"Well, Coach [Everett] Withers contacted me last week. I had been sitting out this year because I didn't get a job after we got let go in Buffalo. Everett just asked me if I would consider maybe coming over and helping out in a variety of different ways. Probably the reason that they called me is because I had background in certain different areas – offense, defense and special teams – and thought I could get-in-where-I-fit-in kind of deal and help out as much as I could. So I flew over and talked to Coach [Butch] Davis.
"I'm from Virginia. I know this place; I know it well. It's a special place with special people, so it was an easy decision once Coach Davis asked me."
Aside from Coach Withers, who else on this staff did you have a previous relationship with?
"I've known Everett for 27 years, Troy Douglas for 27 years. Everett and I were [graduate assistants] together at Appalachian State. Well, actually Everett was a player for us one year there and Troy was a player. John Shoop and I met probably in the 1989 or 1990 at Vanderbilt and worked together at the Chicago Bears, so I've had a lot of familiarity with a lot of guys here.
How difficult is it to walk into a situation like this, especially considering the season has already started?
"It's not easy, but I think Coach Davis has been great about not expecting it to be an overnight transition. Art Kaufman and Everett have done a great job of helping me. They're helping me where I need help right now and I'm blending in as I'm ready. They're great football coaches. Coach Davis does a lot with the special teams and I'm just trying to have a little bit of input there if he asks for it. So it's a blending type of deal. It's still going on – it's not there yet. The players have been really good about it. Obviously, they go through the biggest transition of all. They've been really good about just understanding that it's about doing the right things on and off the field to try to win football games."
Has it been a crash course trying to learn players' names and get a hold of the terminology?
"Honestly, the personnel standpoint to me has been the hardest, because if you're going to coach somebody hard – it's hard to coach them hard unless you know them. It's hard to say, ‘Hey, you," and get on them hard. But there has been some of that. And I just try to be upfront and tell them that if it's, ‘Hey, No. 79,' it's nothing personal. I'll eventually get your name. I'm a lot better than I was this time last week and I hope to be a lot better next week than I am right now. So to answer your question, that's the hardest part, not knowing personalities."
You've been in the NFL ranks for a long time, so how does it feel being back in the college game?
"It's a little bit of transition. The schedule is the biggest thing, but it's coaching. There's not a lot of difference. You're getting ready for practice and you're getting ready for a game and there are a lot of similarities in how you schedule the week, but it's just one day earlier. Other than that, there's not a whole lot of difference."
You've been on the offensive side of the ball for a number of years after beginning your career on defense. Has that been an adjustment or is it just football?
"It's a change, but football is football. If you go back to what Coach Davis talked to me about when he hired me, I think that his thought process was that maybe I could have input on what the offenses were trying to do to us. Now, the first week we played a veer offense and I haven't seen a whole lot of that in the NFL the last nine years, but as far as dropback passing and pro-style offenses, I have something to give as I'm blending into the defensive line.
"I think that was more of what he was looking for, with a special teams background in the NFL and a background on offense and then having coached defense and the defensive line, specifically, early in my career."