Stanford football quotables

Compiling a list of some the most memorable quotes in Stanford football history provides a unique set of challenges.

A pattern developed as I collected more and more quotations. Putting this list together reminded me how Jack Elway's teams at times lacked focus. At their best, Tyrone Willingham's groups always seem to have it. I remain astounded by the athletic department's lack of direction prior to Bob Bowlsby's arrival five years ago.

A started the search in 1985, which also happens to be the first year I attended Stanford games regularly. Hope you enjoy these soundbites:

"We kind of lounged around for 24 hours, and we never really woke up."
– John Paye, 1985, trying his best to explain how the Cardinal's 1985 road trip to San Diego ended in a 41-22 shellacking at the hands of the Aztecs.

"I usually don't like those TV timeouts. But this time, I needed the rest."
– Brad Muster, after breaking his own school records for carries in a key 1986 victory at UCLA. He rushed 38 times for 183 yards, a week after going for 190 yards on 37 attempts against Washington State.

"It was almost like a prevent defense. You'd drop little five-yard passes, and they'd turn them into 30-yard gains."
San Jose State quarterback Mike Perez, after needing only 18 completions to notch 247 yards in the Spartans' 24-17 victory over Stanford in 1987.

"I would have been happier if I had been wrong,"
– Beano Cook, expressing his regret once getting word of Jack Elway's 1988 firing. From his ESPN College Gameday command post earlier in the year, Cook predicted Elway would soon be sacked.

"It's just being different. It's no special thing, like I'm a guru or something. If he's got one, I'll get two. If he's got two, I'll get three."
– Bob Whitfield, just a freshman in 1989, making it known why a 300-pound man wears earrings.

"Cal had quite a few players on the field. They thought the game was over for some reason."
– Pac-10 referee Pat Flood, in a written statement following Stanford's miraculous 27-25 victory over Cal in the 1990 Big Game. The Bears were penalized 15 yards after players joined hundred of fans on the field to celebrate John Hardy's interception of Jason Palumbis' two-point conversion pass. The infraction would lead to John Hopkins's game-winning field goal.

"As a matter of fact, I think my feet were out of bounds. My knees were in, but I think my feet were out. I picked up the ball and ran downfield before the ref could change his mind."
– Kevin Scott, on what happened after he recovered the onsides kick that led to said field goal.

"We don't say dumb things. We said all week that wasn't our style. Usually when people talk like that it's to psyche themselves up because they don't believe they can win."
– Chris Walsh, detailing how his team overcame Cal's penalties during Stanford 1991 Big Game win.

''This game is as big as any I've won,"
Bill Walsh, three-time Super Bowl winner, once Stanford finished off Notre Dame by a 33-16 margin in 1992.

"That's life. We'll move forward."
– Tyrone Willigham, clearly unfazed once his 1996 decision to start redshirt freshman quarterback Chad Hutchinson over senior Tim Carey prompted Carey to transfer.

"With my speed, there's always someone on my tail."
– A self-deprecating Joe Borchard, after his 40-yard scramble set up Kevin Miller's game-winning field goal over North Carolina in 1998.

"This team is going to the Rose Bowl and this band can't even go on their own field? That's just the mindless bureaucracy showing it has no soul."
– Edward Bo, former Stanford Band member, complaining how security kept the field clear of any visitors in the wake of Stanford's Rose Bowl-clinching Big Game win in 1999.

"You can call it an upset. But when you steal something from someone, you do it when they aren't looking. We looked them in the eye and took it."
Teyo Johnson, whose team had just overcome two 14-point deficits in beating No. 5 Oregon in 2001.

"If the community felt I was in a position to pay extraordinary salaries to our coaches, that would undermine the support for our program."
– Ted Leland, 2004, sounding a bit out of touch.

"In all honesty, I sat in the football stadium and wondered if I could really live with watching Florida State go back and forth and back and forth. ... I just wasn't at all certain that there was a good upside for the football program, and I just feel entirely different about this situation here."
– Bob Bowslby, 2006, remembering why he didn't become Duke's athletic director.

"Coach called a play but I couldn't hear it because it was so loud," Pritchard said. "Don't tell him I said this, but I called my own play. I think it was similar if I heard him right. I saw the coverage I wanted and Sherm made a great play."
Tavita Pritchard, noting the power of improvisation.

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