We're working on a feature story on Roth for an upcoming issue of Hawkeye Nation Magazine and got back in touch with the suburban Chicago native to get his thoughts on Saban leaving Miami after just two seasons.
Here is the transcript of our interview:
How did you find out that Coach Saban was leaving for Alabama?
I found out on the news.
Did he say anything to you guys about this through the season, especially towards the end?
No, he didn't say anything. He said once when he gathered us up in the middle of practice and said that he wasn't going anywhere and that he wasn't going to be the coach of Alabama. After that, we didn't hear anything about it. We heard the rumors and all that. Then the team speech the night at the hotel against Indianapolis (in the season finale) was a real weird speech, but still, he never said anything.
What do you mean by it being a weird speech?
Just his demeanor, and then he said that this was the last time that you guys would play as a team. It was kind of weird. We know that guys come and go and that stuff, but still, it was kind of weird.
What did you think today when you heard the news?
Ah, I mean, I don't really care. (laughs) You know, it wasn't like he was a very good communicator. It wasn't like he was a personal friend. I mean, it's not like he's the most sociable guy anyway. I think in my two years I think I might have talked with him three times.
So, you're saying that the NFL is a lot different than college and your relationship with Coach Ferentz?
Yeah, but still, guys have said that it was different at other places (in the NFL). He was nowhere near Coach Ferentz as far as a person or a coach. He is a good coach. I'm just saying that's how highly I think of Coach Ferentz. They say he wanted to go to change young men's lives, I don't think that's why he left. I think he likes to have total control of college kids. You really can't do that at the pro level.
Yeah, you have guys making even more than you do.
And plus, you have the intimidation factor and you can hold a lot over a college kid who is naïve, too. In the pros, you just go to another team. It's not like he can hold you and not play you for four years and you're done. It's different as a pro.
How do you think Saban leaving will go over with the team?
With some guys, you never want to knock the guy that drafted you. With some guys, you knew that he knew that you were a player. But for the most part, I don't think anyone is really sad about him leaving. Like I said, it wasn't like we were winning and it wasn't like he was a very personable guy, you know. I think we're just ready to move on.
Does it worry you at all, like you said, that the guy that brought you in now is gone and you have to prove yourself over again?
No, I'm not worried as a player. If he was around, I'd have a good chance of maybe starting next year. But so be it. I'm not going to dwell on the guy, like I said. It wasn't like I was very close with him. And it wasn't like we were winning. So, I'm just going to take care of myself and that's kind of the way of the league. You have to take care of yourself. I'm just going to do what I need to do to have a good off season and come back and continue to make plays on a consistent level and let the chips fall where they may.
How would Coach Ferentz fit in Miami? He doesn't seem like a Miami guy.
He's a guys' guy. Guys' guys can fit in anywhere. (chuckles) If he's in Iowa, if he's in Miami or Pittsburgh or Chicago, that guy fits in anywhere he goes. I think Kirk would make a great pro coach, I think he'd make a great college coach, and I think he'd make a great Pop Warner and high school coach. He's a great guy and he's a good coach.
What do you guys need in Miami? What would you like to see in terms of traits, personality and style in the new coach?
I don't think there was more of a need. I think Saban did a really good job. I don't think that his record reflects what he's capable of. For two years, he went through every single quarterback. It took him a while to find one. That's what we came into the last two years. Once he got his quarterback situated, we really turned it on. We beat all of the big name teams expect Indianapolis in this league. Our hardest games, we pretty much won them all, expect Indianapolis, if you want to go off of record and playoff caliber teams. But like I said, that first six to eight games was just trying to get a quarterback and get that situated. We all know that if you don't have a quarterback in college, and especially pro, it's going to take a lot of different elements to win. Once they got the quarterback situated, we took off.
So, you need a guy that comes in and picks up where you left off?
Yeah, it's not like this team is in shambles or we've got bad players. I think we've found our team. Now, we just need someone to do the Xs and Os.