Football Head Coach Tyrone Willingham Answers Fans' Questions

Sept. 10, 2001

As a coach, what is more rewarding--leading a team that is expected to do well to a significant bowl game, or taking a team that is predicted to do poorly to a bottom-feeder bowl? From the perspective of the coach the rewards are equal. The difference is the perception of those on the outside because they believe more has been accomplished when you have low expectations and achieve high. Winning a football game is amazingly difficult and so many things have to go correctly for it to happen, but it is only after years in the business that you truly understand the challenge and complexity of winning a game.

Do you think it's a good idea for a school to spend 'big dollars' to promote a player for the Heisman Trophy? I would prefer that the awarding of the Heisman Trophy be earned on the field of play and not on Madison Ave. But in the current age of information I do not know if that is possible. I believe that we have to provide some exposure for candidates and rely on the intelligence of the voters to make an excellent choice.

Which is more important to you: recruiting outstanding position players or great athletes with versatility? To position our program with only one thought would probably not allow our program to succeed. You must integrate the recruitment of both the outstanding athletes and outstanding position players. Many high school players are playing out of position or will grow into another position. It becomes important that we have the ability to project based on our experience.

When is Stanford going to schedule Fresno State? I'm not sure if we will ever schedule Fresno State. We have a long-standing rivalry with San Jose as a local team. We play Notre Dame as a national rival and we try to have another national rival outside California for recruiting purposes. So at this time San Jose State University occupies the spot that Fresno State would fill.

Coach Willingham, you have had the opportunity to coach both College and Pro ball. Which do you feel is more rewarding in terms of overcoming challenges? The game of football is equally rewarding at all levels. I would say that if I were coaching at a high school. The pleasure of working with young persons creates the joy of the profession. All levels have their challenges, different yet still challenging.

What can you do as a coach to really prepare the players to dominate another team physically as well as mentally? Much of life's success can be found in the word consistency. We want to develop that skill in our young persons, that regardless of what the endeavor, they are working diligently to be the best. This is a life skill, not just a football skill. Then we seek to teach an understanding of how to deal with adversity. Each man, woman or child will have adversity in their life. Success will be determined by your response to that adversity. Which brings us back to consistency.

Coach, will the tight end be more involved in the passing game than he was last year? Our offensive game plan is to develop an offensive juggernaut that is indefensible. Therefore the answer could be yes.

With the offensive line returning all of their starters from a year ago, do you expect to be able to do more things on offense? Running? Passing? The key to a great team, in my opinion, is the offensive line. They allow everything good to happen on offense, and defense will in many cases respond from their lead. If you protect the passer you have tremendous options in your passing game. If they run block well, you control the clock and field position. They are the gas for the car and if the engine is running well, then the defense can sit idling on the sideline.

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