Walt Harris Quotes from Bay Area Media Day

Wednesday brought the breadth of the local media to San Francisco for the 2005 Bay Area College Football Kickoff Luncheon. It was the first good chance for many members of the media to really hear from new Stanford head coach Walt Harris about his progress and plans for Cardinal Football in 2005. Included are comments on the summer, buy-in, fall camp priorities, quarterback plans and more.

Opening remarks

"We just got back from L.A., with the Pac-10 meetings, and it was very eye-opening.  We have a group of football players who don't like the position that they're in.  I think we have a good senior class.  I'm counting on tremendous leadership out of our seniors.  I like the attitude of our guys.  We have a long way to go.  We're excited about the things that are happening at Stanford.  We're excited about the fact that a year from now, we're going to be in a new football stadium, which we think in the long run is going to really help our program.  That is obviously a huge commitment to football.  We know we've got a lot of work to do, and we can't wait to get started."

Priorities once camp opens

"I think our first priority is to find out what kind of physical shape we're in.  Football is a game, especially early in the season, where you have to be in tremendous shape.  We're playing on the road in a humid environment: Annapolis, Maryland.  So we're going to have to be in great shape.  Offensively, we have to find a way to run the football.  Our offensive line and running back situations are very, very critical to the success of our team.  Defensively, I think we just have to place guys in the right spots.  And special teams - we just gave a walk-on a scholarship today.  Our snapper, Brent Newhouse, who does an outstanding job.  We have to be good in special teams.  Teams who have not been successful - that's where they have the most problems because they can get exposed athletically on the area of special teams."

Changing a losing team

"I think you have to get them to invest - that's the first thing.  Invest in the program.  You do everything you can to motivate them to be committed.  You really lean on your older players, especially your seniors, who have the greatest sense of urgency.  They have no more games in college after this for them, so those guys are ready to go.  I'm going to lean on them a lot to help lead our football team."

Summer workouts

"Right now, we're not sending that many of our guys to summer school.  At Pittsburgh, we had every scholarship player in summer school.  So it was a big commitment this summer by our players to get back and work together - get bigger, faster and stronger and get better as a team.  I'm hoping that we're going to coaching young men who have had a summer for the spring practice to sink in.  I'm hoping that they're going to be in great shape.  I'm hoping that they're going to be stronger.  And I'm hoping that they are going to be even more committed than they were before, by the commitment they made this summer.  I'm counting on heightened togetherness because of the time they spent together."

Pac-10 vs. Big East

"For five or six years, we played Miami.  You can measure yourself a little bit by how well you play against those guys.  Southern Cal - Pete Carroll and his players - have done a good job.  But we have a lot of other people we're focused on and we might have a chance to beat.  That's our goal; you've got to get to a bowl.  Somehow we've got to get to a bowl...  I think everybody has a good team.  Every league has a good team, and sometimes that changes - who the good team is.  The spin-off effect is that we recruited well because we got to play Miami.  We recruited South Florida well because we were playing them.  The kids turned down by Miami wanted the chance to play them...  I think this conference probably has more good teams, and that's the way to evaluate it."

Why he took the Stanford job

"What really excited me about taking the Stanford job was Stanford.  Growing up in the Bay Area, that's where I wanted to go to school.  I know the athletic director really well.  I had coached when he had played, then he and I coached together.  When he became the A.D. at Pacific, I left Tennessee to go back there to be the head coach.  We have a good relationship, and I thought that was important.  I believe strongly in the mission statement of the Stanford student-athlete.  The things we talked about that we needed to do in order to upgrade our program, I think they are making that commitment.  A good example is a brand new stadium.  It was an exciting time.  I like challenges; I'm someone who challenges myself.  And at the very end, once everything was done and measured out, the opportunity to come home was important to me.  It hasn't been all along, or I would have come home sooner.  On a personal note, it was nice that I was able to be at my mother's and father's Mother's Day and Father's Day in person for the first time since 1991."

Players' reaction to coaching style

"I think they're reacting well.  I'm pleased with that part.  We're the coaches, and we have to help them.  We have to do a good job of teaching them, giving them a good gameplan and setting the expectations high.  I think Stanford Football players want to win and want to be successful.  They're going to be successful outside of football because of their degree.  We have to do the same thing in football.  I think generally you can say people have bought in, but we haven't gone through a season yet, so there will still be some learning experiences.  I think they believe in what we've done in the past - that's important.  If we had come in here without any bowl games or not been somewhere successful, it might have been harder to sell.  I think the final thing is that our football players are hungry.  They're going to buy into a lot of things right now.  It's up to us as a coaching staff to come through for them, too."

Bumpiness of the first year

"It takes time.  Football is a process.  That's the hard part of your first year.  It takes time to get everybody on the same page.  That starts with the coaches.  We have two coaches who have coached with me before, so the other seven and the graduate assistants are starting anew.  They have to sell what we are doing to the players.  It takes time for the coaches, too, to get on the same page.  I think we've made some progress.  Offensively, we were real raggedy in the spring but I think we finished better.  I think that was real important for their belief in what we're asking them to do.  They experienced some success in the spring game.  They ran the ball and threw the ball.  They ran the ball, though, which to me is the critical thing you have to do to have success."

Making Stanford Football attractive to Bay Area fans

"I think winning makes people follow you.  I like to be exciting on offense because it makes it fun.  I grew up out here, and I'm a Bill Walsh disciple, from a distance.  He made football very exciting for a lot of kids out here because of his ability to throw the ball.  Hopefully we'll do that.  But I keep going back to the thing that will make the difference for us: being able to run the ball."

Coaching the quarterbacks himself

"The reason why I'm doing that is because a) I like doing that and b) some people think I can do it pretty good.  There may be a lot who don't, but some do, including me.  That position takes care of a high percentage of our success.  I hope in a year or so to have an offensive coordinator, but basically the buck is gonna stop with me.  I got hired the first time by Steve Peterson, who is at Nebraska now.  He wanted a head coach who was involved in the offense because he felt like that guy has more than a third of the game.  Ted [Leland] feels the same way.  That's what they want.  That's what I want.  So we're going to keep on doing it.  It also keeps me close to the players.  I like the coaching part.  I had some coaches in my life that really made a difference.  Just being a head coach would be rather boring for me.  One other thing, it gives us a ninth coach who can concentrate on recruiting.  At other places, if the head coach is not a position coach, then you have to have a quarterback coach.  This way, we have a position open.  We have young man by the name of Nate Hackett who is 95% recruiting and 5% coaching.  He coaches the kickers and snappers."

Timeline for naming starters

"I have no time limit on that.  I don't want to back myself into a corner that way.  I think when the cream rises to the top.  I plan to play both quarterbacks in the opener, especially if whoever is the second quarterback does a good job in camp - so it's not just automatic.  To me, it's smart business when he is one play away from starting anyway."

2005 Stanford team goals

"Our team goal is to be undefeated.  You can really make a mistake if you go through your schedule and think we can really beat these guys but will probably lose to these guys.  You might have beaten one of the guys you didn't think you could beat, and you might end up losing to one of the teams where you thought you had a sure win.  I think you have to come ready to play every game.  We have to be as excited about playing Davis as we are USC.  That might be a little naive, and I might be a little naive.  But we're going to be ready for every game because we've worked too hard - they've worked too hard - and we have too good of leadership to not be ready for every game."


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