Tommy Bowden, Clemson
Talk about the events that surrounded your contract renewal?
“We didn’t really didn’t reach an agreement until Thanksgiving. I would have liked to have done that after the Florida State game. I couldn’t because there was nothing articulated that I would be the guy. I didn’t get a sense of relief after that game; I had too many left. I didn’t get a sense of relief until probably after the South Carolina game.”
Charlie [Whitehurst] said yesterday that he wouldn’t have been surprised if you just left…
“Sure, if he would have gone with me I would have considered that. (laughter)”
What’s it like going through that?
“The money is very lucrative; there’s only about 25 of us [NCAA coaches] making the kind of money I do. But again, you take a chunk out of it. It’s hard to describe until you’re in that environment. It’s good money, but you pay for everything.”
Ted Roof, Duke
“We have some excitement and enthusiasm in our program because there is some hope and confidence and relief that we can get that monkey off our back by ending a few streaks.”
What are you impressions of the Duke-UNC rivalry? How big was winning last year? And, how does it feel to be picked to finish behind them again this year?
“How big was it? I guess that’s why I’m sitting here. (laughs) As far as where the sportswriters picked us in the polls – you certainly have a right to your opinion – but maybe how you guys perceive us isn’t how we perceive ourselves.”
Was the rivalry something you followed long before you got here?
“Oh yes. Being a part of the ACC, you know all about it. And certainly after having been through it – the highs and the lows of it – the last couple of years, it’s a great rivalry. It’s what college football is all about. It’s a fun game for our players and fans. It’s a good rivalry, but I think it’s a good spirited rivalry.”
Bobby Bowden, Florida State
On the toughness of the conference after expansion:
“The ACC was already tough. We went to Virginia and got beat; we went to North Carolina and got beat; we went to N.C. State and got beat. But now you add another couple like Miami…it’s just another hurdle.”
Are you for a championship game?
“I’m probably like most coaches, I’d rather not have one. If you’re 11-0, and you get to play somebody that’s like 8-3; if they beat you, they go and you stay. So I don’t know. I would be interested if you asked the other coaches that question. I think it’s good for the league. It’s the way our country is going. We’re going to have to have one to keep up with the Big 12, Southeastern and these other conferences. So from that point it’s good.”
How much is that you feeling that you’ve admitted you’re a “scaredy cat” and don’t like to lose, and how much is that just “old school” and you don’t want to see things change?
“Well, a little bit of it is ‘old school.’ But I can remember when we had the ideal thing. The ACC probably had the ideal thing before we expanded, when everybody played everybody, and whoever one was the champion. That was better than having six in this league and six in that league. These teams never played those teams and so the way we did it was good. But now we’re getting into the super conferences and we can’t do it that way. Everybody can’t play everybody.”
You were in favor of expansion weren’t you?
“Yes. Yes, I was. I was just saying what was ideal.”
Everybody is talking about the new ACC, but you guys are still picked on top. Can you keep on doing that?
“For the twelve years that we’ve been in there, it’s looked that way and it was. But I can really see it getting better and creeping up. Nothing stays the same forever. I see people creeping up on us, and Miami’s going to get in here and they’re eventually going to creep up on Miami, too.”
Chan Gailey, Georgia Tech
Do you have a choice where you would like the first ACC Championship game to be played?
“I won’t name the city, but it’s four hours from Atlanta and it’s in the state of Florida.”
“Have they got a stadium at the track? That’s not a bad idea. We can get 125,000 in there. We can have Bobby Labonte drop the game ball. We could have a race, too.”
How different is it to get ready for a season when you have the talent that you already have at quarterback and other positions?
“What you do as a football coach is you walk into a season and you say, ‘Now, this is OK, but I’ve got to fix this in order to get the team up. It just so happens that at a couple of positions we are better, but we’ve got to go get better at the other positions. Last year there was a lot more that we had to do. So it’s a lot more comfortable to have settled the position of quarterback. You always want that one to be solid if it can be. It’s fun to have tailbacks solid, too. But if the offensive line and the tight end doesn’t play good, it doesn’t matter how good the other guys play.”
Are people forgetting how important [Paul] Foschi was?
“Yes. Not coaches, and maybe not you. But generically, people don’t know how important he was to us. He was valuable football player as much on the field as off. After going back and looking at the cutups, that guy did so much for us, it’s incredible. And, he was unbelievable off the field and in the locker room. We don’t have the quantity this year as far as leadership, but we do have the quality necessary because we don’t have the amount of adversity that we did last year.”
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
On a recent prospect deemed ineligible at Maryland, but not at other schools:
“To me, the way the NCAA is progressing right now with Myles Brand… to me if he is eligible to go to Virginia Tech or Tennessee, then he should be put in my responsibility to see that I graduate him. What disappoints me is that we had 21 of 23 kids graduate last year. Two should have graduated that didn’t – they got ‘NFL-itis.’ And then this year, I had 17 graduate in mid-May and two more at the end of the year. That’s 19 out of 19. So I just think I have a little equity in the program. If I’m graduating them, what difference does it make if he made a ‘D’ in Chemistry. That’s the way I look at it. But I don’t have any objection to what was done, because that was the deal. All I’m saying is, it’s not like a coach is not getting the job done getting kids to graduate.”
On the league’s perceived parity this year:
“Oh, like the Kentucky Derby? There are a lot of good horses in this field. That’s what makes it such a good race. You’ll be the first guy to complain if [you don’t have a problem filling out your ballot] that they don’t even need to play the games. That’s why we play the season. This (pointing to a piece of paper with the league’s preseason predicted finish printed on it) has nothing to do with how the season is going to be played. I hate to deflate any egos here.”
On last year’s game against Carolina:
“I think it was an ACC record. I don’t think anybody has ever scored 32 points in a quarter. Carolina and Maryland used to be a great rivalry. I think it’s still there. We have tremendous respect for John [Bunting] and the program. I know they’re struggling right now. At that point and time, I thought that was a very important game on our schedule, because I watched their team and I really saw them getting better offensively. Their line was getting better, and anytime you’ve got a quarterback like [Darian] Durant, I mean they can put points on the board. We were struggling a little bit and they jumped out to a lead on us. That’s what worried me. I think it was 21-7 before we had that burst in the second quarter, and really a lot of that was because of turnovers. They turned the ball over, gave us field position and we put points on the board. So I don’t think the score wasn’t indicative of how close the game could have been.”
Larry Coker, Miami
His thoughts on quarterback Brock Berlin:
“Brock’s got to make better decisions. Coaches and quarterbacks are going to get a lot of criticism, and they should if things don’t go well. But if you look at it in reality; take Kenny Dorsey. Now Kenny Dorsey is a wonderful quarterback. But, when you’ve got Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis as your running backs, you’ve got Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, Jr. as your tight ends, and you’ve got Andre Johnson at wide receiver…yeah, he looks pretty good. But he didn’t have to go out and win games. He had to spread the ball around. But Kenny did a nice job of orchestrating things to the strength of the offense. I think we can be better at several areas, and that’s going to help Brock. I think if we’re going to be able surround Brock with better supporting cast in some areas, then he’ll be able to do better. Now he’s going to have to put it together when the game’s on the line.”
Did you like the decision to expand?
“Strictly from a college coaches standpoint, it was not a good move. Because, Virginia Tech played for a national championship, we won one and played for another. The Big East was pretty good to us. Now anytime that you add more teams and a playoff, of course it’s tougher to win a national championship; there is no doubt. But looking at it from a stability standpoint, a long-term standpoint, for our total athletic program and our Olympic sports, it’s a great move. And just the travel logistics of it; there’s a lot of positives to the move. So when it’s all said and done, I was in favor of it. It’s going to make me a better football coach, and it’s going to make our staff better. It’s going to make our team better. It’s going to have to.”
John Bunting, North Carolina
“I have a trivia question for you. How many major universities have scheduled Miami for their homecoming game? I know the answer to that one.”
Chase Page said he thought you might have calmed down a bit.
“I’m very motivated every day I go to work – from the time I get in, to the time I get home. I don’t think I’ve toned myself down at all. I’m excited about training camp and I’m excited about this great season that we have upon us.”
Do you see this as a crossroads year in some ways?
“I’m really excited about the direction of our football program. We’ve had Top 20 recruiting classes two years in a row. We have a great home schedule. And I want to see improvement in our football program. You know I came back to college coaching from the NFL, and I wanted to do something special; and I wanted to do it at the place where I went to school.”
Was there a weariness last season, and how has that changed?
“Nobody likes to lose. Nobody likes to do that. So the frustration of so many close games and being on the verge of winning some of those and the way we closed out the year. Chase is still a young player, and I think he felt a special burden, just as we as a staff felt a special burden. I think it was important for us to look at all the good things that took place, and then try to enhance them by getting additional positive people involved. And that’s why I hired Marvin Sanders and John Gutekunst.”
Stay tuned to IC for more from Bunting at ACC Kickoff.
Chuck Amato, N.C. State
Will expansion cause the league power to move away from the Big Four?
“Well, the power in the ACC – for the last 12 years – has been in the south anyway; and that’s from Florida State. So nothing’s changed there. I’m just glad we’re the furthest south in the state of North Carolina. It gives us a shot.”
With two more bowl-caliber teams, but still just six league bowl tie-ins, is this going to be a difficult year for you in that regard?
“You guys had all summer to think about these questions. Yes. What makes it an even bigger problem is that most teams are playing only 11 games to become bowl eligible. So there may be some leagues that don’t use all of their [bowl tie-ins]. Some one from The Sporting News told me that they had picked the ACC as the No. 1 conference in the country, what ever that means.”
Do you expect Miami to be challenged more than Florida State was, and not run the table as often?
“Yeah, because they have to deal with Florida State. Florida State didn’t have to deal with Miami when it first came into the league.”
Al Groh, Virginia
On Matt Schaub’s replacement, Marques Hagans:
“Until we see, the questions will remain. I haven’t seen him in a game yet. I’m very confident in the player, but it has to be done in a game as it does with all players. He’s been a good gamer at all positions.”
Is there any temptation to move Alvin Pearman to wide receiver?
“No. We have four very versatile player. Heath Miller is a very versatile player. Alvin, as you mentioned, is a very versatile player. Wali [Lundy] is a very versatile player. We’ve had a running back each of the last two seasons catch more than 50 passes. The tailback position combined each year has caught over 75 passes. Mike Johnson is a very versatile player. So we’ve got a lot of guys who during the course any series could wind up in a lot of different spots getting the ball in a lot of different ways.”
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
On the challenge of being picked to finish sixth in the conference:
“It will be interesting to see. I think there is a sense of urgency at our place – a real focus. We know what it’s like to be around the top. We know right now we’re not picked there. It’s going to be interesting to see how our team and how our coaching staff responds to that.”
On comparing teams from previous seasons that have experienced more success:
“Last year we had better players than our record. We didn’t win some games at the end that I felt like we should have won. That kind of gets back to your mindset. Our football team is one that had high aspirations. We were right there where we wanted to be. Then we lost a couple of ballgames and things went out the window. Some of us handle that better than others – what we were playing for at that point and time. I’m not making excuses; I just felt we lost some games we should have won. We’ve just got to coach better and play better.”
What is Marcus Vick’s status?
“The only thing I’m going to say about Marcus Vick is that he’s indefinitely suspended. His future has yet to be determined.:
When will that be determined?
“His future will be determined…in the future.”
Is there any way to describe the microscope that Marcus Vick is under in Blacksburg?
“Well, I think anybody that plays college athletics is under a microscope. If something happens, you read about it. We’ve read quite a bit in the last three or four weeks about players from different programs. It’s just going to make the news. That’s what you guys are going to write about.”
Does it double when your last name is Vick?
“Yes, I think it does to a certain extent. It probably does double up, just like you said.”
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
How does expansion help your recruiting?
“Well, the first area you think it’s going to help is it’s going to help you get a better player. But, I think the way that it does that is more so than just the kid’s perspective; everybody’s talking about Atlantic Coast Conference football now. You can’t go into a high school…the first thing the coaches talk about is expansion. If you meet parents…I mean, literally, anybody you run into these days is talking about our conference expansion. I think it probably not only helps us recruiting in our league, but probably against other leagues.”
Is it fair to call your defensive changes this year a switch to a more conventional defense?
“I guess for us it’s more of an ability to put bigger guys on the field. Where we really got hurt was by teams that gave us lot of tight end, wingback and H-back sets. We weren’t matched up very well. A lot of times we were asking safeties to take on tackles and fullbacks. I think being in a four-man defensive front gives us a chance to match big guys a little bit better. And then, hopefully, if you’ve done a good job recruiting, we’ll be able to get better pressure out of a four-man front without having to blitz a lot. I think our three-man front in the past…we certainly had some advantages in coverage, but with only three men to pressure, it’s hard to be creative.”