Friday, January 18, 2008

What Rhoads had to say

Here's a transcript of Paul Rhoads' conference call with media on Friday. See Saturday's Star for analysis:


--Opening statement
“Let me start off by saying that it’s great to be an Auburn Tiger. Very excited to be here and very grateful for Coach Tuberville giving me this opportunity. Excited to get to work just as quick as we can.”

--What changed in six years, since you turned down the job in 2002?
“That was quick. I thought it might take three or four questions before we got into that. What appeals to me obviously is the chance to compete at the very highest level in college football. I don’t think there’s much argument that the Southeastern Conference is the premier football conference in the country. The opportunity to meet that challenge head on at an institution that plays football as well as Auburn University does, that was the obvious appeal to me.
“My profession is very nomadic, as you all know, but if you look at my track record, I don’t follow that. I’ve been very stable in my stops and my progression along the way, and, after two years at Pittsburgh, after just taking over and getting started on what we feel was a very exciting run, I didn’t think it was time to uproot that quickly. We had a very good football team. We were 12th in the country in total defense at that time, and the year after I turned this opportunity down we were seventh in the country. We thought we had a chance to win our league and be there to challenge on the national scene. That’s why it wasn’t right at the time. For the reasons that it wasn’t right at that time, it has been now, and I’m very eager and excited to be here.”

--Your view on your career decisions over the years, why you've stayed put longer?
“Well, I think, I don’t know if you set out with a thought in mind of building a resume completely when you make all of those decisions, but I started at the entry level and then continuing on up that progression by level of conference, I feel, and by level of position, and when I finally got the opportunity to be a defensive coordinator at Pitt in 2000 and then getting two years into that, I just didn’t think that was the right time. And there are other reasons that don’t need to be brought up that didn’t affect the decision as much as two years was too soon to jump at that time. By staying there eight years and the things that we accomplished in that time, I think it provides the right time to leap and meet this next opportunity head on here in the SEC and at Auburn University.”

--Schemes stay the same? How do AU's schemes mix and match with what you do?
“I think the obvious is that Auburn finished sixth in the country in total defense, I believe. So coming in with broom and sweeping everything clean and making wholesale adjustments and changes would be quite foolish. At the same time, we played pretty good defense ourselves, and I obviously have confidence in my background and the things that we have done over the years to be successful, so we’ll take a fast look at what we’re doing here, what’s been very good and why it’s been very good and continue to do that. Then at the same time, we’ll start to mesh things that I know are going to work well and have been successful and put together what’s going to be a very fine Auburn offense in 2008.”

--Auburn ran a mix of 3-4 and 4-3 last season. How does your past match?
“It’s too early to really get in great detail about that. My background is not as much 3-4 as was ran last year, but certainly the 4-3 scheme will stay as a staple within the defense. I’m excited to get more involved with 3-4 scheme. We did play a 30 front, played it situationally and played it quite well, but not as extensive as they have here, and I look forward to getting more involved in that in the months and weeks to come.”

--What is your basic philosophy?
“I’ll start out with the fact that we are going to be fundamentally sound before I even talk scheme. I know we’ve already talked 4-3 and 3-4. Before we ever talk scheme, we are going to be very fundamentally sounds. By that I mean, we’re going to backpedal well. We’re going to take great steps as linebackers. We’re going to get off and use our hands well. We’re going to do all of the things that a great defensive football team does fundamentally. We’re going to be sound schematically as a defense. We’re going to have people in the gaps that they’re supposed to be in. We’re going to have people deep and keep offensive players in front of us. We’re going to do all of those things, regardless of scheme. We’re going to tackle extremely well. It’s obvious that the better athletes that you’re playing with, the better tacklers you’re going to have, but I believe wholeheartedly that you can teach tackling. You can teach average athletes to be great tacklers and great athletes to be even better tacklers. And we’re going to run to the football. Those things I can guarantee you.
“From a schematic standpoint, we’ll blend fronts. We’ll play a mix of zone. We’ll play a mix of zone pressure and we’ll play a mix of blitz. That’s very generally stated, but we’re going to use all of those tools. We’re going to use all of those coverages. Percentages will very from week to week, and that often depends on an opponent and what they’re trying to accomplish. Those first four things I can guarantee you’ll see on the football field.”

--What is your recruiting schedule for this weekend?
“I have no thorough idea at this point. As a matter of fact, I was just handed an itinerary and a list of recruits and families that are going to be on campus this weekend and haven’t had a chance to really talk about it in any great detail, but I will be jumping into it with both feet and looking forward to meeting all of the recruits and their families as well as our player hosts that are going to be around this weekend.”

--What was the time frame of your contact with Tommy Tuberville about the job?
“No, I really don’t want to get into that. Coach Tuberville will certainly address that if it becomes an appropriate time to do so. I’m happy to be here today and very eager to get started.”

--You were valedictorian of your high school. Were you a serious student?
“The graduating class was somewhere in the neighborhood of 330, I believe. I really don’t know if I can say that I was really that serious of a student. I come from an educational background. My father was a high school teacher and a high school football coach. My mother was also a teacher, although she long given than up to raise five children by the time I was of age. I’m the youngest of five, but I did enjoy school. I do enjoy the educational process, and that’s true today with football. I think the educational process in coaching is ongoing. It takes place every day. It’s one of the things that drives me on a daily basis to become a better football coach.”

--Are your kids coming now or later?
“Family is awfully important to me, and we’ll get them down here as soon as we can. Most people back home and most people we’re associated with just assume that they will finish out the school year and then move. My wife and I want to get them down here as fast as we can and get them around the Auburn family and the Auburn community. We want to get them into these schools down here and hopefully make some buddies as fast as they can and get involved in the local athletics and head into the summer time with a good group of friends they can be associated with.”

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