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Dec. 11, 2009; UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Q. Would you just talk about a little bit about your career? I know that's not a little question, but just relating to today's athletes.
I don't know exactly where to start. It's been fun. I have enjoyed every minute of my career or I never would have stayed in it. Never intended to coach when I came here, but I enjoyed the town so much and enjoyed the competition and the people and made me comfortable and I just decided, "hey, this might be the best for me."
As far as the career goes, fine. But the athletes, the athletes basically are not different. They are just under a different environment. There's so much more pressure. We got on television once a year when I first got here. That was great.
Now every game is on television and there's so much media attention and so many people that want to gravitate toward them and there's so much money being thrown at them at the end of their careers in college and so many people that want to be around them. It's a little bit more difficult to just get them to stay focused on what's important. Get your education; you never know what's going to happen to you physically; who knows if you're going to play next week?
So, you stay focused and try to be careful about lip service. People come up to you all of a sudden that want to be your buddies, male or female, and I just try to preach the same sermon; the one that you think is the right one. And most of the time they listen...most of the time they listen. Once in awhile you get a couple of kids who won't.
So, I don't think it's been much different than it was 60 years ago when I started. I think kids are the same. They want the same kind of things. They like competition and they want to be in a place like this and they like to play.
Q. Talking to the Mautis. Can you talk about what those kind of guys mean to your program and address their dad (Rich) and what he meant to you back then?
The dad, Rich, he was a real competitor. He was a tough kid, really tough kid, and really played better than you would have thought he could play. As an athlete, he wasn't that great an athlete.
The older of the boys (Patrick) I have is a lot like his dad, just not quite fast enough to be a guy that can play in the secondary or that can be a threatening wideout. And not big enough to play someplace else. But he's been a great kid to have. He never misses a minute of practice and the whole bit.
The other kid, Mike, is going to be an outstanding linebacker. Hey, when he got hurt (torn ACL in August), it was a big loss to us, because he's really an outstanding athlete. But they are both like their dad -- very loyal, very committed, very easy to coach.
It was a tough ballgame. I think we won it, 7 0. We had a kid by the name of Chuck Herd, who went on and got a master's degree and then came back and worked at the university for a long time. Just retired. Chuck made a fantastic catch (one-handed 72-yard TD catch).
LSU did a great job. John Cappelletti won the Heisman Trophy that year and Cappy I don't think got more than 50, 60 yards rushing. It was a really tough football game. Charlie McClendon, who was the (LSU) head coach then, he became a good friend and he became the head of the American Football Coaches Association.
So I have good memories of the game, and obviously because we won then maybe more than that, but it was a, good, tough football game. It was the kind of game you like to be in, and probably the same kind of game we are going to play this year.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at LSU?
Not really. I was down in Orlando yesterday with Coach (Les) Miles. We didn't know until Sunday we were going to play LSU. I got up Monday; we had to go to New York, and we had Curt Warner and Jim Weaver (John Toner Award) going into the Hall of Fame, and Penn State had arranged a reception for Curt. And then the Nike people Phil Knight was honored, and we had become good friends. So I felt I would like to be there when they had a reception for him.
So we went Monday, Tuesday, had a tough time getting home on Wednesday, got back about four o'clock in the afternoon... well, got back earlier than that. But it was hectic.
And then yesterday, we went down to Orlando and got back just in time for me to go to a practice session we had. So I have not looked at a tape. But I'm looking forward to spending the weekend; and there again even, we have some stuff this weekend that's going to take some time. We are trying to practice today and tomorrow. So I'll get to it next week, because we have final exams next week, and the kids, we won't practice.
Q. Have you gotten a chance to talk to Bobby Bowden?
I talked to him the day before he decided he was going to give it up.
Q. And do you have any more thoughts ---
Yeah, everybody has thoughts about it, and I get that question five of those questions yesterday down in Orlando; obviously it's Florida.
Bobby has done a fantastic job for Florida State. What happened there, I don't have all the ins and the outs. I think it's disappointing to see a colleague that you respect and admire and appreciate the job he's done to be in the middle of all this turmoil, as to what he should do and shouldn't do and what have you.
He's a great guy, he really is. What you see and the way he acts, the person he is and his wife, Ann, are; they are good friends. If he wanted to get out, fine. If they forced him out, I wouldn't be happy about that, but I don't know all the ins and outs.
Q. Did you offer any advice? Did he seek you out?
Oh, no, hey, advice...I told him when he gets out, make sure he gets a good Italian sauce.
No, I didn't. Bobby, he doesn't need advice from me.
You know, we are playing a game. We are playing LSU, and it's going to be a great game against a really fine team, all right?
I have no...all of that stuff, I just said, I'm trying to just get...I just said, I'm trying to get rid of you guys and everything else and looking to get some practice in and I can look at some LSU tapes. I haven't got any...I know where you're coming from, and I just want to cut it off. I don't even want to get into it.
Q. What type of practice schedule will you have for the next week or so?
We will practice today. We will practice tomorrow. I was debating to try to get something in on Sunday. But a lot of kids, some of them have two finals on Monday so we aren't going to do that. We will practice tomorrow and we will go down to Daytona beginning of the next week (Dec. 21) and start practice again down there.
You can't start the practice during finals. You can't find a time where everybody can be there, and if you go early in the morning, you know, I could say, "OK, I want to practice at 6 o'clock in the morning," but kids have got an exam at 8 o'clock. You know what I mean; how much can you concentrate? And you can't talk out of both sides of your mouth. I've been on their backs about making sure they take care of their studies first, the whole bit. So we are not going to do any if they go home, they go home. But when we have to be down in Daytona, we will be ready to go.
Q. Can you talk about the recognition Jared Odrick has received?
Yeah, I think (Jared) Odrick is an outstanding football player. And I think that he deserves everything he's got. He's been a leader. He practices hard. He even played hurt. He practiced hurt. He's a big time player.
Q. How important are these bowl workouts, when you finally get down there, balancing the experience with the work?
Well, we didn't do anything until a week ago. So you know, that's the problem you have when you go to a bowl game nowadays when you're a Big Ten team. Everybody else has played a couple of games (more recently). Last year we went out to play Southern Cal and Southern Cal played two games after we had played.
So you have to try not to lose where you are. You are not going to get better, really, except you can take some young kids. We have tried to take some young kids that we haven't played and get them exposed to some things.
But conditioning, and just don't go backwards. It's tough to get better. Last weekend, that's about what we did. Today and tomorrow, we will zero a little bit more in on LSU, because the assistant coaches are much more aware of what LSU can do, because they have been studying tapes. As I said, I'm not... I just haven't had a chance.
Q. Some of your players say they want to win this game because you haven't beaten a ranked team, they feel like they have something to prove. What are your-
I think Ohio State is ranked.
Q. A victory over a ranked team.
Well, I don't look at it that way. We are playing a really fine team with a great tradition with a great fan base. It's going to be an exciting game. And I think the kids are...a little bit too much humble pie. I think they did a good job. One of them said something to me, "Oh, I belong here." Just look at you won 10 games. Ten games, it's tough to win these days. I don't care who you play or when you play them.
And let's just get a little better in the next two weeks of practice. We'll go another 10 times probably when we get down to Florida, let's get better and play as well as we can, or play better than we have played all year. Let's do it. Never mind whether they are ranked, unranked or what.
That's a difference situation. Clark had been here three years. It was his third year here. This is Newsome's first year. He's a true freshman even though he came in January.
And again, I'm repeating myself, because when you guys ask questions, you ask it a thousand times. I've always said, I'd rather play a guy, all right, two weeks later than one week early, all right? Put him in, he's not ready, he doesn't play with some confidence or have some success, particularly at quarterback, you've got a confidence problem.
When I was talking about Clark playing a couple of years ago, Clark had been around and I had seen him grow and I thought he was ready to play some. I didn't think he was ready to play; Jay thought he was ready to play, and for this very reason: I just didn't want to stick him in there too soon.
And I think that was my mistake with Clark; whether it's my mistake with Newsome, I don't think so. They are two different tales. There's a tale of a kid that's really, you know, been around us long enough to know what's going to happen, and another kid that's really just learning.
Q. I know you still have finals. Do you think everyone is going to be OK academically?
I think so. I talk a couple of times a week with Todd Kulka and Brady (Rourke) about where are we, anybody we have got to lean on, that kind of stuff. They think we are going to be okay. But that doesn't mean we are going to have...you know, anything can happen.
Q. How much do you anticipate using Newsome these next two weeks?
We are going to try to win the game. I'm not interested in this. We are going down there to try to win the football game. We are going to practice right away. We are not going to practice...now, obviously, because we had some extra practice time up here, we have been able to give him and the other kid behind him (Matt McGloin) a few more reps. We have been able to take some of those redshirt kids who were wideouts and have been able to get them involved in it and one or two of the kids who are defensive backs that are young.
But we don't have any plans. We are going to try to play well enough to win the game and that's going to be tough. They are a really good football team we are playing. They are tough and they are well coached and they are quick, and they have been in some awfully tough games. So I think we have got our hands full. What you're talking about, I haven't even thought about.
Q. Sean Lee, the last time he played a bowl game, he was a defensive MVP (2007 Alamo Bowl). How has this season gone for him, is he back where he was?
Yeah, I think Sean Lee started slowly, only because he was concerned about the leg, and you can't blame him. But each week, he got better and better and I thought the last four or five games he's been good, which is really good.
Q. You didn't seem overly satisfied with the logistics last year.
Well, the logistics at the Rose Bowl were horrible for practice. We were 55 minutes, 50 minutes on that bus going to practice and 55 minutes coming home on the bus. In Orlando, we are only eight, nine minutes away from the practice facility. No, this should...we shouldn't have any...that should not be a problem for us.
Q. There have been very few off the field situations. How much of the credit goes to the leadership?
A lot of it goes to leadership. I think that the seniors are the ones, particularly with this freshmen group we have, there's a lot of talented kids that we haven't played. And I think that when that happens, there's a tendency to get some attention and maybe every once in awhile do something that's not very bright. And the upperclassmen have really...they have stepped in and done a good job.
This has been a really good squad. People are bugging me a little bit about the couple of games we have lost, but they have been fun to work with and they haven't given me any problems. If we didn't do a couple things well enough to win a couple games; overall, it's been a fun year, wrong, we would have won a couple more games. I would like see them, give them everything we can, give them a good shot at winning a big game. But yeah, I think they have a lot to do with it.
Well, it's gratifying to me, yeah, but I think that the credit has to go to the assistant coaches. You know, we were able to keep people on... Brian Norwood, who had an opportunity to become a defensive coordinator at Baylor; and he wants to be a head coach and he thought that would be good for him and I think probably was. But I think the assistant coaches, we all felt that we were one or two players away from having a good football team.
I think they are the guys that I'm pleased about the squad but I just don't think we are giving the assistant coaches enough credit for the kind of job; they have stuck together and they have been great.
Q. How much of what happened last year with the Big Ten in bowl games will be a motivator?
I know, it sounds like I'm...I really haven't even thought about it. Penn State is playing LSU. I'm sure if we were a Big Ten school playing a Southeastern Conference school. They are proud of their connection with the Southeastern Conference and we are proud of our connection with the Big Ten.
When you get down to Orlando and you see the Louisiana State fans, I have got to get our fans ready to get in there and do their job, because it's going to be a wild game, and their fans, they are as good as anybody's in the country. And I feel the same way about our fans.
So that part of it, we played a lot of bowl games when we were not in the Big Ten, and we went down there with the same attitude whenever we played. We represent our university, and obviously when we were an independent, we didn't have the added responsibility of representing a conference. We have that, but I think first thing's first.
Q. During that time (pre-Big Ten), playing post Thanksgiving and there were not a lot of games played; have you had to make an adjustment?
It's hard, I would like to have made an adjustment. I would like to have been able to have the Big Ten or not the Big Ten, but the NCAA say, "OK, if you are not going to be playing a game after a certain date, why don't you arrange a scrimmage or something like that, so you get some competition?"
It's hard to arrange a schedule, particularly when you don't know who you are going to play. It was easier last year, because we had a good idea if we were going to the Rose Bowl and we were playing Southern Cal. This year it was tough. I didn't know until Sunday night. People think you know, but you don't. I didn't know until Sunday night.
So what do I do to adjust? It ain't even a week yet. It will be a week Sunday and then we have finals. You don't want to take kids out there and practice and get them bored. There's not much you can do.
Now, if we had a game, yeah, obviously we could be...the intensity of practice would be there, there would be a little different attitude, but I certainly don't want to start getting a team ready to play a month before they even know who they are going to play. So it's difficult. It's tough. It isn't easy.
Q. Not knowing until Sunday, does that process change your opinion on BCS?
How can I change my opinion when I don't like it to start with? (Laughter) You're not talking to a BCS guy. I think it's for the birds.
I think I've made that statement several times, haven't I? Maybe I dream I say those things.
Q. Do you expect Chaz Powell to be ready for the bowl game? Q. Where is that chair right now? Q. You'll be having your birthday down there, will you be going to Disney World or ride roller coasters? (Laughter)
I'm not surprised how well he's done. Jim is a heck of a coach. Jim sent me a present before the season started. He sent me a chair, a beautiful chair, by the people who make the chairs from for the Supreme Court. So being from Brooklyn, I didn't feel comfortable sitting in it. But I got it (laughing).
No, Jim and I have had fun. And Bill Polian, who is the president of the club, was an assistant coach for my brother, George, for years at Kings Point. So Bill knew what he was doing and Jim is a heck of a coach, and I'm just delighted he's doing as well as he's doing.
Well, I can't tell you about the future. Right now he's practicing.
I think one of my kids borrowed it. You never know, they sneak in there. Every once in awhile, where's something? "I think Dave's got it." No, I've got it.
I don't know if it's big enough. I know some media guys that couldn't fit in it, either.
Well, I don't know when the last time I was in Baton Rouge, but I know Gerry DiNardo well. Gerry was a kid out of Brooklyn I talked to when he was in high school at St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn and he went out to Notre Dame and Gerry was the coach there (LSU) for four years.
I've watched them on television. I have spoken at the Mississippi State High School Coaches Association a couple of times. We played LSU in the Orange Bowl and their fans, it was a really tough game, and I think the fans had a lot to do with making it tougher than maybe it should have been; besides the fact that Charlie McClendon and his staff did such a great job against us.
You watch games on television and you see the enthusiasm. Nowadays, I don't have a computer or pay any attention, but somebody said they have on there, the slogan now is: "We don't come to root. We come to take over." I think it's going to be exciting.
Scheduling LSU? Well, we play Alabama the second game next year. Oh, we had played Alabama home and home different occasions in the Southeastern Conference. We were going to play Alabama a couple of years ago, and Mal Moore, a person I've known a long time who is the athletic director, said, "Hey, we are down. Can we postpone the series for a few years until we get ourselves back to where we are a little bit more competitive?"
So, now we are playing Alabama next year, the second game, and they come up to our place (in 2011). Sometimes you just can't get the dates. I'm not so sure LSU would want to come up. Sometimes you can't get them. I could never get Tennessee. Tennessee has made a commitment with us to come up here when Bob Woodruff was the athletic director back in '72 and '73. Then he said, "no, we can't go up there."
So to keep the contract, I said to Ed Czekaj (Penn State AD), "well, you tell Bob that we will only be down there that early in the year if it's a night game." They didn't have lights, so I figured I had it made....(Tennessee) Put lights in. (Laughter) we went down there and they kicked our ears in, and we had a good football team (1972, 10-2). We were a really good football team. So you can't get all of them out of there.
I talked to Bobby (Bowden) one time about playing and he said, "Well, home and home, it's a little tough for us to go all that far." And I said, "What do you think, maybe we could play at a neutral site; what do you think about it"?
He said, "Well, Jacksonville is a great place." (Laughter).
You know what I mean, tongue in cheek. But LSU, associations may develop in this game. That's what happened with Alabama; you know, "hey, it would be a good idea for us to play each other sometime in the future. " I don't care, 2025 might sound like, you know what, we are ready to go.
I don't know. I'll probably be at church praying...may not make it another year...
Q. Do you expect Chaz Powell to be ready for the bowl game?
Q. Where is that chair right now?
Q. You'll be having your birthday down there, will you be going to Disney World or ride roller coasters? (Laughter)