Evan, you have been through four head coaches athletically here at Stanford, by my count. What's that like for you emotionally and psychologically?
"I'll go ahead and give you the answer that you might expect. It kind of teaches you that that's not the constant when you're playing college sports. What is the constant is your teammates and the institution where you are at. I don't want to say that I've gotten used to it, but I guess I have a little bit. While a coaching change may happen, I'm still at a place like Stanford, still have the teammates that I have and am still playing the game of football. They're not taking that from us. They might be changing the leadership position, but they can never change the institution where we are at and how great it is to be here."
I want to ask you a two-part question about what happened with the offense this year. The first is, without addressing that leadership and coaching, can you describe the role and how much of an impact the injuries had across the entire offense this year? Not just for you personally, but what changed for the breadth of this offense since August.
"I have never had more optimism going into a season than this season. The whole thing to me just seemed like a set of really unfortunate circumstances. I don't think it was a secret that we weren't very deep coming into this season on offense. A lot of people thought that we were one injury on offense away from being in trouble. I thought, 'Hey, we'll be alright. We're not getting hurt. We'll be alright.' That's exactly what happened. I think everybody got hurt. Obviously, that's huge. Anyone who says that every team has injuries, okay, well we didn't have the depth to sustain this. Show me any team that has had both receivers, quarterback, fullback and tight end - all of those guys get hurt for at least a good part of the season. I know that people say that everybody has injuries, but not like that. I don't care if you do have depth; it's going to be tough to sustain that. It was a huge factor this year."
Okay, now the second part. You guys started to have better offensive success at Stanford here last year with Walt Harris. What did not work under his leadership this year, aside from the injuries, which contributed to the lack of offensive success in 2006?
"That's almost too hard to say, aside from the injuries. Last year, I wasn't a part of that, but I saw a lot of growth. Mark [Bradford] had a great year, as did Trent [Edwards]. But coming into this year, when we were healthy against Oregon, we still weren't moving it too well. I don't know if it was the style with the personnel - I just don't know. It's hard for me to say, but whatever it was, it was just very unfortunate that it didn't click. We were unable to put anything together."
Did anything change in his style or in his demeanor in how interacted with players this year from last year? We heard some discontent and problems this year, but last year - I know he gave some tough love during spring ball - we never heard the things during the fall.
"He's a tough coach. There is no doubt about that. He's a disciplinarian, and he's very tough. That wears on you at times. Then when you get to a point where you're 0-8 or 0-9 like we were at one point, it becomes even more difficult for both sides. It brings out the worst in people. That's not to put all of the blame on him because it brings out the worst in anybody. I'd like to see any coach come in here, be 0-9 and be all smiling and not coming down on us like he did a little bit. It would have been nice to be around him maybe when we were 8-2 and see what that was like. I don't know, but I think it would bring out the worst in anybody, though."
Evan, you said on Saturday that you felt Stanford had the right guy in Bob Bowlsby to take care of this football program. How much do you believe that this move by Bowlsby says that he has a guy he knows can do better?
"I have never heard of many places getting rid of a guy after two years. I know it was a rough year, but that's a big move in my opinion. He just told us about how he understands Stanford, understands who would be a good fit and explained why. It's pretty encouraging. I don't know how this sounds coming from me as a player, but I think he knows what he's doing. It's exciting. I think he did a great job talking to the team just now, and I think he has direction with what he is going to do with this process."
What sense did you get for the type of coach he is looking for?
"This didn't come out of his mouth. It's coming from me. But I got the impression from him that he's looking for somebody with a lot of energy - very positive and really wants to embrace everyone on this team and move forward. Like I said, I think the key word there is 'energy.' You see a lot of young coaches jumping around on the sideline and really getting their players going. That feeds, that permeates throughout the whole team. I would think that's the direction he would go, but I don't know for sure... Someone even asked the question, and he didn't say whether he'd go offense- or defensive-minded. He said it was going to be kind of the essence of the coach - more the core of the coach and what he's like. I liked what I heard."
Is personality and fit the number one thing that you think needs to change relative to what you guys just had in Walt Harris?
"That's a little bit of a loaded question [smiles]. You're saying that Coach Harris didn't have that. But Coach Harris aside, I've always thought - regardless of my experience with Coach Harris or anyone - that you want to see a coach who meshes well with people, builds relationships and makes players want to play for him by the relationship that he has with the coach."
How would you have characterized your relationship with Walt Harris, had we asked the question on the eve of the Oregon game?
"This isn't just because it's me, but in general, it was a professional relationship. We had a football, working relationship. I wasn't up in his office giving him hugs everyday, but that's not what you really expect. Again, not just with me but with anyone. I wanted to play hard for him because he's a motivator. He's a motivator and he's a disciplinarian, and you want to get things right because he makes you want to do it. Whether it's in a positive or a negative way, that's beside the point. He makes you want to do it. It was a professional working relationship, I would characterize it as."
What kind of relationship would you like to have with a college football head coach?
"I'm not looking to be best friends with my coach. There has to be a very significant level of respect you have for your coach, enough to where you want to do things right because you almost fear him a little bit. At the same time, you want to have a coach who you can go up and talk to, who you aren't afraid to approach. You want to talk with him. You want to have a relationship with him. You want to mesh with him. I'm looking forward to that. I would love to have somebody who will share a laugh maybe every now and then. That would be nice. We'll see what they do, but I'm anticipating that."
And you're anticipating that you will be here having a football relationship with Stanford Football's next head coach?
"Since I found out an hour and a half ago the news, I'm not going to come out one way or another what I'm going to do. Obviously this will make me think a lot more, given what has happened. It's a new set of circumstances. Honestly, I have no clue right now."
Without assigning numbers right now, did the percentage likelihood that you will be playing football here in 2007 improve with today's events?
"I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. My saying 'yes' would mean that the only reason I didn't want to stay was because of Coach Harris."
Not the only reason, but does it change the odds?
"Possibly, because I realize the direction that Mr. Bowlsby wants to take this program. Whether that will be immediate or whether that will happen down the road, that's something that anybody can argue about. But I think we just saw how serious Mr. Bowlsby is about taking this program in the right direction and how committed he is to this football team. And that's really encouraging."
Losing a football head coach is tough on anybody, but would you say that in spite of that you actually have hope today?
"Sure. This is the second coach who has been fired since we've been here. Some of the guys and I were talking about it, and it's troubling in a way because you're saying, 'Shoot, we're obviously not doing something right either. That's two coaches.' At the same time, not that I didn't have this feeling with Dr. [Ted] Leland, but when you hear Mr. Bowlsby say why he did it and where he is going with this, it is very encouraging to hear what he is saying. I think that he's committed to a winning football program. There is no doubt about that in my mind."
You chat yet with Mark Bradford about the impact of this on his own decision?
"Not yet. We just got out of here. I'm sure that we will, a lot, over this next week or so. I don't know where Mark's head is at, but I'll find out. Where Mark goes is important to me. What he decides to do is very important to me. And if he tells you the opposite on the flip side, then he's lying because I know that what I do is important to him, too. I came in with him. I feel like we work well together, even though we haven't had a chance to do it very much in the last two years. His future is also important to me."
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