Mack Brown Press Conference: Talking Military Bowl, His First Year on the Job and More

Brant Wilkerson-New

North Carolina coach Mack Brown met with the media on Monday, making his first comments since the Tar Heels accepted an invitation to the Military Bowl, where they'll meet Temple on Dec. 27.

Here's what the coach had to say:

Opening Comments

Hello to everybody. I hope everybody has a happy holiday season. We haven't seen you since N.C. State and really proud of the way the guys played, especially in the second half. We had trouble standing up in the first half, slipped a lot on both sides of the ball, made some adjustments at halftime and that's the best third quarter we've had since we've been here for sure. I did feel like with the Mercer game as much better as we were than they were that the guys had fun and got a lot of confidence and really enjoyed seeing each other make plays. It was kind of funny that that ended up leading to a lot of confidence for N.C. State. I thought the guys weren't panicked at halftime. We should've been doing more than we were and came back out and had a great second half, and then when you beat your rival and you go out recruiting it really helps you. All the high school coaches are happy for you and the kids. So, that was a big win and an important win for us and it puts us to the next step which is the bowl game and we're excited that we're going to the Military Bowl for a number of reasons, but it's close. So, all of our guys can drive and they get to make money because they got mileage, so they'll all hop in a van and a bunch of them will go up together and they get to split the money. So, that helps them for one thing, and then it's also close enough for a lot of our fans to get there and the parents can go see their children play and also the high school coaches. We also want to recruit a lot in the Northern Virginia and Maryland areas so we'll have an open practice our first practice there on the 23rd. All the recruits can come even though we can't talk to them because it's a dead period, but their high school coaches can come, and also any of our fans and boosters can come and bring their children. So, we felt like that would be good to have the first open practice up there. From a recruiting and a fan standpoint and of course we want you (the media) to be there. We always want you to be at practice.

Playing Temple, I was fortunate enough to call one of their games about all three or four years I did Friday night football, so I watched Coach (Geoff) Collins at Temple. I saw him do a great job and I saw Matt Rhule at Temple and see the 'Temple Tough' was their motto and all the guys with single-digit numbers had to earn it from the coaches and they had to earn it in the offseason by being their toughest and best players, and then I actually called one of Rod Carey's games. I called the championship game for him at Northern Illinois when he was playing Bowling Green. So, I know quite a bit about Temple and about Coach Carey. Coach Carey worked with Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois and they were all very successful there. So, he's a tremendous coach. They really are good at both lines of scrimmage. That front seven on defense will take your head off and they've got Quincy Roche that's the defensive player of the year in the American Conference. He's a tremendous pass rusher, but a great player, and they beat Georgia Tech and they beat Memphis and played Cincinnati down to the end. Cincinnati and Memphis were the two who played for the championship in that league. So, they're a great opponent for us.

As far as our health, you know the guys that are out for the year. Other than that everybody's ready to play unless we've announced them out for the year. So, we should have more depth than we've had and that'll help us.

We've had very physical practices here the first couple of days. We'll have four in a row, which is unusual. We practiced Saturday morning in shorts to get them to come back and get going. We always practice the first day back for bowl practice in shorts because of Rick Steinbacher. We were playing West Virginia in the Gator Bowl and we came back and had an inside drill in pads live and he broke his wrist and he was our captain and didn't get to play. So, at that point I decided since that day we have not gone in pads our first bowl practice because I want them to get back in the routine of football and low pads and protecting themselves because they've been off for two weeks for finals, but the guys have competed. They'll practice again tomorrow morning, and then we're taking off for signing day, so the coaches will have their full day to get their job done with recruits and have a great signing day and have a signing day party Wednesday night, and then we'll come back and practice Thursday. Friday morning they'll go home. They'll be home for a day and a half or so, and then on the 22nd they have to be at a six o'clock meeting in (Washington) D.C. So, they'll have a little bit of time at home, and then we'll have Christmas there, so we have a lot of things planned for them for Christmas Day and it'll be a lot of fun.

As far as our juniors, right now, every junior has told us they're coming back. Obviously, that can change, but Coach (Darrell) Moody sits down and talks to every one of them about their draft status and what they need to improve if they are going out (for the draft) and what some of the concerns would be with the scouts since he's done that for 19 years and right now they're all saying that they would like to come back.

Signing Day we're planning on signing 25 guys as of right now. Obviously, you never know about Signing Day, but that's what we have plans for and we've been told by all 25 that they are coming. You never want drama on signing day unless it's positive drama. You don't have many surprises that are good on signing day...Usually if you have one it's not good.

What's the most excited you've ever seen Sam Howell?

I saw some emotion when he threw the touchdown pass at the end of the Miami game, I saw some emotion at the end of the Duke game when we won and I saw emotion, a lot of emotion, in the third quarter against N.C. State, but what I saw more than anything else is him starting to learn to lead. He knows how to lead in high school, but you're overloaded as the quarterback. You're trying to learn what to do and it's hard until you've proven yourself to start leading everybody else, and then even in the Mercer game after he broke his record the whole team was so excited for him, which I thought was good, and then anytime any walk-on go down and make a great play on kickoffs Sam's the first time to go see him and he's down talking to the defense and special teams now. So, he's really matured as a leader and I thought that was never more evident than when they voted him captain. So, for a freshman to be captain is pretty cool by the vote of the players.

How soon was Sam's name mentioned to you when you took the job last year?

I think before I took it. Sam was the player, the great player, in this state that we felt like we had to have. We knew we had two quarterbacks here that both played and had gotten hurt, so we didn't know if Sam would be concerned about that. He never even asked. It wasn't an issue. He didn't care who's here and he loves to compete and his questions to me, along with his parents, were what kind of offense are you going to run, who's going to be the offensive coordinator? That was it. There was nothing else because I think he grew up wanting to come here, and we needed to be cool enough for him to come here. We needed to fit what he wanted and what he needed, and when I hired Coach (Phil) Longo because I was talking to his dad about every day. He'd say, 'You got anybody yet?' and I said, 'No, I'm kind of busy. I've got a few other things going on,' but when we hired Phil, Phil's first stop was Sam, and then after that Sam felt really comfortable with Phil and our offense and Mom and Dad felt comfortable, and we felt really good after Phil was hired that we would be able to get Sam.

What was that first impression you got with Sam compared to some of the other quarterbacks you've recruited?

Well, he was very quiet. He'd never met me and he's not a talkative guy anyway, and I think he was trying to figure me out: 'What's his deal?' or 'Why'd you come back? Who're you going to hire?' So, really the only question they had, it was kind of like, 'Call me back when you get an offensive coordinator, and we'll talk again.' I told him we wanted to run an offense like Oklahoma. That's who we were going to be. We were going to have some of the passing concepts of an air raid offense with a power-run game and that's who we are, and then he said, 'I got it. That sounds great. That's what I want to do. It's a lot of RPOs, but give me a name,' and then I looked at two or three different guys and as soon as I got Phil I said, 'Your first stop has to be in Charlotte.' So, he hit it immediately.

Can you coach leadership with Sam or do you sit back and watch how it happens naturally for him?

You have to let it happen naturally because he's got so much on his mind, and this offense, is so quarterback-driven that he's got a lot to think about and a lot to do and he's got to be ready every practice to go out there and make decisions. So we felt like that the summer work was important that he earned some leadership qualities from the guys over summer, because I asked them and they said, ‘Oh yeah, he's a great leader.’ And so he was doing some things behind the scenes, but then we wanted to see it out here and on the game field during the game. And that just naturally came to him.

With 10 practices before the bowl game, how do you approach those in terms of working strictly with the ones and twos and the trying to get younger guys some snaps?

We are taking these practices and we're working part of them like a spring practice for the young ones. And we have told the young ones, ‘You are earning playing time right now in spring practice.’ We have 15 practices in the spring, three of them are in shorts, so you really got 12, so this is a spring practice for us. We are taking those guys and any time there, we're putting them in inside drills, we're really being physical with the young guys and asking them to compete so we can see exactly who they are if they haven't played a lot this fall. And then on Thursday morning, I will take the highlight film of all the guys we signed, and especially the 12 that are coming in early, and I'll show these guys, ‘here's who you're going to be competing with.’ So 12 will have a chance in spring to compete with you. The other group will have a chance when they get here in June, but understand it's not just guys that are on this campus now that you're competing with. You're competing at a higher level. And we're going to bring in some really good players that will make it much more competitive. Then you're still working on Temple every day. And what you'll do is when we leave here and go to D.C., it'll be all Temple. We will not do anything other than Temple there. But here we feel like that there's a lot we can get done with young ones to evaluate them.

You’ve talked about your opinions on the early signing period and some of the challenges. With this being your first bowl season with the early signing period, has that made it more difficult?

It hasn't. I tried to see all 12 guys that are coming in early before they get here because I wanted them to be there. And I think I've gotten 11 of the 12. One I'll have to go to later, and it'll be local so it'll be easy for me to have him run home and see it. And then I'll see all the other guys in January that are coming in June. But for us, if your bowl game is on Signing Day, which some of them were last year, I think it's a disaster. I mean I can't even imagine you're trying to get guys in the morning and play the game in the afternoon. But ours will be good because we can get it done. We’re actually taking a day off because we've had four straight practices and it'll divide the last two. And our coaches and our players really didn't want to practice on Signing Day because we all felt like it would be probably a distraction for them. But I don't think it's been a problem at all.

I really think the biggest issue is the new coach. It's a nightmare for the new coach. If you're Jeff Scott in Central Florida and you’re preparing for a playoff and trying to hire staff and trying to recruit while you're practicing at another school. That's more difficult than I had it last year when I came in here and just had to get a staff together. I didn't have any practices, I didn't have a bowl, I didn't have a team I was leaving, so all that makes it much more difficult.

On this subject of getting ready for a playoff, or a national championship a couple of times in your case, how different are those bowl practices based on what you're trying to accomplish as opposed to playing in any other bowl?

They're not different at all. For our guys, I think when we ask how many that we're playing that have been to a bowl. There were five. We ask how many beat Duke, there were five. We ask how many had beat State, there were five. So this is really important to these seniors that they win. So whether it's a playoff game or a national championship or winning season, it's all about your circumstances and it's really important for our guys to have a winning season.

What have you found over the years to be the biggest challenges for guys playing in their first bowl game? Or do you feel like it's less pressure?

No, the biggest challenge is that when they get to the bowl game, there's activities and the routine is totally different for guys who haven't done it. So a lot of teams get tired by the bowl game because they're practicing. They're up walking around way too much and they're not taking care of themselves. So we've always tried to say get in bed, I mean, save your legs. And our practices are a little bit different there than they are here because they're lighter there because we know when our Monday practice there will be Tuesday because we're playing on Friday, so we don't have a lot of time to prepare when we get there. So we want to make sure that we're fresh for Friday.

Where are you practicing up there?

I think at Georgetown. Let's get all that information for the guys and make sure Corey's done all that. So I've heard it change about three times.

You're staying in D.C.?

We're staying in D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel, which I think is right there near the capitol.

Did you really think that a year ago that this could be a bowl team the more you got to know them?

I said it the day I met them and then at some point I thought I might have overloaded myself a little bit, but I really felt like in spring we were pretty bad on defense. And then the new guys came that had been hurt and I saw some hope and then we got a bunch of guys hurt again. But I felt like in the preseason that we could be a bowl team. And obviously Sam had to come on after we decided he was the guy and then Cade Fortin left and then you lose Jace Ruder. So it's been amazing that we've been able to navigate through those waters without him getting hurt, but it also really hurts your offense and especially goal line and short-yardage offense when your quarterback can't run in a spread offense because that's a huge part of this. So I do feel like some of our red zone issues, some of our short yardage issues with him not being able to run. And it was me. I told [Longo] not to run him because we needed him for the rest of the games.

Would Chazz's impact on defense be similar to what Sam has had with the offense?

Yes, Chaz, I think, is even a more remarkable story than Sam because the first time he'd ever played linebacker was in the South Carolina game. And Jeremiah Gemmel had not played linebacker in a game at that point, either. So we go into the South Carolina game with two guys who had never played a college game at linebacker. And one of them who the year before was a quarterback, so it's just amazing to see how much he's improved and what he's done and how hard he works and how smart he is. And I'm really, really proud of him. I didn't know if he could do it or not. Very honestly.

At what point did you kind of say, yeah, he can do it?

It wasn't spring. We actually felt like in spring that he struggled enough with instincts and knowing what to do that we said, ‘He's such a great athlete and he'll hit you and he's trying hard. We may have to blitz him a lot and just put him in and not make him think, but bring them off the edge.’ But he was going to play. And then after the South Carolina game, we realized it, this old boy can be good. And he just kept getting better and better.

What part of Chazz’s game, by the time you got to N.C. State, was so much better than the first game?

I think his instincts.

Jay and Tommy have done such a great job teaching him and I do think the fact that he was a quarterback and knows offense really helps him, but he and Tommy and Jay can sit there and they’ll say, ‘Here’s what they’re going to do out of this set,’ and he knows all of that.

He’s very, very smart, but I do think the quarterback background helps him analyze the play even before the snap.

Did you sense that he had to sell himself as a linebacker to his teammates?

I did. I think that’s why in the team meeting when he stood up and said, ‘Hey, I want to apologize to all of you that I didn’t earn my scholarship as a (linebacker). Now I realize you all sweat and you hit and you run; these are really hard practices, so I’m all in. They all laughed and I think they did appreciate him acknowledging that.

Was there a moment after the state game that it hit you what it meant to the players to make a bowl game?

We saw them at the State, we meet them on Sunday, but they don’t know where they’re going yet. Then, I’m in New York with Vince Young when the announcement is made, so I had to Skype for the announcement and Jeremy had his phone, so I could hear them screaming and yelling and giggling, because you always wonder, ‘Well, I hope they like where we’re going and all this.’

They didn’t care. They were so excited and they’ve been that way at all the practices. I think the first time it hit me was the Sunday announcements when they finally realized and even though it was Skype, I could still hear through the phone how excited they were. Then, to watch them, they’ve got a buzz about them and a confidence about them right now that’s fun to watch. I think that’s the biggest thing.

It was interesting, when we played Wake, I didn’t get a feel that our team knew how important the in-state game was with Wake. It was OK, but we didn’t seem to have a buzz and we didn’t play very well. Then, we play Appalachian the next week, same thing. I just thought, ‘What’s the deal man? This is important.’ It was, ‘OK, they’re good; we’ll be OK.’

By the time we got to Duke, I thought they really understand that for our fans and our university and the state, winning the in-state games is really important and I know by the time we got to N.C. State they understood the importance of that game and it’s one they just hadn’t won.

I feel like beating N.C. State and going to a bowl at the same time was really a key moment for this team and that’s the happiest I’ve seen them.

For perception in recruiting, how different is 6-7 vs. 7-6?

I don’t think it matters. It matters to us, but they know we’re headed up.

I really think, people used to ask, ‘If you beat State, does it matter in recruiting?’ Most of the kids decide where they want to go. ‘If you beat Duke, does it matter, by one point?’ Nah. I mean, if they want to go to Duke, they’re going to go probably and they’re not going to let a close game matter.

Everybody used to ask the Texas-OU game, does that matter that much? It matters if you make them three or four times in a row, but I don’t think it matters for one game.

People know that we’re getting better; they saw we were one of the few teams to sell out all the games, they saw our fans show up, they see our facilities, they see our recruiting.

In fact, some major schools are recruiting against us now, saying I’m going to quit and I’m too old, and I thought, ‘How cool is that?’ That’s a great compliment that we’ve got somebody recruiting against us in our first year.

I want to win, the players want to win, the seniors want to have a winning season, the players want to have a winning season, you want to win three in a row because we haven’t done that in a while, but I don’t think it’ll affect recruiting.

Can we expect to see Sam Howell run more in the years to come?

Absolutely; our quarterback will be a factor running.

We were going to do it with Jace some, too, and first play he gets in against (Appalachian State) he fractures an ankle and a knee … and that really set us back. That was a huge setback for this team because we were going to play Jace a lot more and have both of them in there and have two packages like we started at Wake Forest, because we’d like to play two quarterbacks some.

I feel like in this offense, your quarterback has to run. The plays that Vince Young and Colt McCoy made with their feet were huge for us.

This game has become a game of where, if people spread out, they try to run the ball and if they spread everybody out and they spread out and you can’t run the ball, you’re going to get beat. Then, when you’re running the ball, they’ve got to bring everybody back in then you’ve got to beat a guy one-on-one outside or cover a guy one-on-one outside. That’s the game; that’s just what it is. There’s going to be 15 individual routes a game outside that are one-on-ones and if you can stop the run and pass-rush with four and play zone or man, it gives you a great chance.

After Clemson, we got so we had to get everybody in the box and play man to man or we had to play zone and give up the run. So, I think that’s just where we are with the quarterback and when you’re spread out in man and they rush by you, there’s nobody there and the quarterback’s got to make plays because he’s the one that’s not accounted for.

Same thing with zone with a four-man rush if everybody is dropping on those third-and-fours. Third and four, first and goal from the nine, that’s where your quarterback can make your four yards and make a huge difference.

And Jace is out for the bowl game?

Yes, he will not. Hopefully, he’ll get his year back. We’re going to appeal to get his year back.

Tim Brewster said in the spring one of the main reasons he came back was unfinished business. How far along in the process are you to achieving that. Are you where you thought you’d be or maybe a little ahead?

I hoped we’d go to a bowl, but I think we’re ahead of where I thought we’d be because the facilities got improved so quickly.

I love the fact that we’ve got the turf. The high school games, I was so proud after watching the games in the mud last year, watching those teams play this weekend – I didn’t get to see them, but hearing them and seeing them on twitter – they were so excited and we’ve gotten really nice emails from the coaches.

Having that in place is huge for us. Knowing that we’re heading toward another big step in facility improvements somewhere here soon, all of that is further along than this time last year when we got here.

I like our staff. I think they fit; they worked with each other well, they got to know each other better as the season went on. I think they’re a dynamic staff recruiting in this footprint between D.C. and Jacksonville, Florida. So, everything is in a great place for us moving forward.

Can you share what that next facility improvement is?

Yeah, at some point, and we’re in the process of raising the money now, we’ve got to enlarge the whole bottom floor. The rest of the building is really good.

We will move the training room into the locker room, we’ll move the locker room to the weight room. It’ll be a 6,000-square foot training room, be an 8,000-square foot locker room, and then we’re going to knock out the front of the building on the bottom floor and build a 19,000-square foot weight room.

Then, you’ll probably enter and go up to the second floor, so we’ve got that in the plans. It’s been in there for a while, but now, it’s a real possibility.

You mention teams recruiting against you, saying maybe you’re done. Is that one reason you signed that extension?

Well, I wanted the extension, so I thought that was good. That was one reason.

At this stage in my career, coaches get jealous because we’re doing too well, we’re recruiting too well, we won more games than they wanted us to and they know how powerful this place is in this state, especially when you’re winning and you’re the cool place to be.

I’m really flattered that the only thing they can say is I’m not going to be here. I thought that was pretty cool; usually, there’s a long list of stuff.

Our coaches are coming back and saying, ‘Coach, they’re saying you’re out of here.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m not, so tell them I’m here.’

I’m going to coach here as long as I can. As long as I’m effective for North Carolina, I will be the football coach.

What does it mean to get a one-year extension? Were you pushing for something longer?

No, what I told them that I wanted was a rollover, basically. Every year, I’d like for that to go back to five and I want to keep at five and that’s it.

I want to be honest with everybody and I’m going to coach while everybody that’s coming or be here, and as long as I’m healthy and we’re winning, I’ll keep rolling it over. That’s really important to me.

Put it out there 15 years? I can’t promise somebody I’m going to do that, or even 10, so I thought one-year rollover was the best.

Was there any apprehension of ‘I’m pretty sure I want to do this, but I’m not exactly sure how four years will go’ and how quickly did you realize, ‘This is great’?

It’s an interesting question because we did it so quickly; we didn’t think about it.

I mean, it was Bubba calling, me calling Sally and saying, ‘You said Hawaii, you said the Bahamas, you said Chapel Hill. Bubba just called and offered us the job.’ She got quiet; she’s in Austin and she said, ‘Hmmm, let’s do this,’ and that’s it. We didn’t discuss it, we didn’t talk about it and the next day, we’re here.

Probably, it’s like we won the national championship, we were so busy and Vince Young left the next day or two, and we didn’t go to the White House until Valentine’s Day. I think it was Valentine’s Day before we realized we’d won the national championship, at the White House with the President. All of the players are walking down the White House steps and Sally is crying like a 2-year old.

I’m sitting up there with the President and First Lady, so after it’s over, I say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ She said, ‘I just realized we won the national championship.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s two months ago, sweetie,’ but you didn’t take time to do it.

I think I jumped into this. If you can imagine now, I get here on the 27 maybe and take the job and have a press conference the 28, then Bubba has to run me to meet the team and I have to run and take a recruiting test because I haven’t taken it in five years. Then I’ve got to get a staff, so I’ve got to interview all the coaches that are here, I’ve got to interview all the staff that’s here. Thank goodness I had Corey Holliday and Rick and some people I really trusted that I could ask, ‘What about these people, are they OK? Can we keep them?’ Then I kind of said to everybody, ‘I’m going to keep you for at least six months and see how you do, but we’ve got to go.’

Then I had to sit down with Jason and John Mark and say, ‘Who are we recruiting?’ Then I had to find out how many guys we have on scholarship, how many we can sign, who’s in academic trouble, do we have anybody that wants to transfer, is there anybody in the portal? It’s overwhelming that I don’t think you even have time to think about, ‘Should I have done this again?’ I mean, you’re knee deep. They’re sitting there with me going over the board, I say, ‘Can he play? Meh. What about him? Not very good. What about him? He’s young, he might be all right. What about him? He’s thinking about transferring.’

I don’t know any of their names then I have a couple of them text me and I don’t know who they are and they say, ‘Can I have No. 2?’ I said, ‘I don’t know who you are, so give me a month. Let me get back.’

Then, when I hired Coach Hess, that really helped so he could start organizing the offseason while we were recruiting and when we got our staff in place that helped because they started getting to know each other and I had known half of them a little more, so I got them first and got them out so they could recruit.

It’s a real mess for that new coach. It’s just totally overwhelming.

I think probably when we beat South Carolina was a cool moment because I said, ‘This is cool. We got this thing again, we know what we’re doing.’ And then we beat Miami and I was kind of surprised with both of them, very honestly. I was more surprised when we lost to Wake who was very good, we just didn’t know it at that time, and Appalachian, who we knew was good.

After that, we got back to coaching and kind of just got back to work and I like where we are right now. 

On countering Temple redzone defense

It’s an interesting thing for us and we’re looking at it right now. They are so physical up front. They’re front seven is really good. They’re older at linebacker. They’re big and strong up front. They’re really, really tough. And that has not been our best mindset with the goal line, especially with running. So we’ve worked so hard, especially, really the last four weeks on improving our goal line and short yardage stuff just because we’ve got to do it without Sam running . So we went with some different stuff.

How did having Javonte punch it in in the redzone help?

It really helps. Even at Mercer. I do think Mercer helps us so much with confidence, even though they weren’t as good as we were. But the guys were able to see that they could accomplish a lot. So I think the last two weeks has been a real positive for the players confidence.

What are your favorite stories that you’ve heard about yourself on the recruiting trail?

I think the only story I’ve heard is that I’m quitting. So that’s really interesting in my first year that they are talking about they’re talking about the end. We’re still talking about the beginning.

Recruiting has been so much fun. I missed it. I missed it a lot. And what we’re doing. It takes the coaches back a little bit. I try to put myself in the family’s position, and I try to look at what I would want if I was them. And that’s the way I’ve always recruited. And I told a recruit the other day, if I was you, I wouldn’t come. You want to go somewhere else. You’re just trying to be nice and not tell us, so I’ll help you. Go, Go. He looked at me and said, coach I might want to. And I said no you don’t. So go. Go. You’re just afraid to tell me, so I’m going to help you. I’m going to do you a favor. So I told him for me that he wasn’t coming.

Is there anything you’ve changed in your approach from last time?

I think I’m even more direct. I was probably direct a lot, but I want to get the hard questions asked and answered by families, so I just tell them here’s what we’re going to do, and if you like it, that’s great, come here, and if you don’t, well go somewhere else. I want guys that want to be here.

How important is it to sell incoming recruits on a quarterback that’s established?

I think it’s huge that people know, without a quarterback moving forward that you’re not going to be very good. And Jace is a really good player. I’m really proud of Vincent Amendola, he came so far in a short period of time with a tremendous amount of pressure. And hopefully we sign one or even two so you’ve got to keep quarterbacks. When we got in trouble at Texas, we started winning eight and nine games, instead of 12 and 13, it was really because we got quarterbacks injured, they transferred and you’re not as good. And you’ve got to be really good at that position, and you’ve got to be two and three deep at that position, and it’s really hard. There over 2,000 kids in the transfer portal already. It’s amazing, every day, there’s coaches on our staff coming to me saying, here’s one, are you interested in him, here’s another, are you interested in him, so people are actually recruiting out of the portal. And I hate that, but it’s here and it’s not going to change unless the rule changes. So keeping quarterbacks, having a great one and then finding another one and another one. That’s why I think going forward we’ve got to play them. I think it’s going to be really really hard just to play one quarterback all the time and keep another one behind him unless you play him. That’s why we were going to play Jace until he got hurt.

Can you talk about the exposure the program gets with you being on TV?

It’s a great point. One of the things that has really helped us be effective with recruiting, I think, is being on TV for five years . And the kids and families saw me. I didn’t go away, I had a presence. And it’s really been interesting that they think they know me. And I was in their home for those five years. And any time ESPN wants us on, I’m going to go. They wanted me on for Gameday to talk Virginia-Clemson because we played both and we played both to a tight game at the end. And that’s what they do. They want information. And then they asked me to be on the awards ceremony for Thursday night. And that was -- they wanted to talk about -- they are celebrating 150 years of college football. -- and they wanted to ask me the changes. And then Tom asked me, why did you want to come back and is it working. So I think all of that kind of tied together. He said five decades I’ve been coaching, that sounds kind of scary. I haven’t counted. But that’s a long time. But I did feel like it was important to young coaches that I tell them what I’ve learned now that I didn’t know when I was here at 35. 

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