1. Now that you've had a chance to analyze the GMAC Bowl win, what did that game teach you about your team that you didn't know?
Bob Pruett: "I don't know that it taught me anything about the program that I didn't know. I think it just reinforced the things that I knew. That our players never quit trying, never try quitting. I think it just reinforces that, if you just hang in there, you've got a chance all the time to possibly make plays and come back to win a game. It's the direct opposite of the (MAC) championship game: Playing a team that was probably better than the team that we played in the championship game, I'm sure it was."
2. Looking back on 2001 - with all the distractions of the NCAA player suspensions and all, was it the- was this one of your tougher years to be a coach?
Bob Pruett: "I think by far it was the toughest year I've had. Without question, it was the toughest year, and maybe the most magical year, and maybe the most stressful, and probably the best year of coaching we've had. Because we had a great amount of distractions and adversities throughout the year. With the suspensions alone…those kids playing a game, off two games, on a game, not being able to really participate in practice. They could practice, but they couldn't practice from the standpoint of whoever was taking their place needed to get ready to play. The schedule was probably the toughest we've ever played. The MAC's better than it's ever been.
All those factors, especially the stress it put on our defensive football team…those guys being out of practice, a lack of being able to work the fundamentals…all the talk about Conference-USA, the suspensions, just everything that went on, it's unbelievable that we were able to pull it off.
It was most rewarding to finish. If you'd have said at the beginning of the year that we would be ranked 21st in the country and won 11 games, everybody would have walked away and been happy with it."
Bob Pruett just finished his sixth season at the helm of the Marshall Thundering Herd.
3. Are there any non-conference games you're working on that you can fill us in about?
Bob Pruett: "Our program is a work in progress. Are there non-conference games we're working on? Where are we with that? You know, sometimes you're delicate in negotiations, and there's no sense in sending it to the rumor mill, because you build yourself up. And then there's disappointment because people will want to know why it didn't happen. Sometimes, it just can't happen, there's a lot of reasons for it.
But we are constantly working on our schedule. Right now, our non-conference schedule next year is TCU, Appy State, Troy State, and Virginia Tech. "
4. It's flattering that your offense is being run at other programs, via former Marshall offensive coordinators who move on to those other programs. What makes your offense so appealing that they want to carry it over to those other programs?
Bob Pruett: "Well, we're a quick-strike offense, we've been successful over a six-year period of time. If you look at our offense the first year, it looks very similar to what it was this past year. It's got consistency, it's a system that works. We tweak the system quite often to try and improve it. But it's basically the same system we started with six years ago. Fortunately, I've had good coaches to be able to run it.
When you've got the Southern Conference record for offense, the Mid-American Conference record for offense, throw for over 4,000 yards, and average scoring 38 points per game, anywhere between 35 and 38 every year I've been here…that's pretty consistent. The number of touchdowns thrown ranks probably in the top five in the country during that time period. If you tally them all up over a six year period, no program has done that. Taking a program and made it a consistent top 25 football team. We're ranked in the top 30-35 programs in the country. Our system works. And, when it's gone to other places, it's worked. Minnesota, it works. Texas, it works. NC State, it works. Southern Miss, they have the Conference-USA total offense records.
So, it works. If you can't get the head coach, the next thing you try to get is the coordinator."
Read the rest of this exclusive interview with coach Bob Pruett in next week's issue of Herd Insider! In the rest of the interview, Pruett addresses the NCAA sanctions, his timeline for filling the offensive coordinator's spot (you'll be surprised), and much, much more!