This is Bud Adams and I’m talking to you from my office in Houston, Texas. I want to thank you for doing this today. We are here today to introduce the 16th head coach of the franchise and it will be Mike Munchak. He becomes the first former player of ours to become our head coach. He has been with our organization for 30 years in a variety of capacities. I can still remember when we drafted him as a player and what a fantastic player he was. At every level he has been a hard worker and he has only known success and how to achieve success. He made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has the respect of the people who he played with and with those who have played for him. He is a smart football man and leader who will guide us again into the playoffs. I’m very excited to see what he can do. I thank you for joining us today for this big occasion to hear our new coach Mike Munchak. Thank you very much.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT STEVE UNDERWOOD
In my 35 years of association with our organization, I have had the opportunity to introduce a good number of people. I have never taken greater pride and felt better about the gentleman who is going to speak to you next then I have about Mike Munchak. Mike brings such a wealth of understanding of football and of our organization to the table. I have no doubt about our future success.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
Thank you all for coming. You know for 30 years of service, I was expecting a gold watch or something. I can’t tell you how excited I am, I feel like I hit the jackpot here standing here as the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans. It is unbelievable for me – it really is.
First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Adams for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading the Titans into the next era. I know he wants to win and he will do whatever it takes to win. Again I want to thank Mr. Adams for believing in me and giving me this opportunity and I told him when I talked to him earlier before I came in here, I told Mr. Adams one thing I can tell for sure, I will not let you down. He was kind of happy to hear that I think. I was up for the challenge.
I would like to thank Coach Fisher for hiring me 14 years ago and taking a chance on a retired offensive lineman that never coached before, except for my daughter’s softball teams. I can take credit for that. Over the years, Jeff (Fisher) and I became good friends and we shared a lot of good, Titan memories. Most of you all remember the ’99 run to the Super Bowl and that far away from having something special happen that day, a loss in the Championship Game with the Raiders, two more shots when we had the best record in football and getting close but just not all the way. I have a lot of great memories with Jeff. I learned a lot from Coach Fisher and we obviously enjoy a very good relationship. I want to thank him for all he has done for me and he is a big part of why I am here today.
I’m from a big family from Scranton, Pennsylvania, with five sisters and a lot of friends and families have really have always supported my career. When I was a player they took bus trips and followed the Titans and Oilers all over the country – Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati – to watch me play. When I started coaching, they did the same. They met at my parents’ house in Scranton every Sunday. They took the big blow-up Titan football player and had it on the front porch – that is how proud they were – and they would get together and watch the games. During the week, my mom and dad would talk to me every Thursday or Friday before the game and before we hung up my mom would always say, ‘Now listen Mike we never get to see you on the sidelines, make sure you stand next to Coach Fisher.’ She will finally know that I truly am on the sidelines. She was thrilled when I talked to her today.
Whenever a team makes a change like this, it is difficult for everybody. There is a lot of uncertainty throughout the organization. We have been spoiled here – this is our first coaching change in obviously 14 years. I know it has been a tough decision, a tough time and a tough process for Steve Underwood and Mike Reinfeldt to go through. I want to thank both of you for believing in me and deciding I was the one to be the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans. I appreciate it very much. All I can say is obviously I have been here. I know what we are doing well. I know what we need to change. I can promise you that I will do what it takes to get us back on the winning track. Again thanks to both of you guys.
I feel to be successful in the NFL; we need the support of every single person in this building – the coaches, the players and the support staff. I feel as one of the leaders of this franchise that lies on my shoulders to make this happen. Just like when I coached the offensive line, I need to be a good leader. When I lead the guys, and I learned a lot of this from Coach (Joe) Paterno, first is to give direction. I need to lay out the plan for everyone, so everyone knows what is expected of them. The second thing I need to do is I must manage. I’m going to be a hands-on type of guy. I’m going to be involved in everything and to keep people focused on the task at hand. I’m going to make sure if there are problems, we are solving the problems before they become bigger issues. Probably third, and most importantly, I need to get out of the way. I’m going to let people perform and do their job. I’m going to let people put their signature on their play or their performance, so they can take responsibility for their job – take ownership for their job I should say. In my opinion, this type of leadership plus good personnel decisions will translate to wins on the field and ultimately that will be how I’m judged as a head coach is by wins and losses. People already have been asking me my philosophy, my vision for this team; everybody wants to know those things it seems. My philosophy is simple – no matter what your job is for this organization, is to be a pro. What I mean by that is know what to do and do it, no excuses, no whining, just do it. I have stressed that to my players very year with the offensive line. Secondly, my vision to me is someday presenting the Lombardi trophy to Mr. Adams and presenting each person in this organization with a Super Bowl ring and that is something we will get started on tomorrow or after this press conference I should say, to realize that vision.
To the Titans fans, 12 years of sellouts what else needs to be said? The support for this team in phenomenal and has been. It has been a home-field advantage over the years and we need to get that back. Everywhere I have been, I have never seen anything like this as far as the fans coming out even the years when it was a disappointing season, the fans were there. I was here in ’99 which probably a lot of you were too and that run to the Super Bowl was something I have never experienced in my life. We came back from the Indianapolis game in the division round, and that airport was rocking. I get the chills now telling you about it. The fans were all over the place, they had the next day off for a holiday, and they lined … they probably can’t do that these days with airport security. It was an awesome experience and something as a player, coach to watch happen to see a relationship between fans and the players – it was something I had never witnessed at that level. Obviously, the next week after we beat Jacksonville it was even larger at the stadium. They had to get us out of the airport and get us to the stadium because so many people wanted to get involved in this thing. I have seen that and I know what we need to get back to and that is one of the reasons … I know what it takes to be successful. I saw it. I saw the relationship and I say it to Titans fans everywhere, like I said to Mr. Adams, I will not let you down.
Finally to the media, I truly mean this, I am really looking forward to working with you all. I am looking forward to having a great working relationship as we get started with this process; you guys are a big part of it reporting the story and what you see. Some of you will have the opportunity to get to know me a lot more as we get going. Most of you speak to me once a year. We have to check on the offensive line OK we will talk to Munch for five minutes and I don’t see you again unless we are doing poorly. ‘What is going on with the O-line, I guess we have to go find out.’ I know you will be asking a lot more questions and I will have a lot more responsibilities than just the offensive line. I am looking forward to working well with you. It will start right now and going forward and I’m just looking forward to you relationship because I know you guys are a big part of it. I know you have a job to do, so I will do my best with helping you get that done.
Again I want to thank everyone for coming out. I know it is a huge day for me. This is my excited face. I’m still kind of in shock; obviously three weeks ago this wasn’t something that was expected so it is stills something that I’m digesting what happened and the opportunities in front of me. Like I said, I can’t be happier and I’m excited for the opportunity that has given to me. When the smoke clears, I think we will all be happy about this day.
(on ever envisioning himself as a head coach when he first started coaching)
When Coach Fisher asked about coaching 14 years ago, it caught me off guard. I really wasn’t thinking, I thought I would be coaching little guys. I thought high school and young kids teaching them the fundamentals is where I thought I would enjoy it the most. When he gave me the opportunity, I remember talking to my wife and saying you know what, I was around the organization for a couple years before Jeff gave me the opportunity and so that kind of got me hooked. I knew I had the fever, I knew I would get involved from that, but at that point I just enjoyed coaching the offensive line and never really thought head coaching. I think for me was being here for 14 years and having the opportunity to be a part of a winning organization there was no reason to leave. If you want to move upward usually in a job or profession, you have to leave and move to the next challenge. For me it was that I liked it here so much, my family loved Nashville my daughters loved the schools they were in, so there was no reason for me to leave. Family is first for me, first and foremost as far as when I make my decisions. I was never chasing the dream or chasing the head coach or chasing a coordinator title. I enjoyed what I did here, like I said earlier, we have done a lot of great things in this city. There is no reason ever to want to leave, so I was thrilled with what I was doing. In the back of my mind, yes saying sometimes if I was the head coach, I would do this or if I was the head coach, I would do that. I wasn’t going to say that publicly, but I definitely knew what I would do. I have been around enough, I have been around good coaches, so I think I take a little bit from everybody I have been around and you will start seeing that applied here real soon.
(on if he is missing anything by not being a coordinator)
I don’t think I’m lacking. Obviously, I have never been a head coach, we all know that, but I don’t think I’m lacking anything, I guess other than experience which I will learn. Like I said, I’m in a unique position where the place I am the head coach, I know this place really well. It doesn’t mean things will be the same, obviously they are not. There are going to be things that I think I can act immediately on things that need to be changed and get us going in a positive direction. I think I have been prepared - by coaching the offensive line for 14 years to me you are a coordinator. I’m coordinating the run game, I’m coordinating the protections. I’m in front of the group all the time, the players. I’m doing exactly what I’ll be doing now. As a head coach for example, I’m not going to be calling plays. I didn’t do that as a coach either. I feel ready to go. I feel like I’m surrounded by good people that I have learned from, Coach Fisher obviously being one here. I will learn as I go with certain things but I have a lot of people out there that will help me along the way.
(on opportunities to pursue other coordinator jobs along the way)
In the coaching world you talk but you don’t talk. I have had opportunities if I wanted to pursue something; just like anybody you find ways to pursue things. Like I said, I go home with my family and sit down in five minutes and say would you ever want to leave here. ‘No, no.’ Well, what do you think about this opportunity? ‘No, we like it here, we want to stay here. Hey, dad I have this great high school. I love this and that.’ So, I never went any further. I was happy but everyone else wanted me to advance in some way, why aren’t you doing this? I really enjoy what I do and this will lead to something else and obviously it led to something else. Here I am. It worked and staying where I felt comfortable is what I did and I have a unique opportunity that someone else coming here wouldn’t have.
(on how long it will take to assemble a full staff)
I think that is going to be a work in progress. That is obviously the first step, talking the staff that is here and looking into replacing people and deciding exactly what we need to do. Obviously, I have been giving some thought to this over the past 10 days of what I would do. This is the day when I can start enacting some of that, so as soon as we know, you’ll know. Right now, it is a lot of thought process and to me it is going to be like putting together a puzzle that is how I think you put it together. It is a group effort, so I want to have different strengths so people can get better. I’m not going to set any goals, but hopefully when I get it rolling this afternoon, like I said you will be hearing about our progress real soon.
(on how much he thinks he will be like Jeff Fisher and how he will be different)
I think I will be me. A lot of you are trying to figure out who I am other than the line coach who stays in that far corner of the field with (Jim) Washburn. Just watching Jeff, it was the way he adjusted well. I thought he did a good job of if it was a practice, cutting back practice, knowing when to cut back to what we were doing in preseason, during the season. He did a good job about reacting well to the players which I think the players responded well to. I watched him grow as a coach. I saw him come in just as I am coming in right now. I saw him come in as a DB coach and defensive coordinator and take over the Oilers/Titans then and I watched him grow into the job. I thought he adjusted well to changes around him. He didn’t stay one way; if something came up, he did a good job of making adjustments. I’m aware don’t get stuck in my ways and be willing to make adjustments and change.
(on his ideas for change for the organization)
That’s not something I can … We’re going to have, like you mentioned, five openings in position coaches available right now. So obviously there’s going to be different chemistry in this building, and that will create change with the coaching changes we’re going to make right there. So that’ll depend on who we bring in, what’s going on. So I’m not going to sit here and state exactly. I think it’s something you’ll see as we go. I think, as you see it, you’ll go, ‘Oh, that’s what they’re doing there.’ Or we brought this guy in, we signed so and so as this position coach, ‘OK, I can see what they’re doing there.’ And then same with personnel as we get going. To me, it’s going to be a process. It’s going to be a journey, and right now, it’s all there. It’s just now putting the pieces together. It may be, for example, I may want a certain type of D-line coach at that position, but he may not fit the coordinator I have. So I need to find the right guy to fit what I have there. I think chemistry is a huge part to me of us being successful, like I mentioned in my opening remarks, is that we have harmony—harmony in this building, harmony with the coaching staff. You want the players to see what we’re doing. You want the players to see on the sidelines how the coaches are acting, how we’re interacting, because that’s how they’re going to act. If I’m a head coach that’s screaming and yelling at people and go losing my cool, they lose their cool. So I want a staff that fits. There’s going to be certain things that I’m looking for in a coach for the same reason. (There is) a lot of work ahead of me and everybody else here. It’s not just all me. I’m going to have a lot of help doing it, making the right decisions. I’m looking forward to building it.
(on what he expects from offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger moving forward)
We’ve obviously had a very good relationship, worked together for a long time and had success together. That’s something, now that I’m in the position, like you said, we are where we are today, then yes, we will talk. That’s the first thing I’ll be doing, talking to the defensive guys that are here, the offensive staff who’s here, kind of a chance to talk about what my vision is more specifically with them and then decide what’s best.
(on if he expects Mike Heimerdinger to be back as the offensive coordinator)
To me, anything is open. I’m not going to talk as far as … To me, I feel like we’re starting fresh. It’s not the same-old, same-old. I think we can come in, sit down and figure out what’s best for the Titans going forward with what we have here obviously and then just go from there. So I’m not going to say … Anything is possible.
(on if it’s daunting to replace Jeff Fisher, the only head coach the team has had since its move to Tennessee)
I think if you think about it. I won’t dwell on that. I’m not Coach Fisher. I’ll be a lot different in a lot of ways, and I hope I’m the same in a lot of ways, obviously. He’s had a great run here, and I explained some of the great things we did here. Sometimes you kind of forget, four opportunities. I know the disappointment of not getting the ring, but four shots at really having it in 14 years, there’s only four or five teams that can say that. So things were done well here, and I saw what was done well. I had the advantage of having a close seat to all that, and I was part of that, hopefully part of why we were successful. That doesn’t bother me, no. I’m going to be my own man, and I’ll be judged by what I do, not what was done before me. I’m not looking here to blame anybody about what was left for me. I think it’s a great opportunity here with what we have, and I think that I’m the guy to pick up the pieces and hopefully get us in the right direction.
(on any chances of
I think Vince, obviously, has already been dealt with, and I’d probably leave it at that. As far as the quarterback, it’s just going to depend on who’s available. I know the system may be a little tougher this year with the labor agreement, so we’ll see how that shakes out as far as what we can do and how quickly we can act on that position. Then you go to the draft, and that process has already started. We have the combine coming up, so we’ll start looking at the younger quarterbacks that are available. I think we’re going to find someone, hopefully, that fits the personnel we have. I obviously haven’t been through that process yet, so I’ll be able to provide more information on it as we start seeing what’s out there and what our choices are.
(on his offensive philosophy)
I think it’s similar to what you’re saying. To me, it’s going to start with our personnel. You just asked the question about the quarterback. To me, it’s going to depend on who that quarterback is as far as what we can do. It all starts with the quarterback. This league is a quarterback league. We all know that. So depending on who you have to manage the game, that’s going to depend on how much you put on a guy. If we get a veteran guy, if we sign someone that’s one of these so-called top quarterbacks out there that everyone feels is a great fit, then all of a sudden we can do a lot more things. Your answer to that question will be tied more to the coordinator we bring in, that he can be flexible to the personnel we have. I think we have very good personnel in place. We all know the obvious. We’ve got to do something at the quarterback position on offense. But we’re very strong in a lot of positions, which a lot of teams aren’t that had an off year. So I’m excited about that. I think there’s a lot of things we can do. We’ll do a lot of things similar. The point is we need to stay on the field. We struggled last year to stay on the field as an offense—I’m stating the obvious. But we need to find a way, whatever that offense is, whatever that system is, we have to make first downs and stay out there. How we put that together will depend on who that quarterback is.
(on the strengths of the team right now)
Well, obviously coming from the offensive side, just like I just said, I think we’re very strong—again, I don’t want to go into personnel at all, especially on the defensive side because I haven’t really evaluated the guys like I normally would or like I will going forward. But obviously we started out 5-2 for a reason. There’s obviously people here we can win games with. We were thought of as one of the best teams in the league, I think, early in the season, the first half of the season. We came off a 13-3, and then last year we made the recovery from the bad start, so there’s people here that can make plays. We’ve had some good drafts, especially on special teams, it was a huge plus last year what we were able to do there. I think there’s a lot of good things in place, and like I’ve been saying about the organization, just like the coaches, I’ve got to find a way to fit in the right guys to get where we want to get. Just like the personnel, same thing. We have some spots that we have to fit in. Obviously on the offensive side we know exactly what it is. But I think, like my offensive line, there’s no reason with the group you have right there, there’s no reason we can’t win a Super Bowl with that offensive line. That kind of thing. You have people in place that we should be able to play well with. We have a pretty good running back, right, that can make a lot of plays. We’ve just got to put him in position to let him do that.
(on how he approaches hiring his assistant coaching staff after only working on one staff during his career)
It’s amazing how many people you know, especially when you get a job. They think, ‘Oh!’ Then all of a sudden your phone’s ringing like crazy. Everyone has the next best guy. I’ve been already in the past week or so looking into the guys that are available. There’s always good coaches. Am I going to sit here and say three weeks ago could we have gotten this guy and this guy? Yeah, maybe. You know what? This is where we are. It happened the way it happened. We didn’t plan for it to happen this way. To me, it’s that attitude of saying, OK, well how do we go from here? I think you’ll find out in the next few weeks, hopefully, when we start filling those positions, you go, ‘Oh, geez. That guy’s pretty good. Oh, I didn’t know he was available. Oh, that’s good.’ Or there will be some guys you don’t know, and you’ll do your homework on them and say, ‘Yeah, this guy’s pretty solid.’ I’m looking for guys that are good teachers, just like I talked about here, that are, like I said, harmony, get along with each other and can push guys that need pushing in certain rooms. Things like that. I think it’s an exciting process. We’re all in this. It’s going to be all of us. It’s going to be the personnel guys upstairs saying, ‘Hey, I saw this guy when I was out scouting,’ for example. ‘Hey, this guy’s a pretty good coach. I saw him.’ That kind of thing. And you’re going to take the feedback from everybody and then hopefully get that feedback and between myself and our staff make the decision on how it fits.
(on what he’s looking for in a defensive coordinator)
I think it starts with our personnel. I’m kind of locked into what personnel we have to start with and the fact that there may be the situation where we don’t get to practice as much as we’d like to if there’s a labor issue so that we can eliminate all of our offseason work. So I think finding someone that’s similar, in a way, to what we’ve been doing as far as understanding the 4-3 concept that we are but is also not locked into one system. I don’t want a guy that’s just, ‘That’s all I know. This is what I do.’ Why do you do it that way? ‘I don’t know, but this is how we do it.’ I want a guy that’s open to making adjustments. If we get a certain player in the draft, he can handle that. There’s a lot of defensive coordinators. People get into this 3-4 or 4-3 thing. Well, a lot of teams play a lot of three-down (linemen) looks on third down, so they already have that scheme in, in a way. It’s not as complicated as you might think, other than with personnel. You have to make sure you have the right personnel for it. So those are the things. When I’m talking to someone, especially this year, we want to have somebody that can come in and with the guys, assuming we don’t get a chance to meet with them until, whenever, July, that we can come in and the coaches can do the adjusting and let the players come in and play so there’s not a ton of learning going on. Obviously if we don’t have any disruption, then obviously we’ll have a lot more time to spend with them and maybe do a little bit more. So as I’ve been looking for people to fit that role, that’s kind of how I’m looking, (with) an open mind because as an offensive guy who’s never coached defense, I think I have a lot of ideas I can give him on how to attack and beat an offensive line or an offensive scheme because I’ve seen it for years. I think I can be very helpful to both sides of the ball because of my knowledge of what I hope the defense doesn’t do on a given Sunday, and I don’t understand why they don’t sometimes to expose us on our side. So I feel I have a unique opportunity there, where I can be very helpful to who we [bring] in without getting in the way.
(on a rebuilding attitude versus a win-now mentality)
I think the mentality is to always win now. What I talk to players about the first day is can we win now. You don’t want them to buy into some rebuilding mindset. I think we want to win. I think obviously there won’t be that natural, like it may have been this year, where ‘they better win or they’re fired’ mentality by some people reporting on us. But I think it’s more that, to the team, you want the team always to have the urgency that it’s now. Players’ lives, careers are so short, that every year is different. There’s never the same group in the room, and this may be their only opportunity at it. The year we went to the Super Bowl, I don’t think anyone felt we were going before the season started. We were 8-8 two years in a row. There’s a lot of teams—the Rams, I know, had losing records. That’s the fun about this league. You can point to example after example of a team that turned around and went to the Super Bowl—the Saints, and on and on. The way the league is set up right now, you know, why not us? Why not the Titans? To me, they have to believe in that, and that starts with me sending that message on what we should be thinking—that way, not, ‘Oh, poor old us. This happened to us, this happened to us.’ Like I said, no excuses.
(on his timetable to finish putting the coaching staff together)
I wish we had the staff in place. I wish I could say, ‘Hey, I’m inheriting a great staff and it’s no different.’ But I would hope we’re going to do our best. You’ve got the Combine coming up in two weeks. We’d like to have as many guys in place as we can by then for the coaching staff. You’d hope we can move like that, but you just never know. Most of it’s out of our control as far as who really is available when the time comes. This is something, like I mentioned, that’ll start happening the next few days. We should start unraveling some of the people we’re interested in and seeing the direction kind of we’re planning on going.
(on if the 2010 team was disciplined enough and accountable enough)
Like I said, changes need to be made. I think when you don’t win, there’s obviously some things that weren’t going right, and it’s a combination of a lot of things. If a coach ever knew it was one thing, it would be very easy to fix. I think you hear us most of the time say, ‘Well, it’s not one thing. It’s this and it’s this and it’s this.’ I think that’s the frustrating thing for coaches sometimes, is you can’t really put your finger on, you know, why are we fumbling that ball? Like the (Super Bowl) game yesterday with the turnovers, it cost the game. And we all know that’s usually what determines wins and losses, is the turnover ratio. No two head coaches are the same. I think the things that I talked about here earlier will be different than players are used to. I don’t think the guys here, the players, some people think, ‘Well, he’s in house,’ or ‘People know him.’ They know me, but they don’t know my style. They don’t know my expectations. They’ve never sat with me in that regard, is what I’m expecting. To most of the people in this building, it’s going to be fresh. It’s going to be new, and it’s going to be exciting. Now it’s up to us to keep it that way and kind of go from there.
(on how much he’ll be involved in personnel decisions)
I think I’ll be as involved as I can be. I think that’s another relationship that has to be strong in this building, is the personnel. When I talk about this building—I don’t know if you’ve ever been up on the second floor—there’s a lot of guys up on that second floor. Personnel is up there, and our draft room is up there. That relationship to me has to be strong also, that they know what we’re looking for as coaches so they know exactly what kind of guy fits our system or the kind of guys we’re looking for. The coach’s relationship with the scouts is huge, I think, if we’re going to make good personnel decisions and ones that we’re all involved in. Everyone has input in it. So definitely, yes, I would think like it has been, I would like to be involved in all of those decisions. Is my expertise going to be as strong at one position versus another? Obviously not. I’m going to lean on my coaches like Coach Fisher did, like Mike (Reinfeldt) does and the scouts do. We’ll kind of rely on each other’s expertise in certain areas but have an open mind. I should say I should have an open mind, that I’m willing to listen to anyone’s opinion. It’s not all about who makes the choice. It’s about it’s a good choice for the Titans.
(on the possibility of reaching out to the Texans to talk to assistant coach Bruce Matthews)
Well, when you say reach out, that’s exactly … All of these coaching things are hard to talk about because you’re not allowed to because they’re on other staffs. But obviously guys like him would be a huge plus to any organization, so we will see.
(on if he’s talked to Penn State Coach Joe Paterno)
I haven’t talked to Coach Paterno in a little bit. The last time, I think, I talked to him was when I took one of my daughters on a college trip through there. I was trying to talk her into going to the North. I took her in the summer, I was smart. She saw the weather was great, and she said, ‘Dad, I heard they get a lot of snow here. I think I’ll stay in the South.’ But I saw Coach Paterno then. When I first left there we used to talk quite a bit. Then, just over time, once I got into coaching, it’s like I lost communication with everybody outside this building, and he was one of them. Like I mentioned in my remarks, someone says, ’Who influenced you the most?’ It was probably him, his discipline, the way he ran the team. I have some ideas from what I learned from him on how he commanded the room, how he commanded the practice field. I think the other thing that settled to me was his hands-on involvement. He would run from position (to position)—I won’t do that. And I don’t have that high voice he has. ‘Munchak!’ You know, one of those things. You heard him yelling from 40 yards, and everyone just froze to see who he was yelling at, coaches included. It was interesting. But also he was hands on. He was involved in everything. He let the coaches coach, which I talked about earlier—get out of the way. He was good at that, but he also knew when to step in. I saw him do it with the line coach that I had when I was learning how to play offensive line. I saw him. He’d come up to me and show me how to do a technique. I’d see him show a receiver something. So he kind of surveyed the field. When I was watching that, I was 18, 19, I didn’t understand it at the time. It’s like your parents. You appreciate them more when you’re out of the house for what they did for you. I think that’s what he did for me. When I left there and saw it, when I heard other people, when I left Pennsylvania and saw how people respected Penn State and why, I realized, ‘Oh, I was a part of that.’ That’s what I want to have happen here. I’m hoping to instill some of the things I learned from him in the players here. And players want that. People think, ‘Oh, how do you handle this guy, how do you handle that guy?’ Players want discipline. They want consistency. They want to be told what the parameters are. They want to see someone held accountable when they do something wrong. In the 30 years, I’ve seen all different kinds of guys, and ultimately that’s what they want. They may cry about it and say a few things about it, but in the back of their mind, they’re watching. They want to see, ‘What do you do about that? What do you do about that? You see who that was who did that?’ So you have to have a consistency, and that’s what I learned from him. I watched him do that no matter who, if it was a star player. I saw him not play certain guys. It was interesting to see that for me. So he’s probably the guy, by far, that I learned a lot from.
(on how long his contract lasts and if he feels like he’s been given a chance)
Oh, I have a chance. I’m real happy with the opportunity I’ve been given. I was so happy I don’t think I even asked Steve (Underwood) how many years it was for. I ran out of there so fast to get down here that I said, ‘Let’s worry about it later. Let’s take it a year at a time.’ But no, they’ve been great about this. And like I said, we’re all in this together, and we’re hoping this year. I’m not going to make any predictions or any of that stuff. I mean, that just gets you in trouble. But I think that we’re going to be heading in the right direction. I think there’s a lot of excitement, and that will come. I could sit here and say all kinds of nice things that we’re going to do, but you guys will want to see it when we get on the practice field and you see the type of coaches we hire and the type of players we get in here. I think you’ll all start going, ‘OK, OK.’ And then that’s the goal, to take it a step at a time. I’m just thrilled to be the guy that’s orchestrating it, that’s having an opportunity to give my beliefs into the other coaching systems and hopefully spread the success I had in my career with players in my coaching style with the rest of the coaches and with this building and that I can learn a lot from everyone in this building also.
(on who approached who when the job became available)
I think it was kind of mutual. I think it was almost like a running understanding, that once you’re here this long, that before you leave, you get an interview. So even if I left before Jeff (Fisher), I think I was going to go in for an interview and say, ‘Hey, what do you think?’ Or maybe for someone else’s job, I don’t know. Maybe if I could get a job in the front office. But it was mutual. I think when this happened it was more that I knew that I was going to get an opportunity, and just like the press conference when it all happened, I think just seeing Steve and Mike and realizing that I was going to be on the list, I was thrilled for that opportunity in front of them. Same thing for them. They really don’t know me in this way either. They’ve seen me coach. They know I’ve had success. They’re thinking, ‘Well, here’s my bio. Look at that stuff. It looks good. Well, does he want the job? What’s going on with him? What’s his mindset?’ I think we needed that talk. It wasn’t just, ‘OK, we know who you are. Let’s talk to the next guy.’ We had a long interview and talked about a lot of things that we had never discussed before, just like we’re saying here about our feelings about the team, my philosophies. You know, these are things that they weren’t aware of . So that’s kind of how the process got started, and I was just happy to be in the process and be in here when this happened to have a chance to step in.
(on his relationship with Mr. Adams)
I think that gets my foot in the door. Obviously when I’ve been working for 30 years, he’s going to go. ‘The guy must be doing … I’m going to …’ I knew the opportunity was going to be there because of that. I think, like he said, when I met him in ’82, when I got drafted in Houston, going down to his office down on the APC Building, back in the old days, sitting around with him. I sat down, and he didn’t talk about football one bit. He talked about all the old oil days and the start of the AFL, great and interesting stuff. I must have sat there for 30 minutes, didn’t talk one time about football or Penn State, other than saying, ‘We’re thrilled to have you here.’ That’s where it started. Like you said, he’d come around the team a couple times a year, just like he does now, speak to the players, come into the locker rooms after the games like he does. You know, just not a hands-on guy. He loves it and wants to win. Like I said earlier, it’s important to him, obviously, and that was the kind of relationship I had with him. As a player, you’re never really around the owner that much. You knew who he was, obviously. He’d show up at stuff. I’d see him at charity events and things like that. That was kind of the relationship we always had. I’d see him and talk to him. Obviously I became the guy he always knew—‘Hey, you’re still around?’ It’s like, ‘You’re coaching now? You’re doing this?’ So it was kind of a fun relationship I’ve had with him. He’s the one that’s given me the opportunities to stay here, and he’s been a big part of it. The fact that obviously he knew who I was, that just gave me a foot in the door, and I had to prove I was worthy of the guy to take over. I don’t think he’s going to put his blessing on anything that obviously he wasn’t 100 percent behind or didn’t feel really good about. I know what he wants done, and that’s the urgency to win. I’m going to do my part to help him with that.
(on what he wants the personality of the team to be)
Just what we talked about earlier. I want to be disciplined. We’ll be prepared. For me, prepared is probably number one. We’re prepared for any situation no matter what happens. That’s how I felt as a coach. I don’t want my guys ever to feel like they didn’t know what was going to happen next. In 14 years of coaching these guys—and that’s a lot of football games—I don’t know if there was a game that we went into that something happened and we go, ‘What do we do?’ Well, we talk, make one adjustment, and we’re doing it. I think that’s how I am with stuff about being prepared. The thing about all the what-ifs—what do we do if this happens, what if this happens—you kind of take every situation that way. Be disciplined in that we will (be) hard-nosed, all that stuff. We’re going to be physical and all that stuff, but disciplined meaning we know we’re going to be physical. Everyone wants to be a physical team, but we have the guys here to do that. But I think you have to be a smart team. You have to play smart, play fast, all those good coaching words, right? But smart is a big thing. Smart meaning don’t have the stupid penalty like happened in the Super Bowl yesterday, the 15-yarder on the kickoff. You have to play smart. You can’t let your emotions get away with you, and I think that’s the thing that you have to stress to the guys about playing smart, playing fast, being physical, being disciplined but prepared. To me, being prepared is what it’s all about in this league. That’s helped me a lot, I know, in my coaching.
(on how comfortable he will be with the off-field duties like radio or TV shows)
I think we’ll grow together. I think we’ll have some laughs, probably. But I think it’s something, the more you do anything, you get better at it. I want to do whatever it takes to put the word out about what the Titans are doing and the good things we’re doing in this community and for this team and this city, and so whatever opportunity I get where people ask of me to do those things, I’m going to do it so I can brag on what we’re doing here as an organization even though I may be uncomfortable in some situations. That just goes with it. That’s part of the package, and I’m hoping to do my best job representing this team. We’ll work on those kinds of things, but I think it’ll go alright.