COACH TILLER: Anyway, this will be number 44 for me, so you know I think I'm probably as excited about this year as I was at No. 1.
You know, I think we've got a chance to have a good football team. We don't know that much about our team just yet in the sense that this fall is ironic. The last year I'm going to coach was the most unusual spring that I've ever been around in that we had 15 players that we are counting on or planning on being starters that missed all or the majority of spring practice.
So my message to our team was before they broke for the end of the spring semester was that we have a very important summer ahead of us and a very important training camp ahead of us.
The fact that we have a quarterback that will leave Purdue after being a three-and-a-half-year starter I think bodes well for the program and that's a pretty good place to start with the guy behind the center.
So having said that, our kicking game and our kicker had an exceptional year, a rebound year last year. I think he was 22-of-26, so you know, I think our kicking situation is significantly better than it was a year ago when I stood up here, so having said that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q. Coach, what do you feel your legacy is now that you're going into your final year? A lot of people were very curious about you when you first came with this wide-open offense from Wyoming. You took Purdue to the Rose Bowl and a number of Bowls. Inside what do you feel your legacy is?
COACH TILLER: I think number one, a number of people are still curious about me. Some of the comments I've made, I'm coming here, by the way, from Wyoming and I'm going back to Wyoming to finish a little more trout fishing here before we head back to West Lafayette.
I suppose the fact that we were able to bring the Purdue program from the depths to being very competitive. I'm not a statistic guy in the sense that I'm more into the players than I am into the statistics of any given player, but I think we're either third or fourth. I know we're no lower than fourth and we might be third in the Big Ten in the last 12 years since we've been at Purdue with number of wins.
So I think the fact that when I went to Purdue they had 12 non-Bowl seasons and maybe 11 of the 12 had been losing seasons, what have you, to the fact where we've been competitive every year and will be once again this year, probably that's what most folks will refer to I suppose.
Q. How does the success of from having the guy taking over this year making adjust how you approach this year in any way?
COACH TILLER: Not at all. The reason I say not at all, I think it's an easy transition because Danny Hope is rejoining the staff. Danny was with us at the University of Wyoming. He was with us our first five years at Purdue. He's a guy that I'm very comfortable with and he's very comfortable with me.
He's a very good offensive line coach. I think we actually suffered when he left our staff because of the intensity that he brings on board, the passion that he brings on board, et cetera, and I think that was demonstrated this spring with him coming back on the staff.
According to him, and I have no reason to doubt him, he enjoyed the spring. He enjoyed being a position coach again. One thing about it as a head coach, when you get into the head coaching element, it's more of a managerial role than it is a coaching role and you end up doing a lot of things that you've never done before in your life. And if you have a real passion for the sport you want to be a hands-on guy in terms of teaching the sport, et cetera, and you know Danny did that this spring and that's what his role will be this fall.
He checks in with me often and asks me if there's anything in particular that I want him to do and whatever. But he's been perfect; he's been a model assistant coach since he's been back. The fact that our families know each other extremely well and of course we work together well, I think this is going to go extremely well.
Q. Coach, share with us your thoughts on the most endearing relationship you've had amongst your coaching staff among the more tenured as well as the guys you've had a chance of competing against in the league over the course of your career.
COACH TILLER: Well, you know, I've met very few coaches that I haven't liked. I think there's a mutual respect that exists within the profession and I think it's particularly true of the Big Ten Conference. There haven't been any coaches that we've gotten crossways with. So you know, I've enjoyed all the guys.
I seem to gravitate toward Coach Paterno more than anyone else, and maybe it's because I'm the closest to his age. I don't know. But our wives are close. But we've enjoyed the camaraderie there. I just wish we could beat him on the field a little bit more.
But I've gotten along well with all the coaches. I'd like to think if you can't get along with Joe Tiller there's something wrong with you. I've never had an issue with a coach. I've always gotten along well with guys.
As far as guys that I've coached with, I think that people ask me what I'm going to miss, you know, when I'm no longer coaching, and I think the relationship with staff is something that I'll miss.
We spend so many hours together as a staff, you have to genuinely like each other. If you don't genuinely like each other, you know, it can provide some contentious moments, et cetera.
It took me a little while when I first became a head coach to figure out that a guy's ability to fit in with the staff and blend in with the staff is really the most significant thing that he brings with him besides his knowledge and his experience, et cetera, is his ability to blend in to our staff and not at all be disruptive.
I've been very fortunate over the years that I've enjoyed a majority of the coaches that have ever coached, I've coached with and have coached for me and I think I'll miss that camaraderie of the staff, and I don't have a favorite. If I did, somebody else would say, I thought I was your favorite.
So that's interesting, the relationship you have with the coaches. But I've been very fortunate with that way and I've always placed a premium on hiring a guy who not only can contribute but more important, not be disruptive to the staff.
Q. Can you take some pride in the fact that so many other schools have adopted your offensive style?
COACH TILLER: Not really. I think it was going to happen sooner or later. Young people like to throw and catch and run around and high five each other and enjoy having fun playing the game. I think the style of offense is a fun style, I guess, to participate in.
You know, young people, if you want to keep them involved in the sport of football, you have to provide, you know, an outlet that is enjoyable to them, not just a highly disciplined or regimented style of play. So, you know, it doesn't surprise me at all that the spread offense has really swept the nation.
It's almost --to me it's almost a reflection of our society in that things can be instant in the spread offense. And I often times refer to our society as being an instant gratification society so the spread offense just fits right in. We've just done our part to help America be better.
Q. Joe Paterno is in the final year of his contract and his future won't be decided until after the season so I guess there's the possibility he won't be back. Can you imagine Penn State without Joe?
COACH TILLER: Yeah, because he's not going to coach forever. Somebody is going to have to coach there someday. If I were Tim Curley I would try to sign him to another long-term contract, maybe another 40 years or so, but that's probably not going to happen. But Coach Paterno, I think college football, certainly Penn State will miss him when he decides that he's not going to coach anymore.
I think college football will miss him probably even more so, and that's a pretty strong statement. But my experience with Coach Paterno has been a real leader and a visionary guy. I'll never forget when we first met with the old CFA, College Football Association, of which the Big Ten and the Pac-10 were not members but all the other conferences were members and they were independent at the time but the NCAA was going to cut a coach off of everybody's staff, eliminate a staff position.
And I can remember him being in the league tank in terms of defending the significance of having a coach on your staff that influenced young people and the impact they have on young people and how we could impact in a negative way the loss of that coach with regards to the game itself.
And I just think that, you know, he's a guy that's never been timid in terms of rendering an opinion, and I think college football is going to miss him greatly when he decides. I personally hope he keeps on keeping on. I kind of compare him to the Energizer Bunny. Just keeps on ticking.
Q. The Big Ten in some ways has become a league everyone likes to pick on nationally. What do you think the Big Ten has to do, if anything, to improve its image nationally?
COACH TILLER: I don't know, maybe short-circuit out all the bloggers of the world. I'm a real techno wizard, as you well know. I might be the only coach, probably Coach Paterno, but I don't have an e-mail address, but everybody today wants to weigh in on everything. And I think that you have a lot of people expressing themselves through foot or horseback. You tend to get some comparisons that really are out of whack.
I don't know, just I've been around them for three weeks so I've been out of touch with civilization, and it's very nice I might add, but I did pick up a newspaper in the airport yesterday flying in here, and I read something about the ACC, you know, and their dilemma with postseason play, et cetera.
I thought -- I can't recall what coach it was, maybe it was Tommy Bowden, Coach Bowden has said things are cyclical and the pendulum swings back and forth. When you've been coaching 44 years, you notice that and experience that, and you realize that's the way it is.
The Big Ten Conference is very healthy, it's very competitive and a lot has been placed on the one game, and that's unfortunate. But I think overall our conference is, like I said, very healthy, very competitive, and let the critics say what they may. But let's just stay focused on our conference and continue to compete.
I thought it was interesting that when I was out there I did happen to turn TV on once and when I turned the TV on it was the Big 12 having their media day and Coach Hawkins, of course, they cover quite well out there and the coach mentioned that the Big 12 and how they beat up on each other, and I'm thinking, well, guess what, it happens in every damn league. Every game is competitive. It's really hard to run the table in the league, and if you do, you've got yourself a very good football team. I don't put that much stock in that business about jumping on the Big Ten for not winning a National Championship game.
Q. You recruited a young man from East Chicago, Indiana, Kawann Short. What is his status as far as being a student at Purdue and being a member of your football program?
COACH TILLER: I think he's going to be fine. I called the office. I just tell everyone that calls me from the office that you're fired so don't call me when I'm on vacation. Anyway, I've checked in multiple times and I think he's going to be fine.