Coach Meyer fields questions at this morning’s trophy presentation
JOHN HUMENIK: The first trophy presentation we have this morning with Coach Meyer, representing the Bowl Championship Series, is the administrator of the Bowl Championship Series, Mr. Bill Hancock.
BILL HANCOCK: Good morning, everybody. I want to thank the Orange Bowl crew, Danny and Larry and Eric for a great job, and on behalf of the 11 conference commissioners and the AFCA, we want to present the Coaches’ Trophy to Coach Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators.
JOHN HUMENIK: Now we have the Football Writers Association Grantland Rice National Championship trophy, which is being presented by George Schroeder, who’s the president for 2009 of the Football Writers’ Association for the Eugene Register Guard.
GEORGE SCHROEDER: On behalf of the Football Writers’ Association of America this has been awarded since 1954, and it’s the second time in three years for Florida, third straight time for the SEC. That’s the second time that’s happened – 1978 to ‘80 Georgia did that. I’d like to present you with the Grantland Rice Award from the Football Writers Association of America.
JOHN HUMENIK: The next trophy presentation is being made by Steve Hatchell, who’s the president and CEO of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
STEVE HATCHELL: On behalf of the National Football Foundation, our 12,000 members, our chairman Archie Manning and our board of directors, vice-chairman George Weiss, we are really proud to present this trophy to Urban Meyer, second time in three years, which is really special. This trophy has been awarded since 1959. It was started by General Douglas Mac Arthur, Grantland Rice, the great sports writer and legendary coach red Blake, and etched on the side of this replica of the stadium in all silver are all of the champions since 1959. And as the keepers of the history and the legacy of the sport of football, we are really proud to give this to Urban, who not only is a super coach and a great job, but the wonderful things he does for the sport. So we’re very honored to be able to give this to you today, Urban.
JOHN HUMENIK: Our final trophy presentation this morning is from the Associated Press, John Affleck, who’s the sports enterprise editor of the Associated Press, is here to present that trophy.
JOHN AFFLECK: The AP Poll has been around since 1936, and this is the third time we’ve stood on a podium with the University of Florida’s coach, and on behalf of the Associated Press and our 65 media writers who voted late last night, I want to offer a hearty congratulations to the University of Florida as our 2008 national champion.
JOHN HUMENIK: Coach, I know you didn’t sleep last night but just some general comments on the evening and this morning, and then we’ll turn the floor over to questions.
COACH URBAN MEYER: I said this last night. I’d like to thank Danny Ponce and Eric Poms for the hospitality. I can’t imagine a better week as far as the hospitality and the people in south Florida taking care of us, Howard Snellenberg at FAU did a tremendous job. A team that prepares like we do and take the seriousness of our practice routine, he went above and beyond what we asked him to do to make sure the fields were right. A lot of people to thank, but most importantly I’d like to thank our players, and this is all about them. I want to make sure that our players, this team goes down as one of the great teams in Florida football history. It’s one of the greatest group of young people I’ve ever been around, and I’m starting to get a little bit of experience behind me now, 20-something years, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve been around some great young guys.
Everything they have coming to them, they deserve it. The team fought through our last two ballgames, was the epitome of college football. They fought through adversity, played two excellent teams coached by—I’m going to go back to the Alabama game, by Nick Saban and a tremendously talented team and then to go against Coach Stoops, who’s one of the best coaches in the business, and have a great group of very experienced—I saw today in the paper how experienced, just the offensive line and the veterans they had. My heart is out to our plays. I know our coaching staff feels the same way, but this is as good a group of young people as I’ve ever been around, and I want to thank them for that.
Q. How much sleep did you get? And also, as you hear those names called out over there on the trophies, people like red Blake and Grantland Rice, you’re a historian of the game. How does it make you feel to know you have a secure place in history?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It’s very humbling, and two years ago when it all happened, I really can’t remember much about it. But I just asked the gentleman that gave us the Mac Arthur trophy, I said, I’d like to read about this because our name is on it twice. I think I owe that to them and I’m going to read it to our team. I am a fan of college football. I think college football is the greatest venue going, and to think that our name is forever etched on that great trophy, it’s my responsibility to learn more about it and make sure our players learn it because they’re on it.
That’s why we did that. If you ever come to Florida, our administration was good enough to put a lot of money into a front door window to let people see the history of Florida football when it was never there before. You walk in there now and it’s legitimate. It’s one of the great programs in college football history. We’re going to continue to make sure that thing grows and grows and grows, so it is the best place in college football.
Q. Last night Tim said after the game that fans were chanting "one more year" in celebration. He said if were to go to the NFL, one of the things preventing him are relationships that he’s built with teammates and with you. What will you advise him on those two things? Will you advise him to take the emotion from that standpoint out of it, or deep down in your own heart do you think that those things will help out?
COACH URBAN MEYER: This is going to be a little harder. There’s not much difference than Nathan, my son. Nate, my son, and Tim. I love Tim. He’s family. He’s everything. At some point I’ll get blasted for it, but I think he’s one of the best players to ever put on a helmet. I don’t know if he’s the best quarterback, that’s all relative and in people’s eyes they can choose whoever they want. Tim will make a very well educated decision. I’m going to put him on the phone with people I trust. I did that with Alex Smith, I’ve done that with some other players; they’ve made some great decisions. So rest assured, and Gator Nation needs to know Tim will make the right decision. I have no idea what it is, and out of respect to Tim and his family it hasn’t even been discussed. I’m sure over the next few days it will.
Q. Will Jack Del Rio be one of those people?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah, I have great respect for Coach Del Rio and he has opened his program to us and we have opened ours to him. I have great respect for his opinion, and I’m hoping Tim will talk to him.
Q. Your team is built on great recruiting, obviously. I know you’re expecting a recruiting bounce. Have you had contacts with recruits and have they been emailing you already this morning? And what kind of bounce do you expect out of this?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, we only have about four left, five left, so we expect to close this thing. Be we just want to make sure it’s the right four because usually recruiting classes are made with your last four or five that you pick up. The last week has been really good for Florida and recruiting. Yes, we were on the phone actually the day of the game, had many phone calls with top recruits, and then I’ve heard from several today. So this will be a tremendous boost, and obviously the celebration on Sunday—I made a comment yesterday, what Florida has to offer a young man, let’s compare us against any other school, academically, lifestyle, the location, and it’s going to be good. We’re going to have a very good recruiting class.
Q. If I recall correctly, when you won it two years ago, you felt like you had a great team, not necessarily a great program. I think you might feel a little bit differently now, and what I’m curious about, although I don’t want to put the "dynasty" word in your mouth, do you feel Florida is poised to make that kind of a statement?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I’m not sure what the word "dynasty" means. I’m very confident now. I wasn’t two years ago, that’s why I made that comment. We all saw what was coming. Our coaching staff knew exactly if those young players decided to come out early, the four guys on defense, that means we lost basically our entire defense. We knew the backups were not ready to play. Deep in my heart when I knew Brandon Siler came in to see me two days after the championship, "I want to go to the NFL," Ryan Smith, I had that feeling in my stomach, oh, boy, we’re going to have a hard time stopping anybody.
I don’t feel that way this year. I see some good players, I see a program that’s set now. We’re good. I didn’t feel that way two years ago. I felt that was just an unbelievable effort by some very good players and a 21-group senior class. This is a 13-member senior class. Next year is going to be a very good senior class, but behind them is another group, another group. We don’t have that void is my point. Two years ago we had a void in recruiting and it showed. Certainly it showed last year in the Bowl game.
Q. Thinking back to the day you were introduced as coach you came out and were looking at the stadium and smiling, can you envision what’s been going on? Has there been a lot of reflection for you in the 12 hours since the game has been over?
COACH URBAN MEYER: There’s more this time than two years ago because two years ago was just running from here to there, and once again, I knew what was coming. Do we take junior college players to fill this void? And the panic that our program was in.
I want to make sure, most importantly, our players enjoy this and our coaching staff. I have the best coaching staff in America and I want to make sure they enjoy this. I’m in awe of Florida, I really am. I was in the ‘90s when I watched them play. Now that it’s our program and we’re playing and we’re doing—our players are doing what they’ve executed the last two or three years. I walk in that stadium, and I told Jeremy last night, every once in a while when I’m having a bad day I’ll walk in and stare at that wall. It’s got to be one of the great walls in college football history, and to know that our team is forever a part of that.
It’s a little bit like those bricks we put in there for the All-Americans. We’re not done with that stadium. We’re going to make that the kind of place where everybody walks in and you kind of take it in and you’re in awe of that place. We’re going to make sure that we do that right, from the Emmitt Smiths to the Jack Youngbloods to the Chris Leaks to the Tim Tebows, those players are going to be treated like they’re supposed to be treated.
Q. Can you tell what happened in retrospect between last year’s team and this year’s team since you have spoken of this year’s team with so much affection, how much more they’ve bought in and how that happened?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Just great people. It’s a people business, college football, it’s not Xs and Os. I actually get a kick out of it when I hear about the gurus, west coast versus the spread, and that has absolutely zero to do with winning football games. I love when I hear that.
It’s a people business, and this team—I don’t want to get too much into last year’s team, but this year’s team was far superior than most teams we’ve been blessed to have in the last several years. The ‘04 Utah team, the way the ‘06 team finished, and really pretty went much the way this season went with this outfit, that that’s as good group a group of young people as I’ve ever been around.
It comes from maturity. I like to credit Mick Marotti, our OSL staff and certainly our assistant coaches.
In our big pre-game talk we show a highlight video on basically Saturday morning—whatever, Thursday morning, or Thursday right before we get on the bus, and I’ll address the team. The discussion we had right before the game, before we got on the bus, was this is not, boy, this is kind of neat, good fortune, how the ball bounced your way and the stars aligned right. This has been a work in process for many years. When our staff got together we had a vision what our offensive line is supposed to look like, act like and play like, and we got it. We had a vision of what a quarterback should look like, act like and run the offense, a group of receivers, a running back position. You look on defense, two corners, that in my opinion are the two best corners maybe in college football. That’s a strong statement. But my point is then you also flip and it and return to a punter and a kicker and a long snapper.
So this is not one of those, boy, this is kind of neat; it’s good fortune the way you guys are playing. It’s not, and I want our guys to understand, everybody is going to go their own ways like the Reggie Nelsons of the world. You might not ever get a chance to play with guys like this again, make it count. And they certainly did.
Q. You mentioned last night that you really didn’t enjoy the first time two years ago, and you mentioned rebuilding and all that kind of stuff. Were there any other ways that you didn’t enjoy two years ago that you’re going to enjoy this one? And also another question, as far as your players that might go to the NFL, might go pro, do you think they might be influenced as to what they saw Billy Donovan’s kids do, want to come back and defend their championship?
COACH URBAN MEYER: That’s a good spin; I might use that (laughter). I’m glad you brought that up.
The first part about enjoyment, I’m a big family guy and I’m a big coaching staff person and a player person, so I want to make sure our guys—I’ve already met with our strength coach and I’m not sure how we’re going to do that. It just felt like two years ago, I mean, the game was over, bang, classes started. That’s all going on now, as well. But I’m going to force myself and our staff to really get some time with their families and do some stuff together so we really enjoy this thing.
As far as the guys coming back, that’s going to happen here in the next few days. In all honesty I’m not going to start using angles because I don’t want to ever influence a guy to make a decision. Whenever you make a life-changing decision, place of employment, having a family, getting married, all those big decisions you have to make, you put it all on the table and you make sure you’re doing it for the right reason.
The good thing is, I couldn’t say this four years ago, guys were making decisions without my input, and some uncle told me to do this and my peoples can get me in the second round. I look at him going what peoples are you talking about? Peoples they’re going to be talking to really can advise them. I love this team because they’re very professional. Brandon Spikes, Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow, Brandon James, those guys all make that decision. I don’t have any idea what the decision is yet. But they’ll make it the right way, and that’s family, coaches, people that know what they’re talking about, not some guru or some peoples. That will not be part of the discussion.
Q. What moments from the third and fourth quarter of Tim’s play will you always remember?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, I saw it last night, just parked myself in front of ESPN for, what was it, four hours I had, right? The 3rd down and 11 where he pulled it down and he hit and I saw his leg drive and get that extra two yards, I mean, how many guys could do this? He got hit, made a guy miss, hit two people, and his eyes and he looked over he knew exactly where that yard marker was. The other play was when he scrambled and hit Riley Cooper. Those were the two plays on offense.
On defense the two interceptions – the one by Ahmad Black that just completely took it right away from the guy. Up by three and we were driving the ball, obviously a prolific offense. And then the one down in the red zone where the ball is tipped and Major Wright made the play. Those are the plays I’ll never forget. On highlights it was a phenomenal effort.
Q. You’ve won two national titles in three years now. I’m just wondering, do you think that sort of thing could ever get old to you, that you might look for a new challenge? And you know a lot of NFL coaches like Bill Belichick. Could that ever be in your future?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I don’t think so. I think the task at hand is to—I made a comment earlier that I really have a dream of what Florida should look like, and it’s getting real close. There’s still a lot of work to be done. The minute you start worrying about other things, you miss a recruiting class, you miss this great recruit, and that’s not going to happen. I’m committed to Florida. I love Florida. More importantly, though, I love these players, and these players are going to get our best effort for a long time.
Q. What does it mean to you that Brian Johnson rooted for you last night to the detriment of himself and Utah? And number two, now that it’s over and everything is decided, what kind of claim do they have and would you like a shot at them?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Kyle Whittingham is one of my closest friends, and I do believe Kyle is the best coach in the business, what he does. He’s the best assistant coach. Brian Johnson, we actually recruited Brian. Brian was unrecruited out of Texas and Dan Mullen and myself went down there, and you knew when you sat at home with his family, he wasn’t big enough, wasn’t fast enough and didn’t have a strong enough arm, but he’s a lot like the quarterback we have. Brian Johnson when he said his team deserves to be number one, he should say that. When Brian Johnson cheers for Florida because of his relationship with coaches on our staff, that’s good people. I’m not really a betting person, but if I want to bet on a guy that’s going to have an unbelievable future, whether it’s in football or not, Brian Johnson is going to be an executive or—he’s going to have a great opportunity to do whatever he wants to do outside of football, and more importantly than that he’ll be a great husband and great father because that’s the quality kid he is.
I have not talked to Brian but I’m sure I’ll talk to him again soon.
Q. What does it mean to have your last two programs leading in the AP Poll?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It’s unbelievable. What does it mean? It just means that it’s just fantastic people associated with those programs, and the resources you have at Utah and the resources you have at Florida. Everybody is in a hurry to take a new job, I’m going to go to this job, this job, it’s great. Just make sure the foundation behind you has some success, and Utah certainly has that.
Utah is not going away now. If you just go evaluate that program—I’m selling Utah, but if you go evaluate that program, you keep hearing the word "BCS conferences," I can’t think of many schools that are better than Utah, just the toys that you have as far as facilities, and the resources and alumni and everything, and a recruiting base as far as the Polynesian culture. When you hear "BCS conference" that means nothing to a lot of coaches like myself. To say "BCS," you get your brains kicked in every year and you finish 3-8, you’re not BCS. You might get a little bigger check at the end of the year because you’re in a nice conference, but Utah is a much better program than most BCS programs. That’s most.
Q. Last night Percy said the victory was particularly enjoyable because "no one gave us a chance." Considering you were four-and-a-half-point favorites, what talk did you give those guys to convince them that they were not respected?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Who said that, Percy? (Smiling). The last couple days were real intense, just getting these guys ready to go. I thought Coach Strong addressed the team. I’m very cautious who we allow to talk to our team. Those guys were ready to play. I don’t want to get too much into it because that’s our business.
You know what the good thing is, guys listen. This outfit, I made the comment before, Charlie Strong, Mickey Marotti, Steve Addazios of the world, we’re really focused on it, and I think a lot of it had to do with we didn’t have a chance to stop this team. Statistically it will tell you it would be a hard deal to stop them. So I’m sure that’s where he was headed.
Q. Did you see anything from Oklahoma’s offense during the game or in watching film that might show up in Florida’s playbook?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I’ve been really intrigued by the no-huddle, by the up-tempo, and we actually went to that the whole first week of spring ball a year ago. I sent Dan Mullen to Missouri and came back with the mechanics of it. I hired Scot Loeffler. He’s had some of that in his background. I think the tempo of the game, that’s a pain in the butt, and if you only have two days to prepare—we did well because we had a whole month and Coach Strong and his staff and our players really worked hard. I’m going to really study it because I love their offense.
Kevin Wilson, the coordinator on their team, we played against him one other time when he was at Northern Western and he was at Bowling Green and the score was 43-42 at the end of the day. Both teams had about 650 yards of offense and my D coordinator looked at me in the fourth quarter and said, we can’t stop them because of the tempo of the game, and I’ve never had a defense feel completely paralyzed by an offense. I’m glad we got to play them and we’re going to research what they do because I think they’re really good.
Q. Can you talk about Percy Harvin’s performance with that injury?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Right now he’s got to be one of the best players in America. He’s got the best first step. You saw that yesterday. I think he played at about 80 percent. I saw him on the sideline and I kept talking to him and he looked at me right in the eye and said, I’m ready, Coach, I’m ready. A couple of those runs he got out of there, when he’s 100 percent I’m not sure they catch him.
But that was a tremendous effort. Very unselfish effort. What he did to prepare for that game is what legends are made of. Not many guys I’ve ever seen do what he did as far as preparing himself for that game.
Q. Everyone talks about Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow. Can you talk about calling a number for Riley Cooper and David Nelson at crunch time?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Isn’t that something? David Nelson continues to amaze, and Riley Cooper—they’re program players, actually very talented program players. Usually when people say "program players," they’re guys that aren’t good enough to kind of step up. Very talented guys that were influenced by outside forces. David Nelson had kind of the attitude that I’m not getting my fair share, and I should be treated a little different, and that goes back to the third uncle comment where people were influencing his practice, and the fact was he was not very good. He didn’t practice very good, and he didn’t play very well. And now he’s playing at an extremely high level.
Billy Gonzales has done a great job with him and it was his call. The jump pass, Percy was able to do it, but Louis Murphy is a guy we trust but he had a knee injury and didn’t practice the first two and a half weeks, and David Nelson has earned the trust. I think we threw the pass, David Nelson shows you the confidence that our coaching staff put in that player. He knows it and I’m sure that’s why he made that play.
That was probably a two-hour discussion on who was going to catch it, who would be open. The technique, if you saw that play, just to build on David Nelson, that wasn’t go kind of run around and run inside. He goes out and stock block, Tim is going to jump pass, to leave your feet and tie that up, that’s not easy.
Q. How do you choose him to get that play?
COACH URBAN MEYER: That because he’s extremely disciplined and practices his tail off. That was a two-hour discussion about who’s going to get that play because you only get one shot at it, and if you cut it short, go too deep, don’t sell it, you’re wasting a play. We knew we were going to call it at a critical time.
Q. If you learned at Bowling Green how to organize a staff and instill discipline and you learned at Utah how to break down the wall so the diversity took place on your team, what have you learned at four years in Florida? And after that would you elaborate on the plan to win?
COACH URBAN MEYER: What I’ve learned at Florida is when you take over a program that’s kind of bigger than life in some people’s eyes, it still comes down to a bunch of young guys playing football, and I kind of got caught up in the Gator clubs and signing autographs, and it still comes down to David Nelson going four yards, selling the stop clock, showing his hands and doing the right thing, and that’s no different than Bowling Green, Utah or Florida. I graded myself probably a C my first year because it was—Florida is big time now. But I’ve got news, there’s a lot of other big time places, and if you start to sleep, you’ll fall behind.
It still comes down to getting guys to go as hard as they can, it all comes down to getting guys to graduate, to live right. At the end of the day you want a bunch of players that are committed to the right thing. And it’s not easy to get that. It’s not easy. In 20-something years of coaching, on one hand I can hold the amount of teams that I’ve been around the kids that do it the right way. I’m not talking about a few, I’m talking about the core of your team if you do it the right way, and we’ve got it here at Florida.
Q. Playing to win?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Playing to win. Play great defense. I thought it was a fine effort by Charlie Strong, and he continues to prove he’s one of the greatest football coaches in the country right now, excellent recruiter, even a better husband and father, and my right-hand man. There’s no better coach in the country than Coach Strong, what he did and what that staff did, I think Chuck Heater and Vance Bedford and Dan McCarney, that’s as good as defensive staff, I keep hearing about these defensive staffs and they don’t have the success. Charlie has done a fabulous job with that group.
Turnovers, we had a couple. We were tight with the ball. Usually fumbles are an issue in Bowl games because you haven’t been hit in a while. Our guys did a good job with two interceptions where one was a mistake by Tim, one was a great defensive call where they dropped the nose out in blitz package—but we did, we won the turnover battle.
Scoring in the red zone is where we won the game. We were 4 for 4 in the red zone I think on the year. We were No. 1 in America, and we should be. For the amount of time spent for the few plays you get in the red zone, we’re way over as far as the amount of time spent. But that’s the money; that’s payday for our players, 3rd downs, the red zone.
And then the last one, kicking game. I’m not sure we dominated the kicking game. I’m a little disappointed actually in some of the returns, and then we ran into the darn kicker. We had a chance to block that kick. But the defensive turnovers in the red zone, that’s how we won this game.
Q. In talking about Utah, you made the point that you can be in a BCS conference and not be a top-level program. So I’m making the leap to Mississippi State and Dan. What’s the best piece of advice you would give him to get that thing turned around?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Recruit, and hire a tremendous strength coach. Dan knows, a lot of times I’ll hear about these coaches or I’ll talk to some young coaches and put their staff together and I’ll ask the question about the strength staff, about the discipline in your program and those things. He hired our former strength coach who was at Virginia and now he’s at Mississippi State, so he just hit a home run. He’s got a chance now, and I would say Dan had zero chance if he couldn’t hire an ace strength staff that can keep that thing together.
The strength staff in college football nowadays, if you’re—you guys should watch this. If a guy gets hired and puts that, I’m going to hire a strength coach later, that’s a guy that has no clue what’s going on, and he’ll fail. Dan Mullen has got a chance because he knows the value of the strength staff, so he hit a home run.
And then obviously recruiting, he’s got to get out and get quality players and hire a staff to recruit. I think Dan is going to do fine. Dan is a very intelligent coach and he’ll surround himself—all great coaches know how to surround themselves with great coaches, and we had great discussions, long discussions about it, and he feels very comfortable with the people he’s putting together on his coaching staff.
Q. Davis made the big play on the goal line and the interceptions, but what specifically did your defensive staff do to stop this offense that nobody else has been able to stop?
COACH URBAN MEYER: We really put in two packages that our defense did a great job, and one was bare defense, and they did a great job, and then a lot of odd. We played much more three down than we’ve ever played. Basically the whole game was four down against Alabama and then this game played three down and they call it bare defense where they kicked down to stop the inside run. Chuck Heater and I were talking a couple nights before the game, we do everything an offense doesn’t like to see, and a lot of it was new. So they did a great job, and Torrey Davis actually made a great play. I saw that on the highlights last night, as well.
Q. You talked about your guy back at Utah, too slow, too whatever. You’ve got another guy like that on this team who plays safety for you, too small, too slow, can’t do anything but does everything. Would you talk about him?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah, he’s talking about Ahmad Black and he’s too small, too slow, can’t jump high enough, he’s just in great football position and he’s a mini-Chuck Heater. That’s Chuck’s adopted son. I always give Chuck a lot of credit because he deserves it. Every year he pulls one out. First year was Brown, second year was Ryan Smith and Reggie Lewis. Last year we had Major Wright as a freshman back there, Joe Haden, and this year he pulled out Ahmad Black. He wasn’t—he was almost getting his movement to a 1AA somewhere and saying it was time to move on. He wasn’t allowed to be on special teams because we couldn’t trust him, and now he’s one of the most trustworthy guys. He comes from a great high school program. He’s got a chance because he’s got a great family, and we knew that. It was just a matter of time. Chuck did a great job with him.
Q. Those of us who have known Charlie for a lot of years, the hurt and the frustration when he talks about head coaching, why do you think he’s not a head coach, hasn’t gotten any phone calls this off-season? Do you think race and an interracial marriage is playing into that? That’s not fun to ask, but this guy is doing a great job and he’s not getting any consideration?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I’m not going to get into that right now and spoil a great day. I’m going to tell you again that that’s one of the finest coaches in America. Just how important that is, put that right up there, and I’m going to say something else: A great husband and a great father and a great person, as good a guy as I’ve ever been around. He was my neighbor in South Bend, Indiana. I trust him with everything, I trust him with my family, I trust him with everything.
So that’s a great question to ask. I can’t certainly answer it, and I don’t want to push too hard because I don’t want to lose him. He’s that good, though. He’s that good. Just once again, there’s a lot of good football guys out there that can draw Xs and look real neat on the board. He’s good at that, obviously. But as far as a role model and making sure these guys do the right thing—I mentioned Torrey Davis. When you said Torrey Davis I say Charlie Strong. You say Ahmad Black, I say Charlie Strong. That’s how good he is.
Q. As a follow-up to that, would you ever put a bug in somebody else’s ear, another school’s ear who has an opening, about Charlie Strong, or would you feel uncomfortable about doing that unless you had some specific relationship with the people in the hiring process?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I’ve put a lot of bugs. I’ve shot it at people and made it real clear. I’m not sure they listen. I think Charlie fell a little bit when he got that interview because he’s Charlie Strong. He’d get very upset and I’d get very upset.
Search firms, I’m not into that because guys have called me and talked to me and athletic director is supposed to go hire a football coach. Do your homework, go hire a coach. Yeah, that’s a good question. It kind of angers me sometimes. I’ve been involved in those phone calls, and I can tell on the other end, talking to a deaf ear. I’m busy and I don’t have time to talk to you unless you’re interested. Don’t play people. I need to be careful. I’m going to get very angry here in a minute and I shouldn’t be here. That’s how much I care about Charlie Strong.
Q. Was Percy’s injury a hairline fracture? And can you give us an update on Chris Rainey?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah, I didn’t know that until a later day that they said regardless it’s the same healing time. Actually a hairline fracture heals a little quicker than a high ankle sprain, so there was a small fracture. But the injury, the time delay and the thing that still bothered him yesterday wasn’t the actual fracture. I had the same question, what does it mean? A high ankle sprain, that’s a separation—I’m like a doctor now with the high ankle sprains. That’s a bad injury especially on a skilled athlete. You look at a guy like Percy, they’ve got the real skinny ankles, and the time off, the healing time was for the high ankle sprain.
COACH URBAN MEYER: Chris Rainey has ankle sprain. I texted him last night. He said he was real sore. It was right in front of me and I was worried about it. But I think it’s an ankle sprain and he should be fine.
Q. Even if you do lose a couple guys to the NFL how good can this team be next season?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, we play a tough schedule, we play in the Southeastern Conference and you saw a couple other teams with high rankings. We’ve got to go back to work. Our guys have had some real physical games, and so if—speculating, I’m not going to do that, but we’ll see who comes back. Regardless, this team, it’s not going to be like last year. It will not be like that. I don’t know our record because we’ve got to stay healthy and most other things. But as far as the program, it’s much better than it was two years ago as far as the group of young players coming up. So how good? We could be very good next year.
JOHN HUMENIK: That will conclude today’s Q & A, Coach. Thank you for your time. Congratulations again.