Ivy sees better times ahead for football program

Kentucky Athletics Director Larry Ivy is excited about the new direction of the football program, now under the guidance of Guy Morriss...

LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- The following Q&A contains exerpts from Kentucky Athletics Director Larry Ivy's interview session at the Jefferson County UK Alumni Club "Wildcat Kickoff Party":

On the decision to extend Guy Morriss' contract before he's coached his first game at UK:

"One of the things that solidified it for me was early on when the players came to me and it was evident we were going to make a change, they asked me to consider coach Morriss. I was already doing that in my own mind based on what I knew about Guy and how he handled himself as an assistant coach and as an assistant head coach, so I was convinced and the players just solidified that. And nothing he's done since he's been named (head coach) has changed my mind on that. He's handled himself extremely well in every situation that he's had before him -- the alumni groups, the ex-players, the current players' enthusiasm; it's raised tremendously since he was named.  Everything he's done has convinced me he can get the job done."

"We were kind of hamstringing him by giving him a one-year contract. We were getting killed in recruiting with people saying 'Why would you want to go to Kentucky? They don't know who their coach is going to be, he only has a one-year deal.' We felt it was fair not only to Guy, but to the program, to have someone in place where they could tell a recruit as well as his parents, 'I'm going to be your coach for the term that you're at the University of Kentucky.' That's why we decided to make the change."

"Guy came to me and said, 'Look, we're getting hurt in recruiting. I don't want any kind of buyout. If I don't get the job done, I'll know it, you'll know it, and you can tell me and I'll walk out the door. You don't owe me a dime.' So it's a win-win situation in my mind."

On when a contract extension should be completed:

"What I'm waiting on, and I hope to have it wrapped up really soon, is to have the report back from the NCAA. I want to make sure there are no surprises there, which I've been assured there won't be."

"We really don't know (about the sanctions). We do know they've been very complimentary of Sandy Bell and her staff, the job they did with the self-investigation and the self-imposed penalties we came up with, which are pretty severe."

On his expectations for the team coming off a 2-9 record and a controversial offseason:

"I don't think you can put it in wins and losses. I hope that we're successful and win more than we lose, but I'm not counting it that way. I want to see the type of football that we're getting back to, I think, to what a football team should be about. You don't re-invent the game of football. It's blocking and tackling, it's execution. And as most people know, you play like you practice. That was pretty evident on the defensive side of the ball (last year). I'm really enthused about the defensive staff we have together now, and I think we'll see the kids perform based on the expectations of the staff."

"We did have some split factions last year. It was not a solidified staff, and you absolutely can't have that and play winning football. We've got a staff together now that's all in the canoe together and all rowing in the same direction. That's good to see."

On scheduling for the 2002 season, when the Cats will be permitted to play a 12th game. After considering many options, a home date with UTEP was eventually signed:

"We had looked at starting a series with UCLA, Ohio State, Texas -- those type of teams -- but with the sanctions that are coming and the loss of scholarships, you may be putting too much pressure on the football team to go that route. In the future, somewhere down the road when we get things back in order, we hope to do that."

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