A: Well, this is my first time back to college. I was never a coach or a grad assistant in college. Everyday I'm learning something new but they have a great staff and they are helping me out with all the rules, hash marks, splits, all the things that are different. I love the excitement and I love working with Coach Carroll and just the energy of these kids is fresh, it's really powerful.
Q: What has been the biggest difference so far?
A: Recruiting has been different. In the NFL you kind of sit in your office, you watch tapes for fifteen hours, there's not much socializing going on, there's not much communication besides you and the players and the staff. We've already had three recruiting weekends and a junior day. I think I've already talked to more people in that time than I have in seven years in the NFL. That would definitely be the biggest change.
Q: Recruiting is a huge part of the college game. Is it something that you look forward to doing here at USC?
A: I love it. This is your future. You're going out there to get future USC Trojans that are going to win PAC-10 championships. There are some great athletes in California and around that want to be Trojans, so it's different than the draft. We have an opportunity to get the best of the best and that's our job to go get them.
Q: Obviously, there is a good deal of talent here at USC. What has been your impression of this team?
A: You know I've studied USC in the NFL every year during this time because they always have six to ten players coming into the league. What you see, number one, is you see a pro style offense so the guys have an opportunity to go from USC to the league real easy. They are still doing what the NFL is doing as far as running the ball, the keeper game, and the drop-back pass so it's fun to watch USC from an NFL coaching standpoint just because it's what we do. And then you look at the players. There's eleven guys on the field that are unbelievable. They work their tail off together, they are well coached, they're hustling, they're fighting and again, they're the best athletes in the country out of high school and now they're going to be the best coached athletes out of college.
Q: There are four solid quarterbacks on campus. Have any of them stood out in the film study you have done, and what do you expect from the quarterback competition in the spring?
A: It's exciting. It's a great opportunity for all four of them and all four of them have a chance. We're not going into camp saying ‘this guy's leading or this guy's behind'. They are all going to get reps, they are all going to get opportunities in scrimmages. They are all impressive guys. They were all great high school players and they have all done some good stuff in the past here at USC, whether it be in spring practice or games, but it's exciting. All four of them can play so that's a good problem to have.
Q: You have coached with guys like Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan, which coaches have had the biggest influence on your coaching philosophy?
A: I think everyone I have been around. I mean my dad's a football coach so I've grown up around coaching since I've been young. My dad was my biggest influence, that's why I became a football coach. But you know Coach Gruden and Coach Shanahan really did a great job of bringing me up and teaching me how to work, and how to be a grinder, and teaching me the game. I owe it all to them and now I'm fortunate enough to be around another great one, Coach Carroll.
Q: You were a highly sought after coach. What was it about this opportunity that drew you to USC?
A: I think it's important to understand, and I've told a bunch of the juniors this past weekend, I wanted to come here because they win and that means a lot. My first year in the NFL I won a Super Bowl and the last six I haven't been back to the playoffs. USC wins and I wanted to get that formula again. I wanted to see how Coach Carroll wins 90% of his games over the last eight years. I think that's what drew me back the most was the winning attitude, how to become a winner again. I'm thirty-two and I want to gain that again. There's something special, no matter what you do in life, if you're a winner and that's why I came back here. Plus, the tradition, the pro-style offense and Coach Carroll, I have respected him from afar and I just think it's a great fit for me.
Q: Talk about Coach Carroll and what it has been like to work with him?
A: What you see on tape or at any press conference is what you get. It's exciting every day. He's a real guy and that's what's neat. You don't know what to expect the next day, it's been fun working with him, and I look forward to this year.
Q: What sort of changes can USC fans expect to see with you taking over the play-calling duties?
A: We are still in the film process. I don't make any calls right now. They have won the last seven PAC-10 championships so I'm not going to change much. They have been successful. I'm going to try to bring some things I've learned from Tampa and Denver and continue on that winning tradition.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org