"I couldn't be more excited about the direction our staff has taken. We still have one job left that we're still interviewing for, but I'm excited to announce these three coordinators today."
Do you anticipate any philosophical changes with the new coordinators?
"No wholesale philosophical changes. I think one of the advantages of being able to bring Bob Fraser back here is he has tremendous experience in our defense. I know that there may have been some minor adjustments to what they did in the NFL with it, but the body of the defense, the core values of the defense have remained the same from talking to him. With coach Friedgen, there's going to be some things that will be the same and there's going to be some things that are different. I don't know if we'll know in its entirety what those will be until he's had a chance to really look at our personnel in Winter workouts and evaluate the people that are here."
Do you have any timetable on the last coaching hire?
"I don't. As I've said in the past, I think sooner is always better than later because you'd like to get moving with your staff in its entirety, but I don't think you ever want to do something in haste at the expense of getting the best person. We're in the process of interviewing candidates right now. As soon as we have a decision, we'll certainly get it to you guys."
How did things unfold with Ralph Friedgen?
"I certainly knew coach Friedgen. I don't know if he necessarily knew me. As a younger coach in the profession, you're certainly aware of what the top offensive minds in football are doing and you're always studying them. I remember being at the University of Delaware in 2002 and stealing his double screen back then and using it at Delaware with effectiveness. It was really just more me reaching out to him to gauge his interest. When you talk to somebody who's done what Ralph Friedgen has done in this profession, it's not an interview process. It's really just a matter of seeing if he's interest in the job. And if he is, then speaking to him in person and making sure the fit is right."
Where will the final assistant spot coach?
"It will be an offensive assistant. And after we make the hire, we'll figure out exactly which position it will be, but it will be a position coach on offense."
Where you ever concerned about the time period the hires took or the anxiety?
"I really wasn't. I can tell you that I never felt any of that anxiety here in this building. I think the most important thing in the process is to make sure that you get the right people and that you build the strongest staff that you could possibly build, and I feel very confident that we've done that to this point. Now my job as the head coach is to make sure with this last hire that we do it again."
What gave you confidence in Joe Rossi as defensive coordinator?
"I think what he did in an interim role during the bowl game was part of it. I think what he's accomplished over the last two years as our special teams coordinator and working on defense is a part of it. I think the conversations we've had from the bowl game until now was a part of it. I think all of those things are a part of it. I think in this profession, it's such a high-performance industry that everything you do ultimately becomes part of your resume. All of those things together led me to believe that Joe would be the right guy as defensive coordinator moving forward."
Can you address why the defensive coordinator search took so long? "When you say it took so long, that's really a relative term. To me, the process is never about the time. The process is about building the strongest staff you can build and ultimately, whatever amount of time that process took was what it was going to take. What makes me the most satisfied is that I believe we've done that."
Why now? Why this job? Why here?
"Actually, coach Flood contacted me last year, and I had originally told him that I was interested in talking to him but then I found out my daughter was getting married during football season, which I couldn't believe she would do. So I had too much money sunk into it to say I could coach unless he had an open date on Oct. 5. I guess he remembered that and he asked me again this year."
Was there an itch to get back into coaching for you?
"I really missed the association with the players. That was the biggest thing I missed. I couldn't replace that in my life. … We had a couple of Maryland players to play in an all-star game. Their parents were at the game, and I think my wife was tired of me being in the house to be honest with you."
What are your early impressions of the Rutgers offense?
"It's a learning situation right now. I'm just meeting the players. In fact, I just came out of a meeting. I'm trying to meet each and every one of them – spend some time with them, get to know them. I'm evaluating them on tape on what they've done in previous years. It's really too early for me to even make an assessment of that. I'm looking forward to it. I've been really impressed with the kids here that I have met. I'm really, really impressed with the facilities they have here. Of course, I've enjoyed working for coach Flood. I think that's a real positive for me."
How much to you plan on recruiting?
"I'm going to do whatever coach Flood wants me to do. I think I have to have an impact in recruiting. That's part of the job."
Is there any transition to not working for yourself anymore?
"I really can't answer that since I've only been working here for about five days. … I was an assistant for 33 years, I think I can fall back into that routine."
What is your offensive philosophy?
"The first thing I want to do is evaluate what our players do best. I've run a lot of different offenses from option to pro, one-back and two-back. I don't believe in trying to do something that kids can't do. I try to find out what they can do well and build around that. … I do believe in having a balance between run and pass – not so much to be easily divided, but to have the ability to throw the ball just as well as you run the ball. Take what the defense gives you. I think if you can do that, you put yourself in the best chance to have successful play. The last thing I think is very important is you can't make mistakes. You have to eliminate the bad plays, the turnovers, the sacks. I think if you do those three things, you give yourself a chance to be successful."
What was the wait like?
"During that time, I was focused on doing the things that were asked of me to the best of my ability. When coach gave me the opportunity, obviously I was excited about it, but there was no anxiety."
What was the feeling when you got the job?
"It was exciting. It's a great opportunity. I was honored that coach gave me the opportunity. I really enjoyed my time during the bowl prep. I love coaching defense and we have good kids. That was an enjoyable experience for me, so it was very exciting."
What changes can we expect on defense?
"We'll be very similar to what we've done. We'll be an attacking defense. We'll be a defense that's opportunistic. The things that we've been able to do at Rutgers over the years that have allowed us to play great defense are going to continue to be the things we're going to look to do. Every year is a different year. You have different players. You have different teams on your schedule, which will be something that will be interesting this year with the majority of the schedule being different. The general philosophies will be the same."
How does the defense differ to the defense that was played last season?
"Defensively last year, we were very similar to the defenses that had come before. I think one of the biggest differences was the difference in people and the difference in the experience level of the majority of the players that were on the field. Not much really changed from that defense. I think, at times, maybe the execution wasn't where we would like it. As we move forward, we're going to look to take the things that we've done that were successful in the past, look to make any tweaks that maybe need it for this current schedule and execute the defense and execute the fundamentals that we teach."
Was this program moving into the Big Ten part of your decision to come back?
"I've had a love for Rutgers ever since I've been here. When you leave somewhere and, especially when you're not playing somebody at the same level when you go to the NFL, I lived and died almost every play the last two years. My kids live and die every play the last two years. If I was on a bus going to a game or getting to the airport, my kids would call me and text me and tell me everything that went on. In a lot of ways, it felt like I haven't left. I had a great opportunity to reach one of my goals. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kyle. I've worked with him. I always thought he was a fantastic coach. I tried to hire Joe a couple of different times. I think he's a fantastic coach. I'm so excited to get around these guys. I know that they're going to do great things and we're going to do great things."
Can you talk about your relationship with Joe Rossi?
"I coached Joe at Allegheny. When he graduated from college, I tried to hire him. At that point in time, he had some different goals to where I was. Then when he went with [coach Robb Smith] to Maine, we always kept a close relationship. He went up there, and you know I have a good relationship with coach Smith. We've always been in contact about the defense and what we'd do. If you took a look at the time back in Maine, they were very similar to what Rutgers was. They believe in fundamentals in defense, running to the football, being aggressive – the things that make you successful. It isn't necessarily the scheme, it's what you do. That's why me and him are right on the same philosophy. I am so excited to work with him and for him. I'm going to tell you it's going to be a great opportunity for me."