I don't know. What was Holt thinking when he helped get that put together? You know, it's good…I think it's very important to have a warm-up game. Good thing we got that. [more laughter] "

About the challenges of getting this job, considering Idaho's tradition of hiring a coach with a background at Idaho… "It has continued to breed itself over time. That's exactly right. I did expect that would make it more difficult. Whether that was a change they were looking for or not I don't know. Going for a job is no different than competing to win a game or competing to win over a recruit. You're going after something you want and you always have your head on a swivel. You heard this or you heard that, and you think…but you know I can't control those other things. All I could do is present to them, ‘Hey, this is what I'm going to be able to bring to the program. This is the way that I will do it for you.' I just had to have confidence that if I got the job or didn't get the job they knew what they were going to get from Robb Akey. I'm very proud that they selected me, but yeah when you look at it and decide, 'Well, maybe it's an outside chance coming in,' but hopefully the proximity maybe made it a little bit better."

About being involved early, and having the search go on for ten days, with candidates being added and removed throughout… "The toughest thing about the process was it went every day for a week, and I was out recruiting last week. It got stirred up the morning after the announcement was made that coach Erickson was leaving - was there an interest, and yes there was. The thing goes to the next day to find out how much interest comes back from Idaho and there was interest there. Then we put together the opportunity to talk by the phone, because I'm out on the road. I'm in four different cities and four different states during the course of all this taking place over the course of the week recruiting for Washington State. In the back of your mind this is here, but in the front of your mind I've got a responsibility to do the job that I have. I think I did that well, but that wears on your mind a lot. It was an exhausting week, I'll put it that way. Then when I got in here and had the opportunity to sit down face to face with them on Saturday – that was our first opportunity to do that. Rob was awesome in regards to the communication. That's one of the tough things, and then again this is one of the reasons why I haven't jumped a lot of jobs. There's nothing more difficult than trying to get a job. It's too much effort….It was tough enough to do the job that I do let alone doubling it by this. That was a serious thing, but Rob was awesome because sometimes you sit there and you can wonder, ‘What if?' It's like you hear other names and, ‘Well, you're not talking. What does that mean?' Well, it may mean nothing. It may mean everything. Rob was great about just a phone call here and there, ‘Hey, listen, just wanted to keep you up to date. This is where this is. How do you feel about that?' I think he did a fantastic job with this because a lot of people, whether it's an assistant job or a head coaching position, that communication isn't always there like that; so that helped at least understand where things were. But you can't make time move any faster than what it does. Obviously things went well. I'm proud that they did."

Any pressure to meet earlier… "Well, I think it worked out that way due to my schedule. I was scheduled to go see some very important kids in regards to the job that I possessed as defensive coordinator at Washington State and had the head coach with me at two of those different cities. There would have been a desire on my part to make that happen earlier to find out where things were at, but the job I had to do was the one that I had. The first thing he asked me was when I was going to be back in town. He said, ‘Are you going recruiting?' I said, ‘Yes.' He said, ‘When will you get back in town?' I said ‘It'll be Friday evening.' So that's how the day of Saturday came around. Now whether that was the way he had desired it or not I don't know, but he never pressured me to make it any different if that was the case."

Have you talked to any of the past Vandal coaches… "Yeah. I actually got a phone call from Coach Erickson this morning…congratulated me and wished me luck, and that was - I thought - a great thing. Some of the guys that are on staff here, I've bumped into a couple of them and got messages from a couple of them since this thing has taken hold. I haven't talked with any of the other previous head coaches at this point in time."

Discussions of the new turf… "Yeah, exactly. We're going to have a new field. We're hoping to have it done in time to start spring ball. The new field will be in place before the season starts obviously, and that's the first step. From what I understand, that's going to be done."

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