Neuheisel, Players Comment On Tuesday's Events
Sept. 11, 2001
SEATTLE - Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel's comments regarding today's tragic events and their effect on Washington football:
On the practice schedule: 'I just spoke to our team with regards to this morning's events, and thought it inappropriate that we should practice today given the scope and the devastation that took place today in New York City and in our nation's capital. Out of respect to those who have been injured and lost their lives in the attack, I felt it would be the appropriate thing to not participate today, to appropriately mourn the victims. We are going to hopefully return to a normal routine tomorrow, at least as close to that as is humanly possible. At that time, I think we will have much more information as to what our schedule might be for this upcoming weekend and the weekends to follow.'
On the status of the Miami game: 'I don't have any answers as to what will take place in regards to our game this weekend in Miami. I know there are certainly logistical problems associated with travel, given what has taken place. I know that there are certainly those who would argue the importance of collegiate athletics at this time, that it might need to take a back seat, and I can certainly understand that school of thought. I've been in contact with our athletic director, who is currently in Philadelphia. She was on her way from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, and as her transportation halted, she was forced to remain there. She is going to be on a conference call with the other Pac-10 ADs at four o'clock Pacific time today, and they will hopefully make a collective decision as to which way the conference will go. Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen issued a fax earlier to all the different athletic directors, of which I was able to see a copy, stating his premise that it would be unwise to participate this weekend, using the JFK assassination in 1963 as a parallel situation. Ours is a difficult trip, factoring in the travel. Our people who leave in advance were leaving this evening, and now that is not possible. The likelihood that we'll play is, I think, small. I'm not going to go out over the edge because I'm not sure, but it just seems to me that common sense would prevail, and that we would not have the game at this time.'
On the Pac-10 making a collective decision: 'That is the hope, that it will be a united decision. I'm not sure that it has to be.'
On conversations with Miami: 'Barbara [Hedges] talked to [Miami AD] Paul Dee, and reported that Paul was fine with rescheduling. That does not mean that the i's have been dotted and the t's have been crossed in regards to this weekend.'
On the mood of the team: 'They are somber. It has certainly had an impact on them.'
On those directly impacted: 'There are a number of players who do have relatives and other loved ones in the affected areas. As an example, a member of my youngest sister Deborah's wedding party was working on the 100th floor of one of the World Trade Center buildings when the plane hit. He was on the opposite building from the one that was hit first. He was talking to another buddy of theirs on a cell phone when the plane hit, and he stated his intention to high-tail it out of there. Another interesting story is that of Erin Chiarelli in our football office. Her father, Pete Chiarelli, is a general, an avid Husky fan, and is right now in that command center at the Pentagon that they are all talking about. Obviously, she was shaken by the events, but he was eventually able to call her mother and let his family know that he is OK. There will be all kinds of these stories- it's too big of a city and there are too many people involved to not have all kinds of human dramas unfolding as the coming days go by.'
On where he heard news of the attack: 'I was at home with my wife, getting ready for work. Our radio alarm clock was still playing, and she told me that something had just hit the World Trade Center. I said, 'say that again?' We turned on our television, and much to our shock ...'
On the mood in the football offices: 'It reminds us how fortunate we are to earn a living doing something that is just a game. It brings you to the reality that although we love to think that what we do is all-important - and it is, in the molding of young people and the lessons that we think the game teaches - it is not a very big player when it comes to these kinds of human dramas unfolding before our eyes. It pales in comparison.'
Would you guys want to play a game this weekend?
Senior NT Larry Tripplett: 'A lot of things happened this morning that puts things into perspective. Many people's lives were changed forever. Keep in mind that we're just playing a game, that's all it is.'
Senior C Kyle Benn: 'I want to play Miami, but with everything that has happened this morning, to go play a game this weekend might be disrespectful to everyone involved. I don't know what is going to happen. I don't think it would be respectful at all to go out and play a game when our country was just attacked.'
Senior TB Willie Hurst: 'I'd love to play, that's what we do. We also understand that collegiate athletics should take a backseat to a tragedy of this magnitude. As Larry said, a lot of lives changed forever, and we're just talking about a game.'
Would you guys be concerned at all about traveling?
Larry Tripplett: 'Sitting in the weight room this morning, we talked about that long flight to Miami. It made me think about how those people might have reacted on those planes, knowing what was going on, and how would we react? All of those things went through my mind.'
Where were you when you heard the news?
Kyle Benn: 'I was in bed when my mom called me at seven, very upset, and told me to turn on the TV. I did, and it looked like a movie. It took me a minute to wake up and realize what had happened. It's a morning I'll never forget.'
Larry Tripplett: 'I was asleep when my mom called me. I took me a while to answer the phone, I was still in a sleep state. Then I turned on the TV and wished I was dreaming. It was horrible to see that.'
Willie Hurst: 'Usually I get up early and turn on the TV to see what is going on and what the weather is going to be like. For some reason, this morning I decided not to and just came down to the locker room. I saw Larry and he asked me if I knew what happened today, and I had no clue. It was definitely a morning I will never forget.'
How did your parents feel about the possibility of you traveling?
Kyle Benn: 'That's the first thing I thought of, the flight down there. After all that has happened, that would be the longest flight of my life. I'm sure it's the first thing my mom will mention when I call her.'
Larry Tripplett: 'The first thing I did was check my cell phone, and I have five messages from my mom.'
Willie Hurst: 'I'm going to call my parents when I get home, and I know they're going to be asking me if we're going to fly. We fly so much during the season that you really stop thinking about things that can happen on an airplane, but this puts it right back into perspective, that tragedies can happen.'
Did Coach Neuheisel seek any input from you guys on playing?
Larry Tripplett: 'Not really. He took on the responsibility of a head coach. We're young guys, and we've never seen anything like this, so I think he'll make decisions himself.'
How difficult will it be to focus on football?
Larry Tripplett: 'This team experienced something similar last year. We were devastated with what happened to Curtis Williams last year, and we'll have to rally around each other and get back in the groove.'
Do you want the game to be made up if it not played?
Kyle Benn: 'Definitely. We want to play Miami. We don't want to cancel this game. I think the whole team is on the same page. Postponing it would be much better than canceling it, we would have no problem extending the season another week.'