Talking Football with Kris Richard

Earlier this month Kris Richard became the newest member of the USC coaching staff. Richard, a former Trojan and NFL player will bring a wealth of knowledge to the secondary as a Grad Assistant. Kevin Carden caught up with Richard to get his thoughts on the USC program, his biggest influences, his coaching philosophy and much more.

Q: You had a very successful career as a player in college and the NFL. When did you know you wanted to be a coach?

A: Pretty much when I first stepped foot on this campus, so right out of high school I knew. Once you love football it's a hard passion to let go of, and again once your playing career is over it's the next best thing.

Q: Obviously you are just getting to know the players and what they are capable of doing on the field but what has been your first impression of the team and the program that Pete Carroll runs at USC?

A: It's the top notch program in the country. I think this is the epitome of what college football should ultimately become. It's a great program and they have great guys here. I haven't been here that long but I have been on the outside looking in and it's a team that is in contention to win a national championship every year and that is what we work towards.

Q: You played for Pete Carroll in college and Mike Holmgren and Nick Saban among others in the NFL. What coach that you played for has had the biggest influence on you and has helped to shape your coaching philosophy?

A: Coach Carroll has set the standard and really that is my biggest thing, once you have seen it done right you gravitate towards that. Speaking for myself, I have seen it done right and I know I want to be apart of that. Coach Carroll has had the biggest influence.


Kris Richard in his playing days at USC. (Photo USC SID)
Q: You are just starting out in the profession but how would you describe your coaching style?

A: I think it is ever-evolving. As a player you never stop learning and as a coach I don't think you ever stop learning. You have to deal with different types of personalities and different types of athletes. No one is ever going to be the same and no one is ever going to be treated the same. You have to treat different guys in a different manner. I think you have to be ever-evolving and you have to be a great teacher and a great leader.

Q: Pete Carroll is regarded by many as the best coach in college football. Why do you think he has been able to keep the USC program at such a high level for so many years?

A: A relentless pursuit of perfection, that is what he is all about. Doing it better than it has ever been done before.

Q: Coming into your first year as an assistant coach at USC you have some amazing talent to work with. What are your expectations for the secondary in 2008?

A: I am truly here on a learning capacity. The foundation has already been set and these guys are building upon it. The only thing I am here to do is to be a tool for them. They will go as far as they are willing to take themselves.

Q: Kevin Ellison looks like he has assumed the veteran leadership role in the secondary this off-season. Can you talk about what you know about him as a player and what he means to the USC program?

A: You said it best, he is a leader. He is someone that guys can look to as an example of on-field and off-field performance. We are talking about a guy who is a true student of the game. He has a great natural feel and is a heck of a ballplayer.

Q: Besides being a great athlete. What do you think is the key to being a good defensive back?

A: You got to be smart. That's it. You have to have good athleticism and you have to be smart.

Q: What player that you played with or against have you learned the most from in you career?

A: I have had a lot of guys that I have had the opportunity to learn from. Starting off from here we go from Brian Kelly and Daylon McCutcheon specifically at corner. In the NFL we are talking about guys like Willie Williams, Shawn Springs and Ken Lucas. These are guys that have really taken control of great professional careers and collegiate careers and I have been lucky to have been apart of their lives and their teams. We really reached out to help out each other and it's just a big pool of sharing information and techniques. Those guys are probably the biggest influence especially coming here and starting off with Brian Kelly and Daylon McCutcheon because they were the guys when I signed up. Those were the guys that I signed up to replace. I felt that they had set a standard that needed to be upheld and I was willing to step up and take that challenge.

Q: What is your best experience or memory as a player at USC?

A: My first game starting in Hawaii in '99. We beat up on them pretty good but it was a time when I was coming off of an injury from my freshman year. I didn't have much playing time and mostly contributed on special teams. You are still a little unsure of 'can you really get out there on the field or is the game going to be bigger than you because you never really know until you get out there.' You could be the greatest practice player in the world but once those lights turn on and the cameras start rolling, who are you going to be then? Until you actually get out there and truly gain the experience and get it done you never know.

Q: What does it mean to you to be able to say that you are a Trojan?

A: It's all about the standard that has been set and living up to the expectations that you set for yourself. The ball is rolling and either you roll or get rolled. It's great to be apart of that tradition that has been recaptured and that winning. You feel when the Trojans are coming to town you have to be ready.

Q: Since graduating from USC you have had a nice career in the NFL but what have you been up to outside of the game of football?

A: Starting a family. I have kids and another one due pretty soon at the end of March. I have pretty much just been a family man and waiting for my opportunity to come here and contribute as best as I can.


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