On his staff and if he is only as good as they are... "I think that is probably - we've talked about this in the past and why recruiting is so important to me. The relationships that you have across the campus and with the administration, it's really what makes this place special. It's about the people and that's what attracted me to come here from the beginning. I can't agree more. You can have a very talented head football coach and if he doesn't surround himself with the right people he is not going to make it. You can have an average head coach who surrounds himself with a talented staff he can have a chance to be successful. My goal, as well as the administrations goal, is to have a talented coach as well as a talented staff. Guys that are hungry and excited about being here. That's another important [part], having guys that are the right fit, guys that are excited about being here, so you have the right makeup. I think that is what we are trying to do, putting a complete staff together from top to bottom from administration to coaches to recruits. There are some places where you are going to hire a coach at a specific position and he might be a really good football coach but he might lack in certain areas in terms of recruiting. I don't think you can do that. Our coaches will have to be dynamic recruiters as well as tremendous coaches."
On keeping Herb Hand... "For the things I mentioned before. It was obvious that he was a special football coach. The position of offensive line is critical to coach [John] Donovan's success to what we are going to do on offense. It became obvious to me that he is one of the better coaches in the country. When I asked him - I asked all the coaches during the interview process - who is the best line coach in the country, he said, `I am.' That's exactly what I want here. I want a staff that's confident and talented and we will be able to walk into the home of the young men across the country and have the confidence in ourselves of what we are going to accomplish here. I agree with Herb that he is the best offensive line coach in the country. Right away we hit it off from a personality standpoint and it was obvious to me that he is a guy who I want to keep here for a long time.
"That's another thing I think is important is stability. These are guys who want to be here. This is a destination for them for the long haul. Don't take that the wrong way, I want to see these guys develop as coaches and have other opportunities down the road but our emphasis will be on doing something special here."
On if having Herb Hand around is good for developing relationships with the players... "I think Herb is going to help with that as well as Mike Hazel, the Director of Football Operations, as well as Andy Frank. Jemal [Griffin] and I had this discussion that you can't come in here and bring an entire new staff in and take a year to figure this place out. Herb is going to help with that. Mike is going to help with that. Andy is going to help with that. I wasn't going to do that just to keep guys on. I was going to make sure they were the right fit for me personality wise. They made sense in a lot of different ways. The most important thing is that we see eye-to-eye philosophically here as well."
On hiring younger men as coaches... "My focus was to get the best coach I possibly can. I wanted a diverse staff. When I say diverse staff I'm talking age diversity in terms of this country because we are going to recruit nationally. Every aspect when I talk about diversity is what I'm looking for. What I did was sit down with these coaches and look for enthusiasm. I don't care if you are 50-years-old or 32-years-old. I want guys who are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and excited about being here to have this same vision that I do. Really those things are important but what's most important thing is the fit we are looking for. We are looking for enthusiasm and I'm not really concerned about their age. I'm concerned about the knowledge they have and the enthusiasm they are going to bring to the program."
On hiring the defensive staff... "We are very close. It may be my most important hire with my offensive background. My focus is on doing this thing the right way. I've talked to a lot of coaches around the country and guys I've worked with in the past and guys who are head coaches now for some of their influence and their background and some of their experiences they have gone through and some of the mistakes they've made so I won't make the same mistakes as a first-time head coach. That's why these guys are here to help with as well. Every decision I make is going to be well thought out and calculated and I feel very good about where the defensive staff is going and I'm going to make the right decisions to lay the foundation for the future."
On if he is losing ground on recruiting by taking time to compile a staff... "I do not. The reality is that there is only a couple of weeks left in recruiting and when I landed on campus there was already a good group of commitments to us. There are only a few scholarships left and the other reality goes back to what I was talking about. All these guys realize that we have to hit the ground running and all of these guys are good football coaches. I don't think there are too many staffs in the country that is putting a focus on recruiting like we are going to. That's the other thing, Chris Beatty is going to be our offensive recruiting coordinator. We are going to have a recruiting coordinator on both sides of the ball to emphasize that as well. Are we at a little bit of a disadvantage in terms of numbers? Yes. But the reality is that we only have a few scholarships left anyway so there is not as many places we need to go anyway at this point in the process."
On if there is pressure on coach Ricky Rahne with the quarterback situation... "I don't think there is going to be heat on anybody because the reality is, we are all going to have to do our part. Our offensive line is going to have to open holes for the running back and create time for the quarterback. The receivers are going to have to make the quarterback look good from time-to-time. We are going to have to get the running game going as well. I think the other thing is my background with quarterbacks. I'm going to be involved in the offense and be involved with the quarterback so if you are going to put the heat on anybody you can put it on me."
On who will call the plays... "That's something that we are going to work through this spring. Coach [John] Donovan has proved it by scoring 51 points against a bowl-caliber team. He can handle that but we are going to work through it this spring and will have an answer for you after summer or after spring ends. I'm confident in John's abilities and what he can bring to the table but I know I've enjoyed that process as well. What I'm learning in this role as the CEO of the program is that I'm going to have my hand in a lot of different areas and be involved with the defense and special teams."
On if John Donovan and him see eye-to-eye on offensive systems... "I think so. It's kind of an interesting deal. John was a coach for three years with coach [Ralph] Friedgen at Georgia Tech and when they came on to Maryland, I was retained from the previous regime. John was the assistant recruiting coordinator at the time and it became apparent right away that John taught the coaches on the staff at Maryland the offense that coach Friedgen ran at the time. It became very clear at the time how smart this guy was. Really, he was not being used to his full ability. It was very obious to me right away that when I had this opportunity to work with John on and off for the last 10 years is that he is a special guy that we are getting. From the way he works with people, from his intellegence, from how the players interacted with him, John is going to be a guy people are talking about for years to come as someone really special. We've been around some really good guys who came around us with coach Friedgen when they were at Georgia Tech. Billy O'Brien who is the offensive coordinator with the Patriots right now. I think John stands up really well with those guys."
On if having familiar coaches on his staff makes it more comfortable... "I think that is very important. This is a tough game and we work a lot of hours. It's very competitive. I like to think it's one of the most competitive games out there and I think there will be tough times and challenges. Recruiting becomes difficult since this is the most challenging conference in the country. I think it is important to have the type of personality and people who are going to be comfortable and can deal with adversity. I'm very emotional and a very passionate person and we are going to work extremely hard Sunday through Friday. On Saturday, I want my staff loose and confident. I want the players loose and confident and aggressive. Not afraid to make mistakes. I think having a background with these guys, whether it's from a recruiting perspective, whether it's coaching for years and being in this situation and knowing how guys are going to react that's very important for my comfort level and their comfort level. I think that's why I've been able to attract the guys I've been able to because of the relationships we have. Same thing with the wives. I think they are going to be as much a part of this as anything. I think you saw my family at the press conference. We are going to have a family atmosphere. I'm a believer - just like we are going to tell these recruits - that you can have it all in life. You can work extremely hard, you can be succesful, you can have a family, your kids can come by for lunch. You can have it all. I don't want these guys to work 18 to 20 hours a day and not see their families. They are going to be just as big a part of this as we are."
On the recruiting process... "We have a lot of places to get in a short period of time. Once again, I think that is something that came up in the press conference that a lot of people asked. Why is this year different? I can tell you that there is a lot of things that were said to me during the interview process. There were a lot of things said to me after I took the job. Since I got on campus those things have continued. Everything that I basically have asked for they have done or we are trying to work through the process to get done. I couldn't' be happier with the process from top-to-bottom with the campus and the community. I think that is one thing that has been very attractive to these coaches is when they were able to visit and they were able to come here they could see the same thing. There is a great sense of community here. I think having the opportunity to live in the great city of Nashville and be around these people and be around this administration, I could see they are hungry. The team could sense right away there was a different approach and I think our coaching staff is feeling it as well."
On if the team will have to crawl before they can walk before they can run... "We don't crawl, we don't walk. We are going to attack everything full speed ahead. It was interesting, me and coach [John] Donovan were at the AFC Coaches Convention. Most of the coaches were actually. We were sitting there and a guy came up to talk to us that we have known for a long time by the name of Chip Kelly. Chip said, `that's a tough conference you guys are playing in. I just saw it first hand.' We understand the challenge and Chip didn't tell us anything we didn't already know before we took this job and that's why we are going to be able to attract the right people here. We are all extrememly competitive and we are going to attack this thing head on. No offense to this conference but we know what we are up against. With this staff, these players and these people we are going to be able to compete and get the job done."
On what the offense will look like... "We are going to be aggressive. What I can tell you is this. I haven't spent a whole lot of time watching tape from the last few years and I'm not really concerned with that. I'm focused on putting a staff together and recruiting. We will get a better idea and start game planning and coming up with better ideas. Our background and our philosophy with all these men up here, most of us have background running the option. Most of us have a background - with what West Virginia was able to do running some Spread. My background being in the NFL with some West Coast stuff. There is really no one out there running a pure form of an offense anyway. No one is running purely the West Coast or the Spread. We are taking elements of each. We want to use our strengths and hide our weaknesses. We are not going to force an offense down this teams throat that doesn't fit this personnel. That's why we are going to hire intellegent guys."
On the recruits he will try bringing in... "Probably four to six guys. My background with quarterbacks, I thought when I came in that it was an area we are going to have to attack right away. John [Donovan], Ricky [Rahne] and I have talked about that. We are going to be very aggressive recruiting quarterbacks. That position can have such an affect on your team. That will be a focus. We need playmakers at any position possible. Our defensive ends need to scare the offensive coordinator on third down. Our receivers need to help the running game. We need offensive lineman who can give us time and give us space to make big plays. We need defensive backs who can cover in space. I could go on and on at each position. We need as many playmakers as we possibly can. We need every one of these men to be better coaches."