Dec. 19, 1997
Bruce Snyder Press Conference
We get started seriously today, so I feel relieved that we are getting started today for Iowa. We have our game plan, primarily on paper, and that will get introduced today. We are through with finals, and we had a great two weeks of recruiting. Ryan Kealy is in rehab. Steve Campbell and Chad Brown are getting all of the snaps, along with Chad Elliot. We had a four practices where Elliot got a lot of snaps. It's good for the young guys to get snaps. We are anxious to start practice. Finals are over. That's where we are right now.
(ON USC AND JOHN ROBINSON) I have not talked to John (Robinson), so I cannot quote John on that. I know I don't necessarily speak for all of the coaches, but that was just handled so poorly, and I think that everybody agrees, so I am not saying anything that anybody disagrees with. Immediately, I faxed Grant Teaff, the president of our coaches association, (a letter) that encourages other coaches to state that we are really upset how one of our members, who has been a member for 34 years, was handled. I know that protest went in. It's a difficult business to begin with. That kind of thing doesn't need to happen. I talked to Grant Teaff yesterday and he had not heard anything back. He copied the president of the university. I would doubt that he is going to get any kind of response based on the track record that I have witnessed.
(ON WHETHER THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAYING IN A BOWL GAME AND PLAYING IN A REGULAR-SEASON GAME) I think there is. If nothing else, you eliminate the demands of school. We are now out of school, where as during the rest of the season, you have players that are tied up with academic responsibilities. From this day on, they are 100 percent ours. So, from that standpoint, it is different. Also, normally, when you play in conference, you know the other team. You've played against them or coached against them for a number of years, and you've recruited a lot of their players, so the familiarity is dramatically different. I feel I really know the personnel at SC and at Washington, Oregon because we've recruited those same kids and we've coached against them. With Iowa, you just don't know. So, there is a difference in terms of getting your own team to identify with the players they'll be competing against at a neutral site. I think it's quite a bit different.
Also, the time period to get ready is different. In the season, you have a routine. You have Sunday night practice, Monday off ... and you kind of build a tempo. Now, we have two or three weeks to get ready. We've had that. It's different in terms of peaking at the right time. That's why I think going there on the 26th is really going to work out quite nicely. We go on the 26th, and we are going to pretend that that's Sunday, and have a Sunday type workout. The next day we are going to have a Tuesday practice, then a Wednesday practice, a Thursday geared down, and a Friday substitution and play. So, it's kind of like a game week, even though those days don't correspond. I think it is going to work out fine. We have talked to some of the other coaches that have coached in that game, and one of the teams, several years ago, went in 13 days early. They were beaten, and soundly. They said, "By the way, coach, don't do that." That was their only advice: "Don't do that." So I think we've got really a nice plan set out for our team.
(ON WHETHER THE SAME TYPE OF PREPARATION THAT WAS USED FOR LAST YEAR'S ROSE BOWL CAN BE USED FOR THE SUN BOWL) I thought we played really well, and I thought we had a really good plan. But, part of me feels a bit guilty about it. There were just too many trips across the country. There's the College Hall of Fame, there's the Heisman, and more that all are on the East Coast or in the Midwest. I felt they were necessary at the time. I think we had 46 athletes visit on campus before we went to the Rose Bowl. That, in and of itself, is a monumental task. So, you combine getting ready for the National Championship, and the Rose Bowl, you have 46 visitors that you're hosting, and then you have a half- dozen trips to the East Coast interspersed there. At the end of it, I was so happy just to get to Pasadena because I wasn't going to travel any place. It was there. It's hectic at the site to get much done intellectually on football because by that time the kids just aren't interested. They just want to practice and get to the events. But, in the final analysis, I think we played well. I went back and I reviewed the final game plan, and I think that was fine. But, there is a part of me that wishes I hadn't had to do all the other stuff. That's not the case here, other than the recruiting.
(ON WHETHER HE IS CONCERNED ABOUT PLAYERS BEING NOT INTERESTED IN PLAYING AFTER LOSING TO ARIZONA) I would hope that's not the case. I was mentioning to someone, earlier today actually, that in a two-week period, this team's character went from Rose Bowl, Fiesta, Cotton, to Sun Bowl. There may be some concern. But, it gets us a great opportunity to end the season on a positive note playing against a traditionally really good football team and a sound program, on national TV. I think we ought to get out and get going and play. This team that I coached this year -- is really apparent to me as I look over the 11 games, when we are wired in and ready to play, and neither scared nor angry or something emotional like that, we play really well.
(ON GETTING MORE PRACTICE TIME FOR THE NON-STARTERS) Steve is getting a lot of work, as is Chad Brown, and Chad Elliot. I would like to say right now that Ryan Kealy is our quarterback. He had a clean operation and, he will be back for Spring ball. I want that to be known. But, Steve Campbell is improving, and I think he is going to really improve over the next four or five days. He will get the start.
(ON PAT TILLMAN) Pat will play in the NFL. First of all, he is a great college football player. One of the really fun things about coaching in college is that you get the guy like Pat Tillman, and I think of Tim Dwight of Iowa. There are guys that are playing that nobody thought would. And yet they are really impact players in the college game, which Pat is. A pro scout told me that he wrote in his report about Pat, "If we don't want him on our team, don't draft him." He is that kind of player. It's like a pet cat. If you drop it out somewhere in the desert, he will end up back on your doorstep. They are not going to get rid of the guy, because he is a terrific football player. I just hope that whoever drafts him, has a plan for him, and that there is a spot for him. Don't just draft him because there is an open spot. There are some things that he can do, and there is nothing that he thinks he can't do. Whether it be a nose guard, or an offensive tackle, I think there is clearly a chance for him to play in the NFL. He better have a good game down in El Paso. That's what he needs.
(ON IOWA) I think they are going to be somewhat like us in that their rusher led the conference. He is really good. We led our conference in rushing as a team. My thinking is that it is probably going to be two teams that are going to run the ball at each other. So, that's our concern: stopping them. They can throw it, they have thrown it, but it's the other that really dominates your thinking. They are really good at the kicking game, and not just Tim Dwight. I believe they have seven different punt formations, for example. They have fix or six different punt returns. They just challenge everything you do in the kicking game much different than a lot of other teams that we've faced. Their defense is led by DeVries. He is a great player. He is as quick off the ball as anybody in the Pac-10. He is going to be over Victor Leyva primarily. It is going to be an interesting battle between Victor and this kid. I think their rushing attack is probably the best. They only gave up, I think, 12 points a game. They are very good defensively.
(ON WHETHER STEVE CAMPBELL WILL THROW THE BALL) They will put eight guys up, and sometimes nine, depending on the formation. We recruited Steve Campbell to throw the ball. So, he has to do his job.
(ON CREIG SPANN APPLYING FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF ELIGIBILITY) The way that works in terms of appeals, is that you have to exhaust eligibility, before you can go forward. They would never award while you still have some eligibility left. We need to complete the season. Everything is ready to go. It is all documented on paper. It is just a matter of completing eligibility, then sending the paperwork out.
(ON PAC-10 TEAMS IN BOWL GAMES) I thought that with the Rose Bowl, even though we didn't win it, the way we played didn't embarrass our league. I think it was a heck of a competitive football game. Two champions stood up to each other in the Rose Bowl. I thought that was a good contest. Stanford dominated Michigan State. I think it's more a question of how you prepare. Is your team ready on that day? Whether they are interested in playing that game makes such a difference in how they play. I figure our conference is as good as anybody's.
(ON PREPARING FOR THE BOWL GAME AND DEALING WITH THE QUARTERBACK SITUATION) I bet they look at us and decide that they better stop the run first. If the passing game is hurting us, then at halftime let's get on the chalkboard and see what we need to do. I think the other is that you better anchor in defensively to stop the run. That will be our approach, and I think that's what they are going to do. We will adjust at halftime, if it's hurting.
(ON WHAT IT'S LIKE TO PLAY AN UNKNOWN TEAM AT A NEUTRAL SITE) I know about Hayden (Fry), but I don't know much about their football team. I think a really mature football team, and I will just go back to last year, it doesn't really matter who we are playing, or where we are playing. A mature team will do that. They will blank out those kinds of things. A less mature team wants to look at where and the weather, and who, and if they know the guy. That is a less mature way to go about being an athlete. A mature approach is to just go play. That's the kind of team you want to coach all the time.
(ON WHETHER THERE WILL BE A HANGOVER FORM THE ARIZONA GAME) We are terribly disappointed. First of all, just the fact that it was the rival game. You want to win that so badly. And then, there was so much riding on it. Really, we ought to win that game because we are playing our rival, and we ought to have played a lot better than we did. If we do not get over that, we will be beaten in the Sun Bowl. That's a fact. If we are ready to play, and get this other thing behind us, and stop thinking about Pasadena, Tempe and Dallas, then we are going to be beaten by a very good football team. We have to get ready to play, and I think they will. This team has matured. It's been two steps forward and one step back. But, my thinking is that we will get them ready to play on New Year's Eve.