I want to say a few words real quickly and then I'll get out of the way and let Erik visit with you. First of all, when Carl spoke to me about his retirement, the first thing that impacted me was that we were not only going to lose a coach, but an outstanding person, a quality person. Carl is one of the classiest people I've ever coached with, ever worked with and ever been around. So we're losing an outstanding coach, an outstanding person, and certainly a great mentor for our players and our coaching staff.
I think the number one requisite I was looking for (in a new assistant) was somebody who has great character, great quality, and I think that's the first thing I'd say about Erik. I think if you look at his resume, the thing that jumped out at me is he's really demonstrated excellence at every stop of his career. First, as a player at his alma mater and just finishing up his thirteenth year of coaching there. He had great success as a player, great success as a coach there, and I think maybe also of interest to me would be the fact that he's worked hard at his trade. Nothing was handed to him. He spent time coaching at the Naval Academy , Ball State , and Syracuse before returning to his alma mater.
Then I think the other thing I'd throw in there is thirteen years at that institution really indicated stability. I know he's had plenty of opportunities to leave there and that spoke volumes to me. As I said in the release last week, he's an excellent teacher, an excellent communicator, very good recruiter, and it also struck me he'd be a great team member and that's critical in coaching, at least in football where we have such a big organization.
We're thrilled that Erik joined our staff and it's been great to have him working the last week and a half with us. We're looking forward to a lot of great moments in the future.
Opening Remarks from Erik Campbell
I want to say again thanks to Coach (Ferentz). I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. It's an honor and privilege to be able to work for a great university like the University of Iowa. I know a lot about the tradition here and the history and being a former player in the Big Ten, we have had a lot of battles against Iowa and a lot of close games. So I knew the history here and when I got that first phone call from Coach, I was so excited and I knew this was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.
Q: Do you get to go on the cruise?
Erik Campbell: Next year. (laughs)
Q: How do you view the Iowa program and what you've seen over the years?
Campbell: Playing against (Iowa) and going against Coach for nine years, as a coach, and going back to the 1980's as a player, the image has always been a tough, physical type of team and it hasn't changed. Throughout the years, it's always been a battle. Every game we played against them while I was at Michigan, coaching and also as a player, has been a battle. I know one thing about an Iowa team is they are always ready to come to play. Win or lose, they're usually going to give their best shot and like I said, it's going to be a physical type of game, so guys have to be prepared for that type of game if they want to win. Now on the other side, it's an honor to be here.
Q: With Coach Carr retiring at the end of the season, I'm sure you had your thoughts on where you might go. Are you comfortable that it's another Big Ten school?
Campbell: Most definitely. I had a few opportunities to talk to other schools in the transition period. When Kirk finally called me, I was so excited to have an opportunity to be back in the Big Ten and be at a great institution. One thing I would add is also being around great people and be able to work with a great coach was the thing I was really hoping to get an opportunity to do again. Being in the Big Ten and also being close to the Midwest, I'm from Gary, Indiana, so it's still close in distance to my parents and things like that. So those things were important in making the decision on what school to work at.
Q: Did Lloyd Carr play a part in helping the process of getting a job at Iowa?
Campbell: I think he was very helpful. I mean he also guided me to make sure I went to a university that was well respected throughout the nation. Not just in the Big Ten but also throughout the nation, and also working for a great person as a head coach. That was one of the key things that I wanted to be a part of: a great organization and the people here in Iowa have been very open and warm so it's been a great transition.
Q: Do you consider yourself a coach first or a recruiter first?
Campbell: A coach first. I mean that's the most important thing. I like to coach and I like to teach kids. I like to be hands on in teaching kids how to develop as young men as well as develop as football players. That's the first thing and then at the same time the recruiting aspect is a very important part of coaching, but I'm going to be a coach first.
Q: Did you recruit Adrian Arrington?
Campbell: Yes, I was involved in the recruitment of Adrian, heavily involved. He's a great young man. A great kid and a great player. I knew to help me become a successful coach I needed a player like that to help my squad.
Q: What do you see in the group of receivers and tight ends that you're inheriting?
Campbell: A group that will work hard. Like I said, hopefully keep developing and become great players in the process. Just seeing them on film right now, I know one thing is these kids are hard workers. They have talent here that will just keep getting better and they have to mature because I think it's a young group, but I there's some success to be made.
Q: With the list of players you've coached at Michigan that went onto the pro's, what common denominator did they have other than talent that you helped mold?
Campbell: I think heart & desire; they are willing to work and listen and learn. Those guys were all hard workers and I was fortunate to be blessed with great talent. All we had to do is really keep motivating them, keep my hands on them and keep polishing and fine tuning skills. They had the skills coming in and I just made sure they keep developing. That's my goal as a coach is to keep guys developing to the best of their ability.
Q: Being that they were highly rated kids, was that task harder?
Campbell: In a way it's not that hard or difficult because most kids want to win. All kids want to be coached. There's not a kid out there that plays this game; football's a hard game and every kid out there wants to be coached. As long as they are willing to take to coaching everyday, they're going to get better. As they keep improving, the sky can be the limit. Some kids are going to rise higher than others.
Q: How long did it take you to make the decision about Iowa once it was offered to you?
Campbell: About one minute. It didn't take long. Like I said, I knew about Coach Ferentz and that was a guy you want an opportunity to work for, and again you want to work for good people and a good program, those types of things. Leaving Michigan was very difficult and so to find another place with that same type of feeling when Iowa presented to it me was a place in the Big Ten I could be at.
Q: Are there similarities between Coach Carr and Coach Ferentz?
Campbell: Yes. First of all, they are great teachers. Also, if you speak to anyone in the country in the coaching profession, their reputations speak for themselves. They are well respected and they are great coaches and then like I said, assistant coaches love working for them. That's why I was there for thirteen years working for Coach Carr because I loved working for him and now I have an opportunity to do that again and work with Coach Ferentz, which I'm very excited about.
Q: At what point did you know Coach Carr was going to retire?
Campbell: I knew after the Ohio State game, that Sunday when he announced it. Because you heard rumors, but I didn't really start hearing rumors until the Ohio State game the last week of the season. That's when I first started hearing the rumors and I didn't believe it. Then finally he announced it to the whole staff that Sunday.
Q: Was there a chance you thought you might stay on with Coach Rodriguez's?
Campbell: Well, you didn't know. Coaching is a profession where Coach Rodriguez had an opportunity to make his own decisions and hire his own staff, so you didn't know. I mean you were really up in the air about everything, about where you're going to be next.
Q: Was that pretty challenging because it was a long hiring process?
Campbell: Well, I didn't get retained. I mean I didn't get retained. My services weren't needed anymore and I had to move on to somewhere else.
Q: What are some of the memories that you have as a player and coach at Michigan of going up against Iowa and playing here in Iowa City?
Campbell: Well, the greatest memory I have is playing right here in this stadium in I think 1985. We were No. 1 in the nation and I think Iowa was No. 2 and it came down to a last second field goal. I was on the wrong end of that. Then my junior year we returned the favor up in Ann Arbor and I was a factor in that game because I had an interception, so that was my biggest memory about playing against Iowa.
Q: What are your thoughts on the spread offense?
Campbell: It doesn't make a difference. Coaching or playing against it, what do you mean?
Q: Coaching it.
Campbell: I never coached in that offense, so I don't know anything about it. All I know the pro-style offense and I enjoy working in that type of offense.
Q: The perception is that it's kind of easy to recruit to Michigan. Do you think that's fair?
Campbell: Well, if it's easy to recruit to Michigan, we'd have the greatest team every year and no problems and every kid we wanted we would have gotten, but that's not true. You had to work at it. You compete against some other schools at that type of level where you're competing against the best in the country, so you have to battle in recruiting also.