Q: You knew this was somewhat of a turnaround situation…
A: “Somewhat? Didn’t know everything!”
Q: How does this compare to the others you’ve been through?
A: “Similar, to when I went to Northwestern with Denny Green when they had a 20-something-game losing streak (1981-82). The roster wasn’t where it needed to be. There were a lot of issues going on there. Went to Illinois (in 1997), similar situation: wasn’t a very good year the year before, huge roster turnover (FIU lost 30 seniors from 2012’s 3-9 team). Talent-wise, we weren’t where we needed to be. I’ve been through it. I’m very happy I came here. There are a lot of things I didn’t know that I learned when I got here, but I’m still very happy I came here because I believe in the kids that we have. We’ve got a few — some not with us anymore, some still with us — who test me every day because they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do. I’m trying to get them turned [around] or get them out of here. In this business, like a lot of businesses, you spend 90 percent of your time on 10 percent of the guys that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. We’ve got some tremendous kids on this team who are playing their hearts out with limited depth. They’re playing more plays than they should, and they do it every day in practice. We’ve got a lot of great kids here. I’m excited about that; I’m excited about the future.
“Everyone wants to write about the negatives — 72-0 [the Sept. 21 Louisville loss] and all that. I guess I can’t blame them. I get calls on it, too. But I know what we’re building, and I know where we’re going. I know we’ve got a lot of kids on here that can get us there, and a lot of kids coming in who can get us there. Is it frustrating at times? Absolutely. Nobody likes to get their heads bashed in 72-0.”
Perhaps here it should be noted: in both the Illinois and Northwestern cases, the team lost every game the first season under the new staff.