Q: On the topic of player projections, what do you think of recruiting services then that say someone is the top lineman in the country?
I just kind of hit that one, didn't I? I will put it this way. I spent six years in the NFL, and the amount of money spent on scouting is unbelievable. How many people do you think went down and saw Peyton Manning? We had so many members of our coaching staff. At the end of the day on draft day, all of the money and all of the work that you put into things, there are six or seven names up there. It might be more if you trade picks away, or 10 if you had a big year. It was an empty feeling because all of that time and effort and all of the money spent, you have six guys. My point is this; despite all of that money and all of that insight, you are still throwing darts, like Ryan Leaf, or Brady. How many NFL experts missed on that guy?
A good friend of mine, Phil Savage (current Jacksonville GM) was here in 2002 for the Michigan State game. We were visiting a little bit before the game then he was going to watch the game and get out of town. Before he left, he said that it must take a lot of courage to offer a scholarship. It blew his mind what we go through. He realizes that how limited our time and research is compared to what they do. I thought that was a good point. I am not going to make any comments on the recruiting services because I think they are great, but the question would be, I know what our access is to information and that being said, we are all trying to do as good a job as we can. But you know, anytime you are dealing with people and evaluating performance, you are never going to be 100% obviously.
Q: Is that why the three linemen are not coming today? (NOTE: some players who were requested to show up for interviews were not going to be available. Two of them were Brian Ferentz and Blake Larsen. Larsen came later in the day, and when asked if he would talk, he said ‘sure', which is how Blake has always been.)
I don't think so, I don't know. You would have to ask them that, well, I guess you are not going to get that chance (laugh). I am not even saying that is a related story.
Q: It's out of character for at least two of them.
I don't know which two you are thinking of. I can speak for Brian (Ferentz), I think. He is tired of talking. He has had more stuff written about him, in general, and he is tired of answering questions about how his knee feels, and I don't blame him. It's nobody's fault, but the first thing people say when they see Brian is ‘how is your knee?' for about the last four or five months, eight months. I think he is tired of that.
Q: Is the offensive line sensitive to questions right now?
I don't think our players are sensitive at all. This is my observation and has nothing to do with our players. I do pay attention to what is written and I know what is out there. I don't go on the Internet, thank god, and if I did…with all due respect, there is a time and place for everything and I don't mean that in a negative way, when you lose a couple of games…as long as it doesn't get personal. I don't pretend to know a lot about a lot of things, but I think I know more about our players than most people on the outside and we have a lot of guys working hard. We had a lot of guys working hard here in 1999, when we were 1-10. We just were not getting the results to show for it. That is part of sports. We are not crying, that is the way it goes.
Q: Do you ever have players come to you about things that are said or written?
I have never had a player come to me, never, at any level.
Q: Do you feel a line has been crossed here? (for bringing this topic up)
I see it coming, so I am trying to put it out there. And I tell you what, if we lose a couple more games, there will be other things coming, I understand that, too. If it's directed at me, I am getting paid. Throw darts at me, I am getting paid. I am not bullet proof, but I am close. I really worry about people that are not getting paid. If a guy doesn't make it to the starting lineup at the University of Iowa, it doesn't mean he is a failure, or even if he doesn't hit the game field….to me, there are a lot bigger issues out there. It's hard to start at a Big Ten university, it really is. It's hard to get through your career without being injured at some point in a fairly serious manner. That is football.
There is a lot of competition. Who is going to beat out Bob Sanders? None of us knew that coming in. Joe Moore, my mentor, is the guy that recommended Bob. And Joe's words were ‘I don't know if he will ever start for you, but he will make your team tougher.' He was wrong on the first one and right on the second one. Joe knew him better than anybody, and Joe had seen a lot of players in his time, too. He coached a lot of years and knew a lot of players; he knew good ones and bad ones. It's the nature of college sports, I guess. My illustration was that it happens in the pro's where they have a lot more access to information than we do. Strategy, nail us. A guy drops a ball, he drops a ball; nail him, as long as it's not personal. Report the facts, that kind of thing.
With expectations, my question always is ‘who's expectations are we talking about?' Joe Smith down the street? That is fine. I want our fans to be invested, and I appreciate that. But if it's some guy that lost $25 on the point spread, I don't have much sympathy for those guys, if that is why they are wound up. You have that everywhere.