Paus Faces the Press

UCLA quarterback Cory Paus took questions from the press about his battles on and off the field last season as he begins spring practice...

How do you approach it going into spring, knowing Toledo has opened up the quarterback job?

I'm approaching it pretty much the same way I've approached every spring practice, as an opportunity to get better on things from the year before and things I need to improve on for next year as well. I'm confident that I'm the starting quarterback here. I have been before and I believe that I will continue to be. I understand the importance of having three good quarterbacks at this school, because we've always had three able quarterbacks. It's important for any football team. We have to have people who are ready to play. I'm looking at it as any other spring. With the things that happened last year, it's important for me to perform well and play as best as I can.

How have the incidents from last year changed your perspective on spring practice?

It's made me anxious more than ever to be able to play football and still have the opportunity to play. The circumstances that I was under, it was a pretty big deal. It was a huge mistake – twice. It was a big blemish to this university and the football program. But the fact that I'm still sitting here and I luckily get to still play football here, to still have the opportunity to play another football season, I'm anxious to get it all behind me. It's been an incredible learning experience, football and every day life. I feel I can use it to my advantage and carry it over to next season. I'm excited to get past the things I had to deal with and earn back some respect that I lost from some teammates and some fans, and the program. I'm glad I can have that opportunity. I'm definitely embarrassed and sorry for what happened. And there's only one way to go and that's ahead, and I'm excited about it.

How has it hampered your personal life with the restrictions?

It's affected it quite a bit. When you go through something like that, there are restrictions, like to drive. I don't drive at all right now, because I don't really need to. I can't drive in California, but I can drive in any other state. I don't really need to, though. I get around really well with a bike and the bus. It's been this way for about a year. I think I can apply for a temporary license soon. But right now it's not a priority. I've been able to make my adjustments and its okay.

How have your teammates been about it?

They've been supportive of me. . Overall my teammates and the coaching staff have been unbelieveable in the support they've given me. When it comes to giving me rides, I live with six different people and a lot still go to school here. A lot of my teammates live in the same area, in Santa Monica, so I can get a ride with them.

Do you think Toledo opening up the position was more a response to your performance on the field or your problems off it?

I think it's probably a combination of the two, but more so what I did off the field. I definitely deserve anything he decides, or however he decides to punish me. I understand and respect that, and deserve it. And I want to perform better as well.

How is your thumb and how much did it affect your peformance last year?

The thumb is good. Better than it was last year. I don't really blame it all. It affected my ability, but I don't blame it. Right now, it's probably 90% and getting better.

What's the nature of the alcohol program you're in?

It's a long, extensive program. Any person that violated the laws would have to do it. It takes quite a bit of time. But luckily it doesn't coincide with football or school. I have to meet a counselor a number of times a month, and go to an awareness classes for three hours once a week. There's a lot more to learn in the program than just about alcoholism. Things that you use everyday. It's a positive thing for me to be in it. I look forward to it. It's part of my life now.

What was the experience like in jail?

I thought it was an extremely eye-opening experience. It was definitely an experience. I never felt like I was in danger, but it was probably the biggest learning experience through all of this. I was in L.A. county, which is a pretty serious jail with some pretty serious criminals. I was supposed to do 96 hours but it ended up being closer to 60. Put it this way, the movies, they do a fantastic job. I saw a lot of things. I wasn't scared, but for me, it did its job. I realized everything I had to lose if I made those mistakes again and how much of a mistake it was I made. I got a lot of support from the guards, believe it or not. People recognized me. I got a lot of encouragement, kind of a slap, kind of like – do you realize what you can lose? You shouldn't be in here. It was good to hear. The more reinforcement you can get is good.

Has this changed your attitude toward drinking? Will you ever drink again?

I don't know if I'll never drink again, but I can say right now I don't feel any need to drink. It's definitely something I've learned. It's caused me enough of a headache. It's not worth it. Maybe some day when I'm older I'll have some wine with dinner. But not for now. My last drink was a month and a half ago. Since I started this program. But since I had been in trouble second time, I had already been out of the normal college party scene since then.

Being a college student, is it hard not be be part of that scene?

It was hard at first, but it was a simple decision. I weighed this quesstion for a while, even before this all happened to me. I've never been able to be a normal college student, anyway. I always thought what's the need to go out, need to party, just finally said enough is enough.

Do you think you had a drinking problem?

No I don't. I think I made some poor judgments. That's obvious. But I know I didn't have a drinking problem. Someone might ask, how do you explain two arrests for alcohol-related incidents. But I think I made two serious judgment errors. That was my mistake and that was the problem I had. I learned that, too. There are serious judgment calls in life. And sometimes you think you can handle them.

Do you think of next year as sort of another chance to prove yourself?

Absolutely. I definitely need to. This is my last year. This is the last go-round for me. I want to play the best I possibly can. And earn back some respect from teammates and fans. And stay consistent. Over time it will slowly come back. I've worked out harder in this offseason and I think I'm in the best shape I've ever been.

Normally a fifth-year senior quarterback might take two true freshmen under his wing. Will opening up the position change that?

Perhaps. But I'm confident where I stand in this program. I also realize how important it is for them to be ready to play and I know that I can help them, help them learn the offense faster. I know I can. Cade did it for me. Obviously I wasn't coming in with any chance of playing over him. No disrespect to those guys, but I plan on being the starting quarterback and they need to be ready to play. So, I'm still going to take them under my wing. I don't suspect any kind of problems coming from that. I still am the fifth-year, senior quarterback that's played a lot of football here, that's going to be probably the second, all-time leading passer in UCLA history. I've met both of them and they're going to be here throughout the spring. I'll communicate with them and start helping them now.

Do you think the punishment you've received was justified – or do you think it was harsher because of the celebrity factor? I think it's justified and right on track. And I don't think I've been treated differently. I think it's a harsh penalty, and it should be like that. I feel everything that I've had to do is definitely justified. I think it's a good lesson and I deserve it.

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