Big Ten Kickoff: Chad Greenway

Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway enters his final season at Iowa, and he was selected to attend the Big Ten's Annual Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago. Here are some of his words from Tuesday...

To hear Greenway's actual words, CLICK HERE for the audio file

Q: What do you think the reason is that you guys have been able to sustain the success?

Chad Greenway: Coach Ferentz, the coaching staff definitely in my opinion would be the reason. I think their ability to continue to get talent in and coach the way they want to coach has helped us maintain

Q: He seems like he's been able to take guys like you who have been flying under the radar.

Greenway: I wasn't on the radar. Not even on the screen. I was on the ground, crawling.

Q: I know. (laughs). Seems like he's been able to take you guys and find the right spot.

Greenway: He has an ability to know what's a good situation for a Dallas Clark. Dallas came in as a linebacker, he thought he wanted to be a linebacker and wasn't going to move. Coach said, "try tight end", now he's making 2.5 million dollars a year. Bruce Nelson was the same way, Robert Gallery came in as a tight end and moved to the line, and he's making 18 million dollars. He knows what's right for the situation of the player coming in. He kind of has a feel for it, I don't think you can really learn that, it has to kind of be innate and I think that's what he has.

Q: How did that apply to your situation?

Greenway: I came in as a safety, and I think he realized that my body size was too big to play safety, and I think he realized that early. Maybe he saw something in the way I moved, saw something in the way I thought that he thought I had the ability to play linebacker.

Q: How'd you feel about that?

Greenway: I didn't care one way or the other. I thought I was completely open, if he had moved me to offensive tackle I probably would have moved there. Whatever he thinks goes, that's the way I was raised. I listen to my peers, and that's how it happens.

Q: Kirk and his staff don't get too high or too low, flat liners.

Greenway: Some of them do, now. Our defensive backs coach is crazy. Phil Parker, who's a three time all Big Ten player for Michigan State, he's nuts. Our defensive coordinator, Norm Parker, was crazy when he was 30, and he's about 64 now. We've got some characters on the team, but the head guy controls the feel of the team. He's always in control, always focused on the right things, never gets too high or low, that's what makes him so good, and we all learned from that. Even though there are people who are characters on a team, you have that on any team. We all know how to act and react based off his personality and what situation he puts it in.

Q: Phil said he knows his pre-game speech is the same every week.

Greenway: Stick to the fundamentals, do what you know, do it right. He's not a 'rah rah' guy, he's not going to get you fired up. If you can't get fired up for a football Saturday, you shouldn't be playing the game. If you need a speech to get you fired up for a game, you're playing the wrong sport. That's the way I've looked at it my whole life, that's the way Coach Ferentz looks at it. He tells you what you need to focus on, what you need to do is to go out and do it, you just need to get yourself ready to go.

Q: What's your favorite Norm Parker story?

Greenway: He was at Michigan State coaching, and Coach Phil Parker, our DB coach did something wrong in practice, going into his senior year, either in camp or during that season, and I remember Coach Parker saying Norm was standing back on the sidelines watching and Phil Parker was doing laps around the practice field. George Perles in a golf cart, I think Norm Parker was in the golf cart with him, following him, making sure he didn't slow down, if he slowed down he said "I'm gonna run your ass over".

Q: Last year, seeing what Norm went through, with Jeff and everything.

Greenway: Yeah, he had so much going on, being with a guy like that for so many years, you love the guy, he's like family to you. You see a guy go through those situations, and it's tough. It kind of raises you up, like "We need to do something for this man". He's helped us out in so many ways, we need to go out and play for this guy, we need to go get wins for this guy. You want it so much more, not only for yourself, but for him. You want to win ten games for Norm Parker, just so we can go to a bowl game. There are so many things you want to do for him, just because he's been in such a tough situation, especially being the guy he is.

Q: He's the definition of 'old school', isn't he?

Greenway: Yes, he is, definitely.

Q: He always talks about how he likes 'tough guys'. Do you consider yourself a 'tough guy' now?

Greenway: I've been starting for three years, he must like me.

Q: His being up in the booth, and not on the sidelines, has that affected you guys as all?

Greenway: Not at all, it didn't really affect us at all. It was a change at first, we were used t him being hands on during a timeout, when we're off the field, just having him come over to talk to us about what's going on, what we need to fix. The communication is a little different now, but he's still there. He still makes the calls.

Q: A little bit easier to avoid him on a missed assignment.

Greenway: Yeah. No, he's got a phone, he always calls.

Q: Before you got an offer from Iowa, what kind of place did you envision yourself going to?

Greenway: A division 2 school, possibly a 1AA, or walking on at a D1 school.

Q: Did a take a while once you arrived before you felt confident that, "I'm just as capable on this level as everyone else"?

Greenway: I kind of realized that the summer going in, my first year I went down there for a couple weeks for workouts. I realized that I was no better than them, but they were no better than me, we're kind of on a level playing field. Everybody kind of had the same insecurities coming in. I think that's what everybody has going into college sports. Am I going to be good enough, am I going to be able to handle this? My situation may have been a little more unique, coming from where I did come from, playing 9 man football, I had no clue how to play with 11 guys on the field. I had never played an 11 man game in my life. It was my first chance, I was nervous.

Q: Are there attributes that Abdul has that you say to yourself, "I wouldn't mind getting that".

Greenway: He has a great hitting ability. He can fill the hole well. He's probably better at taking on blockers than I am. I'd like to have his bench press. There are a lot of things he has that I don't have, and I think probably likewise as well. It's probably why we complement each other well.

Q: Having a young defensive line, how do you think that will impact what you and Abdul are able to do?

Greenway: It could end up impacting us only on their inexperience level. They're talented, they're very good players, they work very hard. It's been shown over the summer and even last year when they were playing behind people. The experience level is the one thing that's really going to fall off. The talent level, I don't think, is really going to fall off even though 3 of those guys are in the NFL right now because these guys are that good, have the capability of being that good. I don't think we're going to have a problem at all.

Q: Were you ever close to considering the draft?

Greenway: No, not at all. I knew I wanted to be in Iowa one more year and finish things out with my team mates, play one more year with Abdul. College is a special experience, especially college football, I think you know it's a very unique thing, and I wanted to play that out.

Q: The Big Ten has a lot of really great linebackers, when you look across the board at the talent at that sport, are you amazed at the number of stars there?

Greenway: There are quite a few, and quite a few guys who aren't quite there yet but have the capability of being stars, guys at Penn St and everywhere else. It's amazing that there are this many good linebackers in one conference, it's pretty hard to believe, and I don't think a lot of people do believe it, but hopefully come the end of the year, there will be no doubters.

Q: A.J. Hawk said he takes pride because one week you may face a team that's going to try and pound the ball, another you might face a spread offense.

Greenway: Yeah, the Big Ten is unique for that. You face teams like Purdue and Michigan State who spread you out, and teams that like to pound you like Ohio State, Michigan, used to be us, but that's what's unique about this conference. A lot of conferences run the same types of offenses, relying on speed in a lot of situations now. I think that's what makes it such a tough conference, having to defend different offenses.

Q: Does that raise the value of speed in linebackers, with the Purdue revolution, with linebackers moving laterally and playing in space?

Greenway: I think not necessarily speed, but you have to be good in coverage. You need to be able to knock receivers, then fall back into your coverage and be able to play with them. You can't be in nickel all day, you can't do it, you'll just get killed. You have to be a good enough linebacker to go out in there and play in space and defend receivers.

Q: The other thing about playing in space is about tackling being a lost art. You're counting on one guy to miss.

Greenway: You have to be an open field tackler. I think that's one of the toughest things to do. If you get Taylor Stubblefield, and he catches a pass 5 yards in front of you, it's just me and him, I have to go make that play. Something you can definitely take pride in is making that tackle.

Q: What's the best practice story on Hinkel?

Greenway: He makes the most ridiculous catches. The kid has the smallest hands but he makes some amazing catches. I remember a scrimmage a couple years ago where he made this catch that would make the Michigan catch look like nothing. He does incredible things. He does it with his left hand, his right hand, he's just amazing. The thing about Eddie is, barring injury, he is such a consistent player. Week in, week out he's getting his catches, he's getting his yards. He's a guy you can send across the middle, he'll make the catch, I don't care who's going to hit him. That's something that's rare in receivers these days, I think a guy you can really really count on to bring the ball in.

Q: Sounds like he practices at the same intensity as a game.

Greenway: Oh yeah, he's always going. That's something we all try and take pride in, practicing as hard as we do. Eddie takes it to another level, he plays at the same level he practices, that's what makes him so good, he's so prepared.

Q: (A question on where he lives)

Greenway: He lives with Drew and CJ Barkema

Q: Do they have a messy house?

Greenway: Only because of CJ, CJ is an offensive lineman, he's the messiest kid. He was my roommate freshman year. He's terrible.

Q: So is Ed the neat freak of that group?

Greenway: I don't know if he's a neat freak. He's not necessarily a dirty guy or a clean guy, he's just kind of, whatever.

Q: Does he have a rep, a personality, he's all really quiet with us?

Greenway: Eddie, you know (pauses). Not really. Eddie just kind of comes to work, does what he needs to do, and you can kind of see that with his family. His dad's the same way, he's not the kind of guy that's going to come talk your ear off or do something crazy, he's just kind of plugging along, and gets the job done.

Q: How did Iowa find you?

Greenway: An ex-player had watched one of my games in high school and put the coaches onto me. They talked to me, I sent some film down, then the relationship went on from there.

Q: Do you know who the player was?

Greenway: Jon Lafleur. He family has a huge cattle farm in Jefferson, SD which is about 15 minutes from Vermillion, where they hold the state championship and he watched me play.

Q: Was it your quarterbacking skills that caught his eye?

Greenway: Oh, they're unbelievable.

Q: Coach says you probably still believe you've got the arm.

Greenway: It's not a believe, it's true. Nah, I've fallen off a little bit. I had a lot of fun in High School playing QB and safety because you get a 9 yard run at safety, then come up and fill the run. Quarterback was a good time, calling my own plays senior year, doing everything I wanted, it was awesome.

Q: Do you ever offer your services?

Greenway: Alllll the time. Running back last year when we had all those running backs going down, tight ends, fullback, I'd do anything. I love offense. You saw my first interception, the dive. (Note: At this point, he held his arms out as he did mid-dive vs. Kent State in '04) That wasn't scripted.

Q: Did they ever come close to letting you go in?

Greenway: I don't think so. I hoped they would, but I don't think they will, ever.

Q: Just tell him you can be their (Mike) Vrabel.

Greenway: Yeah, I know.

Q: He's a (Bill) Belichick guy, you'd think he'd have learned that.

Greenway: You'd think. Not yet.

Q: You've already accomplished a lot, All American, All Big Ten, all that stuff. What's left for you in your career?

Greenway: The obvious answer would be to win a national championship. I don't know if we're going to have that good of a team this year, that's yet to be determined. We've been close the last three (years), I think just one more step and we're over that edge and maybe we'll get that opportunity. There are so many good teams in this conference, it's going to be tough to do that. As far as personal goals, if I could have written a script my freshman year of college, I would have fulfilled everything on that script so far. I play the same way now as I did when I was in 7th grade. I go out there and have fun, play with intensity, I'm an emotional guy, and that's how I will always play as long as I play the spot. I'll never change, so I'll always go out and have fun.

Q: The coaches, Abdul joke around saying you're still raw. What do you say when you hear Abdul saying you're still raw?

Greenway: I think that's what makes it a unique situation for me. I don't know everything about linebacker yet, I feel like I'm learning something new every day. I think that's what makes it kind of fun to play that position because I can come into practice knowing I'm going to learn something or pick something up from Abdul, coach parker, the other linebackers, somebody who's been playing the position longer than I have. I'll be able to pick it up and run with it, I think that's why it's a good situation right now for me.

Q: Could you talk about your friendship with Abdul Hodge at all, growing up to together the past 5 years here?

Greenway: It's a good situation, we kind of take the pressure off each other as far as football goes. We've been pretty good friends since day one, it's grown every year, the more we work out and do stuff together. It's been a good relationship, and it's something that's happened because of college football, that's what makes it so great. I don't really like him that much. (Laughs)

Q: Abdul had said he's coming out to visit the farm sometime soon, are you going to make him pitch in with the chores and everything?

Greenway: We'll see what we can do. I don't know how scared he'll be. He's actually flying out with me today.

Q: Is he really scared of the animals?

Greenway: He hates dogs, he's so scared of dogs. It's the funniest thing I've ever seen. We get on the elevator yesterday, and this lady has a dog, and he jumps in behind me, getting behind me, pointing, "see the dog?".

Q: Do you have big dogs out on the farm?

Greenway: We've got a border collie, basset hound. Set em loose, see what he can do. How fast he can run. Basset hound's not going to run too fast.

Q: That would take the steam off the Abdul Hodge street credit.

Greenway: Yeah. (Chad makes a few basset hound noises).

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories