You grew up in Kansas City. Who were your favorite players?
George Brett, pretty simple. I loved that guy watching him play. I was a George Brett guy growing up watching him play with the pine tar and all that stuff.
The Chiefs weren't very good when I was growing up. Probably my favorite player there, which you guys will appreciate, was Dino Hackett, the middle linebacker. He was an Appalachian State linebacker. He had the big neck roll. Christian Okoye was the tailback then so those were two guys I grew up watching then.
What did you learn from Bielema and coach Mangino?
Coach B. was organized and really listened to his players. He was good with the assistant coaches and made time for them, develop them. He was very generous. People would work their butts off for him.
Coach Mangino really stuck to his vision. We had some tough years building a program there and he never got derailed from what he thought was the right way to do things.
I thought he had a great way with taking on tough things that happened because we had a lot of them. That first year we were the worst team in the country.
Just being able to stick with your plan and not second guess yourself and know that you know the right way to do things and be able to stand in front of the team and continue that vision and five years later to win the Orange Bowl with it. Just his ability to overcome adversity, really, was impressive to me.
Do you like to watch film of your current team to evaluate them or would you rather wait to spring practice and just start with a clean slate?
I believe in both. I do want to watch film on these guys and especially with recruiting, know what kind of gaps we need to fill from an athletic standpoint. I do know there are certain things I'd like to be able to do schematically but I may have to go get recruits to do them.
I did watch practice [on Sunday]. I do believe in the clean slate, though. I do know there are kids that sometimes just don't get along with the coach they had. They've got more in them and you might be able to bring it out of them so I don't want kids to think, hey, this guy's not going to give me a chance.
I think every job I've taken there's been the one or two guys, people come up to me and say ‘that guy was a you-know-what, now look at him.' I take a lot of pride in that- giving a guy that chance to make that out of himself but knowing at the same time that the leash is pretty short. You've gotta jump on board pretty fast and I told everybody in the meeting, we want everybody all in. We've got one ship going in one direction and they need to get on it fast.
Do you have any indication yet how many scholarships are not committed yet that you would have available?
Yeah, I've had that discussion but I need to go through it in a lot of detail. To be honest with you, I want to call every single one of these guys before I believe the list because I don't know what's transpired in the last eight days without a coach.
How hands on are you with the coordinators? Are you active in play calling?
I'm not a play-caller but I am a suggester. I'm going to learn their game plans. So as I watch the game during the game I'm looking for plays off of plays that would work based on how they're defending us or how we're attacking them so I can suggest, hey man don't forget about this play because they're doing such and such.
Those are the things I like to do. It's just learn and suggest and watch tape and kind of hear the ideas and the way the game plans are going and help the guys.
Did you have a chance to watch NC State at all this season?
You know, I watched a couple of halves of games. I TiVo'd a lot of games when I'm not playing so I can see teams play. I like to study what's going on in college football from a trends standpoint, different things that we might want to do.
I did see them beat Florida State. That's one game I did watch.