Kansas Football Holds Assistant Coaches' Media Day

Feb. 2, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football held a media day session with its coaching staff on Thursday morning in the Chancellor’s Lounge at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Members of the media were invited to breakfast at 9 a.m., and then given the opportunity to interview any of the assistant coaches that make up Head Coach Charlie Weis’ staff.

Below is portion of some of those interviews:

Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach Dave Campo

On coming back to coach the college game:
“This is my 41st year of coaching and I look at this almost as if I am changing careers. I am going to a situation where I have to look at the things that are going on in college football from a football stand point as well as getting back into the rules, which are completely different. There really is a lot of excitement and I am looking forward to the game day experience along with all the other things you find on the college level that you miss in the National Football League.”

On his recruiting abilities in the state of Texas:
“I think that is a factor, but what I told the kids is that it is no longer the Cowboys, it’s now KU. I hope the success we’ve had and the Super Bowls I have been involved in help (in recruiting) and I hope that continues to help, but the main thing is going to be getting this program going. If we get young men and their families to this campus, we will sign a lot of those guys because the community, the school and the facilities sell themselves.”

On defensive schemes in the Big 12:
“I think you really have to limit what you do. You have to have about five things that you can play no matter what they (the opposing teams) come out in and what they do. It is one, two, three, four, so they are not looking and trying to get a bunch of signals and changes. I think you have to decide when you line up against a team if their quarterback is a threat or is he not a threat. It is really about understanding the opponents and getting your guys a base philosophy of what you are going to do and go from there.”

On the differences between coaching in college and the NFL:
“Obviously it is a grind no matter what you do in the coaching field, because you have a lot of hours spent, but recruiting to me is easy. That part I don’t feel I have any problem with because I enjoy people and I enjoy young people. It is more of an issue coming down and looking at a new style of offense that you find on the college level, more so than the NFL.”

On his relationship with head coach Charlie Weis:
“I have known Charlie for a long time. He is from New Jersey and I am from Connecticut, so we have some things in common right from the very beginning, but the biggest thing is I actually tried to get (Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones) to look at Charlie as an assistant my last year as a head coach (in 2002). We didn’t get a chance to touch base then, but he is an outstanding offensive coach and I am looking forward to having that co-existence there.”

Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach Clint Bowen

On the experience of the defensive back coaches:
“We have had a lot of DB’s that had some success here, Aquib Talib, Chris Harris, Darrell Stuckey, Justin Thornton, so we can tie into that. Coach Campo has been coaching DB’s for 23 years at (University of) Miami, the Dallas Cowboys, so if you are a defensive back and you want to go play college football, this is the place to come get coached by some guys who have seen and done a lot of things.”

Recruiting in the Kansas City area:
“Coach Weis referenced that yesterday. Recruiting really starts with proximity to home. ‘Can parents get into a car and drive to campus on game day to see their kid play a game? How close are they to road games when you are talking about conference (games)?’ The other thing is area recruiting, which I truly believe in because I am a Lawrence guy that played at Lawrence High School, so if you are a Kansas guy, you should have some state pride. If you are from the Kansas City area, you should have some pride in your area and want to come help the local university.”

On whether he kept up with the team during his two-year absence as an assistant with KU:
“I have, but obviously working in this business in other jobs, I did not see many games on TV. Like everyone, I checked the scores and stats at the end of the game, but followed it from a distance.”

On his familiarity with the players on the current team:
“Three of the classes that are still here, were here in 2009 when I last coached here, so I am familiar with all the older kids. The two newest classes I have had to look at and Coach Campo and I have sat down and watched all the defensive personnel as well as the special teams and there is talent on this team. You just have to get them going in the right direction.”

Wide Receivers Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Rob Ianello
On KU’s campus, football program and its facilities:
“There are some incredibly impressive facilities here and the set up for the players is really neat. The Anderson Family Football building is tremendous and it flows really well for a player, because it has everything you need. Then a little bit away from here, there are the Jayhawk Towers and the Burge (Union), where they eat as well as the academic center. I think it is a great set up here if you are a student-athlete, not to mention the great University that we have here. When you combine all those, you can build a nice little package for a young man.”

On the experience of KU’s new coaching staff:
“It is a huge advantage because they (the players) get a feel for who they are going to be developed by. From the head football coach, to position coach, coordinators and the strength coach, you want to know who you are going to be surrounded by and who is going to develop me. (You want to know) who is going to develop me academically, personally and who is going to develop me athletically. I believe that the experience and pedigree of the staff that the coaches have put into place will lend you as a young man to look at that and say, ‘I am going to be developed here, I am going to get cared for here and I am going to be put into a position academically to do well’.”

On being reunited with Coach Weis after his tenure at Notre Dame:
“I think we all learn from our experiences everyday and we all improve. The one thing with Coach Weis that I know is that he has a big heart and cares about his players and his staff. I have the benefit as Coach (Ron) Powlus does of having worked with Coach Weis before to know how he likes things set up and how the day-to-day operations of his football program will go. That eases the transition for myself and someone like Coach Powlus.”

Asstant Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Jeff Blasko

On his relationship with Coaches Weis, Ianello and Powlus:
“I can’t say enough about what they’ve meant to me. I know that I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair if it wasn’t for Rob Ianello, Ron Powlus and obviously Coach Weis for bringing me on board here. I couldn’t be more excited to continue to build that relationship with those individuals and continue to work for them.”

On recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello:
“Whether it is scheduling, recruiting weekends and the organization of them, he is on top of it all. There is never a flaw from my perspective and everything has been well organized and well structured. If there is anyone you would want to be your recruiting coordinator, he is the guy, because he is on top of it all.”

On Coach Weis’s coaching style:
“He is very tough, very demanding and is very honest. He is going to tell you like it is, but he is one of the most intelligent and creative individuals that I have ever seen. He is also one of the most loyal coaches that I have ever seen. I am fired up to continue to work for him and to continue to learn underneath him. You try to keep up with him mentally and it is impossible because I have tried throughout this whole process, but he is so smart, so intelligent and is always thinking ahead. One of his best characteristics is his poise in adverse situations. When things don’t go particularly well, he does an outstanding job of keeping his cool, especially on game day.”

On Weis’s offensive game planning abilities:
“If you are playing a team that has defensive lineman that is going to create problems, he will create situations where you will have backs chip in, or he will design a formation because he is unbelievable at putting his players in positions to be successful. That is the beauty of his offensive system, he tailors it around what his players do well.”

Offensive Line Coach Tim Grunhard

On what it has been like in his first:
“I was sad to miss (Signing Day at Bishop Miege) for the first time in the last six years. It’s such a celebration of young men working very hard, both academically and athletically, to get a scholarship. It’s been a whirlwind but what a great challenge. It’s been a blast. Coach Weis and the coaching staff have been working very hard to bring KU back to where it belongs and that’s at the top of the Big 12. It’s a great challenge and that’s what it’s all about, the challenge. We’re looking forward to getting to football. The recruiting stuff has been going for the last month and I signed my name on the dotted line on Jan. 1 and I haven’t had a day off. So, I’m looking forward, now we have the recruiting done, so let’s get to some football.”

On the jump from high school coaching to college:
“It’s a lot more hours. The x’s and o’s are pretty similar, but it’s the challenge of going against the Oklahomas, Texas, Oklahoma States and Iowa States. Looking at the film and watching how fast everything happens. It reminds me of what we used to do in the NFL, so there are a lot of similarities.”

On what he has seen on film of the current KU players:
“It’s kind of hard to evaluate because our offense is so different from the offense they ran last year, but the kids work hard. The one thing I noticed about the KU kids, especially on the offensive line, is that they work hard. There are some technical and fundamental things that we’ll have to work on and some of the schemes will be a little different, but they work very hard. They’re very proud and they want to win. That is half the battle. My goal is that when they walk on the field here at Memorial Stadium they are going to believe they are the best prepared team on the field. Whether teams are bigger than us or more physical than us, we can’t control that. We’re dealt our cards, but when we walk on that field they are going to believe they are the most prepared team on the field. If you believe that, you have a really good chance of winning.”

On the potential he sees in the offense:
“You always hope for the best when you have a new offense, a new scheme and a new defense. There’s going to be a learning curve that they are going to have to deal with. As long as you try hard and put the time in the weight room and film room, then when you walk on that field you’re going to have an opportunity in practice to compete. When I met with my kids the first thing I said was, ‘I want you to compete in everything you do, every day in the class room, the weight room, in the film room and then on the practice field when we get there.’ We need to learn to compete every day in everything we do, because when it comes to Saturday afternoons you’re competing against the best in the country. You’re used to competing and working hard and dedicating yourself to being the best you can be and it starts right now in the class room and in the weight room.”

Linebackers Coach DeMontie Cross

On the possibility of Kansas and Missouri never playing each other in football:
“It’s disappointing. The rivalry games mean a lot to college football and it’s a good way to end the season with the build up and the tradition of all the games that have been played. So, it is a little sad that the rivalry is potentially over, but the reality is we have to focus on what we have to do here at Kansas. We just have to get back to playing competitive football and doing what we can at Kansas and not get so concerned about MU and their move to the SEC.”

On being a Missouri alum:
“I still have friends that coach there, so I’m always supportive of Missouri for what they allowed me to do not only as a former student-athlete, but also helping me get into the coaching profession. There’s a lot of history and a lot of love there, obviously, but my loyalty is to Kansas and Coach Weis. That’s where it lies, that’s where it starts and that’s where it ends. I’m excited about getting in here and getting these kids motivated and teaching them something different than what they’ve learned. I’m going to get the best out of them each and every day.”

On if moving the Kansas-Missouri game to Arrowhead Stadium took away from the rivalry:
“I never made it to one of the Arrowhead games. From a fan’s perspective, I’m not sure, but anytime you take it away from the campus itself, I think it dilutes it a little bit. There are a lot of reasons why they did move it, but I don’t know if it’s because of the fan base. The games still seemed to be exciting when I watched them on TV. My job is to have them prepared to play at Arrowhead, here or wherever.”

On if it was tough leaving Wisconsin after coaching in the Rose Bowl:
“I didn’t look at it that way. I took it as an opportunity to join Coach Weis and Coach (Dave) Campo, who I’ve admired and respected for years for what they have done in the professional game. There was no hesitation. It was a great opportunity at Wisconsin. Learning what I learned there, I’m hoping to bring some of those things here to Lawrence and hopefully get our kids playing at that level. I look forward to the challenge and getting us back on track because it wasn’t that long ago when the stands were filled, the crowd was going nuts. This is a great opportunity for me to come and be an impact.”

Director of Strength and Conditioning Scott Holsopple

On his initial reaction of being in Lawrence:
“To me, it wasn’t that difficult of a decision when you have a great head coach who is an even better person. Lawrence has been amazing so far. Everybody I’ve met so far has been so supportive.”

On what he inherited at KU as far as the condition the athletes are in:
“I haven’t spent a lot of time evaluating. I’m not worried about where we’re at right now. I’m worried about where I’m going to take them. When I wake up I have a vision in my head of what the training looks like and what these guys should look like. I just have to live in the moment and train every day, but at the same time be patient because if you jump too far you’ll skip over the most important parts of the fundamentals of conditioning.”

On his philosophy with student-athletes:
“You take it day-by-day. In strength training, you have certain marks that you try to get as a team and individually. What I mean by day-by-day is that every day is different. I’m not trying to train a piece of dough that I’m trying to mold, I’m training a person. Ninety percent of the game is mental. I’m training 18 to 22 year old kids, but hopefully when they leave they will be grown men. You have to be on edge at all times because there is more to it than just lifting weights.”

On some of the athletes he’s mentored in his young career:
“There have been so many that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. I started out at Penn State as a young assistant working with women’s volleyball. I still get emails and text messages from some of the women’s teams. Those mean just as much to me as a Dwayne Wade, who I was fortunate to work with. I was the fortunate one to work with a lot of these guys. Some of them are names you’ve never heard of, but five to 10 years down the road after I worked with them, you really get to see what kind of people they turned out to be. When you see some of the lessons you taught them and how they apply them, that is really what’s so special about coaching.”

Quarterbacks Coach Ron Powlus

On the importance of the quarterback position:
“On all levels of football, in just about any offense you’re looking at, the quarterback drives the ship. That’s no different here. We put a lot of responsibility on the quarterback position. We need guys that we can count on in those positions. We think from the three guys coming in here along with Mike (Cummings), who’s here, and Blake (Jablonski), who’s a young guy, we’ve done well with the position. We’ve put ourselves in a good position as far as quarterbacks go. From the quarterback’s perspective, when you have a chance to come in and work in our offense – I’ve had success with Coach Weis, and Coach Weis’ success that he’s had – it’s a pretty good position if you’re the player as well.”

On if his career at Notre Dame has any similarities to Dayne Crist’s:
“Well, we both ran out the tunnel, played on that field and represented and wore the gold helmet, so we certainly can relate in that regard. Not every facet of our careers went exactly as planned. It’s a little different in playing time and things like that, but life doesn’t always go as planned. I had a terrific experience as a student-athlete at Notre Dame representing the football program and the university as best I could on a weekly basis on national TV and in the national media. There’s no doubt that was a positive and huge part of my life. I won’t speak for Dayne, but I know he’s proud to be a graduate and have the experience he’s had. Now he’s looking forward to making the most of an opportunity here. We have things we can relate to, but it wasn’t exactly the same.”

On why he chose to accept a position at Kansas:
“I think it’s a great opportunity. First, it’s the opportunity to come back and work with Coach Weis, who I’ve learned a lot from and continue to learn from. It was an opportunity to come to a big conference – the Big 12 – and the success that the conference has had and the way it’s represented itself across the country. Then, drilling it down to be able to come to Kansas and be a part of a program that’s had really good success just a short time ago and help kind of tweak things and get it going in the direction we want it to go. As I investigated Kansas football and was looking at the campus and Lawrence, I heard great things from every single avenue that I investigated. It was a chance to come here where there’s great support for the program, a great opportunity for the program, work with Coach Weis and represent KU and the Big 12 Conference nationally.”

On how long it will take to establish a winning program:
“I think that’s what we get started on as soon as we start spring ball. Our goal isn’t just to go win a couple of games and go see what we can do. We want to win a bunch of games. We’re not going to make predictions and try to set a number out there or anything like that, but we have resources to win here. I think we have a head coach who is aggressive in the world of recruiting and the world of football and support from the athletics director and the campus at-large. We’ll put ourselves in a good position.”

Defensive Line Coach Buddy Wyatt

On the incoming recruiting class:
“I’m really pleased with the way that the class turned out. Defensive line-wise, I’m really excited about the kids we have coming in. I think our group is going to have a whole different look come next season. I thought we picked up a couple good defensive backs that we feel really good about. In the linebacker position, we picked up two young kids that really can play. They’re very productive. I’m excited about that. I think quarterback-wise, we made ourselves better at that position. Every position I thought we addressed. We didn’t fill all the holes. We made strides. We’ve improved the football team, so I’m really excited about that. I think the product on the field will be much improved next season.”

On how much he has spoken with defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Dave Campo:
“We were on the road a couple days together. We talked then, and we’ve been in the office a little bit. We’ve been talking. It’s been more recruiting and personnel than schematics, so we’ll get into that once we get back in the office next week.”

On how the defensive line will improve with the recruiting class:
“We thought going into it even before Coach Weis arrived – and obviously he saw the same thing – that that was an area we needed to approve. I thought with Ty McKinney, we got size and athleticism. He’s a 315-pound kid that can move. His brother actually plays basketball at TCU. He’s a 6-foot-9, 260-pound kid that plays basketball, so (Ty) has it in his genes. He was a basketball kid growing up, but he got too big to play basketball so he went the football route. We’re really excited about him. He’s got quick twitch, suddenness, and he’s a big guy, which we didn’t have a whole lot of size a year ago.”

“Keon Stowers is a wonderful young man. He’s at the military school, so you know he has to be pretty disciplined at this time. You’re just going to love that young man. It’s a joy being around him. He’s a 280-pound kid that’s really put together solidly that can play a three-technique for you or he can play a five. He can play a lot of different positions. He’s athletic enough, but he’s extremely strong.”

“Jordan Tavai, we got into recruiting later in the process. What I know about Jordan in the time that I had to spend with him is he’s very sharp. He knows football. He’s been well coached at his junior college because he understands the game really well. He’s very athletic. I think he’s going to bring us that pass rush from the interior that we haven’t had since I’ve been here. I feel really, really good about that.”

“I think (Tyler Holmes) is a hard-working young man. He’s already up to 280 pounds. He looks like he’s a junior in college right now, so we’ve definitely beefed up the interior with size. I think we’ve added athleticism as well, so I’m really excited about that.”

Running Backs Coach Reggie Mitchell

On Charlie Weis:
“It’s unique in that he’ll get after them, but he cares. Like he tells the players all the time, ‘I’ve had an 18 year old son, so I get it.’ When you talk to him, you think you’re going to go 12-0 because he has this air about himself, this confidence. That’s something at this point in time that we need here. When you talk to him for 10 minutes, you’re ready to go out and run through a wall, so I think the transition has been good. The players have bought in. He’s put together a good staff. Like he said, he learned from Notre Dame. He came here to win, and that’s the reason why he’s done some things in recruiting that he’s done. He’s planned for that. So far, it’s working. He still has some things he wants to do as far as signing other guys, so he’s constantly working recruiting. He has a certain type of discipline that he wants, and guys are really buying into it.”

On how this coaching transition compared to previous ones he’s experienced:
“This has been the smoothest I’ve ever seen. Coach (Weis) came in, he had a plan and he said, ‘Guys, this is what we’re going to do. This is how we’re going to do it, and this is how we’re going to sell it. You can put your personality into a little bit, but this is what we’re saying and this is what we’re doing.’ It’s been great.”

On how he sells Kansas when recruiting:
“The one thing to sell is it’s a great university. There are good people here in Lawrence. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. The other thing you can sell now is you can sell who’s been to the ultimate. Every kid aspires to go to the NFL. Everybody wants to go to the Super Bowl. Here’s a guy who has been successful and he was successful at Notre Dame. He’s been successful everywhere he’s gone. When you talk to kids, you can say that here is a guy who has been there and done that.”

On how Charlie Weis assembled the coaching staff with chemistry in mind:
“He said when he was at New England (Patriots) going to Notre Dame, he did everything over the phone. He said he hired good football coaches, but there was a chemistry problem. Everybody on this staff that he hired he met with, so they had to come to Lawrence to meet with him. He wasn’t going to hire a guy over the phone. He wasn’t going to take a recommendation from a guy. He wanted to sit down, see him face-to-face and tell them what his goal was and his vision for the program. His big thing was chemistry.”