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May 15, 2008
DALLAS, TEXAS: Session One
STEVE HATCHELL: Good afternoon, everybody. Nice to see you. Welcome to Dallas, America. As you will learn, we are here for football's sake. It's nice to have all of you here. In fact, I'm not sure that the proper way to get this started is to just say welcome, everybody, because if you're into college football and you're into the promotion of it, everybody in this room really cares about football, and when you bring friends together and people who have a wonderful understanding and appreciation for the sport, it just makes it so much fun. So it's terrific to have you here.
We'd like to -- we have a lot of things to do and there's a lot of welcomes and there's a lot of people that we're going to ask you to sit through just to be greeted to have you here, because a lot of people have participated in this.
First of all, because this is our first year, we had many people step forward to help us in a financial sense as financial partners, to get it going. We'd like to start off by saying thank you to the Fiesta Bowl for lunch today, and John Junker and Shawn Schoeffler are here, so if you didn't like it, if you'd drop them a note, please. This is a no-holds-barred deal.
But anyway, thank you to our corporate partners, our friends, I guess is a way to say that.
The room is wired for wi-fi. FastScripts will be distributed on Monday of all of the proceedings. So if you take notes like I do, you'll get something that's a lot better than your own notes so you can just listen and participate.
If you could check with Phil Marwill for one-on-one interviews with the panelists, and outside this room we have it set up with a backboard and helmets and all of that, so if you need to do separate interviews or whatever, you can do that in between sessions or at the end of the day.
I have a very simple task here today, not only to welcome you on behalf of the Football Foundation, and our chairman is here and several of our board members, which is wonderful, and Archie will speak in a minute. But my job today is as we put this together, our whole idea was to make sure all of the little things were handled because obviously at the Football Foundation we love football, love it 13 months out of the year. And whether it's the credentials or your key for your room, whatever we can do to show that football is really special, we tried to incorporate it into this.
We were also very, very fortunate in that we had a lot of people to serve as moderator, and we were very fortunate to have Chris Rose come in. Chris, as you know, does Fox's coverage of the BCS games, big college football person. He's the host of the Best Damn Sports Show, Period, and now we can say it's the Best Damn Football Forum, Period, that we have Chris here. A lot of fun to visit with and you'll find out about some of the guests he's had in. He's had over 1,000 guests and over 1,000 shows that he's conducted in his run. So that's the good and the bad and the ugly of sports.
He's got a lot of experience coming into this, and we hope this is just the first of many times and many opportunities that we have Chris to do things with the Football Foundation. He's anchored FSN's National Sports Report, anchored broadcasts for CNN and CNNSI, lots of things. He's been a local anchor in Reno, Nevada, and Cincinnati, Ohio. He's from Shaker Heights, Ohio. Fun stories; as you know, I was part of rodeo for a while and really fun stories hearing about Chris when he tried to do celebrity rodeo things and when he was in Reno. We'll leave out a lot of parts of those because Chris gets the microphone next.
If you would just take a moment to say hello to Chris Rose who gave up a couple of days and be here to be our moderator for the first football forum. Thank you, Chris.
CHRIS ROSE: We're not going to relive those Reno rodeo stories. Basically I had a steer that didn't like me very much. It came a little south of the Equator, if you know what I mean. I was down for the count, but my wife was -- actually she was kind of pleased about that (laughter).
I want to thank everybody for coming. I think this is a real great opportunity for the media to mingle with some of the biggest names we've got in college football and college athletics. I've been able to cover a lot of pretty cool events in the 15 years I've been working in television, everything from Super Bowl to Tiger's run at the Masters and the Final Four and everything else.
I can honestly say that the BCS is far and away the best thing that I do. There's nothing like walking into a stadium and basically seeing the colors split down the middle.
I mean, I know most of you have probably been to a Super Bowl. It's kind of an antiseptic feel, I think. But when you walk into last year the Allstate BCS National Championship game, you're walking into a feeling where it's family.
And it goes back to -- all I can think about is like a couple of guys I grew up with, two of my best friends from grade school on, Jay Novotny and Bailey Rice. Being from suburban Cleveland, Ohio, we're huge Browns fans, we're huge Indians fans, we've huge Cavs fans, which means that basically as a Cleveland sports fan you're 95 percent scar tissue anyway.
Then you get to college sports, and Jay used to take me to Buckeyes games back when Earl Bruce was roaming the sidelines, and he used to take Bailey, too.
And then Bailey, I don't know what happened to him, but he decided to go to the University of Michigan. Things pretty much went downhill from there.
So they live near each other in Chicago these days, and we root for the same teams except for Saturdays during the fall, and there is nothing better than watching those two go at it. I know that if Jay -- I've got Jay's number if you want to give him a call (addressing Coach Tressel). He'd like to talk to you about certain play calls I know at some point in big games. Bailey does not want to hear from you, and we wouldn't want it any other way.
I think that's the great thing about college football is you can have friends that grew up next to each other and have common interests and common goals, and on Saturdays in the fall, forget it. They're not talking and they're yelling at each other, and I think that is the coolest thing that we've got going in this sport.
College football is at an all time high. I think ESPN, if you listen to those guys, did a recent poll and found out that only the NFL supercedes college football in terms of fan interest, and I think that is an amazing thing if you look at the sports in our country. Major League Baseball, supposedly the national pastime, way down the ladder; NBA, which has had a little bit of a revival in recent years, way down the ladder, as well. College football is healthy, the numbers are amazing.
Coach Tressel, I saw that 76,000 people attended your spring game. What's going on there? How do you get 76,000 people out there?
COACH TRESSEL: It was raining (laughter).
CHRIS ROSE: Nice. Good effort.
Overall last year over 48 million people attended college football games, including almost 2 million for the Bowls. The ratings were outstanding across the board for ABC, for NBC, for ESPN, for Fox SportsNet, for Fox. I think we did okay, as well. And so obviously there's a lot to look forward to in college football, and we're going to cover that over the next two days.
We're actually going to give you guys an opportunity to ask questions throughout these four two-hour sessions, so we have a microphone that will be traveling around the room, and if you can't get to all the questions now, you'll have ample time hopefully to talk to the coaches, the athletic directors, the university president here, as well, SIDs are going to be roaming around, so hopefully we'll get to everything you want over the next two days.
There are going to be a few 15-minute breaks sponsored by the AT & T Cotton Bowl, so we want to thank those guys. Tonight there is a reception at 6:00 p.m. hosted by Schutt Sports. If you want to get some real answers from the coaches it's a good time to get them to do this (indicating drinking) and then ask them the good stuff. That will be followed by dinner at 7:00 hosted by the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, and then you guys can do -- I don't know what you all do at night but go have fun, and then we'll see you back here at 7:00 a.m. for the breakfast hosted by the FedEx Orange Bowl and then we're back here for tip time at 8:00 a.m. and then we'll conclude with a noon lunch which is hosted by the Football Writers Association of America, so that's pretty simple there.
I want to hear from a few hosts before we get going and throw out our very interesting topics over the next few hours. The first man is a 14-year board member here, current chairman of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. He's been a college football Hall-of-Famer since 1989. He was a Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints, he was the NFL's MVP, he has a son Cooper and apparently two others that work for DirecTV (laughter). With that being said, Archie Manning, welcome to the podium.
ARCHIE MANNING: We know what a great job Fox has done in promoting college football, especially since it took over the BCS, so it's an honor for us to have you, Chris, and appreciate you being the moderator for the next two days.
About a year ago in Phoenix, National Football Foundation president Steve Hatchell, NFF vice-chairman George Weiss, FWAA president Steve Richardson, Malcolm Moran and Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline met to discuss the idea of a football forum. This group wanted to ensure that the nation's top football writers had access to the leaders of college football, where the major issues of the day could be discussed, explored, and more importantly, advanced in a relaxed setting.
Thus they proposed a football forum. What will take place over the next two days is a testament to their vision, and we thank them for their leadership and their foresight.
In addition to our esteemed panelists, whom Chris will introduce in a moment, I'd like to thank the sponsors of our event. They certainly care deeply about the future of our sport. Real quickly, our presenting sponsors, the Heisman Trophy Trust; the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, a great event I've had the pleasure to attend several times; Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and board member John Junker is here with us today; the FedEx Orange Bowl; the AT & T Cotton Bowl, Schutt Sports; collegepressbox.com and I6.
A few other special thank-yous need to be made, including our partner the Football Writers Association of America; the National Football Foundation staff, which works tirelessly to help make this vision a reality. We continually ask them to do more and more, and they seem to always rise to the occasion. Their passion for this event and attention to detail is truly appreciated.
The National Football Foundation board members in attendance, including particularly George Weiss, who played a founding role in this event, and I'm here to tell you there's nobody that cares more about the National Football Foundation or has given more of their time and counsel than George, and we're certainly grateful for his leadership; Chuck Neinas, who played an integral part of designing all the aspects of the meeting today, selecting the panelists, establishing the agenda. And we all know this, too; there's nobody more knowledgeable about the state of college football than Chuck, and he adds a great deal of credibility to our efforts, and Chuck, we thank you.
Collaboration and integrity have been hallmarks of the relationship between the media and the leaders of college football for as long as anybody can remember. Hopefully the football forum will perpetuate these values becoming an annual opportunity for us to come together and discuss freely the challenges and opportunities that face our sport.
So relax, enjoy, don't hesitate to share your ideas and your concerns, and we are all here for one goal, and that's to promote the game we love, college football. I'll turn it back over to Chris. Thank you very much.
CHRIS ROSE: Thank you, Archie. Up next we have the 65th president of the Football Writers Association of America. He's a college football writer for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Ron Higgins. Step on up here.
RON HIGGINS: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it. And of course, you being the warm-up act for John Calipari every night on the Best Damn Sports Show, every time I turn on the show, Cal is on there as one of your panelists.
Anyway, I want to thank the National Football Foundation for this gathering. This is a great opportunity for the media and coaches to kind of discuss and learn more about what each other does, and hopefully we'll have a better understanding of each other. Anytime you get the coaches and media together and communicate about what each other does, it's good. I think a lot of times they may not know exactly what we do and we don't know exactly the things they go through, and I think it's a good thing that we finally get here and open a line of communication.
I want to thank Steve Hatchell, the president of the National Football Foundation. I've known Steve forever. Back in the metro conference days, that's like three or four rÃƒï¿½Ã‚Â©sumÃƒï¿½Ã‚Â©s ago, I think, Steve.
I also want to thank Archie Manning, chairman of the National Football Foundation. We held this in the basement today so there's no paparazzi following you around from the wedding.
It's just great to be here among friends. I see a lot of people I know, Charles Davis, who I covered when he was a football player at Tennessee and I'll always consider him the best media interview I've ever covered. There's no surprise where he is now.
Anyway, again, this is a great deal. I'm looking forward to doing this every year. Welcome, and thanks for coming.
CHRIS ROSE: Finally, helping us out, a professor from Penn State, and Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, 30 years as an award-winning journalist with the New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and News Day, are you sure you want to be here? That's impressive work right there. Malcolm Moran is here.
MALCOLM MORAN: Thank you, Chris. As I was preparing for this, I filled up a legal pad with all kinds of stuff, and I had my observations and deep thoughts because that's what professors are supposed to deal with, deep thoughts. And then I looked again at the people that were going to be here, and I realized when I thought about all the help that they had provided for me and for people that do what I used to do that I really don't need any of this, and I think it would be much better to speak from the heart.
The reason that we're here is we really need to talk. There are serious problems in this business. The relationships that used to exist in most places, not perfect, but workable, are all but disappearing. The acceleration of the rate of information as it's presented to the public is spinning at such a rate that even somebody that's interested in doing honest work has a hard time keeping up, and the scrutiny that reporters and columnists are under, much less coaches and athletic directors, is at an unprecedented level.
Jim can back me up on this. We listened to somebody yesterday who portrays himself as a journalist describing how it's not necessary to ask a question to write something, and my answer was, if you're going to report something, you have to learn it first. And if you don't ask a question, how can you learn it?
I mean, going back to that dinner before the BCS Championship game a year ago when we were talking about all this and the importance of doing something about it, I mean, that's why it really is an honor to be a part of it and to see it grow.
Steve, is it okay if I embarrass you with praise for a second? My thanks to Steve. He has been helping people communicate and understand each other for a very long time. When it's 12:30 a.m. eastern time and you're sitting in Miami, Florida, and you don't know who's going to win the Orange Bowl and they aren't handing out scripts in the press box, you need all the help you can get.
One of the great achievements in Bowl history is that Steve dragged the Orange Bowl kicking and screaming into the 20th century, and the reason that's such an amazing accomplishment is before he did that, he had to drag it kicking and screaming into the 18th and 19th centuries. Then after that, it was 16 years ago in the other Hyatt at this airport, Steve assembled a group of reporters from across the nation to talk to us about this plan that was on the drawing board to try to find a way to tweak the Bowl system to give us a better chance to have No. 1 against No. 2 at the end of the season. I always get confused whether it's the alliance or the coalition or the chicken or the egg, but that was really the beginning of it. He sought us out to create dialogue.
What this is about is to keep that dialogue going so that we can understand, and I still say we, because I still feel like I'm invested in the business, so that we can understand the people that are coaching, that are playing the game. I mean, from the seat I sit in now, students in general, not just student athletes, the lives of students are so much more complicated than they were 100 years ago when I was in school. There are so many more things on their plate, there are so many more issues, how a high-profile athlete can deal with the academic load and perform at a high level when even before you're going through the intrusion in their lives from the recruiting process forward, I have no idea how they do it.
So whatever we can take away from this conversation to have a greater understanding of how their lives work and how we can describe them and so that people in your positions can have a greater understanding of the needs that we are dealing with, I mean, that's going to be the value of this.
I was born on a college football Saturday. The Florida Rams beat the University of Miami about four hours before I was born. One week later, the Rams went to Penn State and lost to a team that was coached in part by a fourth-year assistant on his way to law school, and I'm still trying to figure out how Joe has less gray hair than me (laughter).
Thank you for taking the time in advance when you get ripped in your areas for not being on campus 365 days a year. We are grateful that you're here and you're helping us, and I hope we can grow this into a wonderful thing. Thank you.
CHRIS ROSE: Thank you, Professor. We appreciate that. It was very nice. We're about to hear from everybody that you want to hear from and you want to ask questions to these guys, so just real quickly I want to introduce our esteemed panel. We're going in alphabetical order.
We're going to start off with the director of athletics at Army, Kevin Anderson.
This guy is the commissioner of the Big 12, and I've got to tell you, sometimes when you get in Manhattan you've got to split cabs with people, this guy hopped on the Fox plane from Bowl game to Bowl game. "Can I grab a seat?" Yeah, of course. Welcome, it's Dan Beebe. He kept us up all night, too. He wouldn't stop talking. At least I didn't have to talk to my bosses.
Also here with us, a guy that led Kansas to a school record 12-win season, also champion of the FedEx Orange Bowl, Mark Mangino. Thank you, Coach.
Another coach, this is a home game for him, so it's party at Patterson's house tonight, TCU coach Gary Patterson.
Also here, a man that has coached in nine national title games, including the last two. He won a championship in 2002 at The Ohio State University, Jim Tressel.
Also with us, the lone president on the panel, the president of Florida State University, Dr. T.K. Wetherell. Also went to Florida State on a football scholarship, correct? Played what position would that be?
DR. WETHERELL: I was a receiver a long time ago.
CHRIS ROSE: For those of us who are just getting to know you, who was your assistant coach at the time?
DR. WETHERELL: A young assistant named Bobby Bowden.
CHRIS ROSE: We also have the director of athletics at Notre Dame, Kevin White, who's with us.
And also here, the man that led Stanford to its first Rose Bowl appearance in 28 years. He was the only first-year coach in Notre Dame history to put out a ten-win season. Now he's reviving the program up there in the Pacific Northwest, Washington coach Tyrone Willingham. Coach, it's good to see you.
I know there are some of you out there that are saying, ok, we've got Kevin White, Tyrone Willingham, they're like seats away, what's going to happen; they're great friends, they go back many, many years, and we've already set up a best two out of three steel cage match on Fox, so you can't have it.
Before you start asking the questions and hearing the answers, I want to introduce a few people that are out here in the audience. We've got AFCA President Grant Taft, also a member of the board; BCS administrator, Bill Hancock, although Bill is not here right now, will be joining us later; Mitch Dorger from the Tournament of Roses is here; NFF board member and also from the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, John Junker is here, as well; Chuck Neinas, we saw him earlier and he is responsible for putting the panel together; and commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, Wright Waters, as well.
We're going to get going with our first session, and these are the challenges to college football, and we're going to start in the world of academia. I guess over the last few years, it all starts with the APR, which is a formula -- personally I know I'm not that smart because I've had trouble figuring it out. I've gotten through the quarterback rating easier than this APR thing. I'm going to ask the two athletic directors on this. How much do we pay attention to that and I guess its importance in the world of college football?
KEVIN WHITE: I think we would be naive to think in athletics that the score isn't important. We keep score in sport. I think the APR has become pretty darn important, particularly on our campuses. All the different constituency groups I think at most places pay close attention to academic progress, and I think we're making great headway in that regard.
It's not perfect, it'll continue to be tweaked, I'm sure, but putting young people in a position to be academically successful, that's not pollyanna, that is the right thing to do, and I think we're responsible for that outcome. I think our constituency groups, particularly on our respective campuses, will hold us to that, and I think that's a good thing.
CHRIS ROSE: Mr. Anderson, is it a fair measurement?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I believe so. I think there are challenges, particularly for those schools that don't have the financial wherewithal of some others. So I think that's going to be the major challenge, how do you get that balance.
You look at one of the schools in California just came out and lost, I believe, 19 scholarships. So how do you balance that and try to win football games and also create financial aspects for the university so you can balance all three of these. That's the biggest challenge I think that we have.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, as Kevin White said, we do keep score in our games. You guys have a lot on your plate each and every week. How much time do coaches spend looking at the APR?
COACH WILLINGHAM: I don't know if our time is all dedicated to the APR, but I think you are aware of anything that can affect the scholarships that you have for your young people.
But what I would be as concerned about as anything with the increased competition on the collegiate campus to be in any major, and now you have majors that are very restrictive. Does the APR in some form force young people out of majors that they may be able to have success at based on the requirements of the university, and therefore you're getting some of that watered-down concern that I think some people have about what is a by-product of the APR.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Tressel?
COACH TRESSEL: I just want to preface for a moment with a little context. We listened to Malcolm at our Big Ten meetings the other day talk about some of these issues and really why we're together, and as it relates to the APR, the thing that he left us with that I thought was impactful is that many of you are in this battle, if you will, or reality of getting it right or being first. Isn't that the phrase you kind of left us with? And we went through a lot of those discussions.
I don't think that that's any different thing than we face. Doing things right or being first, you know, there's a big tug and everyone wants to know who's first, first in your league, first in the nation, first in whatever. But doing it right is really where we feel most strongly pulled toward, just like I could sense that from the good folks that visited with us at the Big Ten.
So as you relate it to the APR, we want to do things right and make sure that our young people have an opportunity to grow academically, to take the opportunity to get that degree. And as good as some of our players are and get drafted in the second round or whatever it happens to be, they don't last long in their dream area. And we want them to have the opportunity to have some choices after their playing days are over.
Any time you add a measuring stick that gives some accountability like the APR does, I think it's healthy. I think that any time your feet are held to the fire, there are some issues. As Ty brought up, some guys get maybe put into some majors because right now that's the number of credits they have towards something and they need to be eligible, so it's a little bit of a battle from that standpoint.
But from an overall standpoint, in us seeking what's right, and that's having our kids grow and have a chance to succeed in the future, the APR I think has been a healthy addition -- a little bit of a pain in the neck, and we're going to have to do some things as Kevin Anderson brought up. There's a lot of people that don't have the resources to have as many tutors and academic advisors and things like that, that we're going to have to come up with some ways that they can survive this without too many hits.
But I think it's a good process, a process that's in work, and we can tweak it and make it helpful.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Patterson, Coach Mangino, at the same time, there are kids that play football and that's their dream; as little kids that's what they wanted to do as a professional, and there's nothing wrong with that. How do you convince kids, maybe even some borderline kids, guys, that degree is important?
COACH PATTERSON: Number one, I think the families get more involved in the process of recruiting. I think they're starting to realize with the APR we've made it not just be the student athlete's responsibility. I think the families are starting to decide we'd better pick the right school or university that my son is going to get an education.
I asked the question for our five years ago at the head coaches' meeting when we have it wherever it was held, and my question was what are we going to do for the student athlete? We've added the 12th ballgame, we've reduced to 85 scholarships. You're a coach where you need to win X amount of games. It used to be that we red-shirted freshmen, but in a 12-game ballgame, now you play 13, possibly talking about a 14th game, let's say on average you red-shirt 20 freshmen, now you're playing a season with 65 scholarship athletes, and you're asked to win ballgames. If you have any injuries at all -- I think there has to be a common balance.
That was the question I asked Miles Brown when he was at our meeting was what are we going to do for the athlete, because we put the APR in place and I do believe in it. We graduate a very high percentage of our kids, and it's not just the academic people's job. I believe it's also the staff's job, myself and our coaches, to make sure they're part of going to class and what they do.
But I also think it's the university's responsibility. I believe that once you get a young man in, and one of our biggest concerns is I believe kids are a lot more knowledgeable in this day and age, but I don't think they're as mature because of the internet, and they have a lot of information. And I think one of the things that came down upon the head football coach of that university is it's our job to set goals, time management, things that parents used to do, we try to do it on a six- to eight-week basis to try to get kids to grow up and understand that you have accountability.
The word I hate right now in the world is entitlement. You have it in the soccer teams right now where everybody that -- the winning team and the losing team get the same trophy. It's okay. We don't teach anybody any of those things.
I think it goes a little bit farther than the APR. It's one of those things, and it all falls right in our lap of what we're going to do about it because we're the ones that are on center stage.
For me, I go back to what are we going to do for the student athlete. I understand the APR was put in place for the accountability aspect, but in my place, what are we actually going to do that's actually going to help them, besides the tutors and all the other things that go on, because money, obviously monetarily you need to move forward, but at some point in time we've got to go back to them. That's one of the questions I've been asking for a while is how do we go back and help them.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Mangino, how active a role do you play in the academic situation of your players?
COACH MANGINO: You have to play an important role as a coach because with the accountability of the APR and the fact that you want your players to graduate -- we always said at our place that this football window is just a small window in your lifetime, and it's what you use -- you use football to get an education, don't let the game use you.
And what we have is we have a situation where a lot of kids that come into our program don't always have the same backgrounds. Some of them, the high schools or the resources at their high school just weren't good enough to really support them. They got passing grades, they met the basic NCAA standards for test scores and grades and core courses, but they didn't have maybe perhaps the kind of academic support that other kids have had.
The APR is great. I'm in favor of the APR. But I'm concerned about the student athletes that just didn't have the resources in high school to prepare them for the challenge of college. Does that mean they shouldn't have an opportunity to go to college? I don't think so. In fact, I know so. Every young man and young lady should have an opportunity to get an education if they want to, and if it's because of an athletic scholarship, I think that's great. I mean, some kids have no other means to go to college other than a scholarship.
But the challenges we face as coaches is that we play a major role in the academics because we talk to the academic advisors every day. After each and every practice I mention something about academics. Every team meeting I talk about things that need to be done in academics, and I know most coaches do that because you have to be proactive, because if you're not, you're not graduating kids, they're not getting the education that they deserve in preparing them for life, which is part of our job, and also, you start losing scholarships because of the APR.
One thing you don't want to do, you don't want to be turning around a football program when APR was instituted here. I think it makes it tougher. I saw it from our aspect. It's much tougher to come in and turn a program around when you have to deal with APR, because at one time new coaches came in, and if kids didn't follow a certain set of guidelines or standards, they left. You can't do that anymore.
CHRIS ROSE: With academic standards changing, it's tougher to get into college now than it was even eight years ago. There's a reason I didn't get into Northwestern, I got into Miami of Ohio -- actually several hundred, I think, Dr. Wetherell, where are we in terms of academic standards? Every school has a different set, and we're talking about it making an unfair playing field, don't you think, for different institutions?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, every institution has its own personality and its own purpose in being, and they're not all the same, nor should they be the same, I don't think. I mean, what's at Florida versus Florida State versus a community college or small, private institution, whatever, they shouldn't be the same.
Going back to the APR for a minute, from a president's perspective and I think a coach's perspective, no one is going to come out and say we're against the APR. The problem I see with it is it's more of a public relations issue. Clearly you want to do well, and if you look, most presidents and probably a lot of athletic directors and coaches probably couldn't explain it, but we have to live by it. Same with the IRS tax code; we can't explain it but we have to live by it. Most presidents go down and to the right; they pick up USA Today, look where Florida State is, I go over, are we 922 or 933, whatever we have to be, if we didn't lose any scholarships, and we had to do good.
But that's not really what the thing ought to be about, nor the academic standards. What concerns me is I think we keep talking about student athletes, but there are so many rules put into place that conflict with a student athlete really being a student first.
Academic standards are increasing. There are more and more students wanting to go to college. But if you look, what qualifies you to meet NCAA standards may be significantly below what it takes to get into any institution, quite frankly here, or any other student. Now, that's not uncommon for other students, either, so I don't want to mislead anybody in that process.
In the state of Florida we have a program called Bright Futures. You can qualify to be a Bright Futures student and get a full scholarship, but you still can't get into the University of Florida or Florida State. I think the same thing is probably true of Ohio State if I'm not mistaken in that area.
So you're seeing a bunch of things that are good and well-intended. But instead of working on the issue, we seem to be more concerned about the number, did we meet it or not.
CHRIS ROSE: As far as the academic standards go, have you had coaches that are -- you can tell they're frustrated, that there's a certain kid they want to try to bring into school that's going to help their program on the football field, and boy, it's a risk, a real risk to bring this kid in? Do you see that happening?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, sure, that happens in athletics. It happens in every institution. Every president is faced with it. Most of us have a limited admission program for certain students. Many people in the public think that's athletics. Most of those limited admissions aren't in athletics, they're in music or art or drama or other types of programs.
It's not uncommon for a coach to come over and say, you've got to let this one in. He can go to Washington or Ohio State or wherever, and I'm sure somebody at Ohio State is saying you've got to let him in because he can go to Florida State. Well, that's probably true on any one given, but Bobby has got a list of 25 of them that he wants. I say, wait a minute, we can't handle 25, we're talking one or two here (laughter).
But once you make that commitment to admit that student, I think that student deserves every opportunity that any other student would get, including while they're in high school. Now, that violates a number of NCAA rules. We have a program called Care at Florida State. You look at U.S. News & World Report, you'll see we're actually graduating African American students at a higher rate than we are white students at one of the highest rates in the nation. The reason we're doing that is the programs we put in place before they get to Florida State.
But if I send those same counselors out to talk to a football player, I'm going to be slapped with some kind of a violation. That doesn't seem right to me. But you've got to take the chains off of us if we're going to deal with those students.
CHRIS ROSE: Dan, your thoughts on this, because I'm sure you have coaches that come to you as the commissioner and share their frustrations, don't you?
DAN BEEBE: We haven't had it as much at the conference office level, and frankly, in our conference the coaches have accepted this pretty well. I think the most difficulty is when you get a new coaching situation where a lot of the players leave and transfer away and they get hit with the lack of retention or eligibility point, and that causes a problem with the APR and then causes them to lose scholarships or other things.
With the coaches that are in programs for a long time, and a lot of our coaches have been in that, particularly in football - basketball we've had more of a turnover - have accepted it pretty well. Let's remember, this marker of 925 relates to a 60 percent graduation rate. I don't think that's outlandish. I don't think anybody here would say that's an outlandish marker to make.
There have been concessions made about transfer students. This has all been data driven. The data has shown that if you achieve at 2.6 and you leave an institution and go to another institution, you're as likely to graduate at that second institution as the one you leave. So therefore the rules changed to not dock the school from which that student is transferred.
So there are considerations that are being made, and I've just been put on a football working group panel to look at the particular issues about football. We've had it with baseball, and there's an active panel right now with basketball and the APR to see if there's adjustments that might need to be made in this regard.
I think the main thing is, and the coaches can speak to this, is for those great, great athletes you're going to make concessions to get those athletes. But what I've heard from coaches and you get down the line and you have Dan Beebe who may not be as prepared to succeed at Kansas and Kevin White is, and I may be a little bit better athlete, I think Coach Mangino is going to say let's get Kevin White, he's prepared to graduate from here, we may be able to develop him into a better player, he's shown the hard work and dedication in the classroom that's probably going to show up on the field anyway. So those decisions, when I've talked to coaches, have been made on the other players.
You're not going to pass up on the great all-star player who can get into your institution because if you don't take, them your rival will, and then Coach Tressel is going to answer the question of why did you let them go somewhere else and beat you for four years.
But those other kids, those other 20 through 10 or so, I think coaches are making better decision based on the preparedness of those youngsters to make it at their institution.
And let's face it, Doc Wetherell stated, we've got institutions in this country that are created to host a number of different types of youngsters. I went to a regional state university. I was commissioner of a conference of regional state universities. Those missions and the creation of those institutions are for youngsters that don't have quite the prepared backgrounds of others, of the institutions that are represented in the Big 12 or here at this table.
So we have that disparity with students generally, and what happens in athletics is sometimes we try to fit the great athlete who may be better prepared to go to Austin Peay at the University of Kentucky, and those are issues we have to deal with.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, graduation rates. When ESPN on SportsCenter does something about a coach that gets hired or unfortunately gets let go, they talk about their record, they don't talk about the graduation rates, very rarely. We see them in the papers sometimes and on the internet but we certainly don't focus on them. When you get in your hand and see graduation rates for Washington, what's going through your mind and your body?
COACH WILLINGHAM: The first thing is I want to know what our won-lost record is. That's as much important to me as anything, is how you're winning and losing.
I think this, I'm going to step away for a second. I've often said that education is not just for those that are educated, and that should really be the role of our institutions, to educate all of its members in the community to the best of its ability.
In saying that, my concern is more so of the individuals' abilities to survive and prosper at a university than just to be there and compete. I think one of the worst things we could ever do to any individual is to have a young man on a campus and he wakes up in the morning, and he says, "I can't make it." That would be a mistake because what you know is he will not be there, regardless of how talented he is, for three or four years. He won't be there. Something is going to happen, be it negative or he leaves, but something going to happen.
So we have a responsibility, first of all. Even though a young man may be weaker academically, we have the ability to make sure or should have the ability to ensure his success based on the fact that he'll work and we'll give him the resources and support that he needs to be successful.
Now, the graduation rate issue, I spoke I think it was the other day over in Spokane, Washington, and there's always this thing about kind of what comes first, do you win or graduate, which one is first and which one is most important. I did a quick eye test of the individuals in the room, and asked them, and they were all professional people, businessmen, which ones had built their businesses doing things the wrong way, and not one raised their hand.
The same thing exists for us in football. You're going to have the most successful program and develop longevity by doing things right, and right means winning and graduating and not not graduating and not winning.
CHRIS ROSE: We're going to have time for a few questions on the academic arena, so if you want to fire away, and I apologize for not knowing everyone's name in advance.
Q. For the administrators, with this disparity, and a lot of this has come from the BCS conferences versus the non-BCS conferences and the money that has gone with that as far as the trying to develop the academic framework and the infrastructure necessary, is there any thought of any further redistribution of wealth in order to allow those schools to better compete in that area so that they can have more players in school? They're not going to lose scholarships; they're going to have a more level playing field to deal with.
KEVIN WHITE: I'm not sure that there's any conversation, at least that I'm aware of, about redistribution of wealth. That's a pretty difficult subject to kind of get anybody to sit down and talk about, so I won't even begin to try to dance around that one.
Let me say this about young people, and I'm listening to the panelists, it's kind of already been suggested, kids today are great consumers. I've got five kids, five of my own children and four have long gone through college, and the consumer level of the kids we deal with today is far different than our experience, our collective experience in this room. I think that's pretty darned important to remember. This is a sophisticated group of young people with sophisticated -- and some gallery people around them that help them make the kind of decisions as to where they should go and which institution they should attend. And I think that's really important.
We find ourselves in living rooms, and then when they make the official visits on campus, talking about delivering a certain experience, a world-class academic experience and a very high-end athletic experience, if you will. We'd better not only deliver that, we'd better over-deliver it, because I think the kids today, because of all the opportunities they have to communicate, the internet, the chat rooms and the blogs and everything else, and these young people know who's going to kind of deliver and/or over-deliver what's been promised. I think that puts great pressure on us.
The last question or I guess the last bit of my response, and I want to come to your question, I think there's a real lack of homogeneity across our education. I don't know if, T.K., you would see this better than anybody from your position, but I'm sitting up here thinking about it. It's almost like, if you'll excuse the analogy, it's like the ballroom from "Star Wars," different sizes, shapes and colors; we've got privates, we've got publics, we've got big, we've got small, we've got different missions. And so it's really hard to get everybody to look at these issues through one lens.
Sometimes I talk to the staff, and Stan Wilcox is here, and we're colleagues at Notre Dame together, but we talk about creating a lens neighborhood. There's no way we're going to get everybody looking at all these issues through the same lens.
So your point or your question, there is a lack of a quality in terms of resources, not only between BCS and non-BCS or what used to be called non-BCS, but within a conference. It's amazing. Having been in the Pac-10, there's haves and there's have-nots. You find yourself in a position where you've got to find a way to make your situation work and work for you. But I'll tie it back to my first point, you'd better deliver what you promised in the living room because we're in the people business and the referral business, and the young people that are in our programs today, they close the deals with the next generation, and I think that's really important that we keep that foremost in our thoughts.
COACH PATTERSON: To go along with what Kevin said, I think we're talking about the financial aspect, but I'll be honest with you, the bottom line to it is we've got to make the kids be accountable. We want to talk about the university, we want to talk about the haves, the have-nots and all of it, but the bottom line, the coach says you're going to make him go to class, you're going to make him do all the things he needs to, then you need to make him do that.
If we don't follow that, I don't care how many tutors you give him. It's like, you can fix breakfast for them in the morning; they don't have to eat it or get up. I mean, you make them make their bed. The bottom line to it is you have to hold them accountable. We can give them everything they want to, but if they don't want to go to class and don't do the things they need to do, then that comes down to the responsibility of the coach and the university to make sure we hold them when we get them on campus because they are given a lot just to make sure they do that.
I think that's one of the things we forget. We get so busy, coaches, with how early can we get a kid committed three years in advance, what are we building, we've got to win or lose, we forget about the guys that are there. I think one of the things we have to do as a football community is we have to -- when we go on to campuses we have to make kids go to class, do everything they're supposed to do, because whether they're a good student or a bad student, if they really believe that you care by making them do that, then I think we're going to have a chance. If we don't, then they're going to be the ones that fall along the wayside.
It's like your own kids; if you don't make them make the bed and do the right things, then they're not going to do it. It's not only going to be the kids that aren't good students. As soon as the good students see that you're not making the bad students do the right things, then they're not going to do it, either. The bottom line to it is if a kid wants to succeed, as Tyrone said, if he wants to succeed, that kid that really wants to, then we give him the opportunities and make him do it.
The problem is we're also dealing with the ones that came there for just football possibly that we didn't know about because we recruited him, we only spent X amount of time with him, and he doesn't want to go to class and he's your best player, so what do you do? And at some point in time you're going to have to say, look, if you don't want to do this, then the team is bigger than the player. And when you do that, then they set the example and they all step up.
But until we all do that, and I agree with everything that's said, but the bottom line is we have to have the responsibility ourselves.
DAN BEEBE: Well, this is a maverick idea and the coaches may not like this at all, and I spoke with Wendell the other day about it, and one of the things that I think we're hampered by in football and men's basketball is not having a situation like we have in baseball, where youngsters who have no interest in academics, who are just going there to play football, can be drafted by a professional team and have the chance to -- there's nothing wrong with a young kid that doesn't want to go to college at that time, at 18. I've got friends, brothers, others, who went into military service, that went other places because they weren't ready for college at that time. But in our system, in American sports, we force them into this situation when they may not want to be there.
So if they were drafted like we have in baseball at 18, those that went would play professionally, try to take their vocation of football or men's basketball as far as they could, and those that didn't, that wanted to have the academic experience, would occupy the scholarships and the places on our rosters and be willing to go to school. That's not something we can control, but it is something that at some point we may want to have a dialogue about because I think we're just not in a situation where we necessarily get all those kids that want to be a part of higher education in our system.
Q. Dan, your line of thinking, how many 18-year-olds are ready to go play NFL football physically? I mean, it's different -- there's a different disparity than NBA basketball in the NFL. How many 18-year-olds do you think would be physically ready to play in the NFL, because I have to imagine it would be very, very little?
DAN BEEBE: It would be very little. You'd have to have a farm system like you have in basketball, and perhaps with football because there's such a physical nature to it, maybe that's a farm system with an age limit to it. It would have to be created differently than what you have in basketball.
Q. And this is for any of the football coaches. Have you signed or have you considered signing -- say you have a walk-on in your program that's been there two or three years and he might be able to help you and may not, but you think, I know this kid is graduating. I'm going to give him a scholarship because he'll help our APR. Has anybody done that?
COACH TRESSEL: I think we've all signed walk-ons. I don't think it's solely because we thought that would help our APR. It was because we thought they deserved it and had done the right things and maybe they can contribute on the special teams or on the three deep or whatever. But I don't know that we've ever sat there saying, hey, this guy will be a good APR point, let's put him on scholarship.
COACH WILLINGHAM: I'd agree with Jim on that. I've never looked at it from the perspective of the APR. It's all about the value of the young man to the program and what he's given in terms of his contribution.
COACH MANGINO: I've never heard of that in our conference. But I will say that at Kansas we've probably promoted in the last five or six years, promoted more kids from walk-on status to scholarship status. I don't remember anybody in the staff room saying, hey, this will help our APR if we get this 3.9 guy. It's what his value is to the team and has he earned it in the program.
CHRIS ROSE: If so a lot more of you would have played college football I'm guessing. It would have been a nice way to get on the field.
Q. Gary, you mentioned doing things for athletes. I just wonder, the coaches, what would you think about granting a fifth year of eligibility for scholarship athletes?
COACH PATTERSON: Well, when the 12th ballgame came apart, the fifth year of eligibility was part of that. When we voted unanimously in the head football coaches meeting, that's when it all started; it was all together. But obviously that didn't come about.
I think there's a lot of factions out there that believe that we're trying to get an advantage or there's something negative about the fifth year. But to be honest with you, really what we should call it is the four and a half year because really that's what we're trying to get accomplished at TCU is get them graduated in four and a half years and then they could play a fifth and then you didn't worry about the red-shirt.
Everybody can say what they want to, but you have the medical hardships, you have so many gray matter issues that nobody really knows where to put kids. What's it, 20 percent, 30 percent, wherever they play, and then all of a sudden he happens to hurt his ankle or his knee and can't play.
It would sure help us as football coaches, because then you knew those kids -- some kids do come on at the end of the year -- there's plenty of examples out there where a young man -- you're in a Bowl game and a kicker gets -- they kick him in the final game, or a guy who comes and plays, he plays five plays and it uses up his eligibility. But you ask him on the sideline in front of 80,000 people, hey, do you want to go in and help us win the ballgame. What's a freshman going to say? Yes, I'm going in. But then afterwards he's sitting in the locker room and when he goes home for Christmas break, he goes, what did I do that for?
I think we have to be smart. The fifth year did come up, and I think it is a positive thing, but right now we haven't had a lot of conversation about it lately.
COACH TRESSEL: I think it died out a little bit because some of the conferences had a little bit of a split opinion as to do you want to infer to a young man when you bring him on that he's got five years, and what if you'd rather not have him that fifth year. I think that discussion was brought up.
I think the other thing that came up in some conferences was that the faculty rep groups couldn't put their arms around the fact that we're talking about the fact that let's plan on five years to graduate, and we'd really like to have a little bit more ambitious look at graduating a little sooner than that.
And as Gary said, the reality is it's four years and one fall. But I they those are the two things, that it lost a little bit of its steam and fell off. Grant, you did some surveys and so forth, didn't you?
Q. Yeah, just about an issue that was around for about 25 years that started at TCU, by the way. The problem is exactly what you said. For some reason we have not been able to sell the concept to the presidents, by and large, to the academic people, and even the student athletes. We have had the student athlete committee of the NCAA, which is obviously not made up of football players and basketball players in its totality, it's a broad organization or a group, and we can't -- it's dying a natural death. And one of the things that I've heard a lot of people say is it makes too much sense for it to get passed. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. But it does fall into that category.
CHRIS ROSE: Guys, unfortunately we do have to move on, but we appreciate the questions. We'll keep them going as we continue with the subject matter. We're going to move on to a fun one. This would be media relations. All I can say is I'm a man, I'm 37 (laughter). I'm curious, I want to see hands from everybody on the panel, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most trustworthy, 1 being least trustworthy, how many of you guys on the panel trust the media more than 6, from 6 to 10? I'm talking about a decent amount of trust in the media.
COACH TRESSEL: The media as a whole?
CHRIS ROSE: I want to know the media as a whole. (Hands raised by Coaches Mangino, Tressel and Patterson.)
COACH WILLINGHAM: My level must be obviously a little lower (laughter). Chris, you'd probably like some type of explanation for that.
CHRIS ROSE: I'm just a man looking for answers.
COACH WILLINGHAM: Let me give you a couple. I think I'm blessed in my background that obviously most of the coaches will tell you they have wonderful wives, and I have a wonderful wife. My wife in her early career was a newscaster, and about the time that we had children she made a decision, one, because we had children to take care of them, but the other one was because the media at that time was changing. It was changing in the media what we thought, and we talked about it in our home, that it was changing from reporting news to making news, and to me that's a huge distinction between those two.
So therefore when you go about making news, and obviously with the internet and all the other things that are happening, the speed of information now and trying to produce a story and get the big one has kind of changed perspective. So therefore I don't have quite the trust in those that are making news as opposed to reporting news.
CHRIS ROSE: How do you decipher that?
COACH WILLINGHAM: It's just the nature of the environment that we're in. I don't blame those that have to do it because that's their business. So it is a change.
CHRIS ROSE: So you have a protective guard with everybody? Do you feel that guard come up when you speak to the media?
COACH WILLINGHAM: No. I understand their job very well, but for me it works better if I'm that way.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Tressel, you're the biggest game going in the state of Ohio basically, we're talking even pro teams, as well. I mean, Ohio State football is king, I can tell you that. Do you watch, do you read, do you get on the internet?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, our world, the four people here, is really a race against time, and the biggest problem we have is time. I wouldn't even know how to get on the internet to look at a thing, a website or something like that.
Now, do we have people that keep us aware of this recruit is visiting Kansas this week and he's in Washington and all that? We're kept aware. But along with what Ty is talking a little bit about, I think my sense is not a distrust of the media; I feel bad for the media because there's a lot of guys that cover us every day that have wonderful things in mind and get pushed from somewhere else to talk about this or talk about that. You're getting ready to go on interviews sometimes and the guy puts the microphone down and says, I don't really want to ask you this, but upstairs they're making me, and all that business.
As Malcolm mentioned with our group that we had yesterday or two days ago at the Big Ten, it's become a thing of who can get something first versus who can get something right. And if coaching ever becomes all about who's in first rather than who's doing it right, I don't want to coach.
So I feel bad for the media. I don't distrust them, but I know, as Ty said, what they have to do. I feel bad about that.
The other thing I feel bad about is that our worlds are so busy that we have a lot less time available, and we have to make decisions where we're going to spend our time, because recruiting is way out there now, and you're looking at sophomores, you're getting phone calls and texts -- we can't call them; I've had three phone buzzes from recruits. I'm thinking, now who's more important? I look around this room (laughter), and for the moment I'm going to say this group is, but our time is so pulled -- Mark and I were talking, it's so easy to communicate with us that every person from the state of Ohio that's in Iraq I hear from, every person that's in every one of our University hospitals, I hear from them or their cousin or whatever.
So we have all of these things that are pulling at us, not to mention our 105 teenagers and the 30 that we're recruiting forward and the other good causes that we'd like to be a part of. I feel bad to when it comes down to you don't give the media as much access. Our time is limited and we give them less time.
I don't think that it's the trustworthiness of it. I enjoy the time I have with the media, I really do. I just don't have as much time. We had a guy in our panel the other day who was a blogger, and I've never even seen a blog. But he said, you ought to take time, coaches, to have lunch with a blogger (laughter), and I said, I don't even have lunch with my wife (laughter). I don't know when I would have time to have lunch with a blogger and get to know where they're coming from and all that.
So I feel bad for the media. I don't distrust them, and I don't think he distrusts them --
COACH WILLINGHAM: He does (laughter).
COACH TRESSEL: But I feel bad for them, and I feel bad that we don't have more hours in the day. When I start writing down my priority list, should I talk with my freshman who's struggling a little bit or should I stop over at the hospital to see this person or should I return an email to a young man or young woman who's serving in Iraq or should I maybe even watch some film - which would be fun, wouldn't it, to have a minute to watch some film? - calling another press conference or going to have lunch with a blogger or whoever, I feel bad that those times with the media don't rate up there.
CHRIS ROSE: Well, we are in a different time, and although I love your comments about bloggers, it's changed. The players you guys coach are blogging. Those are facts. They're out there, and bloggers, they're out there to just share their opinions.
COACH TRESSEL: The good news about our players, everyone keeps bringing that up, that they're the bloggers, when they get hit in the head with that silver helmet in practice, they're not thinking about that blog anymore. I don't care what that blogger said, that they should be playing or this or that; there is a good dose of reality when they walk into our building.
CHRIS ROSE: But I've got to guess that you guys do hear some things, even though you don't maybe check out the computer and watch TV as much as you would like, or maybe not like. But I remember a few years ago there was that website, fireronzook.com at Florida. And I felt terrible for the guy. Whether you think he was a good coach or not a good coach, I'm sure, Coach Tressel, you probably think he's a better coach now than he was a few years ago, but the fact that those things are out there, does it bother you, Coach Patterson?
COACH PATTERSON: I think you have to use it to your advantage. I don't think coaches have time to look at it, but I think it's in our best interest that if somebody is giving out bad information that you have some way to give out the right information.
CHRIS ROSE: How do you fight back?
COACH PATTERSON: For me I'm not going to look at it. For me, for recruiting purposes, for program purposes, I tell my kids all the time not to look at it because I do believe they're influenced by it. They're freshmen, that's one of the hardest parts I have about playing a freshman; if it doesn't turn out well for him, he's mentally not stable enough sometimes to be able to handle it and it can break him. I think you have to be able to have somebody within your system that goes out and checks what is on-line so that you know what people are saying so that you can actually give out good information, not necessarily fight it.
I've always felt like, I guess because of growing up in the metroplex, being here as my first job as a head coach, I took the stand that I was going to help the media do their job. But under the same breath, I also felt like also it's my job to protect my kids, my program and my university. And if I can do -- at some point in time if I can do both of those at the same time -- I have to give them a lot of credit.
I had a young man this year that was a preseason all-American that had a lot of troubles off the field, and I think because of our relationship with the media here and always being as honest as I could be, I think that they helped protect the young man as much as we could as far as trying to get him back on track without the whole world thinking -- I do believe they have to be our friends. I think there's only one way we're going to get through it is if we're on the same page.
I feel bad, Coach Willingham, that there is not a trust, because I think in some way it's hard to do our job without it.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Mangino, a few years ago we talked about it on Best Damn, the comments you made I think it was after the Texas game, was it not?
COACH MANGINO: Uh-huh.
CHRIS ROSE: After that happened, did you think to yourself, boy, this is it, or did you say, boy, I said what I said, I'm living with it, that's okay?
COACH MANGINO: Well, the way I approached it, first of all, is I had a reason to do it. My reasons are such that we had lost some difficult ball games that year, and our kids after that game were just crushed. I had never been around a team that had been so disheartened about a loss.
So I just warned people, some administrators on my way to the pressroom, what I was going to do, and it was to save the team. I knew I was going to get criticism for it and take some bullets, but Kansas hadn't had a winning program for many years, we were trying to get it on its feet, we were getting close but just couldn't get it over the hump, so I took a bullet for it.
But I do understand that that's not the way to do it. I learned a lesson that there's other ways to get that done. But at the time I felt that was the best way to do it.
Was it good judgment? It wasn't. But my feeling is that we're talking about our dealings with the media here, and I want to get back to what we were saying here a minute ago.
I feel dealing with the media is like anybody else, any other profession in life. I call it the 90 percent rule. 90 percent of the members of the media are hard-working people trying to take care of their families, trying to do a job. They have a boss to answer to, and I understand that. I don't care if you're talking about football coaches, if you're talking about businessmen, if you're talking about the media. 90 percent of them are going to do a great job.
There's 10 percent that are lazy sometimes or they take shortcuts, but every profession sees that. The way we deal with the media, and my thoughts are that the media is a general term. You're encompassing a lot of people when you say "the media." I base my respect or like or dislike on an individual basis with the members of the media that cover us, whether it's nationally, regionally or locally. That's how I do it. I judge everybody and they judge me, too. But it's on my relationship with them.
That doesn't mean they have to write nice things about us all the time. A lot of them don't. But I think they're doing an honest job. They're doing it to the best of their ability, and they're not trying to create news, they're covering what's taking place.
CHRIS ROSE: So now we've got 10 percent of the people out there trying to figure out who's fitting in that group. Once again, I'd like to hear from the two ADs, the two Kevins. You've got a football coach that's interesting in front of a microphone, he really is. Have you ever had to call him in or a different coach to say, hey, listen, you're the face of our university?
KEVIN WHITE: I think most football coaches know in what we used to call the 1A, I have not transitioned to the new codifications at this point, but in 1A I think most football coaches know they tend to be the face of an athletics program, if not an institution. I think that comes with the territory.
As I listened to the conversation, I'd have to say that I don't know if it's a matter of trust or not trusting the media. There's key competition today. I don't think there's any question about that. A lot of competing interests, I don't think anyone would disagree with that. Immeasurable number of perspectives, I think that's where the differences lie. I won't take you back through my lens thing again, but I think it's the way you look at these things that really kind of drives what you think about.
I think if you look at all the different perspectives, if you sit in one of those head coaching football chairs or athletic director chairs or president's chair or conference commissioner's chair, if all those perspectives kind of have an impact on you, you're going to find yourself in a state of paralysis. So it's a pretty good idea, at least in my opinion, to kind of have -- I think Jim said it best, to kind of have people keep an eye on the landscape, the real trigger points, but basically you've got more information than everybody else.
I know that sounds arrogant, but you've got to do what you think is right at the end of the day because you're the person that's going to be held accountable, whether you're the football coach, the athletic director, whatever.
I'll give you just a quick anecdote. This isn't really the media, however at times it does play out in our local media. Maybe it was six months ago, I can't really recall, but I had two meetings back to back on campus. In one meeting, I vividly remember that I got chastised by an external group because we still had the calculus requirement at Notre Dame. Of course the last time I checked I was not the provost, but we still had the calculus requirement.
About 30 minutes later I found myself in front of another group, a faculty center group, who were really kind of encouraging me, if we could just elevate the academic performance up just a tad bit and improve the performance of our student athletes. And at that point, we were the clubhouse leader; we were number one in the country in graduation rate; we had a very high APR.
So the two different perspectives, and at some point I think you've got to kind of get to the place where you kind of think you're doing what's right based on all the circumstances based on your body of knowledge.
CHRIS ROSE: Kevin Anderson, is your job different because you're at one of the military institutions?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, first of all, if you read the business journals, there's a lack of productivity across the board. I can tell you what most of these people are doing, they're either on these blogs or -- (laughter). If you look at the activity, it's mostly during 9:00 and 5:00, it's not coming at night.
No, it's no different. The thing that concerns me is when it gets personal. You know, we're all in a business and we understand that. But when it gets personal, particularly on these chat rooms, and when the media makes it personal or the coach makes it personal, that's when you draw the line. Coach Brock is the new head coach, and he tells it like it is, and he's put himself in a couple positions where in telling it like it is, he took the stance where I'm not backing down. And I agreed with him in those instances, but you have to know when to choose those situations and when you put yourself in that situation.
But at the academy it's no different than anyplace else. Sports and competing at this level is very important, and it doesn't change in my estimation.
CHRIS ROSE: I'm curious what the coach's reaction was, and I kind of openly joked about Coach Gundy's stance during the season about, "I'm a man, I'm 40." Coach Tressel, tell me you saw that one.
COACH TRESSEL: I missed that one.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Patterson can fill you in. You guys saw it. I mean, what did you think? Were you hooting and hollering because, hey, a coach stood up, in the middle of a press conference, to a member of the media, where you're like, oh, boy, he's in trouble. What do you think, Gary?
COACH PATTERSON: That person that watches the recruiting boards let me know about it. I mean, I think there's pluses and minuses. You feel like, again, maybe he fell under the category of protecting his young men. Again, I think all of us, as Coach Mangino said, we don't get any second chances. You don't get take four after a ballgame.
A wise coach once told me that going into most interviews that before a ballgame to tell -- to think what you would say before if you won and what you think that you would say if you lose, and then gather some of the other points after the game and then usually you find something in between. I think only one time I really -- Wendell and some of the people in here, I've had my one instance of doing that myself where I told the team I was going to do something and then wished that probably I wouldn't have done that, so I would have to say that I probably couldn't have a comment on Coach Gundy because I've been there before.
CHRIS ROSE: Dr. Wetherell, you have guided and stroked the media like none other over the last 25, 30 years in Coach Bowden. Everybody loves talking to him. He seems like your buddy, whether he's your grandpa or your uncle or your older brother or whatever. He's been the face of your university, right, for the last 30 years?
DR. WETHERELL: I think most presidents realize that if you did a word search and looked for their names and then looked for the coach's name, the coach's name is going to come up a lot more than the president's name, and most of us like it that way.
In terms of Coach Bowden, I'm blessed to have him because he's like everybody's grandfather and you can't get mad at him no matter what Bobby says. Most of the time, and 99.9 percent of the time, he's saying the right thing.
From my perspective, though, on the press, I'm kind of closer to Coach Willingham than Coach Tressel on this one. The press has changed so much, particularly with this technology stuff, and whether we want to admit it or not, this blogging thing has really become a big deal, even with the guys in the press. And most of these people that are writing the papers are writing for blogs, whatever they are.
I'm kind of like Coach Tressel. I've never seen one, don't like what they look like them, don't eat with them, certainly wouldn't want to pray with them (laughter), but it's really become a whole institution in its own right.
And while we may not deal with it directly, we have to deal with it indirectly. And when it does get, I think Kevin or somebody said, personal, and it has a tendency to get personal, these people have no accountability. They can say anything they want, and unfortunately the newspaper will print it. I understand there's some kind of problem if they edit it and they get into liability and all that kind of stuff, but it really -- the articles in the press aren't as bad as what they spin off with these bloggers who have no accountability, but since it shows up on the web page of the paper, everybody thinks, well, that's what the paper said. I am real concerned about the technology.
The other thing, I guess, that concerns me about the press, and I've dealt with them in politics, I've dealt with them now as a university president, in the five years I've been at Florida State, I have never seen anyone in the press say, "Oops, I'm sorry, I missed that one," or "I got it wrong." I have a list in my office of about 36 issues that have been written relative to Florida State University that are factually incorrect. They have been printed, put on the TV or in the newspaper, and I can show you from an impartial standpoint, that is not a true statement that was made. I have taken that to the given editor and shown it to him. Not one time has anybody stood up and said, "You know, you're right."
The best you might get is over on the eighth page under the funny column or in the obituaries, oops, there was a misprint. My problem with the press isn't when they get it right, it's when they get it wrong and won't admit it. They expect us, universities, athletics, whatever, to be straight up, tell the truth, I called the wrong play, I did whatever. But when it happens on the other side of the ledger, you'll never see it admitted.
CHRIS ROSE: I think you're learning we're pretty thin-skinned. We like to throw stuff against the wall. Fox is as guilty of it as anyone out there. We don't take criticism very well. We're great at dishing it out, though.
DR. WETHERELL: That's true. The point is when you make that mistake, you make it in front of 20 million people, and they don't know that you screwed up. I know you did. Maybe that kid that you take to task, who happens to be an football player, knows it. His parents may know it. But y'all just move on to the next one. And I think it's just unconscionable sometimes.
Some of the stuff I've seen written scares me. Hell, it's one of the reasons I worried about coming here today (laughter). We've got 500 athletes at Florida State, and most of them do a great job. They go to school, they graduate, they do what they're supposed to do. But every now and then one of them will do the same thing that one of those 40,000 students do on campus every Friday night. They may be down at Bullwinkle's and they probably ought not be there, they're 20 years old. 56 kids get rung up for DUI, but boy, if that happens to be No. 5 or No. 11 or whatever, it's on the front page of the newspaper.
CHRIS ROSE: But you understand why that is, don't you? Because most people aren't watching the kid play violin on Saturday. They're just not. But we are watching your football team on Saturday. So we do have -- you do understand the distinction. I agree with you, college kids are college kids, whether you strap on a football helmet or you're strictly going to biology class, but there is a difference, I think, between the kids. Fair or unfair, there is just a difference.
DR. WETHERELL: Well, what it is, you're talking about an 18-year-old kid. You may influence his or her life for a long time because they made the same mistake that their roommate made, and the roommate is playing the violin or whatever. And it's just -- it seems to me, the press ought to cut them some slack if they're doing the same thing another college kid is doing.
That goes back to my problem. You tell me you treat my athletes like students and make them abide by the same rules, et cetera. They're held to a totally different standard. It's absolutely different when you're an athlete, and probably if you're an athlete at any one of these schools up here, you're probably held to a different standard than you are at some other school, some other place.
It doesn't make it right. I know it's a fact, but I think the press ought to think long and hard before they write some of those stories. It's amazing to me that I see an athlete rung up for a DUI when it's on the front page of the Tallahassee Democrat. Two pages over, three people get murdered, and it doesn't really seem to matter. There's something wrong. The press' morality, they need to look internal to themselves, not what we say about them.
CHRIS ROSE: With that I definitely want to open the floor because I think we've got a lot of questions here. Malcolm is going to get us started.
Q. If I could follow up on the issue that you were just discussing, it seems more and more in the last two to three years, one of the problems in that area is that chat rooms, blogs, unofficial sites are passing information about potential, unconfirmed legal problems that athletes may face, when all the university has said is that the athlete is ineligible because of a team violation, whatever it may be. The university has not said anything else, law enforcement has not said anything else, no charges have been filed. And yet there's speculation ricocheting all over town about somebody being in trouble and you've got honest reporters that are trying to catch up to what is on-line. Is there anything in place at your institution that is a way to deal with that and to get out credible information?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, there are federal laws that prohibit you from saying certain things. You might want to. As a matter of fact, I know some people who have leaked certain information to try and get it more credible. But we cannot -- it's frustrating. You can't even give the parents who pay the ticket the kid's grades. So we can't give it to you, as much as sometimes we would like to give it to you.
We went through a situation in the Bowl game here a few months ago where everybody is running around deciding who was eligible and who wasn't based on certain information. Hell's bells, they had it so screwed up, they couldn't even figure it out. They had people ineligible that were walk-ons that were graduating and just didn't want to go, so they didn't go. They decided, well, they had done something in some class. We couldn't say you're wrong, and we sure as hell couldn't say you're right.
So the press' obsession with scooping one another to find out the names, to me the press should have controlled themselves in that case. They were the ones that were creating the feeding frenzy, not the students, not the university.
Q. Dr. Wetherell, in your perfect world, how is the media function serving the right of people who are buying tickets and jerseys and consuming your sponsors' products, serving their right to know, balanced against what ought to be the fair right of privacy of your student athletes?
DR. WETHERELL: Well, I realize, first of all, I don't live in a perfect world, don't misunderstand that, and I realize --
Q. If you were in charge, how would it happen?
DR. WETHERELL: I think you'd treat the athlete just like you would treat a music major or whatever. Why differentiate? Why differentiate between them? The difference is, somebody mentioned here, they're going to play in front of 20 million people in that BCS game versus their family and two uncles and an aunt come in and watch their recital. You don't really think there's much value -- you, the press, doesn't think there's much value in talking about what a great recital that person did. What they're more interested in is how many yards they gained, how many passes they caught, because more people are watching it.
Q. For the coaches, you guys probably have never seen YouTube or Googled anything, but Chris mentioned the Mike Gundy situation, his rant. That's not biodegradable. We're going to be seeing that forever. You say something, if it's a quote or anything, if you want to go -- check exactly what you said after that Texas game, it's real easy to go find it on the internet. Has that changed how you guys deal with the press, knowing now that it's not something that somebody is going to forget in a couple days, that you are filmed after a game being upset where you just kind of lose it that people are going to see it forever? Does that put up a shield at all for you guys to not maybe want to be yourselves?
COACH MANGINO: I think as coaches we make no bones about we live in a soundbyte society, and I am careful what I say in press conferences and after practices, meetings with the media. I'm not trying to withhold anything, but I work under the premise, number one, I don't criticize our players publicly. If I want their trust, certainly I have to earn it.
But one thing, if you want to decay the relationship between player and coaches, be critical of your players in a public forum. And I don't do that. Put it this way: I coach them, and if they're not performing well, the buck stops here; it's my responsibility.
But by the way, I have Googled people, but I'm not real computer-savvy. I just think that you have to be careful what you say because with instant media, if you say something that's really stupid, and I have done that on an occasion or two or three (laughter), you know, my director of football operations is going to run down to my office 20 minutes later and say somebody posted that you said this, and you've insulted this person or you've hurt somebody's feelings. So I want to be respectful of everybody.
But I understand that I can't go to -- no coach can go to press conferences every day and just have the same information -- I try to give them insight about our team and the game of football. I don't discuss injuries. I think most -- well, some do, some don't. Why? Well, the only people that need to know about injuries are gamblers and the opponent. I don't see why they need to know.
When we have problems with players, if it's a serious matter, I give the information that I think is appropriate to the media. But I want to keep in mind that an 18- to 22-year-old young man is going to make some mistakes and have some indiscretions. They're college kids. I don't want him to be Googled 20 years from now when he's trying to get a job when really he's a great person, he's a smart guy, he's qualified for this position. I don't want to ruin his future, so I'm protective in that respect.
I just feel like there are -- let's put it this way: Everybody in the room here, who wants to be accountable for everything they did in college? Not very many people do, even if it's just one day -- I didn't see any hands go up (laughter).
But that's my point in a fun way is they can have an indiscretion, they can make a mistake. I don't want it to ruin their entire life. If the guy is a repeated mistake maker, we try to help him, counsel him, get him through it. And if you can't, then obviously he has to move on.
But I just firmly believe that you folks have a job to do. We try to give you all the technical and -- you know, schemes, opponents, everything like that, but there are some things that I just don't talk about.
KEVIN ANDERSON: There is a national publication that I notice at least once or twice a week, they dedicate maybe a half a page or a quarter of a page to indiscretions of student athletes. My question is what good does that do?
Q. What publication?
KEVIN ANDERSON: It's a national publication, and it's one that covers sports a great deal, and every week I notice there's at least a quarter to half a page dedicated to saying, Johnny J. got arrested here or Susie got arrested here, and they're all student athletes. It's dedicated to pointing out indiscretions. It's USA Today. You read USA Today and you go through that and see those and it's at least once a week. I can't answer that question, but I think what you're talking about is just a section in the newspaper in which we run wire notes, and I don't think it's a certain day. I think it's all lumped together in one, and literally it's taken off the wire. If you look at how the Associated Press wire runs, it lot of it goes back to the president's comments earlier, sort of why is this news, and sort of the give and take that took place. It's news because we're not covering, as Chris said, violin players. I think it's not a concerted effort of the newspaper to just devote a certain part of the newspaper to that. It's just the daily give and take of what comes across the wire.
Q. I guess one thing that I -- in listening to everybody and hearing people in our profession talk and with coaches that I deal with in the Big 12 south teams is, you know, "the media," as a term, is this all-encompassing umbrella which covers everyone from the New York Timeses of the world down to the guy who got crazykansasfan.com up and running, and it also encompasses the radio talk show hosts who never have stepped foot on your campus, much less shaken your hands or anything like that you but sit on the radio from 3:00 to 5:00 and say Coach Tressel is an idiot.
COACH TRESSEL: But that same umbrella is when they say football players. One guy fouls up and then it's all the football players. So live with it, just like we have to.
Q. I guess my question is are we so far down the road of society or the blogosphere or talk radio or newspapers or whatever, are we so far gone that from now on it's just going to be "the media," versus, like Coach Mangino, you know that the Kansas City Star, whoever covers the beat, is someone who's going to show up every day, and you know this person and I can deal with this person if there was something that wasn't fair or whatever, same thing with the Dispatch, the Star Telegram and Seattle Post I would guess it is. But none of y'all can take on the guy who starts firegarypatterson.com hypothetically, but that person is still "the media."
DAN BEEBE: Maybe you guys need a licensing program for media.
Q. So do you think we're so far removed --
COACH TRESSEL: You know, Joe Paterno brought up a good thing I thought in our meeting yesterday when we were with the ADs, assistant ADs, men's basketball, women's basketball, when we had this discussion about the media and all that. He said, you know, we were brought in as football coaches three days ago; one of the things that the commissioner said to us in our little football-coaches'-only meeting was we want to make sure we focus hard on sportsmanship, do a good job making sure our teams are having the right behavior, and we don't want to see personal fouls, we don't want to see excessive celebration. We want to make sure we represent.
And what Coach Paterno said is who in your business calls you in and admonishes you and says, hey, let's get the facts. Let's not be the first guy out, first gal out with not the real story, but you're going to be the first. I don't want to see this anymore. And his point was, until you regulate yourselves, you know, we're going to have a little bit harder time concerning ourselves with your problems.
Tim May is our beat writer. Tim May as far as I'm concerned can come and sit in my staff meetings. Now, what would the rest of the guys write about me? They already say, "Oh, you give Tim everything" (laughter). But until you can regulate your own, I'm not going to invite the blogger to lunch and sit in my meetings or have the time, and that's real.
Q. And unfortunately none of you have the time to really weed out, okay, this guy is respectable, this guy is an idiot, this guy is okay on some days?
COACH TRESSEL: As soon as we weed them out, they're going to do firejimtressel.com or whatever, as soon as you weed them out.
My dad gave me advice long before the bloggers. He was a coach, and Mark was on my staff my first year as a head coach, and I tried to follow this advice, he said, "You'll have 1,000 opportunities in your life to keep your mouth shut; use every one of them" (laughter). You know what? I've had a lot more than 1,000 opportunities. He didn't know about all the bloggers that were going to come along.
As Mark said, we don't ever want to say something that would hurt one of our kids and say, well, this was the reason we lost the game, gosh, if he would have made that tackle or whatever. We're not going to do that.
So sometimes we get looked upon as not wanting more access or not telling more about what the story is. I think all of us enjoy our time with the credible media and so forth, but we're never going to do anything to hurt our kids. They're like our own children, and we're not going to do anything to hurt our university and hurt our game.
When you lump all of media as one thing and lump all of football as another thing, and Grant, and Tyrone is our president of the AFCA, football is more than just about the teams that go to the BCS. Football is about -- how many teams do we have in college football, Grant, 500?
Q. More than that, 700?
COACH TRESSEL: 700 college football teams. We don't lump it all together. Granted, he said what about the sponsors and all the money. We agree. We give them as much as we possibly can, but we're never going to hurt our kids, and we're never going to break federal laws. As Mr. President said, I'm not going to go out there and say this happened on campus and I'm going to kick him off. You guys are going to write that I'm a great disciplinarian. I'm not going to do that.
COACH WILLINGHAM: My perspective is we're not too far down the road, but the concern that I have is the speed, the speed of information. When you put a story out there and you don't tell the whole story, that individual that's in trouble, you know, you may list something that's really not what's taking place, and you have to be vague because you have to protect the athlete or the individual. So that would be my concern.
But I think the key to all of this will be both sides' ability to be honest and shoot straight with what's going on. You can be open and meet with the media every day, but there are certain times that you can tell them certain things based on the release of the information, and you just can't give them any more at that time. I don't think we're too far down the road, but I do think obviously there needs to be some adjustment on both sides.
Q. I see it kind of occurring now, but I'd just be interested from a coach's perspective, start with Coach Willingham, how concerned are you with all this talk about mainstream media and new media, that the new media seems to have more and more of an influence in recruiting, where you have less contact now with the athletes than you've ever had before and these non-mainstream media now are influencing recruiting, much like -- just to make a parallel, the AU coaches did in basketball. How much of a concern is that for you guys?
COACH WILLINGHAM: Very concerning, because I've always said I have to win two recruiting wars. One is the publicity war, and one is the actual war in terms of getting the right kids. You have to win both of those, because the day you don't, then you don't build up the enthusiasm in the public about your program, so therefore you don't get the energy, you don't get the funding, you don't get the support. All those things seem to be minus. And if you don't get the right players, you're certainly not going to win on the field.
I'm certainly concerned about being able to match up both of those. But I do place a lot more value in our ability as coaches to look at players and make the decision on who we think is right based on the public opinion of who is right.
COACH TRESSEL: It is a real problem. We can call, what, once in the month of May, Ohio State can call once, TCU can call once, et cetera, yet the recruiting service can call the kids 400 times.
We had an issue at our spring game. We had a bunch of guys that were incoming '08 guys and a bunch of guys that were looking at the '09 class, and they're at the game, and they have to get off the sideline before the game starts and they have to go sit in the seats and all that, and all that happens.
Well, right at the kickoff it started raining. We find out later that one of the recruiting service guys, who happened to be at the game, was sitting upstairs in one of the suites, texts one of the kids, who he texts with constantly and we're not allowed to text with, says, hey, it's raining, you guys look like you're getting wet down there, why don't you come up into the suite. So what do those kids know? We walked them to their seat, said, this is where you're allowed to sit. Honestly, I didn't tell them, now look, if it rains you can't go upstairs and get under cover. I didn't say that. So a couple guys go up and wiggle their way up into a place where it's dry. Fortunately they got scurried out of there, but that's a violation. So we've got to go through all the gyrations of all of this.
But they have a relationship with those kids that we don't even have. So is it an issue? It's certainly an issue.
Q. Going back to the access issue, I don't think many of us have a problem as far as access to head coaches, but one of the problems we have is in many places you can't talk to assistant coaches or coordinators, you can't talk to freshmen. You have very limited time with players to talk with them, understanding there's schedule. But what I hear from coaches is mostly, how come you guys don't write more feature stories; how come it's always a news story or maybe negative? And one of the reasons is when you write a feature story you like to have as many voices from assistant coaches who knows the kid that's a position coach or grab the kid more than just coming off the practice field when he's tired and wants to go eat. That's the access problems we have, and that's what we're trying to bridge. How can y'all help us or we can come to a meeting in the middle here on access? We don't have an access problem with head coaches, but I know they want to limit information so you can't talk to assistants, you can't talk to freshmen, more and more keep you out of scrimmages. You can't talk to parents, and in some places when you're trying to do a story on a kid, a good story that y'all like to see but we can't do because we don't have access, so what ends up happening is the editor says what do you have for tomorrow, and you say, I was going to have a feature but I don't, so what you've got is you take what ends up being a little part of your notebook and you blow it into a news story that you know in your heart that this is garbage, you shouldn't even write this but he wants something. The coach might say, why is that even in the newspaper? That's the process that happens with us. So we're trying to get from y'all just a little access, not from y'all because y'all are great. You have press conferences, we can catch you at certain times. It's the people around you that we have trouble getting to. I just wanted to know where y'all stand with that.
COACH PATTERSON: My issue with that is not having anything to do with the feature story that you want to write. My problem is that's what you tell me you want to write, and then I believe it's my job as the head coach to be able to spell out the level of where our football team is and where we're at. It's not my freshmen's nor my seniors' job to do that. If you're writing a feature story, I don't have a problem with talking to a coordinator or talking to a freshman or talking to a senior.
The problem is that's five questions, and then the other one is, well, how do you think we're playing on offense. Well, it's not the freshman's job to have that opinion, because he's affecting -- again, I go back to the two things I said earlier, he's affecting this football team and somebody else.
And so as long as you're asking him about, okay, how's my life, I grew up in a family that I had ten kids and I was the youngest and I didn't have anything, I believe that we should give all the access we possibly can to do any of those things. My stand, though, is I'm going to protect my university and my team and my players, and if it goes past where they start asking the question that -- about, well, why are you not moving the ball on offense, I don't believe it's the player's job to give that opinion, and I think that's the head coach's job.
So as long as you're going to ask the questions about that feature story, about how he grew up, how he matured, how he did things, then I think he can say those kind of things.
My thing comes with trust. I think you give kids the opportunity and writers an opportunity to write the stories, and if they write a story, whether it's good or bad, as long as it's straight, then I think you let them have another one. If you say to them, well, here's what the story is and then you see another by-line along with it that has to do with why the offensive coordinator is not calling a great 3rd down play; that's not his job. That's where as coaches, I think, we've been burned a little bit by that. Again, I go back to it's our job to help you do your job, and as long as both of us are straight up and that's what you want, then I think we should give it to you.
If you go outside those lines, when it comes to protecting the university or the team, then I think it's the head coach's job to talk about that. That's just my philosophy.
CHRIS ROSE: President, you get the last word of the session here.
DR. WETHERELL: Let me suggest two things the media could do, and you could do these. You don't need the Federal Government or the university to tell you, first of all, you're in the business to report the news, not make the news. You're in the business to report it fairly, particularly the print media. Most of you have gone to an on-line paper, and most of you print blogs in those papers. Most of you know that those blogs are not totally accurate and generally do not even reflect the comments of the article.
I think you ought to get out of the blog business in your newspaper, because it's severely hampering your reputations, and it's become a thing to do. If y'all want to set up a blog page over here, then blog to your heart's content, but when you do it under the name of the stpetetimes.com or whatever, people assume that you believe that and that's part of your paper. And whether you like it or not, that is you. You are accepting, I think, liability, quite frankly. But that's another issue.
The second thing you need to do, to answer your question. You call one of the coaches and you want to do a nice fluff piece on a player, and you do your fluff piece on the player, and somewhere in there the kid said, yeah, I did something wrong in my youth, I drank a beer, I smoked dope, whatever. Well, you go write that. Maybe just one sentence in there, but you turn that in to your editor, and you know what, you don't write the headline, somebody else writes the headline. "Reformed drug dealer making a name for himself at Ohio State" is what the damn thing says. The article is really pretty good, but the headline is a killer. I think the guy that writes the article ought to have to write the headline and stand behind it, but in 99 percent of the press, the headline writer and the article writer aren't the same. And you call up to complain, and they say, well, I don't do that, that's this department. That's your problem internally.
You know, and I've had umpteen press people apologizing saying, well, gee whiz, that's not what I meant, but that's not what comes out 90 percent of the time.
Q. Do you think we like writing blogs? Most of the guys in this room hate writing blogs.
DR. WETHERELL: Then don't do it.
Q. I'd like to point out your comments about what people say in the blogs, and I'm not defending how we backed into this internet business, because it has nothing to do with journalism, quite frankly. But a lot of y'all are confusing what a blog is. We are being asked to write stuff on-line because we're trying to save a dying business; whether that's good or bad, I don't know. But the fact is we have to contribute stuff. When I write a blog or I make a blog item post, that has my name on it. The only thing I have in this business is my name. If somebody comments to a blog, it's other papers, they don't even have to sign their name. They can say Seminole Fan No. 1, and they can say whatever they want to say, and that -- I'm not saying -- I don't know if you saw the HBO thing recently about the media and the debate was on there about blogs and how basically we've gotten to where any kind of dialogue that we have involves invective and involves attacking people, involves extreme lack of courtesy. You know, I don't know what we can do to unring the bell, but that's kind of the way it is right now, and low a lot of us are against that. Coach Tressel, you said about controlling the media; we have to control some of the media people that are doing things out there. I can guarantee you there's some media people on-line and blogging that I would damn sure like to control, and I wouldn't use the word control; it would involve a Louisville Slugger.
COACH TRESSEL: I did watch the HBO thing. I watched it in my hotel room, and the language was unbelievable. It was unbelievable.
CHRIS ROSE: So I lied earlier. This is it, and then we've got to take a break.
DAN BEEBE: I want to go on record that I did not raise my hand about the initial question, but everybody in this room I trust except one (laughter).
But I did make a slight comment about licensing. But I do think that perhaps the media -- the true media, the journalists, can perhaps help themselves. If it's a certification program or something elsewhere you certify if it's through the Football Writers Association that these folks are folks that we certify go by certain standards so on this side of the table we know who those people are and we know who we can report to if they're not going by certain standards. All of us are frankly in the media business. You write something, if we think it's incredible we're going to use our media to put it out that it's incorrect. So we're all in the media business.
But who are the journalists out there, how do we know them and how do we know whether to have lunch with them or not? I think if you all took it upon yourselves to govern your own industry, perhaps that could help us on this side to know who we're dealing with.
CHRIS ROSE: And because I want Coach Willingham to trust me more --
COACH WILLINGHAM: You're working your way there (laughter).
I wanted to answer your question from my perspective. Obviously almost every coach in the country will be different in how they handle this, but I have never limited a player or assistant coach's access to the media, nor for the most part have I ever limited mine, even though I still respect what they do, but I have that distrust of what they make mistakes on.
But I do limit practice. I limit practice for this reason. In many cases, the error that is often reported by our reporters is not an error by the individual that they reported on. Some days my receivers drop a lot of passes, and yet it'll be written that our quarterback had a terrible day, okay, didn't have completions, didn't do this, and I'm the one that has to go back in there and build my quarterback back up when he's had that public embarrassment about what happened that day, and the accuracy of what is being reported is a problem with me. So therefore I limit that aspect of it, and then I can answer to what did or didn't happen at practice, et cetera.
CHRIS ROSE: Guys, we appreciate the open dialogue so far. We're going to take a quick break, which is hosted by the AT & T Cotton Bowl, by the way.
(A short break was taken.)
CHRIS ROSE: We hope you enjoyed your break presented by the AT & T Cotton Bowl. We're going to continue on talking about player conduct, what's expected out of our young men Monday through Friday and Sunday. We see what happens Saturday and Saturday night, I guess, as well.
Coach Tressel, what do you tell your kids as incoming freshmen? Let's remember, they're 18. I didn't get a speech when I went to college about what was expected from me, other than from my dad.
COACH TRESSEL: I think all of us coaches do a lot of the sermonizing and talking about how they're under the microscope and all those kinds of things. What I have found most effective with young kids is having the older kids talk to them. In fact, a number of times within our first preseason that a kid is there we will have a time period set aside where the coaches leave the room and we have it kind of orchestrated as to the topics that the older kids need to talk to them about in their own jargon, in their own language, what to stay away from, who to stay away from, tell some of the horror stories of things that have happened when our guys have made mistakes. We've found that it's better coming from players than it is from us coaches being up there lecturing because we do it and we talk about it and the first thing they do is have a three-hour compliance meeting when they arrive and sign all these forms, and it's like the worst day of the year. And then it goes to the sermons.
So we try to spread it out a little bit and really almost like story telling, passing down the legend of if you don't act right, here's what's going to happen. And you remember so-and-so when this happened, and these kids are young. They don't remember -- Eddie George is ancient history to the kids that we're recruiting. They were seven years old or something. So we can't assume that they know our wonderful things like Eddie or know some of the problems we've gone through over the years. So we really have that responsibility come from our older guys.
CHRIS ROSE: Is that the way the rest of the coaches do it up here on the panel?
COACH MANGINO: I think Jim makes an important point. We don't do it exactly like he does, but one of the things we started about four years ago was a program that we call Character First. I got together with the dean of students, who also has a degree in psychology, and we put together a program to challenge our kids the way they think and the way they make decisions. We do it in the off-season, and a lot of it is exercises where the kids have to work out problems amongst themselves. We give them a scenario or Dr. DeSalvo gives them a scenario, and then they have to work amongst themselves how to solve it.
What you'll find out is who are good problem solvers, who are the leaders that will take the reins and try to initiate solutions to the problems, and you'll find out who doesn't care about it. And the ones that don't care -- and we just observe as coaches. I don't say a word. I sit in those meetings for an hour and I don't say a word, and what comes of it is by observing you understand what kids need help.
There's also mental brain teaser exercises that deal with solving physical problems with -- we had how to balance hoops with another hoop, how to -- we told the kids one day how to get from one side of the indoor to the other, but their shoes, their feet could not touch the turf. We didn't tell them how to do it. One guy who's a heck of a leader on our team and a couple other guys, they took off their shirt, put it down, stepped on the shirts. I mean, guys were standing around trying to figure it out.
So what we're trying to do is trying to promote leadership and try to make them make good decisions, be problem solvers, be critical thinkers.
CHRIS ROSE: But uh-oh, something happens. Like what happens before, it probably happens every Saturday night on a campus, kid gets in trouble, fight in a bar, where do we go from here? We don't want to overreact, but Coach Willingham, something has got to be done. What do we do?
COACH WILLINGHAM: We first, in my case, I think what I've tried to do is make sure our young men understand that they're not above the system, and I think that's important, and I think that's a mindset that we try to create in the program, that there's no one bigger than the team and there's no one bigger than our society, so therefore you have to be responsible to all aspects of your life.
And when that moment happens, then you simply let the nature of our laws run their course is what I do. There's no interceding on my part based on the individual. What happens after that, okay, is probably more in my control than at any other point.
CHRIS ROSE: And what does happen?
COACH WILLINGHAM: It depends what took place. If it's a simple fight, then you probably have one reaction for it. If it's something that's premedicated or something of that nature, you've got another response, and you go on with the severity of the incident and how you respond to it. But still, the laws that govern, the municipality, university, oversee anything that I would do. I usually wouldn't respond until after that with any kind of punishment or anything from my standpoint.
COACH PATTERSON: Well, really, the other thing that we have during two-a-days when everybody comes in is we have a policy manual, and within the policy manual we have anywhere from the FBI to campus life to the equipment man come in and talk about the rules, how we're going to handle things, how we're going to do things. It's got about 70 pages in it. After practice every day we do about a 45-minute segment because I've found if you go any longer than that, they quit listening.
In answer to Tyrone's, there are some parts in there exactly how things are going to be handled. But that way when they get to the end of it, we have them sign it and then I keep that piece of paper, so -- I know all of us know that our kids have great parents, none of them have any complaints. So if they ever say, "Well, my son didn't hear that," well, on page 65 it says how we're going to do that.
Under some of the disciplinary actions, they're also at head coach discretion.
CHRIS ROSE: That's a gray area.
COACH PATTERSON: Which I think in this day and age you have to have at some points because every situation is different. One of the things I found that I used to get upset at my kids because we are held to a higher standard, but I've also found out that there are people out there that want to take them down, and I think one of the things I've had to do a better job of here in the last five or six years is to listen to their side of the story and not make them guilty before they've been proven to that standpoint because I think one of the things that happens is, just like everybody else, if you're not careful, you represent all of us and you get mad and do it, and sometimes there are other situations and inputs that actually cause it to be different.
CHRIS ROSE: You're the commissioner of an entire league down there. How do you see player conduct?
DAN BEEBE: Well, it's a critical issue. We deal with it mainly as it relates to the game conduct, and we have stringent rules in our conference about how players have to conduct themselves in the game. We expect officials to carry out the rules of the game, and then if there are any other problems after that, we may have to deal with it, whether it's by way of suspension, public reprimand or some other aspect of it.
But I think all of us here, and I think these gentlemen are great at this, are here in this business to teach youngsters a lot of great lessons. I was a product of that. I came from a household where I had an alcoholic father, not good guidance in the home. Football as much as anything else in my life helped me through college and other things, learn things, consequences for actions that I had. I wouldn't want to be held to the same standards some of these youngsters are for some of the things I did between 18 and 22.
But I think when there are mistakes made, the greatest opportunities are there to teach proper conduct and things that can carry on with that youngster for the rest of their lives. So the programs that I've seen, and we try to encourage it in our conference, that have the rules and the conferences clearly spelled out, are the ones that are most successful. I think all young men need that to some degree.
There are certain circumstances where you need to have some sort of ability to treat them in a different manner, perhaps, but from a conference perspective, we just try to encourage our institutions to ensure that they have proper conduct, policies on their campus, whether it's by sport or throughout the athletics department, and it'll be interesting to hear from the two athletics directors which way they do it, and then we obviously carry out conduct policies that we have for the games themselves, and we also reach into the student body.
We had an unfortunate incident at one of our games where the officials had to vacate the whole student section. Stop the game, vacate the section. It looked strange from that point on to have that section empty, but we're going to take that course of action if it's necessary to ensure proper conduct at our facilities.
CHRIS ROSE: Let's hear from the two Kevins on player conduct.
KEVIN ANDERSON: I believe that the athletic department sets the tone, and it's not just the coaches, it's everybody who works there with these young people, that they have to role model certain behavior and they have to have expectations, and if they see something that's not right, they need to address it, and if they need to go and talk to the coach or whoever is overseeing that, they need to have that conversation, as well.
In some cases I've worked in departments where people turn a blind eye to activity, and the results were what they got, that they had difficulty with the student athletes, and then I've worked at departments where everybody did really have a passion for what they're doing and they cared about the young people, and you would see that they would start role modeling and taking on that behavior.
So I think as we've talked before, the expectations have to be set high and then you have to hold people accountable to them, but you have to have people who are committed to role modeling and dedicated to these young people and say these are the expectations and this is how we work and do things.
However, they are 18- to 22-year-old people and they are going to have some indiscretions and make some mistakes, and then we have to work with them, particularly when they get in those difficulties, that we set the standards and we help them better themselves through the experience.
I think that, you know, the worst thing that we can do is -- Tyrone talked about it, you jump to conclusions, you don't get the entire story, and then there's allegations that are made, and then that's how things get on these blogs and websites, because we haven't done our due diligence as well and gone through a process where we've gotten all the information and sat down and came up with a reasonable solution.
It's just like if we're talking about game day conduct and what happens on the field. I think that if you look at these four gentlemen now, you'll see their teams act a certain way and then there's other teams that act another way. That's who sets the standard, and it's either acceptable or it's not acceptable.
I think a great deal of the coaches do set the standards, but it goes far beyond that, because they can't be around these young people 24/7 and we can't have that kind of expectations. As Hillary says, "It takes a village to raise" a family or children or whatever, and I think that's what we need to do as far as athletics is concerned.
KEVIN WHITE: You just stole my Hillary quote. "It takes a village to raise a child." I do believe that, though, to be honest with you. It's a combination of our collective efforts. But I think intercollegiate athletic programs, we all have like student athlete orientation; every program, every team has an orientation; I think a lot of us now have put in place leadership institutes for our student athletes.
It's already been said, team leadership is pretty darned important in terms of setting the tone player, upper classman leadership is really important. But the expectations are brutally high. They're really high. They're high academically, athletically. They're high with regard to service. A lot of our kids are busy with so many things out in the broader community. They're held to the standard of doing the right thing when nobody is watching.
I'll go back to what T.K. said in the last session or kind of alluded to. I think it's true; I mean, I don't know that there's any empirical data to suggest that student athletes, or football players for the sake of this conversation, misbehave any more than the general population, that the 105 kids misbehave more than the 140,000 kids.
I can actually say this; at my institution, we actually collect that data and we take a good hard look at it. It's pretty consistent. Our student athletes, they find their way out of the fairway about to the same percentage or the same degree as the general population. It's pretty consistent, but boy, it surely gets highly publicized, and for all the reasons in the last session, whether that's right or whether that's wrong, it kind of takes on a life of its own.
But the kids live under a microscope. I think we all work really hard to let them know that's the environment that they're kind of coming into.
Our basketball coach at Notre Dame, Mike Brey, uses an expression that I love, "This is what we signed up for," and I think we've got to reinforce the fact this is what they signed up for. This comes with it.
COACH TRESSEL: Chris, you said, "Then something happens." We talked about how we're going to go through the training and whatnot. One thing we've found has been helpful is after the unfortunate happens, and we get through the legal prospect, because ours is the same thing, we're not above what the legal process will be, then when it comes down to, okay, we know what the score is legally, we know what the score is institutionally, now what are we going to do as our group, we've had a lot of good fortune to have a group of players called an honor committee that makes a lot of decisions because really they know more than we do about what really went on that night, or maybe even more truth than is out there than we could gather, and they're usually a little tougher than we might be as coaches because they were the same older guys that talked to them in preseason; we told you not to be at those places, we told you this was the problem. And now they've got to go face that body again. We've had pretty good luck with them doling out the punishment, if you will.
CHRIS ROSE: Gary, let's just say I'm one of your players, a freshman, something happens. You know what, kid down the hall was doing it, too. Nobody is getting in his face. What's the big deal, I'm a freshman, I made a mistake?
COACH PATTERSON: Well, in my answer earlier, anything that had to do with the policy manual, that had to do with team rules, that didn't have anything to do with legal ramifications or anything else. I would say one of the things that I do believe and that one of the Kevins said about a village, I take the village a little bit further. I think the village is not just the athletics department's job, it's the university's job to be able to do that. One of the groups we have a great relationship with is our Campus Life Group, and when a kid gets in trouble, how are we going to grow this kid up. Whether it's about education or maturing them as a person, they're going to pay in the papers just like we do as a university, and one of the things we try to do is try to take it a step further where -- I mean, they work with a lot of different types of kids. What we try to do is get in front of them, here's how things are, because we're in the same boat as Jim is.
I have a leadership council that actually delegates a little bit of authority. Sometimes you have to rein them back in a little bit, but I tell them it's about chips. There's kids that put chips in the game, they do the right thing, they're the one cleaning up the room, they're the ones that act as a team, they're the ones doing all the things. When you have more chips than somebody else does because you've always done the right things, you're given a little bit more leeway when something does go wrong than somebody that every time you turn around -- it's the same way in your own household with your own kids.
I think all of us could sit here, and I think most of the coaches are, we're people persons. You get along with people, and I think we understand what's good and what's bad. And I think when you're dealing with people, we all want to deal with the perfect child. He's a great player, he's a great student, he acts right. He has one girlfriend. Nobody has a girlfriend anymore, one girlfriend, goes to church, quiet kid, but on the field he rips your head off. That's what you're looking for.
That doesn't happen. But we've tried to take it to another level. We've tried to talk as a university, not just as a football program, about problems that may have to do with outside of football and how we're going to handle that and what the discipline is going to be and how we're going to try to grow this young man up as far as community hours or what we can do so he can understand the difference between right and wrong.
CHRIS ROSE: The NFL comes sniffing around your programs, I imagine. I'm not really privy to this side of things, but Coach Mangino, how do you handle that? You've got kids that are juniors that might become eligible for the draft, you've got kids that are seniors and they start daydreaming about the next level and things like that. What do you tell your older kids about staying focused and making sure they're doing the right things, whether it's agents that might be trying to reach out or anything that happens at that level?
COACH MANGINO: Well, certainly we haven't had that problem until recently (laughter). We didn't have a whole lot of agents or NFL people coming around. They're starting to now (laughter).
I think, number one, you kind of have an idea of who the kids are that are going to get the attention of the NFL and rogue agents because agents that have a great reputation and do things right are not bothering these kids. But the first thing you do is you talk to them and you have a practical conversation about all the things that can go wrong if you don't handle yourself properly.
And the only way you can enhance your ability to be drafted or drafted high is based on your performance in our program. Some kids don't understand that because they have kids that maybe played before and tried to play in the NFL and were in our program and tell them, don't get hurt now. And that's not true; you just do the things that you've been doing to get that kind of attention.
We do put some precautions into place. We have our compliance staff meet with those kids as a group and one-on-one and go over all the rules pertaining to the NCAA, agents and the dos and don'ts.
Then in training camp, that one meeting that the coaches were talking about that is three hours long about compliance, they go over that again and spend at least a half hour talking about agents and how things work and what can hurt your eligibility, what the consequences are for doing something that's not appropriate.
So it's better to be proactive on it. But if we see anybody that looks like a runner or an agent around the place, we call security and throw them out. I mean, we just don't fool around.
They want to come to pro day and things like that. A couple of them who are KU grads said, "Well, as an alumnus I have a right to watch pro day in your indoor," and I said, "Not as long as I'm the coach you don't." Now, the alumni center is up on the hill, and you can walk up there any time (laughter).
CHRIS ROSE: Dr. Wetherell, from a presidency standpoint, where do you sit on player conduct? Do you ever get involved?
DR. WETHERELL: More than I want to (laughter). More than the coach wants us to, too (laughter).
The thing that's amazing to me, when I showed up at Florida State in 1962 as a freshman football player, my mom and dad drove me up there in a 1957 Ford. I had a Samsonite suitcase, a Royal manual typewriter, a ream of erasable bond paper, a handful of Bic pens, and I moved into Smith Hall, the athletic dorm at the time. You look at a kid coming in today -- man, there was a pay phone down there that we all tried to get to and put quarters into to call home to our girlfriend who was patiently waiting at 7:05 when you were going to call.
Today they show up with iPods and the kids are so much different, and the coaches have to deal with kids so much differently than four or five years ago.
What we've done at Florida State, and just in the last year or so, we've made some rather significant changes, or the coaches have, not necessarily me. From a player's perspective we do all the things that you heard. But I really believe, particularly in football and basketball -- and we deal with women's sports different than we deal with men's sports, and if that's politically incorrect let me make my apologies and please don't quote me. But the fact of the matter is they're different, how you want to deal with them.
With football in particular, we found that you do all the stuff, don't do this, don't do that, blah, blah, blah. Bringing in NFL players, active NFL players, Derrick Brooks, more is done in our case and I'm sure in other people's, and getting the coaches out of the room and letting them sit down and talk to them about the ramifications of you doing something wrong for you getting to that level, how much money that's going to cost you, those things that we can't say, seem to work better than anything.
The other thing when I was that kid going to Florida State in '62, the worst thing you could do to me back then was get me up at 5:00 o'clock in the morning, have Bobby Bowden standing on the 50-yard line and you go up 76 flights of stairs, down those flights, up 83 on the other side, and you run stadium steps for screwing up or whatever. That was terrible. We didn't want to do that.
Today these kids can run all day long. They can run longer than you can stand there and they don't miss a leap. What they respect is playing time. And when you start taking away playing time, you get their attention pretty dadgum quick.
So we've gone to a process of trying to treat those athletes like anyone else. First thing you start dealing with is the code of conduct that the university has. But then there are other issues, whether they be felonies or misdemeanors. And ultimately, the penalty, more than running, more than study hall, more than moving into the dorm, you're going to miss some playing time. And when you miss playing time, you don't get on the field. You may practice, but you don't get on the plane, you don't go to the game. If it's a home game, you buy a ticket and you go sit in the stands and you have to explain to your teammates and to everybody else why you're there.
Now, the other part, though, that somebody mentioned on the student body, from a president's perspective, I can tell you, I look at a ballgame a lot different than I used to. I look at the crowd, how many do I have, what's my ticket sales, where's my concessions, how many cops do I have, where is everybody sitting, is everything going cool. Oh, and by the way, what the heck is the score.
But from a student standpoint, I've had an opportunity to be on a lot of college campuses and people do great jobs. But I'm going to tell you, Notre Dame does about as good a job of anybody I've ever seen welcoming people, students, faculty, boosters to a campus. We went up there and played those guys a few years ago and beat them pretty bad, and I thought, man, we're going to have to fight our way out of this place because we kind of scored some late that Bobby was even ashamed of. Those people shake your hand, good luck, have a great year, see you next year, rah, rah, rah.
Our kids have started doing some little spirit thing, selling tee shirts, getting everybody to wear their tee shirt, where it's not just the spirit but it's an idea of sportsmanship, that kind of thing. Students can sell other students quicker than we can, lecture them at a pep rally or anything like that.
So from a player's perspective, game time, playing time seems to work. From a student standpoint, let them sell each other. They'll come report somebody doing something in the stands a lot quicker than we'll find it frankly. So that's what we do.
CHRIS ROSE: We're going to take a few questions on this topic.
Q. Jim, you were confronted with a situation several years ago that really doesn't come with an instruction manual. Your team was getting ready to play Miami for a National Championship, your tailback had something to say, now all of a sudden that becomes a topic of conversation that dominates the National Championship game. When you reflect back on that experience, how did we perform? How do you think you handled it? Is there anything that we can all take away from that experience now several years later and learn from it if something like that happens somewhere else down the road?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, I think because it was one of those mass media-type setups that the media handled it fine, I thought. I didn't really read all of what they wrote later about it, but I didn't see anything occur when they were asking their questions. As far as how did we handle it, I thought we handled it properly.
A lot of times your instincts are, well, we want everyone to know really what's going on, but then the other side of you says, well, you're still, regardless of if a youngster is having some problems, you just want to protect him, and you don't want to throw him out under the bus.
So I thought our people handled it pretty well. I didn't feel as if anyone wrote anything unfair or talked about it unfairly. But again, I didn't read the stuff, so I didn't sense any of our team or anything struggling with any allegations or anything about any indictments of our group.
Q. Anything to be learned from the experience?
COACH TRESSEL: Anything to be learned?
Q. In terms of what could happen at a future high-profile event if an athlete somewhere is in that kind of situation, how it could be handled by everyone.
COACH TRESSEL: Again, I can't speak for how the media should have handled it. The youngster could have handled it a little bit differently from the standpoint of being able to do what he wanted to do. But it just didn't have the T's crossed and the I's dotted and so forth. I thought our administration handled it well, because again, they could have gone off talking about this and this and this, and they just kind of took it, which is sometimes -- again, because the kids are what's important, sometimes you just have to take it.
It goes all the way to you still have to live with yourself as to are you doing what's right, and in your world, not was I the first one that popped it, but in our world were we first place, but are we doing it right.
So I think sometimes you just have to accept criticism, but maybe all the facts aren't on the table. But as long as you feel good about what you did and the decisions you made, again, that's ultimately what's important.
Q. With all due respect to the football coaches that are here, given the nature of discipline, the high-profile nature of the business that you're in, what is at stake for them? Is it not better that you as the athletic director in charge of not only the football program but of the entire department be the one that ultimately is responsible for determining the punishment as opposed to the coach who might have a vested interest in the outcome?
KEVIN WHITE: If I may, I've kind of digressed in this direction a couple times already, I apologize, but we're a little bit different at our particular institution. Unlike the other places I've served, if it's a behavioral issue and not a team rule issue, it'll be -- the sanction will come from the university, not the athletic department and not the coach at our institution. So we handle discipline business a little bit differently than say my time at Arizona State or Tulane or other places.
But at the end of the day I think we need to be really involved, to get to the heart of the question. We should be held accountable, and I think we are. I think everybody in the athletic department is held accountable, and the athletics director and the head football coach are actually held accountable for the behavior of the young people that are in our football program, no question about that.
But at our place, again, it plays out a little differently.
Q. But in general should the issue of ultimate discipline if there is a transgression or if you break the law as opposed to even breaking a team rule, if we're going above that and it's in the general realm, should that be taken out of the hands of the football coach and into the hands of the ultimate --
KEVIN WHITE: At our institution it is taken out of both of our hands, as I said, and it goes to student affairs, and that's where it gets adjudicated, and we have very little involvement. At our particular institution we have a long history of doing it just that way.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Our place is different, too. However, if you hire the right coach, then it's not going to be elevated to your level because they'll do the right thing, and whatever needs to happen, happens. If it does get to your level in some of these cases, then you have to question who's working with you and for you because it shouldn't get to that level.
I could just talk about our recent coach. There were some issues that happened, and I knew about them. He called me and told me this is what we're going to do, and I thought he was probably being harsher than he needed to. Those are the kind of people you want to have work for you because then you don't have to deal with it. If you do have to take it into your own hands, then I think you're going to have trouble at the coaching level and the program is probably going to be in some kind of fluctuation.
COACH TRESSEL: There's always interaction, though, between the athletic directors and the coaches. If a kid misses class they'll let us take care of that, but if there's an issue a little bit larger than that, I don't think I've ever had a time where we didn't visit with the athletic director and get his counsel and say what do you think.
Q. For the coaches, obviously you can't be responsible for what goes on with your players 24 hours a day, but you're held responsible. So I was wondering, how do you monitor the guys around your guys? Coach Mangino mentioned if it's a rogue agent or a runner you can throw him out of pro day, but how do you monitor a situation if that activity occurs outside when they're around you?
COACH MANGINO: You can't. You can't be with these kids 24 hours a day. You hope that the values that their families taught them and that we've helped them with and taught them, that they'll make good decisions and that they understand right from wrong.
I mentioned earlier this afternoon about -- it was said to me about the media, what do you think about the media. I said, well, there's a 90 percent rule and a 10 percent rule. We joke about that with our players. We've got the 10 percenters, and they're the guys that you've got to remind them all the time. You have to get after them more.
But we've been very fortunate because it goes back to recruiting. When I first arrived at Kansas, we had a low level of talent. That's the politically correct way to say it. Others in here have said we stunk. So we made a decision we were going to get some really talented players, some good junior college guys, and we really did a lousy job of checking their character and their background, and we found out it wasn't really much fun being around those guys.
We made a conscious decision in the winter of 2004 that we were going to do extensive background checks, even if we had to hire an outside firm, which we do sometimes. We felt, number one, you're better off being around kids of character. Sometimes they won't be the most talented but they'll do the right things, you can count on them when things are tough in a game, and also, which I think is key, I spend more time around our players than I ever have around my children.
My wife and I, we've worked hard to try to raise our kids with good values and try to do the right things. I don't want to go to work every day with 105 knuckleheads running around and you're like a warden rather than a football coach. So I had some assistant coaches on my staff who thought that was a terrible idea, that you have to -- that old saying, you need a couple of thugs or criminals. I don't buy that. We may recruit some kids that had some problems in the past, but we've checked them out and they've made a mistake.
I think it goes all the way back to recruiting, and I know all the coaches sitting on the panel here, they have a reputation for recruiting kids with character. It's made a world of difference in our program. It's made it much more fun to go to work, it's much more fun to be around the players. And when we were in tough games, those kids everybody said were a step slow or too short but they were good kids, they helped us win a lot of games.
COACH WILLINGHAM: On the issue that we're speaking of, discipline and probably player conduct, I think what you're hearing, I believe, at least what I'm hearing, is that there's a concerted effort on our part as coaches to create an environment that's a positive environment that allows the individual to make the right decisions.
It would be no different than for any of our kids to sit in this room. It's impossible to monitor your son or daughter for 24 hours. But if you've created the right environment, they're going to maybe stray, but they will pause at some point and consider the right thing, and in 90 percent of those cases, as Mark said, they're going to make the right decision.
What we try to do, and I think what all of our coaches try to do, I try to sit down with every department that has any interaction with our football program, and I tell them the story about pouring water on a table, and if you notice anything about water on a table, it goes to the lowest point. We want to eliminate the lowest points in our program. We want everybody to share the same values, to have the same beliefs for our program. Therefore you're creating an environment that the kids see. They can't turn to a low point and expect a different level of behavior or acceptance of behavior at any point in our program. So therefore you're creating a culture that believes in doing the right things, and you win more with kids doing the right things than with kids doing the wrong things.
COACH TRESSEL: It is one of our toughest things, though, the people that try to get around our kids. We're in a pretty good sized city, 15th largest city in the country, and we've had some good fortune to have some good, talented kids, and it's one of our biggest issues is -- everyone wants to be their friend, everyone wants to get around them. It's probably why we've closed things a little more, which bothers the media at times, because we want it to be a little closed. We don't like the runners or those kind of folks around. We don't like the bloggers who I'm going to have lunch with (laughter) around at practice writing that we ran two reverses or whatever. So we've kind of tightened things down.
Even the eBay people, we put a gate around our player locker parking lot because the eBay people would be sitting out there with their footballs for them to sign.
But it's one of our biggest issues is who are you around. So we ask our guys for the answer to that problem. Amazingly, even though they moan and groan every time we ask them to do something extra, because we ask them to do a lot just in football and study hall and all that business, but they really think we should have more situations where we bring in a speaker to talk about things and do agent education and have a team bowling night and do more things where it's just us to insulate ourselves away from some of those negative outside influences. So they tell us that's what they want to do.
Then we schedule them, then they moan the day that we're going to do them, and then when they get there they love them. Tonight we have a guest night at our facility where a guy can bring his buddy. Maybe he doesn't live with a football player, and this place is like Fort Knox and you can't get in, but bring a buddy and shoot a game of pool or play some basketball or racquetball or softball or whatever they're going to do out there tonight.
But they have asked us to create more things for them to, I guess, keep themselves together and have less idle time, then maybe someone can get around them. But it's hard, the hardest thing we have.
CHRIS ROSE: Unfortunately we do have to move on.
COACH PATTERSON: It's like the old phrase the cat's in the cradle. If you don't pay any attention, they grow up like you do. I think one of the biggest problems we have is we've gotten like CEOs. We've become like a parent that works all the time. If you don't go back and be the football coach and ask them about their girlfriend, ask them about their kids, ask them about what's going on with their life, then that's a mistake. If you ask all those questions and they lie to you or they don't tell you and there's somebody bad, then there's a mistake. But if you never ask the question about who's in their life, then it's our fault.
But I think most everybody sitting at this table, and I think most coaches do, I think that's my hardest problem is trying to be a CEO and do all the things we want to do, and then also be the dad to 105 kids, because to be honest with you, because at least on my team it's happening, there's a lot more one-parent or no-parent student athletes, so they need that kind of attention. If you don't give it to them they're going to look for it somewhere else if they're not getting the attention.
For us I think the hardest part I have is trying to look back and give them the attention and being able to give that to them so they know they can come to me if they have a problem because if they don't they're going to go to somebody else, and if it's a bad person that's going to be the person they listen to.
CHRIS ROSE: As far as recruiting goes, Coach Tressel, let's start with you, since one of your incoming recruits either made a statement or had a press conference at a later date he was going to announce where he was going to school, and we're talking about Terrelle Pryor here. Here's a guy who had a major announcement and now the whole world has seen his high school tape and everything else, and if he's not the best quarterback since Jim Karsatos at Ohio State, then he's a failure. I mean, in the last ten years they now have specialty shows on ESPN and ESPN U and there's websites out there strictly dedicated to this stuff. We're almost setting the kid up to fail, aren't we?
COACH TRESSEL: It's hard. I know we had two quarterbacks come in six years ago. One was supposed to take over the world, and the other came in as a, quote, athlete, and I told him he needed to play defense or something for a year before someone else graduated and then he could have a shot at quarterback. He ends up winning the Heisman Trophy, and the other guy is not playing.
We do put pressure on the kids. And again, it's that desire that everyone wants to know what's going on and hype up this and write about that, and it's real. It's what happens. Terrelle is a guy that is going to have high expectations. All of those lectures that all these coaches just talked about that you need to give to kids, you need to give to him. Try to stay away from the wrong people, try to keep focused on the right things, and try not to allow those expectations to overwhelm them. But it's tough.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, what's the biggest difference in recruiting today as opposed to 15 years ago? What's the biggest challenge for you?
COACH WILLINGHAM: I would say it's obviously the exposure that the kids get today. But I'd also say it's the way that the young man has developed. I think most of the young people that we recruit nowadays are all superstars, and I think that changed. I think there was some time ago that some of us went off to college knowing that we were a role player and maybe we got to be a superstar with a lot of work and development. But I think because of the nature of the kid today, that he is a superstar, the exposure and the coverage, you get a parent that invested a great deal in that young man's development, from camp here, camp there, and now you have a whole environment that's looking for a return on investment with product, and that develops a totally different mindset than you've ever had, I think, to deal with before in coaching.
COACH TRESSEL: Personal trainers and all this stuff.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Mangino?
COACH MANGINO: Well, I think that the exposure that these kids have before they're actually recruited and then when they're in the recruiting process is a problem. They have a lot of people writing about them, they're on the internet. It has an effect on recruiting.
I think some of the internet sites that cover recruiting -- and what I mean by that is we have run into it, and I know all the other coaches here have run into it from time to time, is that a young guy will commit to a school in March or April, and then he realizes about June or July that he committed so nobody is calling him, no more internet services calling him, because he's committed. They're not writing any features about him, but the guy across town at a school that hasn't committed to anybody yet is getting all this publicity and all the companies and websites are calling him every night and writing about him every night, and they feel like they're not getting attention. So what do they do, they open up their recruiting again and start over so all the recruiting services will call him every night and they can get on the websites and read their name and their quotes and coach's quotes and things like that.
There is an impact that the media has that really concerns me, if you can call it media totally, are the recruiting websites. I think kids say the darndest things on there, they tell stories, they lie, they -- a kid accused me of having lunch with him. His father said I had lunch with him. Yeah, I did; it was a junior day, and in the Nesmith Room at Allen Fieldhouse we got 20 tables with 20 families and I went to all 20 tables to talk to everybody, and they paid for their lunch.
But my point is there's disinformation, there's misinformation, because the kids even play games with these guys now and stroke them about they're going to take a visit here when the school is not recruiting them, and saying that they're considering Kansas and we talked to the guy the night before and we can't get to first base with him.
That's one area, that I think kids get too much exposure in this recruiting process, and it's brought out all the little league dads, and it makes it a little bit more complicated, I think, for coaches.
CHRIS ROSE: Gary, how much pressure does it put on you guys? National letter of intent day, personally I don't give a damn about because I don't know what an 18-year-old is going to look like when he's 21, whether he'll be a contributor on the field. Okay, so TCU has a top ten recruiting class. Boy, if Gary Patterson doesn't get it done now, look out.
COACH PATTERSON: Here's why we've never gotten more than a C, to be honest with you. I always call them paper tigers, and I -- your question was what has changed. I think the early commitment thing is a problem.
One of the people I worry about with it is the high school coach. We have another sport which I think that recruiting and character and everything has gotten out of hand, and I don't think the high school coach has much to say about it anymore. It's gone the AAU level and all this and all these other things. If I had one thing to protect in college football it would be that the high school coach still has a little say because I think they help mature kids.
The early commitment thing I have a problem with even though you have to do it a little because you don't know what -- sometimes if you don't do your background check, again, like Mark talked about, you don't get good character.
For me, if we have to work a lot harder starting in January for the next season and take away from some other things, again, from your own team a little bit, development and doing some things so that we can work on doing character checks on kids for the next following recruiting class so that you don't make any mistakes, we've had to push everything in the process up so that you don't get in a situation where you took -- well, this kid is supposed to be the best quarterback, but he's not a good person. Not a good person, not being that he's made a mistake, but he's just not a good person.
If you're not careful you get caught up in making a mistake where you -- a bad person in our system at a small, private university is going to have a problem because every little thing is going to stick out. So you've got to be very careful. Having been there now going on 11 years, you kind of learn what the pluses and minuses of those things are and work around them. It's better to have them there sometimes than not to have them at all.
CHRIS ROSE: What about the administrators on the early signs? Do you guys want to see them get rid of that, modify it?
KEVIN WHITE: Be more specific because I want to make sure I'm on the same page as you.
CHRIS ROSE: Just as far as Gary was saying, it's shuffled his scheduling around and getting the right kind of kids into the school and things of that nature. It sounds like things are sliding.
KEVIN WHITE: Well, the commitment, period, by way of football and basketball and other sports frankly is much earlier than it's ever been, the verbal commitments. We've read here in the last week or two, eighth graders and ninth graders, it's incredible. This thing has become a very early-on activity in high school. We have no idea whether these kids are going to be able to do the work academically and what they're going to look like physically and the rest of it.
With that said, I guess, and I don't know if the coaches would agree with this - I'd love to hear some retort to this - I would be in favor of an early signing period in December, mid-December.
I just asked Bill Lewis who's on our staff, and people may know Bill Lewis, head coach at Georgia Tech and East Carolina, Wyoming at one point, and he's on our administrative team at this point. And I asked him to get me some data for this conversation today, and he got it yesterday, which suggested that in mid-December, on average, in 1A, institutions have more than 13 commitments, 13.2 commitments per school.
It would be really good in my view to get those kids signed, done, delivered, and then move on to the rest of the recruiting class and let those kids go back to being high school students and take some pressure off the whole scene. It just seems to me to make some sense. I don't know how the coaches would respond to that.
COACH TRESSEL: Well, you have some numbers that the whole 1A Association came up with in terms of interest in it.
GRANT TAFT: We have, for several years, looked into an early signing day for many reasons, and we have for years been about 50/50, so we've never felt like we could take action.
Two years ago we asked the assistant coaches, and that's where the information that you got came from, they did a survey so we would know exactly how many youngsters are committed at what time of the year, and it's staggering now how that's changed in the last five or six years, the early commitments.
What happened is that our system coaches a year ago did a poll through their system coaches that came up through the head coaches, and it was about 65 to 68 percent for an early signing day, somewhere in that neighborhood. We did a new poll this last couple of months from our head coaches in Bowls subdivision, and it was around the 70, 72 percentile.
I was just sitting here thinking as you were talking about it, we have four coaches there. If the statistics were true nationwide, three of the four were probably for an early signing day. The big question was when do you have an early signing day.
I think with that 50/50 that we've had for several years, one of the reasons was we didn't have a defined concept of where an early day would be. One of the things we did with the assistant coaches is to figure out where the best signing day would be, and that was the December 15th or the mid-December that you talked about.
So we have our head coaches, we have the assistant coaches.
Now, there are stakeholders in this game that we respect and trust and feel very strongly about. Not only do we have them in our association, but they are an integral part of the total process of college football, and that's our high school coaches.
So we have meticulously in the last two months set up a system where we are polling every high school coaches association in the 50 states to get their leadership to fill out a survey so we know what the high school coaches feel. We've made a concerted effort to make sure that the high school coaches know that we are not going to do anything that is going to in any way damage or hurt their programs.
The numbers are coming in now. They are rather heavily in favor of a signing day, the high school coaches are. Where they would like to have it, we're still doing a study on that.
But there are two other factors that have to go into making a change. The conference commissioners are the ones that really control the national letter of intent. They would have to agree with us to make the time to change. If it were in December, we would probably not have to have NCAA legislation. If it were earlier you'd have to have NCAA legislation to have a dead period around that time. So that's where we are now with regard to the early signing day. I suspect that we're moving rather rapidly in that direction.
COACH PATTERSON: One of the things I'd say, because we've had a lot of discussion, and my biggest thing is the parameters of the signing day. Can I go out and sign 25 and don't care if they're going to be qualifiers or not, so once you sign them, then they don't make it, then by the middle of January you find out that they're not, then you go back and start recruiting the next group? There has to be some parameters.
I think it would be 100 percent if everybody understood exactly what the early signing date meant and what we were going to -- and the kind of kid that you could go ahead and sign early. Does he look like you could be somebody you could actually look at and say, yeah, he's going to be a qualifier, or are you signing a whole bunch of kids that aren't going to qualify and now they can't go anywhere else and then you're going to go out and get another 15.
I think those are some of the arguments or discussions that go on as far as that's concerned, especially from, quote, maybe a not-automatic-bid school where maybe you have that problem where a team would come back down, come back out, then try and come back a sign a kid, one that's already committed to you, that might not necessarily fall into that category.
Q. I guess this falls under recruiting. USC is being criticized by a lot of people nationwide for having two agent issues right now. I'd like to ask the coaches and Dr. Wetherell, as well, how responsible are you as coaches and as presidents for knowing the whereabouts of your star players? We're talking about star players, Reggie Bush and the like, what they're driving, who they're seeing, who they're going around with, because that seems to be the issue with USC right now, not only did they not know, they didn't want to know.
COACH TRESSEL: Well, it's hard. I'll tell you, it's very hard. We are responsible for keeping track of their audible registration, and I have to sign off that I know what everyone is driving at all times, which makes it difficult, because I get there before they do and I leave after they do, so I'm not even in the parking lot in the light of day. But we're responsible for it.
We, and I'm sure these guys do the same, they have people who try to keep an eye around the facility as to who's driving what, and all of a sudden there's someone coming in with these new wheels or whatever, and I guess what we're trying to do, too, is trying to keep them busier. I know it probably breaks that 20-hour rule, but it's not football activity, but we're trying to keep them busier and having to come more and all those things, in part to protect them from someone that may try to latch onto them, and maybe secondly, to keep more of an eye on them so that maybe you could notice.
But I would not throw any stones from where I sit at USC from the standpoint of it is so hard to keep track of people. If people have an interest in doing things that they don't want you to know they're doing, they're going to make it hard for you to see.
DR. WETHERELL: From a president's perspective, I think most of us try and hire an AD that you have a lot of confidence in, and some of us get involved in that more than others, I guess. You do the same thing with coaches and you kind of let them do their business.
From a recruiting standpoint, I think it's the coach's decision as to who they're going to recruit and the talent. Where I try and protect a coach, usually it's some booster or major donor calling up that's got a kid that's probably a pretty good player but maybe not to the level we are and wants to see the kid sign and come to Florida State. My job is to let the coach sign who he needs to sign and keep him away from that.
My biggest concern in recruiting right now is juniors and this early recruiting stuff. And it's more from a public relations standpoint. I try and think back to when I was 17 years old, and you had Meyer or Bear Bryant or Vince Dooley or somebody coming around, telling you how wonderful you were, feeding you steak dinners when you were a senior and you knew you were going to go next year. If you started that when I was a junior, man, my head would have been huge, and I'm sure I wouldn't have paid a lot of attention to English and history and math and that kind of thing.
All of a sudden this kid has a great junior year and a great senior year and it's all in the local hometown paper that he's coming to Florida State, well, he hasn't paid any attention to that academic stuff and that 16 credits and all that other, and before you know it, the university has been embarrassed because he can't get in, his parents have been embarrassed, we can't work with him because of the NCAA, we can't send a coach down to help him. That's the biggest problem I see in recruiting.
Back to your other issue, how do you look at it, part of the whole thing with discipline isn't just what you hand out when they break the rule, it's being involved with them day in and day out. I guess everybody does about the same thing in terms of telling them what the rules are and stuff like that. But the most successful programs seem to me to be those programs that have coaches or maybe assistant coaches or trainers or whatever that are constantly involved with those kids. They're talking to them and they're listening to them and they're hearing them in the training room and they're hearing them whenever and they know what those kids are doing. You know, I can go by practice and I don't know all the kids, but I know if a kid comes from a single parent, lived in the projects, mother rode the bus to work at the hospital, and he drives up in a new Bimmer, think about that for a minute. Or he's got a new set of wheels on his Hummer or whatever. Coaches need to start looking.
The people in the athletic department, the trainers, they see all that stuff early, and they know about it and they talk to them, and that's the best way to solve that problem. I think when you hire the right ADs, the right coaches, they hire the right people, most of that stuff will take care of itself.
It's easier for us in maybe like Tallahassee. We're 15 miles from the Georgia border, 15 miles from the gulf, 200 miles from any major city with nothing but pine trees in between. We see those kids pretty well. If you're in LA or Columbus and then the NCAA doesn't let you have athletic dorms, doesn't let you have training tables, they're eating all over the place, you don't get to touch them except when they show up for practice, it really becomes difficult.
The temptations out there are pretty great when you're 18, 19 years old. I'm not sure most of us would be able to resist them, so I would hope and wish that the NCAA would think a little bit more about the ramifications and some of the decisions and then let coaches get more involved with players.
Q. This is kind of a follow-up to what Dr. Wetherell was talking about and then the previous talk of player conduct. The limitations you guys have as far as recruiting, where right now you guys probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the rule that says you guys can't be out recruiting during May. How difficult is it for you guys to really assess a player's character when you're recruiting them now about the limitations you can't text them? It seems like they're making it more difficult, the NCAA is, to actually get to know the players that well. And also just their academics, going back to the APR thing, how well can you figure out how good a student a kid is going to be?
COACH MANGINO: With the limitations in recruiting the head coach is not allowed to go out in the spring. You get one contact a week, but for your assistant coaches -- head coach only has one shot off campus. It's very difficult. What you have to rely on is, number one, you have a quality staff of assistant coaches that leave no stone unturned and that they really -- they know the kid better than the head coach does, there's no question.
We may be recruiting 200 kids even into December, so I'm not going to know everything inside and out on every single one of them, but they will.
We have taken some steps, we have used an outside firm to check on some background -- if something comes up in regards to problems in their background, we've done that. We try to get as much information as we can from the coach, the head coach at the high school, but sometimes, you know, they're looking out for the best interests of the kid, and most are pretty honest, but you have to be careful.
It's very difficult. It is something that I'm concerned about, the limited amount of contact and evaluations you have with these kids, yet you have to pick the right kids that are going to have character, you're not going to have problems with, they can win games, they can earn a diploma. I think it's a real challenge for coaches nowadays.
You have to put a lot of time and effort into it to find the right kids.
COACH WILLINGHAM: I would say, also, that the statement that Mark made about the information and the source of the information is critical because there are very few communities that you go into that someone wants to be known as the person that denied Johnny a scholarship. There are not going to be many of those in most of the communities you go into. So even for the assistant coach to get the information is very difficult.
Hopefully that's where the experience of the staff comes in, when the coach says he's all right, you understand that there's something in that statement, he's all right. And that's very difficult.
So the gaining of the information I think is probably the most difficult thing in the process, which allows you to gauge and really understand the character. I think we can assess the academic information; I think that's pretty straightforward. But the character issues I think you have to reach deeper. And if you were to have a young man that at a youthful age did have a problem, anything on him is probably sealed, so how do you get that information? Even with a service working for you, it's very difficult to get to the heart of what all the problems were.
KEVIN ANDERSON: To go back and talk about that early signing day, one thing that helps, helps the coach establish a different kind of relationship with that young man because during that recruiting process you're wooing them and you're not finding out what kind of character he really has. So after you allow them to sign, then the relationship becomes far different and you're able to help mold that young person and give them an opportunity to find out who you are and who he is before you bring him to campus.
COACH TRESSEL: With the inevitability we think of an early signing coming, one thing that we as a Big Ten coaches took to our administrators, and they're acting on it today whether they're going to take it forward, is we're recommending that our assistant coaches be able to have one contact in May, in the May recruiting, where they can sit down and if the parents want to come to the school or whatever, to get to know more about them. Because right now they can't have that contact with them; it's just evaluations. And to really get to know more about them, we're going to try to sponsor some legislation to have a contact in the spring.
KEVIN ANDERSON: I think the thing that we've done with all these rules is that now we're guilty until we're proven innocent. And that's really harmed the relationship that we've had 20, 30 years ago when the coaches could go out and be role models and talk to young people and you didn't have to worry about that. So now we don't trust one another, and so we put ourselves in a position where we can't find out who these young men and women truly are.
So I think that we need to go and re-look at some things. Yeah, there's going to be some people that will push or cheat, but we're damaging our relationships with these young people not doing what we're truly supposed to do because we have a lack of trust in one another whether we follow the rules or not.
Q. In basketball recently there's been more examples of eighth graders being offered scholarships at prominent programs, and I was wondering, in terms of football, if you see it as a trend for freshmen and sophomores in the race to be first and best.
CHRIS ROSE: I think you were talking about a verbal commitment to Kentucky recently from an eighth grader.
COACH TRESSEL: I know what's happening in our state, a lot of the schools from out of the state, colleges from out of state, are coming in and just offering all kinds of sophomores. We really haven't gotten to know them as well, and it puts a little bit of heat on us being the home school and all that, so it's put a little bit of -- all of a sudden now you're trying to find out more about that 010 guy or 011 guy. I'm hoping we don't get into the eighth and ninth grade deal, but everything in this world is getting faster.
COACH WILLINGHAM: It's coming. I offered my first freshman a couple weeks ago, so it's coming. The problem and the concern that I have, and I think it was mentioned by one of the coaches, we are now taking the player away from the coach. How does a high school coach coach a freshman that's been offered a full scholarship to the University of Washington? Most likely that player can say, hmm.
So that's something that we shouldn't have had and something that we don't want to have happen. We'd have to deal with the same problem when we get the runners, when we get the agents. They get to our seniors, our upper classmen that are eligible for the draft. That Coach Willingham, he's using you the wrong way. I'd step back, I wouldn't do anything right now. I'd just wait and take my chance with a pro.
Those kind of influences are detrimental to all of the game. We've got to be very careful that we aren't instituting the same kind of problems at the high school level.
DR. WETHERELL: One thing, it's kind of funny that we're talking about it because it is frustrating to deal with it from an athletics standpoint, but I would remind you that most universities on Saturday before a game have a group of recruits up and you feed them and take them to the game and all that. We also at most universities, at Florida State, have a group of merit scholars on campus. We do exactly the same thing with the merit scholars that we do with the athletes.
The difference is we start with the merit scholars, particularly in the sciences and math, in the eighth grade. We're taking kids at that point in time that have probably taken a PSAT and in some cases even an SAT or ACT and scored perfect or close. So we're playing that same game on the academic side of the ledger.
No offense to you guys in the media for this; we don't get a damn bit of press for that. They're having the same steak dinner. It's just over here in this room versus that room.
Q. Well, it's not as much of a crapshoot because --
DR. WETHERELL: I agree it isn't.
Q. It's easier to -- obviously someone who is bright and intelligent are going to show those things coming up through fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade that would make you as a university want to chase after that person because you think that person could be a Rhodes scholar, whereas on the athletics side it seems to me to be a total crapshoot to go after eighth graders and freshmen. Their bodies can change, so much can happen from a freshman in high school to where they actually arrive on campus because it's all about your physical makeup.
COACH PATTERSON: Because they have a standardized test to tell how smart you are. The difference for us, the only way that we'll be able to stop it is to say nobody can do it for the betterment of the kid. For the coach and everybody else, what we need to do is you can't offer scholarship to anybody less than a junior. I mean, if we want to do something about it, then we say as a whole group you can't take or offer anybody less than junior year in high school. Then we put it back in the coaches' hands. We can set it at seniors if we want it to.
COACH TRESSEL: Really we can't, because we can't write them until September 1 of their junior year, so we already that have rule in place.
COACH WILLINGHAM: I can't offer you a scholarship right now, but if I could (laughter)....
COACH PATTERSON: As a group, presidents, athletic directors, we have -- as coaches, we have the opportunity to say, hey, if we really do believe that we want to do the best thing -- again, I keep going back to the student athlete, if you want it to be the best thing, then what you do is say no one can offer a young man before his junior year in any form, and everybody has to live by it. It's kind of like the head coaches can't go on the road.
You know, I don't have a problem with not going on the road as long as everybody doesn't have -- you don't want anybody to get an advantage. As long as everybody says, this is the way it is, then everybody plays by that rule. I don't think -- in our profession I don't think anybody has a problem with that as long as everything is the same. That's the only way you're ever going to stop where it's eighth grade, ninth grade.
At some point in time the reason why we're having this whole conversation is trying to do what's best for college football and relationships. To me it sounds like the best thing we can do for college football is that would be a great rule, that you can't offer a kid before his junior year. Then you'd be doing everybody a favor. You'd be doing the high school coach, you'd be doing the family and all of us a favor because the more and more we keep going farther and farther out, guess who we're not paying any attention to, our own kids.
DR. WETHERELL: Supposedly going a different way, none of the coaches would like this too well. There was a kid in Orlando a few years ago called Darryl Dawkins, and I think in the seventh grade he could dunk the ball. It was pretty obvious he was going to be a pretty good basketball player at some point in time. Suppose you were able to go in and take that freshman and he was able to commit to Florida State or Washington or Ohio State, but at that point the university could start working with him on an academic program, et cetera.
Now, if he changes his mind, he can't play as a freshman wherever he goes. He gives up that season or something. There is some penalty process where you may be able to take five or 20 or two or some number and sign early and start working with him academically to have him ready to come to that particular university, but the penalty is you're on the hook for the scholarship. Kid gets hurt, you still owe him a scholarship.
On the other hand, if he squelches on the deal, then the NCAA says you can't play for a year or two years or whatever, now, at that point in time you've got something in my mind you can start dealing with as opposed to just going out and winking and nodding and having everybody else statements and doing things.
Q. Why do you feel compelled to offer, and again, how does he project in football? You can almost understand a Darryl Dawkins or Billy Gillespie.
COACH WILLINGHAM: I thought this one was ready. I thought physically he could probably do it right now.
Q. Can I ask what position or what side of the ball?
COACH WILLINGHAM: No, you can't.
Q. You can't or you won't?
COACH WILLINGHAM: You can't, and I won't let you (laughter).
CHRIS ROSE: Moving on to the coaches and their role on campus outside of being a football coach, blowing the whistle and things like that. I want to start with the administrators on this one. We ask an awful lot of our college coaches, not only on Saturdays, but there's a lot of hands they've got to shake, they've got to help raise money, they've got to help make sure kids are being student athletes, and it would be nice if they showed their face on campus with the rest of us non-players every once in a while. Kevin White, what's the role of your coaches in the university community?
KEVIN WHITE: I don't think there's any question, our coaches are pretty significant ambassadors of our institutions. We kind of said that earlier. They play a pretty large role internally and externally. Their annual responsibility goes beyond the football program. That's just -- again, that's what you sign up for. That's what it's evolved to.
It's a never-ending -- I'm listening to Jim Tressel in the first session when he talked about, in before the sun up and the last guy to leave the parking lot. There are just a lot of demands on the guys that have these jobs.
Q. Is it too much?
KEVIN WHITE: I would suspect -- let me just say from my perspective, I would suspect it is too much. We want them to do an awful lot, and we put them in a position to represent, again, not only the interests of the football program, the athletics department at times, but also the institutions. A lot of expectations, just a lot of expectations internally and externally.
CHRIS ROSE: Kevin Anderson, isn't there a danger of spreading these guys too thin and then too much stuff is falling through the cracks?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, it is the nature of the beast. We talked about hiring the right people to work for us, and that's why they have assistants and that's why they have to have people to support what they can and cannot do, and they have to understand what they can and cannot do. And then it gets to a point where if it is too much, my guy needs to come in and talk to me and say, you know, I can't do that. And if it's within reason, and I understand that, because as Tyrone said not too long ago, every coach has said on this panel, it comes down to winning or losing. It makes it easier when you're winning not to have to do some of those things that we ask. When you're losing, it makes it difficult to say no.
CHRIS ROSE: Has anybody said to you it's too much?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I've had my guy say, I've got something else to do, I'm going on the road, I'm recruiting, maybe we could do it at another time, and that's acceptable. We're in a position right now where if we don't win, none of that other stuff matters.
CHRIS ROSE: Believe it or not, you're all human, too. Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the end of the day?
COACH MANGINO: Well, I think there's days every coach feels like that. There's a lot of things that are asked of you and a lot of people tugging at you in different directions. The rule of thumb for me is I do everything and anything necessary to make our football program better and in any way that I can help in a small way to help the university be stronger.
The good thing that I've got going is I don't golf, I don't bowl, I don't hunt, I don't fish, so I take care of my job, my family, spend all my free time with them, and then selective things in the community maybe that I can be helpful in. My wife and I have worked with the library, giving not only monetary assistance but led a campaign for them. My wife has taken a position on the advisory board. The library doesn't have alumni, so they have to raise their own money.
I like to get involved in things, but the number one priority for me outside of my family is whatever I have to do to make the football program better.
Sometimes our AD has asked me to go to different events where there were boosters who were considering giving money, and I go because that was important. After seven years we're going to move into a brand new football complex in July. I didn't raise all the money for that, but I certainly cultivated a lot of relationships with people that made major contributions because it made the football program better. Whatever it takes for our team and our program to be better and wherever I can help on campus that my time permits, I'm always willing to do it.
CHRIS ROSE: Coach Willingham, how often do you do stuff because you have to?
COACH WILLINGHAM: Never. And I say that from this standpoint: We had some people come in as part of the conferencing that we do, when we talk about developing our young people. One of the points that I made that I practiced before I heard it from them is there's nothing in life you have to do; you choose to do it. But if you choose not to do it, there are consequences, and you have to understand the consequences.
So the things that I do and been asked to do, I do them because I'll do them, not because I have to do them, so therefore if I don't then I'll understand the consequence that comes with it.
But in going back to your general question about -- I don't think it was overwhelmed, but having a lot on your plate, I would think that for me and maybe for some of the other coaches, we may share this, that probably the biggest disappointment or the place that you feel most lacking is that you don't give your own kids enough time, because if you're the first one in the parking lot before it turns light and you're the last one to leave, then that means my son doesn't get a whole lot of time.
I think I said this to someone when we were sitting at the table when we were having lunch that I think I saw somewhere in Men's Health recently that they asked how many parents, or men, spent less than two hours with their kids a day, and I think it was like 42 percent if I'm correct in quoting that number. I know you can find it in there, the accuracy of it, but that's a huge number, that during the course of the day you don't spend two hours with your own kids, and I know I'm guilty. If there's ever a place I know I'm lacking and don't give enough time, that would probably be it.
CHRIS ROSE: I'm interested from the other two coaches, Coach Tressel and Patterson, about being overwhelmed and having that feeling.
COACH PATTERSON: For me I thought it went along with the job. I think every university is different. At our place it was about getting people in the stands, it was about building tradition, getting back to the ways that TCU used to be 50, 60 years ago. My wife and I are very involved in charity work, eight or nine charities, have our own foundation. At some places that might mean that I'm not trying to win enough football games.
I think you have to evaluate as a head football coach what that community, what that university wants from you, and to do your job plus your own personal interests, and then you have to plug it in. I think every place is different. I don't think any university that plays Division I football where you have a football coach is the same; I think they're all different, and I think you have to have a personality to be able to go into any of those situations, and I think that's why you see -- I use wine and beer drinkers all the time, they ask why is a CEO highly successful at one place and he doesn't make it at another. Well, usually it's because he took a job because of money, he didn't go to where he felt like he was -- those people didn't relate to him.
And I think one of the common mistakes that I think we make not just in football but in a lot of professions is we take jobs because of the monetary part of it and we don't look at the inside and gather information and find out if the way we are and what we believe actually fits the university's philosophies, the athletics philosophies and everything else that goes along. If they don't, if you don't have a good plan, you're not going to be successful.
So for me, as you look into it as being a younger head football coach, for me my whole deal is as you look at people or across the nation as you watch people move, if I was ever going to tell a young football coach about moving, what not to do, it's do not go somewhere just because; see if you actually fit that format. The old saying about the grass is greener I think is actually true. I think you have to be in a situation where you fit, and I think if you fit, then I think you have a chance to be highly successful. If you don't fit, then it doesn't matter, everything that goes on is going to be a problem. That's the way I look at it.
I think you've go to do whatever it takes to make sure that you've got a chance to be successful. I agree with Tyrone. I think it is about -- I decide. I don't think we ever do anything we don't want to do.
COACH TRESSEL: I think at times I feel a little guilty that work is more fun than fun (laughter). It's like I've never thought, oh, I've got to go to work tomorrow or I can't wait to get out of here, and you feel guilty about that at times. As was mentioned, your family gets slighted, your friends get slighted, you yourself get slighted as far as taking care of yourself and growing outside of what you're doing.
But we're very fortunate to do what we do, and to watch those kids grow and just be taken by -- being around a university is very energizing in its own way, but I think we take a lot of pride in the fact that we can make a difference for our school. When we go to alumni events, let's face it, probably more people show up at those events than if some scholar went, and that's probably not right. But if we're involved in fundraising campaigns, it helps. If we're involved in student groups on campus or whatever, it helps.
But you do at times feel a little bit guilty that you're the one having all the fun and some of the people that make a difference for you, you wish you could spend more time with, your players, your coaches, your family. But I always say, "This beats working."
CHRIS ROSE: What was the last movie you saw?
COACH TRESSEL: "Jaws." (Laughter.)
CHRIS ROSE: Sometimes the football coaches are also the highest-paid employees of the state, so I guess this goes to the president of Florida State University. How does the rest of the faculty usually handle something like that?
DR. WETHERELL: Not too well, usually (laughter). Actually when you really begin to look at it, most of the time it's not the football coach. It's usually the dean of the medical school and some of the faculty over there or the law school. But I think most of that money comes from boosters and private sources and non-state sources if you happen to be a state institution. And I think all presidents recognize that your athletic department, certainly at this level up here, is your window on the world, if you would.
We don't apologize for that. We're pretty proud of it. We don't try and walk away from it. But we use our coaches in a number of different ways; they expect that.
But they're a little bit like presidents. I'm expected to raise money and go see donors and do that kind of thing. We usually use the president to find the bigger donors, not every donor that walks down the road. So I think presidents have the same obligation as coaches to try and use them strategically and not infringe upon that too much. But we know by using them it's important, and that's what we do.
We're blessed at Florida State to have Bobby Bowden, and he is a unique personality in his own right. In his case we actually spend more time protecting him by the nature of his personality than we do using him because Bobby is extremely available and he carries his own suitcase, walks in the front door of the hotel and checks in, and usually he's just descended upon. So we've usually got some people that work with him, and we figure out is he getting a little tired, do we need to do something, do we move him through a crowd and that kind of thing.
But in terms of the pay, yeah, they're paid a lot of money. But a lot is expected of them, not just winning football games and developing an image for a university.
In Bowden's case, and I know I saw a piece a couple years ago on Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, and I don't know how you get publicity better than that. There was a kid I think terminally ill, Weis went to see him, told him what the play was going to be, I don't know if it was a true story or not, but they ran theoretically the play, the first play of the game, the kid was -- whatever. How do you put a value on that publicity going out to millions and millions of people?
Every year Bobby Bowden brings several kids down from the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He brings them down on the field, when we played you guys a couple years ago, a fairly significant game for Florida State to have Notre Dame down with 85,000 people five minutes before kickoff. Bowden has got this kid in the locker room, and they usually do a little pep talk and a prayer before they go out, and the kid runs out on the field with Bowden. And in the stands, everybody is all hyped up about the game. But for that kid, it's a lifetime experience. He passed away six months later.
So how do you put a value? To me they earn everything they get. I don't apologize for their salary; it's more than mine. I wish I could make what they were making. But they earn it, and they're kind of like pro athletes. It's for a limited amount of time. So we don't apologize at all. We pay them what we think they're worth and we realize their value goes beyond a 10-and-0 season.
CHRIS ROSE: Do you go into the faculty lounge with the chemistry professor, like hey, what's up? How are you guys accepted within the rest of the academic community?
COACH WILLINGHAM: Just to kind of touch on that, I think depending on the coach and depending on his persona and how he interacts with the university as a whole, I would like to believe that mine has been pretty good in all aspects of our university. I've been called on at almost every university I've been in to assist in recruiting faculty, other students, other sports, other programs, go out and fund raise, not just for athletics but for other programs at the university.
So I believe that, depending on your personality and how you interact, that it could be across the board very well.
COACH TRESSEL: I think it's based upon are you there for everybody. Are you there for the faculty when they need you or the fundraising campaign for the library when they need you or the Capitol campaign or recruiting of students or freshman admissions day when all the freshmen are coming in? I think if you make yourself accessible and make it very obvious that you're part of the team -- I haven't noticed any negative. I'm sure there are some people that think we're vastly overpaid, and we probably are, but there are some other people that probably recognize the contribution and feel as if it's warranted.
CHRIS ROSE: Before we get out of here, if there's any questions about this area of the discussion, we'll take them.
I think everybody appreciates the time and the candor of all the people up here. We've got a little reception at 6:00 o'clock. We've got dinner at 7:00.
End of FastScripts