Kelly's opening comments:
Obviously the question everybody has to ask or answered, we sent out a release earlier concerning we have great respect for the NCAA in terms of the review and examination of our use of recruiting services and we have fully cooperated and will continue to cooperate with that.
We've also asked an outside law firm to conduct a review of our situation and produce a report that we will make public and when those reports are made public we'd love to talk about the situation but we're kind of bound by that right now so as the head coach of this program we're held accountable for everything we do.
So we look forward when we can talk about it as there are a lot of answers that I'd love we made sure got out there.
We're excited about the 2011 season. I'd like to commend the media that covers this conference because I think you are the smartest ones out there. You've picked us to win the league and what I just learned out back was that 10 out of the last 11 years you've picked us to win the league so I guess the answer to that is we hope you are right.
We are a young football team. We have about 11 seniors on our football team, we graduated a tremendous amount of kids last year that had great character and understood what our football program is all about and how we play the game. We got some good seniors coming back. David (Paulson) is one of them.
David is here he's an All-Pac-10 tight end he's All-Pac-10 Academic tight end. He graduated last winter with a 3.6 grade point average. He is currently enrolled in our Masters of Business Program. He's everything you want in an Oregon football player.
Even though we're a young football team, when I looked at our roster, even though we have 11 or 12 seniors, we'll have 47 freshmen or red-shirted freshmen. It's a good time for us. We'll start out on August 8th and we have an interesting game to start the season off on September 3rd that has every one of our players' attention. And we're going to work as hard as we can to prepare for that game on September 3rd against a really good LSU team. So with that we'll open it up for some questions.
Q: Chip, regardless of what the findings may yield, there's been recruits, I've heard some reports about some concerns potential sanctions, so to what extent has that become an issue that you've had to address in recruiting?
I haven't had to address it with the recruits we have right now. We're coming off back-to-back Pac-10 Championships as we move into a brand new league with a brand new television contract. I think it is a bright future for us. We had a birth in the Rose Bowl two years ago; we had a berth in the National Championship game. I understand from the kids we are talking to that recruiting is going very well.
Q: Coach Kelly, can you talk a little bit of just how big the return of LaMichael James coming back does to your offense?
Yeah, you know LaMichael is the retuning Doak Walker Award winner as the Nation's No. 1 running back. Obviously I've always believed that to win football games you have to be able to run the football. We've led the Pac-10 in rushing for the last four years; total offense for the last three years; scoring offense in the last four years. LaMichael is a huge part of that. We've had a great tradition of great running backs in the four years that I've been here, but LaMichael is a special, special player. One thing we are excited about is that we have two. I mean when you put LaMichael with Kenyon Barner, you can take LaMichael out of the game and put in Kenyon in the game, we really don't think we lose anything. We think that tandem, I would say, can match up with anyone in the country.
Q: (For Paulson) A lot of the focus has been on what the coaches have to say and what your AD Mullens has had to say, from a player's standpoint with all this stuff swirling around your program, is it effecting you guys at all in the way you are approaching the season and the way you are having to approach the media?
(Paulson) No, I don't think it has really affected as players, we're really focused getting better this summer; working hard in the weightroom; doing some seven on sevens; trying to come together as a team; trying to get ready for the upcoming season.
Q: Chip, has the status of Cliff Harris or Kiko Alonso changed at all this summer? What's the earliest you anticipate seeing either of those guys playing at this point?
The status hasn't changed. We're not with our players in the summertime so we'll meet with them when we get back. Obviously, like anybody that I have to deal with in those situations, they have so academic and behavioral things they have to get accomplished. We'll deal with that as it comes. I can't really tell you at this point in time what their status is except that they are working out with our team and doing things right now and we'll figure that out where that fits as we move forward with the season.
Q: Chip you have said Cliff is suspended for the opener, have you made a decision if Kiko is suspended for the first game?
No. I haven't made any decisions on Kiko. There are a lot of answers we have to get before we make any decisions.
Q: What one question would you like to answer but can't in regard to ongoing NCAA investigation?
I'd love all the questions to be honest with you and we will at the appropriate time when the outside firm's report is made public I'd love to talk about the whole situation and clear up a lot of misconceptions.
Q: Coach, Lache Seastrunk is at the center of the investigation, what do you expect from him this season as a player?
Lache is growing as a football player. We really need to figure out who our third running back is, and as we came out of this spring we still don't know that. He'll be in competition. You know we have two young freshmen coming in who will compete with him, and a couple other kids he competed with in spring practice. (But) that's a huge question mark and we do have some questions because of graduation at certain positions. One of those questions is who our third running back behind Kenyon and LaMichael.
Q: In light of Lyles and the investigation and everything that has gone on, you've said shortly after this story broke that you are no longer doing business with Willie Lyles, has this changed how you've about recruiting, this process, I'm not asking a question about the investigation, have you changed your philosophy and sort of your practice when it deals with scouting services?
I know you have to ask questions and we have and we'll move forward on some of the recommendations from the outside firm on what our best practices are moving forward.
Q: Coach, what is your message to the fans who may be waiting and wondering and maybe worried about what's going to happen with this investigation?
I think we have the best fans in all of college football. You can come to Autzen Stadium and witness it for yourself. The support from the fans since I got here in 2007 until today has been tremendous; the emails that are sent to me to the people I see on the street. We're excited about the 2011 season and I hope we get a lot of them to show up on September 3rd when we take on LSU.
Q: Coach can you talk a little bit about your latest recruit DeAthony Thomas and what made you go after him, what did you see in him?
Yeah, DeAhthony can run. Just flat out run. He's a speed kid that just jumps out on tape. I know a little while ago we were actually watching another player in the spring time, we were looking at a linebacker and our coaches were watching the tape and we were talking about recruits for next year. Everybody kind of remarked like who's the running back on the other team that is ripping them and I said thank goodness he's coming here and will be on our campus in June. David (Paulson) has seen him. We haven't been around for any of the workouts. I know David told me when we flew down here that he (Thomas) is really fast so I believe it is our coaches' job to see if we can get him the football.
Q: My question is about the quarterback Darron Thomas. How good is he and in a conference of quarterbacks and is there ceiling of how good he can be?
I don't know if there is a ceiling with Darron. I know obviously for him to do what he did in his first year as a quarterback in this league, in a league that had some tremendous quarterbacks and has some great ones right now. You know one thing about this league that sticks out is, Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Nick Foles, Darron Thomas, (Jeff) Tuel, Ryan Katz, the list goes on and on. To come in as a first time starter and go undefeated in the regular season, go undefeated in this conference and lead his team to a berth in the national championship game, and throw for the second most yards ever in the national championship game. The one thing I remark and I said it a lot last year is that it almost seemed like every week he just got better and better. There are new facets to his game that he continues to work on. He's probably the toughest quarterback I've ever been around. If you look at the touchdowns he's thrown, a highlight tape on the 30 touchdowns he threw and how many shots he took when he was throwing the ball. He's truly a fearless competitor. He's really grown into the leadership role that we've asked him to for the quarterback of our football team. The exciting thing for us is that he's only going to be a junior. I don't know if there is a ceiling for him. I hope there is not because college football is quarterback driven game. This league is a quarterback driven league and we're going to go as far as Darron can play.
Q: Chip after you've had a chance to review the spring film on your offensive line can you talk about how things stand there and what you saw?
Good question. We lack experience. We lost three great players in in C.E. Kaiser, Bo Thran and our center Jordan Holmes who had a tremendous amount of what we do in our whole scheme up front in terms of making calls and understanding where we are. Mark Asper is coming back. Carson York is coming back. Darrion Weems is coming back. Those are the guys who have some starts in our program. I think Mark started 10 or 12 games. He's going to be the leader. I think like anything it is going to take some time to gel. We're confident in the group we have. I like their athleticism, I like their toughness. I like their mindset. One thing you can't manufacture is experience. We're going to try to do it as much as we can in the month of August because we have to be ready to play on September 3rd against a really good LSU defense.
Q: This question is for David. David, last year in the Civil War a lot of you guys were talking about you were motivated and at the end of the year nobody had given you any credit and give you a chance with all the off-field issues. This off-season heading into the year, how much has the off-field issues maybe the investigation, are you guys using a motivating force?
(Paulson) I don't think it is too much different; we're a pretty motivated team already. It might help a little bit, just to bring us together but over all our team is pretty motivated. So I don't think it will have much effect.
Q: On the topic of motivation different teams have different personalities, last year you talked often about not be motivated by outside expectations. Being picked to win the conference is this a group that you will talk about that with or again a group you'll want to ignore that?
I'll talk about it with you guys today, we don't run our program on outside influences and that's not going to change. It's nice to be picked to win and be picked in the top five in the country but it really doesn't mean anything until you go out and play the games. That mindset won't change. Hopefully our motivation comes from within and guys wanting to get better every day and become a better football team. We don't hang, this what our ranking is and you have to live up to it, because I think the vision we have for this football program exceeds the expectations anybody can write down on a piece of paper.
Q: Chip just a clarification, have you or have not changed how you go about recruiting?
We're always looking on how we can improve recruiting.
Q: Are you upset by the way the NCAA inquiry has impacted the reputation of the program at this point?
I have great respect for how the NCAA does their business, George.
Q: I'm not asking how the NCAA does their business; I'm asking if you are disappointed, discouraged, upset by the way suddenly the program is looked upon that you guy have done something you shouldn't?
As I said earlier and I know you guys have to ask some questions but I have to wait for the NCAA final determination to come out and once the outside law firm's recommendations on how we should move forward.
Q: You just addressed the offensive line could you talk about the defensive line and wide receiver?
We've got some holes to fill with only 11 or so coming back. At wide receiver we lost Drew Davis and Jeff Maehl. Two football players that are everything we want in a player. Great special teams players, great blockers downfield; catch balls in traffic; run great routes. (They) provided great leadership for us. We have two players that have played out there. Lavasair Tuinei has really become a leader for this wide receiver corps. Josh Huff is an explosive playmaker that played for us last year as a true freshman. After that, that is what pre-season camp is all about, trying to figure out who those other guys are. We think we have a pool of guys, but again the lack of experience is going to the big thing we'll have to find out about the receiver position.
I like d-line after spring practice. Terrell Turner is back. You know the one thing with our defensive line, (is that) we rotated nine guys last year. So they've all played a lot of quality snaps. We do lose Brandon Bair, Kenny Rowe and Zac Clark, but Taylor Hart, Wade Keliikipi, Ricky Heimuli have played a ton of football us along with Terrell Turner, Dion Jordan and Brandon Hannah. Really for the defensive line it's trying to find out who number seven, eight and nine are not who one through six are. We'll continue to try to play a lot of guys on our defense. That's something we pride ourselves on. It's really sure we get a lot of guys involved and get maximum effort for us. You know, play as hard as you can for four or five snaps then come out, take a breather. Somebody is going to go in and play two or three (snaps) and then you are ready to come back into the game. That system has worked for us for the last two or three years. Receiver is a question mark, d-line is a question mark and obviously o-line is a question mark. Those are the areas we have to fill in for some really experienced players that have left the football program.
Q: Coach we all heard Jeff Tedford say that he wouldn't know Willie Lyles if he were standing in this room, he had a business relationship with him, paid him for information and videos. You paid $25,000 presumably for garbage information that we've all seen. I've seen your phone records, this is a guy you've had big contact with, he says he may broken…(Question broken off by Pac-12 Moderator, "excuse me, at this time Oregon has released a statement. We are doing this for the 2011 football season) Does that concern you at all? Does that people are doing business with guys they don't know and the system appears to be broken?
I can't speak as to what any other school has done with him. I know he deals with 80-some odd schools and whatever services he's been involved with, but I know how we dealt with him and again I have to defer. I would love to talk about it and when we have a chance when the report comes out I'll deal with it and clear up any questions anyone has with the whole situation.
Kelly, Paulson Pac-12 Media Interview
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