Greg Jackson: (laughing) Well, I got called the week before and the guy on the other end of the phone said, ‘This is Head Coach Bret Bielema from Wisconsin.' I was caught off guard and said ‘Who?' He reintroduced himself and I was a bit taken aback. He actually mentioned that my name was recommended to him and asked if I would be interested. Well, hell yes I would be interested. I flew in on a Wednesday, got in here at night because my plane was delayed in Chicago a couple of times. I finally got here and the next morning I came in for an interview. Went through the process and it went pretty good. The next day I met with some of the other coaches, went through the facilities and went to dinner with everybody. It was a fairly quick process.
After that, I waited that whole next week and that Saturday night I got the call. After that, I had to go get some warm clothes. My son turned 5 on that Sunday, so I celebrated that, but I had to go clean out my office, turn in my resignation letter to Tulane Monday and I flew up here. I just never stopped. I finally got relaxed about a week before spring football started.
Badger Nation: What was it like having Coach Shannon recommend you for the job?
Greg Jackson: Oh, it means a great deal. A lot of people ask how I know Randy and I know Randy from high school. We used to play against each. It was great, and I wrote him a thank you letter just for getting me the great opportunity to have an interview. It's been great since then. It's been non-stop.
Badger Nation: Obviously you have the experience of playing in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl and coaching at Tulane in an area hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. What makes you the coach and the person that you are? Is it more NFL or more college coaching?
Greg Jackson: It is a combination of both because through my years playing in the NFL, I've been through every system. Our system is similar to what Coach Dave Doeren does here, but slightly different. The big thing for me is getting the terminology down. What I bring to the table is my experience. I always believed this program was a winner before I got here, and all I want to do is add to that, keep it winning and give some helpful hints. I am excited to learn from Coach Doeren at the linebacker spot because I have learned so much just in the first few days I have been here, listening to him talk and teach. It's been great.
The thing is that I tell everybody and I told this to the team, the thing that I have never seen in coaching college and only once in the NFL when we won a Super Bowl with the Giants is everybody here as a players come in on their own to watch tape and do extra things to get better as football players. That's the difference. That's what I see. I think great things are in store for these guys and I told them and commend them for that. You don't see that at a lot of places.
Badger Nation: You will be assisting at linebackers and you will be handling kickoff. In such a short time from watching your linebackers, not having your top two linebackers and having no prior knowledge of them, what young guys have impressed and what have you seen starting to develop?
Greg Jackson: I think I have seen all these young guys at one point step out and open my eyes. I think Blake Sorensen has done a good job, I think Kevin Claxton and Kevin Rouse have stepped up, I think A.J. Fenton and Coddye Ring-Noonan have done some good things. I mean, everybody can step up as long as they pay attention to what is being taught. The biggest thing is what they have to understand as young players is that they have to take one play at a time and focus in on what they have to focus on during each play. That's going to make them a better player. Once they start tuning out or thinking about different things, that's when you loose focus and that's what young guys do sometimes. Focus in each and every play and every play will take care of itself. If they can do that, they will become a better player and an improved player.
Badger Nation: How much are you going to enjoy going to the East Coast and recruit players that fit the mold of this program? I am sure it's not going to hurt to go out there and recruit a player wearing your Super Bowl ring on your finger?
Greg Jackson: Not at all (laughing). The East Coast is a great place. Even when I played way back when, the New Jersey, Maryland, New York area had great players. Wisconsin has had great players come from that area like Ron Dayne. There are a lot of players that I am recruiting right now that are great players from those areas and can be great players in this program. I think it's going to be a great thing. I can't wait to get on the road and start recruiting.