Toledo's Rose Bowl Comments

Head Coach Bob Toledo talks about the Rose Bowl practice and the team, but can't avoid the subject of Ricky Manning's incident...

On the Rose Bowl practice...

"It was the end of double sessions. What we try to do here is simulate the game situation as much as we could. We wanted to do a substitution thing, get guys running in and out and transition from offense to defense to kicking game, to create more of a game-like atmosphere. We didn't scrimmage a whole lot, but we did enough to where we think we got some work."

Is there anybody who stood out?

"I think Harrison stood out. He did a real nice job, so if there was one guy, he was the one guy, running and catching the football. We have him playing tailback and fullback, kind of like White."

Did you feel good about the offense?

"Again, offensively, you never should be ahead of the defense. If you are, you've got problems. Defense is recognition and reaction. They play against our offense so much, they get used to them. They know our calls. They're there before the offense is sometimes. My point is, I never get concerned about that right now. I want to make sure guys are blocking and tackling. The offense did some good things today."

So, after releasing the depth chart Thursday, will Thursday's practice see the first team offense and defense practicing as a complete unit?

"Correct. We have to start getting ready to play 16 or 17 guys on offense, and the same on defense, and get the special teams guys going. We no longer have time to look at everybody. Now's the time we'll start talking to the freshmen and tell them they're going to be scouts. We don't tell them they're going to redshirt until the season is over. But some of them have a pretty good idea, particularly if they're injured."

Jarrad Page was returning some punts...

"The biggest thing is he has a great knack at catching the ball. I don't know how many yards he can make after it. But that's what we're doing – trying guys, so during the course of the season we don't have to have tryouts."

Can you comment on Ricky Manning?

"I want to make it clear. There are always two sides to the story. The one thing we have to realize is that you're innocent until proven guilty. I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt because I believe what he's telling me. The thing about him is, when it happened, he came to me. And he said ‘Coach, this is what happened.' At that point, we knew there wasn't any legal thing going on. But I told him I was going to discipline him. I was pretty tough on him, and I educated him about things too. I think he felt good about that and we thought it was in the past. Until last night at about 2:15 I get called and there it is. One of the things we've done policy-wise, if you've had a problem, I'm going to evaluate the problem, I'm going to discipline you, but I'm not going to suspend you for a game until you have been convicted of a misdemeanor. Until he's convicted of a crime, I'm not going to suspend him. Until he's convicted of a felony, I'm not going to get rid of him."

Did you make an effort at fact-finding over the incident?

‘We did. That's why I believe what he's saying."

When you suspended Jermaine Lewis a few years ago, it was right when it was found out that he hit someone, and he didn't throw the first punch. How is that different than this?

"That's why I've re-evaluated and changed that policy a little bit. I think I was really tough on making the decision early, and not having all those facts, and doing something prior to him [Lewis] actually being convicted. When I found out later it wasn't really him, and it was another guy and I had to suspend that other guy [Eric Whitfield] for the Miami game, I realized that maybe I needed not be as emotional when it first happens and think about it a bit longer. People out there are going to try to get in fights with our guys all the time, just so he'll get kicked off the team. I'm not going to put up with that type of situation. I'm going to do a little fact-finding, and if it's just a misdemeanor then he'll be suspended. If he's trying to protect himself, which in my opinion is what Ricky was trying to do, if you know the facts, I'm not going to do that to Ricky Manning and our program. People have to realize it's not his fault. It always seems to be our fault. We're the ones always getting the headlines. It's not always us."

Is this different than the other fighting incidents?

"I feel good about this, because I knew about it. It happened a long time ago. Discipline was taken. We thought that there wouldn't be a charge."

Have there been other incidents of fighting where a player has come to you and nothing has been said?

"I'm not going to comment on that. It's like the policy change. I'm not going to tell everyone anytime something happens. It's always a possibility."

Is it another black mark on the image of the program?

"The big thing, and this is why I'm saying I'm standing behind him, because I believe he was basically trying to defend himself. If you know the facts, the poor kid was trying to defend himself. It's the same old deal. Suddenly we're guilty. It's us. Somebody's picking on our kid and put him in a corner where he couldn't do anything else. I think that's something that needs to be written. That's what people have to realize. People are picking on our guys because they realize that I was suspending guys and kicking them off the team. Now I'm not going to do it unless it's definitely his fault and it's a misdemeanor."

Do you think it will affect Manning's ability to be a leader – like it might have with Paus?

"I don't think so, because in my opinion, and in many people's opinions, he's not guilty. With Cory's incident, he was guilty. Ricky's not guilty. That's the big difference. That's what we're talking about. We're accusing a guy like he's a criminal and he was only protecting himself."

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