Players React: T.C. Ostrander

No player is probably more affected by the firing of Walt Harris than T.C. Ostrander. The Cardinal quarterback spent the last two years learning from the passing guru, who was also his position coach. Ostrander asked for Harris to stay, so yesterday was a difficult one for him when the head coach was fired. We sat down with Ostrander immediately following the news and an address from Bob Bowlsby.

T.C., you told us on Saturday that you didn't want to change a thing.  So how tough is today's news?

"I feel bad for Coach Harris and our staff.  But the guys on this team are really close, and the people that matter the most to us are each other.  If Mr. Bowlsby decided that this was a change that needed to be made, we have a lot of faith in his ability, and we're looking forward to the new staff and trying to turn things around."

Is the hardest thing for you that you are a quarterback, and you'll be going through your third or fourth quarterback coach here?

"Yeah, it's always difficult to try and learn a new offense.  If anything, with the fact that I have had a lot of different offenses and a lot of different coordinators, I'm better able to adjust to new things."

What did Bob Bowlsby tell you guys generally?

"He told us obviously that a change had been made, and the next two weeks they are going to be undergoing a search process in the next two weeks.  It's going to be confidential, so we're not going to know much about it.  We need to carry on business as usual and take care of our responsibilities to ourselves academically and football-wise."

Did you have any meeting yesterday with Walt Harris to close out the season, and what did you all talk about?

"No, I haven't met with Coach Harris since Big Game."

Where is your head right now?  You're about to head into your fifth year, and you don't have any clue what the program or offense will be like...

"You know, a lot of that stuff is out of my control.  The only thing that I can do is to get myself as good as I can be individually.  The off-season is always a great opportunity to do that.  Obviously it's a big issue, but I'm going to try not to focus on that.  I'm going to try to focus on things that I can control instead."

Did he give you a sense that some players would have some input on candidates?

"I'm sure that he will ask some of the guys to help out, just because he wants input from the team.  But I don't know specifically what that would be."

Generally, what would you want?  What is your profile for the next Stanford head coach?

"That's a tough question to answer off the top of my head.  I think that one of the best things that Mr. Bowlsby said today was that to be a coach here, you are in a pretty unique situation.  Instead of fighting that situation, you have to embrace it to be successful.  I guess for the next coach here, I would like them to know exactly the particulars that make Stanford unique and really want to explore those and make this place as good as it can be."

Bowlsby said that this program is capable of 'anything' and he probably told you something similar.  Are there no limits to what Stanford can do?

"No, and as players we believe that, too.  Obviously it hasn't been a great season.  It's been a terrible season.  But all of us over the course of our years here have competed against really good teams at a high level.  Maybe there hasn't been as much success as we would have liked, but if anything, we have proven to ourselves that with a little more work - and maybe a little more dedication, maybe a change in the staff - we could really put ourselves over the edge in some of those games."

Do you feel that Walt Harris and this program could have won and you all let them down, or is this for the better to have new direction next year?

"I think it's probably a little bit of both.  You can't put all of the blame on the staff and Coach Harris.  The players have to accept a lot of it because we're the ones out there on the field.  I think that yeah, a lot of the guys feel bad.  They feel like they've let down their coaches.  That's something we're going to have to live with, but a change is one of those things that can maybe reestablish hope and dedication."

Have you talked Evan Moore or Mark Bradford immediately?  I know those guys had some frustrations.  Do you think new leadership will give them a chance and an incentive to come back and be your wide receivers next year?

"I have talked with them about it, but they haven't really given me much of...  I don't know what they're going to do.  Obviously we would love to have them back.  If anything, I think that a change in the coaching staff gives them a big incentive to come back."

While you wait for the new head coach, what do you guys do as a team, and what do you as their leader?  What are you going to ask guys to do?

"First thing that we need to do is to finish out the quarter academically because I'm sure a lot of guys have a lot of work they have put off since the football season.  That's number one.  This break is not really a break.  Everybody really needs to get themselves into shape and keep lifting.  I'm sure we'll have some idea what the coaching staff will be like in the winter.  We'll have a rigorous player-led training schedule in the winter.  We'll be throwing a lot, and I'm sure we'll be running and lifting a lot, too.  We'll be getting to work soon."

What do you think was missing with the offense this year, injuries aside, which you hope that this next head coach will give you to be more successful?

"I think that the injuries affected it, just because there wasn't a lot of continuity in the lineup.  There is a lot to be said for guys playing together and learning what each other does.  It's hard to say.  Hopefully the new staff will bring in a lot of continuity and the same week-to-week."

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