Kansas Football OC/OL Coach John Reagan Meets with Media

Newly hired Kansas offensive coordinator and offensive line coach John Reagan met with the media for the first time since taking the job in early December during a press conference inside the Anderson Family Football Complex Monday afternoon. Reagan touched on his offensive philosophies, KU’s current personnel and putting the offensive scheme together, jumping into the last months of recruiting, and about transitioning back to KU. The full media session can be viewed for free in the Jayhawk Digital Passport, and a transcript of selected responses is included below. 

Reagan comes back to KU after recently completing his fourth season at Rice, where the Owls defeated Marshall in the Conference USA Championship game. Reagan has mentored several outstanding offensive linemen, including KU’s 2007 All-American Anthony Collins, a finalist for the Outland Trophy and a fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. Jeff Spikes and Jeremiah Hatch earned freshman All-American honors in 2008 under Reagan during his first stint at Kansas, while others earned All-Big 12 honors. Prior to his first coaching stint with the Jayhawks, Reagan, a Syracuse graduate, coached at Air Force and Temple.

Kansas Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach John Reagan
Opening Statement:
“Well first, it is exciting to be back. Obviously, we’ve had a couple months of recruiting that I’ve been back for and I’m excited about that and excited about the class, but more so ready to get ready for football now and start implementing an offense that’s different than what’s been done. And so I’m excited to be here.”

On if the Houson area is a recruiting strenght for him:
“I don’t know if it’s a strength or not, that would be other people’s judgment on it. But certainly, it’s an area I recruited for four of the five years that I was here. I had different portions all at one time, and then we divided it and a couple of us went into Houston and tried to make a few more inroads into it. But certainly it is an area I’ve recruited quite a bit.”

On if his time at Rice made the Houston recruiting roots even deeper:
“Certainly there are some deep roots and some great friends there, people that I met on the recruiting trail and got to know on a much closer basis, having some daily interaction with them. I never had a true recruiting area when I was there; I only had a recruiting area for one year there. I certainly have some ties there and friendships with coaches and people who will keep me abreast of what’s going on.”

On the quarterback decision for next season:
“I think that all pieces of the puzzle will fit together eventually. You like to say you’re going into spring ball knowing exactly how it’s going to turn out, and if I said that I’d probably be lying because I don’t know if I have a full picture right now. Figuring out who the quarterback will be depends a whole lot on who the o-line is. To figure out who the o-line is might have a lot to do with who the quarterbacks and receivers are, in all honesty. We’ve got to put this whole thing together and it’s not that these pieces are set in stone and you add other pieces to it, it’s figuring out how all these pieces fit together. There’s not a puzzle we’re trying to build, there’s a puzzle we’re trying to put together and we’ll figure out what it looks like later.”

On if he has had time to evaluate what he’s inherited yet:
“I’ve had some time. I wouldn’t sit here and say that I have any idea what that picture is going to look like, so I wouldn’t say that’s enough. To be honest, so much of the game is so fluid and so much of the spread offense is so fluid, it can change depending on who is there. So to say that I’m coming into it with a preconceived notion would not be fair to anyone involved.”

On evaluating Kansas’ offense over the last two years:
“The only way to evaluate them is to see them on your own. Certainly, that’s the only way to evaluate them is in a game situation. It does give me some advantage as opposed to if KU hadn’t played (against Rice) last year. (I) obviously have an advantage over that.”

On if he has an advantage having played KU at Rice:
“Playing against us, no. I could tell you what I know our defense did when I was at Rice, but I’d be lying about that too.”

On if he envisioned himself coming back to KU:
“Certainly, I think, anyone who knows me, knows me well enough that my kids were still here in Lawrence. I have a nine-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. It was torture not being in the same town as them. So yeah, I could envision myself coming back, but I had no idea how it would happen. I just knew that whether it was them coming closer to me, or me trying to get to them, that was something I could certainly envision. I have a lot of good friends in Lawrence. It was probably the first place I coached where I felt like I was in a real neighborhood with real people who cared what I did, but didn’t care who I was. I was just the dad down the street. During that time here, I felt like we did some things that were pretty special. I think looking at it from history in advance, people would have said that. Looking at it now, in the rear-view mirror, people say that. We certainly have some pride in the fact that we were able to do that and we want to do it again. The vision is there, and the vision was there. Excitement was by far the No. 1 initial emotion that came through and you start looking at it and saying, ‘What are the possibilities? What are the things that can happen? Is it a smart, great move?’ And all the pieces started coming together for me then.”

On if it is an advantage that he has coached at various programs:
“I think it’s true for any of us, whether it’s coaching college football or looking at a perspective of any parts of our lives, all you see is the exact same thing over and over again and it’s hard to imagine an outside world. I’ve lived all over the country; I did growing up and I have in college football. I’ve always tried to take something new from everywhere. I think for anyone, the chance to go away and then come back, you sit here and complain about this and that and the other thing you complain about this, that and other different things. None of us on this earth are in a utopia. It’s just a matter of putting it together and truly into perspective.”

On if he likes having options at the quarterback position:
“It’s like who fits Todd Reesing best, and the answer is nobody. There are certain guys that have certain things about them that are unique. We certainly molded things there (at Rice) for Taylor’s (McHargue) ability and to say that is what we should be doing here, I don’t know if that is the right answer. I think we do have ‘options,’ which is the correct term, at quarterback. What I am anxious to see is how those guys perform in the spring, and to see who gives the team — not the offense — but gives the team the best chance to win.”

On T.J. Millweard’s tapes from UCLA:
“I will tell you that I did all I could to make sure I have seen each one of our quarterbacks on film. So, do I spend time studying it? No, but (I watched) just to kind of get a feel. You want to have some idea of what other people think that quarterback is capable of doing, because that is how they ran their offenses, obviously.”

On his impressions of Millweard:
“He doesn’t have a whole lot of game experience, obviously. Individually, he has a lot of talent. It is hard to know, I’m beating around the bush obviously, but it’s hard to know a quarterback doing something in an offense that you know nothing about really; it’s tough. Had he played a whole year at UCLA; I know what they were doing, we played them (at Rice), so I have an idea, but I can’t really do that when it is all said and done. But, I certainly see talents that can make him a winner in Division I football.”

On what makes Millweard a winner:
“He can throw the football pretty well, he spins it pretty good. But unless you are behind an all-SEC offensive line — but even then sometimes, as we saw in the championship game — you need a QB that keeps plays alive. I don’t know how much they have to be able to run the football down the field. Everyone used to love to talk about how Taylor (McHargue) ran the football; he wasn’t necessarily the greatest runner, he just kept plays live. Those talents whether it’s TJ (Millweard), Montell (Cozart), Jake (Heaps), Michael (Cummings), whoever it may be anywhere down the line — and I apologize if I left anyone’s name out, I probably did — those are talents that you want to have unless you’ve got that massive offensive line in front of them.”

On if it is hard to evaluate Jake Heaps:
“I think it is tough to evaluate any quarterback. I used to get all over Taylor McHargue (Rice) a year ago; I would be killing him about his completion percentage when we had two or three drops a game, and that hurts. There is pressure coming from the left side and pressure coming from the right side, and that hurts a quarterback. The only fair way to do it is to have them all in the same system and ask them to do whatever it is they do best in that system to try to evaluate them. That is what we will try to do this spring.”

On having an advantage in recruiting for Kansas, being here before:
“Too often, coaches — and you hear them talking about it at conventions and amongst each other — are trying to sell the schools they are at, and I think that is mistake. We are talking about young men and their futures; their future not only in football, but in college and beyond that. I never had, at my time at Kansas, felt I needed to sell it and that is something I truly believe in — a place that I think is unique. I think it is a great college town, I think it’s a place the fans come out and support you and so it is easy to do that. I think not feeling like I had to talk about something I didn’t know about certainly was an advantage. Starting it two months later than I would have in that class was a disadvantage, but at least I didn’t have that as a disadvantage as well.”

On if he believes Charlie Weis’ presence as a position coach gives him less-control of the offense:
“Not at all. It is a decision that we both came to. I don’t have any concern about it at all. I think it (offensive strategy) so vastly different, from the outside perspective looking at what they’ve done here in the past, the packages I envision putting together are so vastly different that I have no concerns about it whatsoever.”

On how he evaluates players on the offensive line:
“The first thing you look at is how many numbers you have at the various positions. The more options you have, the more ways you can put things together. Right now, we don’t necessarily have those numbers. You want every position to be athletic, but there are certain things that you are going to ask certain positions to do. You are going to ask tackles to keep great defensive ends and pass rushers off of your quarterback, and they need to have the skills and attributes to do that. It is no different if you are playing in the Orange Bowl with a 5-foot-10 quarterback, sometimes you have to change things, forget what the numbers say and what the experts say, you have to change things and be more creative. That will be the challenge up front.”

On what is a staple to being successful in the Big 12:
“You have to be consistent. That is the one thing I noticed last season when evaluating KU, the consistency on offense probably wasn’t where they wanted it to be. We have to be consistent. If you look at the stats at any place I’ve been, you have to be able to run the football. I think if you are a much more talented team than everybody else you play, you can sling it all over the field and try to run as many plays as you want to. I don’t think that style fits everybody, I don’t think that fits the mold we have. The opportunities to make plays is there because we have playmakers here. That is one thing that I am very excited about. There is some skill-talent here that will be fun to work with, and fun to let them show their talents. We have to be consistent and be able to run the football, and when the opportunities to make plays are there, we’ll have to do that. We also have to take care of the football. The turnover-margin is going to be imperative, even when you are spread out and doing a lot of different things, you have to take care of the football.”

On if this team will have its own identity on offense:
“There is no question, we will definitely have our own identity. To tell you what that is going to be, I can’t do that yet. I don’t think you’ll see us as a team, one week we’ll do this and another week we’ll do that. There will be trinkets and changes each week, but I think you’ll see things that are very familiar from game one to game 12 and 13.”

On if he sees the parts here to make a good offensive line:
“There is no question that the ability is here. I have to do the best that I can do to put them in the right positions, both tackles, guards and center, and also, with play-schemes and protections to give them the right chance to do that. If there are five guys that are willing to work their tails off and believe in everything we are doing, we’ll be just fine up front. If we have six, seven, eight, or even nine up front, we’ll be pretty good up front. If we can continue to recruit like that, we have a chance to be pretty special.”