What do you like about these guys so far?
"I would tell you the majority of them really, really like football. I'm not giving you any names, but we probably have a couple guys either way that are making the decision if this is really for them. It's an entirely different deal now. You have to really like football to be around us. We're going to coach them hard. We're going to make sure they prepare. We're not going to accept mistakes. We're going to expect nothing but excellence, and if we don't get it, we're going to get it the next time."
How are you different from other staffs?
"I don't know that we're different. I just think that these guys have been kind of up and down. Everybody's been, ‘Well, they had this happen to them, that happen to them.' Now, all of a sudden, it's only going to be this way. We're not going to step back for anybody. We're not going to look back. We're going to keep going forward. You either jump on, or you jump off. You have to make a decision or it will pass you by."
Is there a comfort level not having to rebuild or retool your group?
"These guys went to a bowl game. They were recruited, they went to a bowl game. When Dave (Wannstedt) was here, they went to a bowl game. They went to a bowl game last year. Nothing is new—maybe what we're demanding from them in some areas is a little more than what was asked of them. Our expectations for the line is probably higher. We're not not trying to get the ball thrown on one count. Some little stuff like that. You got a lot of good players here; just what you get when you come to Pitt—you have good football."
"I think there's a little bit of excitement about that, because that's how they were recruited, but we'll find out. If they do it right, it will be great. If they struggle, it won't be so good."
How does your NFL coaching experience help these guys?
"Not a whole lot. I'd like to tell you that it's really important. Whether or not they buy into what I'm telling them, if somewhere in their mind they think that's important I was there, it doesn't make any difference. We went to three Rose Bowls and won them when I was at Wisconsin. Nobody ever worried if I coached a day (in the NFL). Those guys listened to me. They made a lot of money when they left (Wisconsin), but we weren't worried at that time whether I told them anything (about the NFL)."
What's it like working with Mike Tomlin, and now seeing him with the Steelers?
"It's great. Now, (Tomlin) will read that in the paper, and he'll say, ‘we hardly even see each other.' We're on such different schedules. Last week, we were on spring break. I ran back home to see my family, and I didn't go over there. We really haven't had the time to sit down and talk. I'm sure somewhere along the line we will."
"You guys know he's a class guy. He's the same. He demands a lot. We're using one of his deals—put it on tape. If it's on tape, we'll see it."
How has Ryan Turnley responded as a leader?
"He has, and he knows I'm counting on him. We're counting on him to make line calls. We're counting on him to be a leader in the room. We're counting on him to be a leader on the field, and he knows that. He's not struggling with that role at all."
"I think when somebody directs 40 percent of the questions at you, and expects an answer, rather than a nod of the head, I think he gets the message."
Are you tougher on the guys you're counting on as opposed to the younger players?
"Right now, I'm trying to be as tough as I can. I'm trying to make sure whoever winds up in our two-deep likes football, and is going to do it the way we want it done. I'm trying to be fair as I can with everybody that's out there."
How much do you like seeing the full pads go on?
"We've been playing underwear football for a couple days. The cheerleaders would be happy with us. We could probably get through the first quarter of a powder puff game. We'll see when they put it on how they do. We're expecting to be everything that we think. That's the best way to put it."
What do you expect from Chris Jacobson?
"How about him? How about him coming out, he's not even supposed to do anything. He's out here, he's jumping in. I'm ready to jump him because I didn't think he was moving as fast; his feet fast enough. He's hitting the (blocking) dummies, and he can't wait to get out there. I keep trying to tell him, ‘don't get me in trouble.' Don't jump in when you're not supposed to."