Dec. 8, 2000
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think all of us here are really excited about this. It's obvious by the ticket sales and by the response of our student body and our alumni and for us as a football team and coaching staff it's really exciting. I think obviously it is a reward for what we're able to do this season but beyond that, to me, I look at this as just a great opportunity to go practice and to continue to try to improve as a football team.
We went about it just a little bit different this year. We've practiced a little built on the weekends for a day or two and the coaches would go back out recruiting and we would reconvene. Kind of stop and start. I didn't feel that was in our best interests or the best way to go.
What we did this year was really let the players get away from it other than meet with Moriarity every day. The guys that have rehab meet with Jim Russ every day to do the rehab. We run several times a week as a team. Every day they do something. But we're not going to practice until the 16th. Finals are over on the 15th. We'll get together that night for a team workout at 6:00. We'll just have a dinner afterwards and talk about our schedule. We won't do anything as a team X- and O-wise until Saturday the 16th. We'll basically keep the same schedule on the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st and we'll have them out of here on the Friday the 22nd by noon so they can get home for several days before Christmas.
We are going to be totally prepared before we start practice. We're going to come off the road next week on probably Thursday and Friday recruiting and just get locked into some game-plan things. I've had a chance to do some of it this week. Kevin Roger's has been here in town all week.
The point I'm making is rather than kind of stop and start, we're just going to wait and then we're going to jump into it with both feet and just go. And we're going to practice those six days or seven days, Saturday to Friday here. They'll be out of here on the 22nd, they'll have the 23rd and 24th at home. We'll get back together on the 25th, Christmas night in Phoenix. Then we'll practice the 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st the day before the game.
I really like our schedule. We are going to practice one time a day, not twice a day. We're going to have our normal meeting times. And try to keep it as consistent as we can just like we were getting ready for a regular game. I think in the past we've dragged it out a little too long.
Obviously we are going to be practicing in Loftus. I don't want to beat them down in Loftus on that turf every day. We're going to start out the first two days just like we would start off in preseason camp which is shoulder pads and shorts and T -shirts -- we're not even going to wear shoulder pads. By the third day we'll be into shoulder pads. We will probably go a day or two in full pads and then back off a little bit.
We are going to try to be really smart about this. We are going to enthusiastic about it, be excited about and we're going to practice with specific game plan things in mind, not go out just to practice. So that gives you an idea of our schedule. We have the schedule completely done for here and Phoenix as far as how many practice periods, where we are going to eat, what we are going to do with the team. I want to be organized with this and make this a great trip.
As far as injuries Jabari will try to come back and practice on the 26th. It's hard to compare exactly because everybody is a little bit different. But it's a lot like Jarius' knee was two years ago at the Gator Bowl. We played on the 1st and Jarius came back on the 26th and practiced and was able to play. So we're hoping the same is true with Jabari.
Shane Walton is probable for the game. He is going to start practice on the 16th. He has a cast that he'll be able to use and play with. I think he's going to be okay.
Arnaz will be able to do everything with the cast on. Actually a different cast is going to be put on on Tuesday -- I think that's the 19th -- and he'll be able to practice with that. I'm really excited about getting Arnaz out there and having this several weeks here to just get him oiled up at wide receiver.
Other than that, everybody is going to go out on the 25th from either here. We have a charter going from here and then the players obviously come from their home. The only ones that won't come out on the 25th are the players that have been injured, Greg Pauly, Jason Sapp, but Grant Irons and Arnaz will bothe come with us on the 25th.
As far as Oklahoma State, I've watched them, they're good, they're very athletic. You look at their three wide receivers, they're probably the best set of wide receivers that we've played this year and that's a pretty good statement because West Virginia was really talented, SC was really talented. These guys are tall. (Inaudible). During a one-back set. They run the ball a lot during a one-back set, they are a one-back team but they really run the football (Inaudible) that makes a lot of plays.
Defensively they're No. 1 in the PAC 10. They're very aggressive, they challenge you and they've done some good things. They're a good football team. It's easy to see why they're Co-PAC 10 champions, why they're 10-1. I see it as kind of two similar team, teams that will look to make improvements over the next couple of weeks. Teams that maybe a lot of people don't think are great teams -- I don't know around the country -- but I think it's going to be a heck of a football game and we have our hands full to prepare for this game, but we're excited about it. Other than that not much has changed.
Q. May have been a slip of the tongue there but you said "Oklahoma State" so that really leads me to my next question: Is it going to be difficult to convince your players that you are playing a quality team?
BOB DAVIE: No, not at all. I know I won't read about that Oklahoma State slippage anywhere right? No, it won't be difficult at all. I think what Oregon State has done in this year in the PAC 10 conference is really remarkable. And I promise you this: When we put the tapes on, our players are pretty intelligent guys, the level of X's and O's and the level of strategies you see and the level of athletes you see, it is apparent why they're 10-1. When you look at Dennis Erickson if you look at what he's done, he's been in coaching a long time and he's been very successful everywhere he's been. He's coached in a lot of big games.
I think that will be an issue that the media probably is going to talk a lot about just because Notre Dame, the tradition of Notre Dame, but I promise you, our football team will look at those tapes and have tremendous respect for Oregon State and I mean that sincerely.
Q. Have you and Dennis Erickson ever crossed paths?
BOB DAVIE: We really haven't. I have been at some functions that he's been at. In fact we were both at the Fiesta Frolic they have in the summer. So we really haven't. Just in this profession he's held in such high regard. Just what he's done, to coach at the places he's coached, to be as successful as he's been. I think his style of play, you'll always see the same style of play on offense and and you'll always see the same style of play on defense. It's very reckless and very energetic and play with a lot of emotion. So I haven't been around him a lot but I have tremendous respect for him because I know a lot of people that have.
Q. What concerns you the most as you take your early look at the films from Oregon State, is it something on the offensive end or the defensive end?
BOB DAVIE: Several things. First of all, they have tremendous big-play potential on offense, first of all because of their scheme: They spread you out and they're able to run the football. You look at the end of the UCLA game, it was unbelievable to me, it was 3rd down and 21 on their own one-yard line, they were maybe up by six points -- it was 3rd and 21, they run the draw for 22 yards and the first down and about two plays later the tailback breaks one for about 65 yards and a touchdown and they go up 48-31 and then UCLA scores. They're big play potential on offense with their tailback and then they have those real talented wide receivers. And then on defense I see them being real quick on their perimeter, their corners are really good and I think their defensive end guys get up the field extremely well. There going to be a difficult match-up for us. In the kicking game they are very athletic. It's no secret why they're 10-1 when you look at that tape and why they're the favorite going into this football game, I can certainly see why.
Q. Wanted to get your thoughts, have you faced any team that has two running backs the caliber of Simonton and Patrick McCall?
BOB DAVIE: I have been impressed with both of them. I noticed that Simonton was out in several games, they didn't miss a beat, you know. I don't know that we have made a running game like Oregon State. We've played Nebraska who I think ended up the No. 1 rushing team in the country. We played Air Force who I think is No. 2 in the country in rushing offense. We played Nebraska, Purdue and Air Force all finished the year in the Top 10 in the Nation in total offense. We've played some great offenses. But I don't know that we played anyone that is as committed to running the football out of a one-back set as Oregon State. That concerns me. They don't particularly do a whole lot of things, but they do everything well. They really execute. They run the zone play, they run the counter. Both those backs the more time you give it to them, they seem to find cracks and break big runs. We've not played a team that really is the style of Oregon State. It is tough to defend because they spread you out and they have the ability to run the football.
BOB DAVIE: Yeah, it will from the time he gets back on the 16th and that's why I wanted Irvin to do it. I think Irvin Meyer gives us our best chance to win this football game plus Irvin deserves to be here I'm completely comfortable with Irvin coaching or else I wouldn't have done it. It's going to be different from the standpoint of preparation of the game but so is our preparation for the game. We've been out recruiting. We're only going to get out Thursday and Friday and the only thing Urban is going to miss is Thursday and Friday, once he gets back on the 16th he and Dan Mullen both, we lost an assistant, Dan Mullen who is really good -- we're far enough along now that they'll come back and I don't see that as a factor and we'll be fine. The biggest area is on the computer breakdown, Dan Mullen is doing some of that stuff now. He did some of that before he left. The reason Kevin didn't go out last week is so he could get the computer stuff done on offense.
BOB DAVIE: I am not going to apologize to anyone for us being in the BCS. You know I am biased and I certainly understand if I am at Virginia Tech and I am 10-1, only having lost to Miami with my quarterback hurt, that is a legitimate argument right there. If I'm sitting in Lincoln, Nebraska and I would have beaten Notre Dame in the second game in their stadium in overtime and I'm not going to the BCS, that's a legitimate argument. So the system is not infallable, but from Notre Dame's perspective, I think we played as difficult a schedule as anybody in the United States. You can go back and look at strength of the schedule and say, okay, maybe it doesn't come out that way because strength of schedule is dictated by one thing, and that is what your opponents won-lost record is. I don't know that that's totally accurate. You can't tell me that USC at 5-6, would be an easier opponent or should give you less points than someone else at 7-4 or 6-5. So our schedule was as difficult or if not more difficult than any team in this country this year. You can't come back and say the teams that you played, their won-lost record wasn't as good as what we thought going into the season. Those teams played a lot of good teams. We don't have to apologize to anyone. We lost a game in overtime to Nebraska. At that time Nebraska was the No. 1 team in this country. We lost up in Michigan State on the last play of the game basically to a team at that time that was extremely confident and extremely talented and then we were able to win seven straight games and we were able to win -- teams, that last couple of weeks, whose coaches probably weren't going to be back and had everything to gain and nothing to lose. I am not going to apologize but I realize there are some legitimate arguments out there in the case of Virginia Tech and in the case of Nebraska.
BOB DAVIE: I look at Nebraska, they certainly have a strong tradition and travel a bunch of people as evidenced right here in this stadium. And I look at Virginia Tech as a team that's very attractive, with a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, maybe the best player in college football. If I had to vote, in my mind, he is the best player in college football. Just like anything, the Fiesta Bowl -- I don't know if anyone, out of all of the Bowl games that I watched this year, did their homework more than the Fiesta Bowl. Before we even played a game, the Fiesta Bowl had a representative here that was at our pep rally the Thursday night before we played Texas A & M. They were at our Texas A & M game. They watched our football team all season long. If they were going to take us only on our ability to draw fans and for television, why did they even come to those games and watch us play during the season? John Junker and Steve Willer can speak for themselves. They don't have to apologize for anyone because they did their homework and I think they have a pretty darn good football team coming out there that is on the rise right now and improving week by week. I would give them more credit than that. There is a reason why they were back here watching this football team all season long: It wasn't to see how many people we could bring to the football game, it was to see how good a team we were.
BOB DAVIE: I would love to, but if we do play Arnaz in the game he loses that year of eligibility. The plan is to practice Arnaz these next two weeks, so that he gets the benefit of the preparation for the game from a game plan standpoint. It is kind of like another spring ball for him. And then he'll just be on the sidelines in the game and we'll start back up in the spring. I think it's a tremendous opportunity for us to get Arnaz right in the middle of it.
BOB DAVIE: I watch the dynamics of the situation. I just watch the dynamics of how our football team was evolving, the two other freshman quarterbacks, how they looked in practice. You know, the dynamics of Arnaz being in a position where he would have to come back in the spring and beat Matt LoVecchio out because I had made the decision after we had won seven football game that the first of spring practice Matt LoVecchio was going to be that starting quarterback. I also realized that Arnaz Battle is one of our 11 best players on offense. It was a culmination of a lot of things but in my gut I knew it was the right thing as I watched Arnaz and I watched the dynamics of that situation. And it was kind of like with Gary Godsey. I didn't really talk to Kevin about it. It was one of those situations that I felt looking at it from the distance a little bit and seeing all those things, that this was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. I feel really good about it, I do. I hope it works out and I hope it's the best decision that Arnaz Battle has ever made in his life.
BOB DAVIE: I don't think it's in Jerome Sapp's best interest for us to sit here and talk about what his penalty is, I have never done that in the past and I'm not going to do that now. He's received his letter from student affairs which involves a penalty here on campus. The only other rule that we have is the team rule that our leadership committee institutes. And in fact Jerome Sapp was not drinking. Jerome Sapp that night was not drinking. So whatever penalty is going to come is going to come within this football team and I don't think that that's anybody's business what that penalty is. I don't think it's fair to Jerome Sapp. I don't think we need a public forum to explain the penalty of our players. I think there has been enough publication of that and the way it's been handled.
BOB DAVIE: They'll all three play. This is about winning this game. The reward part, that's just about over now. We've glowed in the glory about going to the Fiesta Bowl now. Once we get the Diablos in here and tonight and we do our deal, we're about ready now to win this game because we all know what the ramifications are of winning and losing, all the fun part, is about winning. So we're going to play those three like we have all year who can help us win. But I look at all three of those guys as being able to help us win.
I'm excited about the direction that thing's taking and I think our football team has really bought into "we have to run the football to win." If we can run the football, we can beat a lot of people in this country if we can successfully run that ball.
BOB DAVIE: You know I think it is remarkable Dennis Erickson's reputation across this country as a great football coach is consistent with everybody you talk to. I don't pretend to know anything about Oregon State but I also know what Mike Riley did, and I'm sure Dennis would say the same thing. Just reading some of the bios of their players and studying it, several of them said they came to Oregon State because of the enthusiasm that Mike Riley brought. I don't know what his record was but Mike Riley was very successful there and then took that -- so the foundation I think was set to a degree and Dennis has done a remarkable job though to take that foundation and to be 10-1 is remarkable.
They've won a lot of close games they've found a lot of different ways to win games. They're a lot like us in that regard. Their statistics are better in offense and defense but they're a lot like us in that they found ways to win games. I look back and say that Mike Riley probably did a heck of a job to get that foundation started and Dennis just came in and did a remarkable job.
BOB DAVIE: In what regards?
BOB DAVIE: You mean you are talking about me, you are not comparing it to Dennis Erickson. Where am I right now?
BOB DAVIE: I've got a lot of juice right now. I feel good. In a lot of ways I feel like we're just starting. I feel like with the solidarity we have right now and the administration with Kevin White here, I feel really good. I also understand what reality is, I look at that schedule and I know what the expectations are. But I feel really good about this and I do feel like we're just getting started and I do think at some point, realistic as maybe those expectations are, I do think we can handle those expectations as we move forward. It may not be next year but I feel like we're headed in the right direction.
BOB DAVIE: Yeah, I think there is a fine line between winning and losing. We've all probably received right now, at the end of this season, with the positives being said, we've probably received the benefits of not being as bad as what people perceived it to be. In other words, we were not that bad at the end of last year. Now, because we lost four games and because of some things that transpired in the off-season, we had to deal with all the doom and gloom of the preseason. That wasn't totally accurate.
So the progress we've made from last year to this year, and I may be hurting myself by saying it, it might not be as dramatic as people are trying to make it be. So somewhere within that is the reality. Now, I've been really pretty consistent since day-one on this job and the reason I'm energized and excited is because I truly believe we can do it and reach the expectations that people have for us to continue to do it the way we have done it. I think it gives all of us confidence and all of us a lot of juice for the future that we're headed in the right direction.
BOB DAVIE: I think it's huge, I really do. And once again, at the risk of putting more pressure on ourselves to win, putting more pressure on this team -- let's face it we have to be better next year than we were this year, when you play Nebraska, not here but there, and you play Purdue, not here but there, and then you play Texas A & M, not here but there. And then you have Michigan State that you've beaten. And then you look at Pittsburgh, West Virginia. West Virginia hired a new coach, they've been successful everywhere they've been in that offense. Their quarterback is back. Tennessee comes into this stadium. We're at Boston College, we're at Stanford. We'll see what it's going to take, we have have to better.
That's why I'm so excited about having a chance to play in this Bowl Game and get better these next to weeks and starting in January just like we did last year because stakes go up because of where we play those teams next year.
BOB DAVIE: Right, you cannot practice. Interestingly enough what some teams do, if you're on the bubble, you may be one of those teams that thought you had the chance to go to a Bowl Game, you could continue to practice until you found out that you could not go to a bowl. In other words, if you are bowl-eligible you could start practice immediately even if you weren't sure you were going to a bowl. If you're not bowl-eligible you cannot practice. So you can see the advantage that you get of just having the 14 practices because spring football is 15 practices total. We'll practice 14 times and that's at the benefit of no school in session while you are practicing. And then to be able to practice with a positive attitude feeling a sense of accomplishment, it is a great situation, it's fun to practice when it's positive and going to the Fiesta Bowl is a huge positive for us.
BOB DAVIE: You're right. I was very curious myself as to who would be voted the MVP of this team. I saw the votes, there were five or six of them just like with captains. We had the same thing with captain. We probably could have had six captains this year. We probably could have had six MVPs. Anthony Denman, because he is such a contact football player and because he will hit and throw his body around on a day-to-day basis, whether it is Tuesday or Saturday, I think that's probably why he was the MVP. And then when you watch him run down on punts and not do the most glamorous things, I can see why he was voted MVP, he's a tough, tough guy.
BOB DAVIE: Grant couldn't have come back and played, physically he could not do it. He had what amounted to major shoulder surgery. There is no chance of him coming back. Grant is unique. You've spent time around Grant. He is one of the most unique guys I've ever been around. Because he's so positive, he's been an inspiration to me. I wish I had what Grant Irons had in that he looks at everyday as positive. He's the happiest kid, he's just a great kid. I think back to the Monday after the Nebraska game, we go out there to stretch, Grant is not only out there, here's a kid that's out for the season, he's out there with his helmet on, goes to stretching, goes to every practice, goes to every meeting, never skipped a beat other than he shoulder surgery a couple of days later and he came right back after that. He's just a unique guy, you cannot help but respect him. He's one of those guys that gets teased a lot because he's different, but he is different in a positive way. As this whole thing unfolds, things do happen for a reason. I felt bad we had to play him his freshman year particularly at a position that was not his best position. I am glad it worked out this way. If we had gone 2-9 or 3-8, I might not be as glad that it worked out this way, but I'm glad now.
BOB DAVIE: You know, it changed all of us because I was here, I came here in 1994, I know how we did things when Coach Holtz was here and we've always taken great pride for things going the right way. For something like that to happen, it scares you, it's something that you never, ever take for granted and you can talk to your players. There is not a day goes by that I don't talk to them about some aspect of doing the right thing. I saw a situation where there were kids that were basically good kids, they get caught up in something and it ends up being a huge embarrassment to them, a huge embarrassment to us and these are good kids. The reality is there are temptations out there and these are young people and you have to be above and beyond those temptations. There is not one day that goes by that I don't talk about that. It is a frightening thing. It really is. You know what, it is kind of like Troy Murphy and Jerome Sapp, there were a lot of people at that night spot. There is not many people though that a roomfull of people are sitting there with TV cameras discussing those other names. But that's part of the territory. So many good things come with being a part of this. There are not many people going out in that Fiesta Bowl or playing in that stadium or getting a chance to play against Indiana like Troy did. So there is a tradeoff with everything and it's part of the territory but it's still frightening because you know the temptations is out there. It's something that we talk about everyday. So, yeah, it changed me. It changed me and there is not a day that goes by that even though I know we have great kids - and, let's face it, these kids live on campus here. They live a more structured life-style than any other student athlete in the country other than the service academies. But if something like that could happen here with the monitoring we have done, you're darn right that opens your eyes. And it's a major concern to me and as much as I trust our guys, it still is a major concern because I know the temptations.
BOB DAVIE: Yeah, I would be less than honest if I said that, you know, I'm not proud of what we've done this year. I got a phone call yesterday from a guy that I have a lot of respect for, Bill Curry with ESPN. And Bill called me back in July. I don't know Bill well, we've just been in contact a couple of times with each other, he did one of our games at Hawaii in '97. He called me before the season and we just talked about some different things. He had been in Alabama, Georgia Tech, he'd been in Kentucky, he'd been through a lot of things. Then we didn't talk throughout the course of the season. He called me yesterday and just talked about watching our team and a lot of things that are of a personal nature. But you know I'm proud of what we've done and how we've done it. It gives me a loft of confidence that we can continue to do it the right way and that we can win here doing it the right way. I'm really proud of our players sitting at that banquet. I've been to a lot of football banquets and I've seen a lot of players get up and get awards and I've been at a lot of these Friday luncheons and I've seen a lot of players speak and I don't see our players getting up there trying to be celebrities. I don't see our players trying to get up there to be the cleverest or the cutest, bringing the house down with laughter. I see a bunch of good kids that don't necessarily have to bring attention upon themselves. They want to win as a team. It takes time to get that way. So I feel good that the personality of the coaches are starting to transcend into the players and that's probably the biggest thing.
BOB DAVIE: He knows how difficult it can be and he knows how difficult it can be sometimes to get your eye off the target, to get it where you're just so consumed in your only feelings, that you don't do the things that really matter, coaching your team. I mean he understands all of that.
BOB DAVIE: That is the biggest point. The biggest point is I think we can win here. We don't have to have a Heisman Trophy winner. We don't have to have a First Team All-American every year. We don't have to have the guy on the cover of the Sporting News or Sports Illustrated. We can win here with a bunch of unselfish guys that play as a team. And I still believe if you can run the ball, if you don't turn it over and you play pretty good defense and great (inaudible) you can win. But with that comes that unselfishness of Terrance Howard being some the punt team, running down at that gunner when he knows he could maybe be the starting tailback somewhere else. Getting Anthony Denman and Rocky Boiman on that punt team, that is the essence of the whole team. That is how we have to win as we move forward. We are not going to go win in Lincoln, Nebraska just by out-talenting or out-indivdualing Nebraska and A & M and Tennesee. We have to win as a team and I think our players truly buy into that in a lot of ways. And I think that's what Notre Dame is. I don't think you have to be the flashiest at Notre Dame and I don't think you have to draw all kinds of attention yourself at Notre Dame. A lot of people want you to do that and there is a stage there to do that but I think in the end we can win doing it the way we are doing it and I think our players believe that too.
BOB DAVIE: Jim has come a long way. He's got a lot of pride and he tells the story that I'll share with you. We did the thing with the seniors and Joey Getherall was there but we had the seniors get up out in California and each coach got up and spoke about his players for a minute and then the players got up. Jim Jones gets up and he talks about how he remembers when this statement was made to him when he was a freshman by a coach that said, "Look, son, I know you are not a player and you're never going to be a player but can't you just act like a player." And that was something that stuck with him for five years. He wanted to prove he was a player. He has gone from being a scout squad guy nobody thought would play probably to a guy who started at guard for two years. Just to see the confidence he has in himself now and to see the way he expresses himself, I am really proud of him. I was there when we recruited him. He's come a long way. Just to see him have confidence and feel good about himself, maybe have a chance to play pro football. That is a guy that could have totally fallen off the cliff. And I use Jim as an example, he's the guy that if you didn't hug a little bit and keep pushing, he'd fallen through. But we were able to keep him and keep him going and now he's a guy that started two years for us. That's what the fun of coaching is, you know. J.W. Jordan comes in here. J.W. Jordan is our backup center. The improvement he's made. Casey Robbin hanging in here for four years and being on the field-goal extra point team. We have so many stories like that. Then the Matt Farbs and all those guys. That's a whole other deal. I could go through 15 guys on this team and talk about their stories and I think that's what this profession is all about.
BOB DAVIE: Who would I give the Heisman to?
BOB DAVIE: If I had to pick the best player in college football, if that's what it is, and I don't know that that's what it is, let me put it this way: If I had to start a football team, I would probably take Michael Vick first. If I had to say who made the biggest impact on their team, it would be a tie between Drew Brees and Josh Huepel. I know Chris Weinke is a great player, but I know he's surrounded by great, great football players too. And there's some other engineers that probably could have run that train. What Drew Brees has done at Purdue, that's unbelievable and Josh Huepel is the same kind of story. It would be Josh Huepel or Drew Brees. If I had to go pick one player to start a team next year, it would be Michael Vick. I would have a hard time making that decision. I would probably go with Drew Brees because it's been four years and to take Purdue from where it was to where it is now, playing in the Rose Bowl, I'm not sure people around this country realize just how good he is and what a good job he's done there.