How critical will kickoffs and the kicking game be as far as keeping them penned as much as possible?"I think the longer the field, the better that is. I think there are a lot of times in the kicking game where you have what is called hidden yardage. Hidden yardage is when people have longer drives to go to score. In any game where the team you play against intends to cut down the number of reps and possessions you have, it becomes more critical how long the field is."
Does Air Force run more formations than Navy?"It's just a whole other set that you could run because Navy never uses the tight end. With them having a package that has a tight end, it allows them to do all the different looks that Navy was running, it's twice as many formations is really what it is."
Do they use the tight end all the time?"No, that's just one of their personnel groupings."
They seem to use a lot of misdirection. What does that add to the triple option?"Misdirection, just running the option is one thing, but they also have that inside counter that they run where they fake to one guy and the next thing you know, the other wing is coming back. Actually, the play looks pretty nice. I was saying this morning in our staff meeting that I kind of like that play. If you are a running team that runs multiple deception types of looks, not more one or two back looks like we run, that play looks pretty sweet the way they run that. What it does is you get the linebackers flowing in one direction, and you're coming back the other direction and you can get people displaced. I think that is part of the philosophy of their offense."
Seniors who have eligibility left, how do you advise them about being in the NFL draft or staying for the extra year?"Each one is on an individual basis based on what they aspire to do. There are guys that will be back in all likelihood that will have to go through the process and everything. But there are guys who could be mid-round draft choices, but the reason you come back is to be a first or second round draft choice. In some cases, guys aspire to be that this year and if they're not that this year, it's their choice, not mine. All I do is call five or ten different teams and here's what they are saying. In other words, I take myself out of the mix. As long as they are graduating from school, I take myself out of the mix. I feel my responsibility is for them to graduate. Obviously, I'm trying to win football games and the more guys that are good players that stick around here, the better. They have done their job and their job is to graduate from college. Then it becomes, is the investment worth it on both ends."
If someone is a first round draft choice, how do you share what the teams are saying about them and how do you advise them in this situation?"I'll give you two examples from last year. Brady could have been a first round last year. When we sat there and talked about it, I said, ‘Well you can go ahead and go out but you want to make an investment of another year of being groomed and seasoned and ready to go so that when you go into the league, you are a top five pick. Not only a top five pick, but you are a top five pick who has been seasoned for another year.' And I think it's playing out that way. I could be wrong but I think it's playing out the way we talked about it. Now another one was with Anthony (Fasano) last year. Could Anthony have helped his stock by staying here another year? Yes. But Anthony was content if he was picked in the first or second round; that was what he was looking for. Because his goal was to be picked in the first two rounds and he was picked in the first two rounds and he graduated from college on top of it; it worked out best for him. Would I have liked him back here for another year, absolutely. But it worked out best for him and with John (Carlson) coming on, it's worked out best for everybody."
Would you discourage a junior from leaving early?Absolutely. My advice ten out of ten times would be to graduate from college. The reason why we are a little different is because they all graduate in four years. Many of them now are graduating in 3½ years. We have six or seven graduating at the semester that are 3½ year guys. It's a very smart idea on their part because if their eligibility was up or they were done playing, now they don't have to do what a lot of kids have to do, which is really disheartening. Having been on the other side for all those years when you come in to work them out, they blow off class. It's no big deal. You know so-and-so is coming in. You don't want your guys doing that. You want them graduating from college. I think that program was in place long before I got here and I'm just kind of following the script."
It seems like Notre Dame hasn't hyped their Heisman candidates for many, many years with a lot of hoopla and stuff like that. Are you comfortable with that and how Brady is being promoted?"His promotion is the fact that when we come down the stretch here, those last couple of weeks, he'll be on TV and so will the other guys. And really that is what influences voters. We go out and play Air Force and go back and play Army and it's on NBC and then we go out and play USC on ABC and then it's over with. So he's no different than Troy (Smith) or any of those other guys. These guys are going to go by what they see. I think he has put himself in the picture to be a strong contender and there is a lot of football to be played yet."
The atmosphere at Air Force games seems pretty rowdy; any thoughts on this?"We have had some success winning on the road. That's my answer to that. I think we've had some success winning on the road. I treat them all the same."
Can you recall what you shared with Coach Lewis shortly after he lost his son?"You know I have a daughter with problems, and I go all the way back to the heartache Maura and I had from prenatally right on through. She's going to die; she's not going to die; it's this problem; it's that problem. Even though Hannah is alive and kicking, it always went through my mind that it couldn't be anything worse if something happened to one of your kids. I remember going to Miami right after that happened. We went down and played them that weekend and I walked up to him on the field and I said, ‘Hey Bill, I know it doesn't get any worse than that. I can't tell you other than I feel sorry. I can't empathize with you because I know I'm not going through it, but I just want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.'"
How old was Hannah at that time?"Hannah was born in 1995 so she was three and right in the midst of when we really hit the problems. In the grand scheme of things, it made you say my problems are not nearly the same because at least I have my kid. It's a little different because all of a sudden you are the proud parent of a son who graduated from the Air Force Academy and is in the armed forces and one second you are talking to him and the next second he is not there anymore. I just can't imagine that with my kids; can't imagine it."