Q & A: Tyrone Willingham

Nov. 13, 2001

Would you ever consider leaving Stanford if Notre Dame offered you their job? It is an honor to believe that someone recognizes our program as a quality program. The strength of what we have done at Stanford belongs to the many young men and coaches who have labored to develop Stanford football to the level of the other university sports. I am blessed that we have had many talented players and coaches, as it is the program and not the talents of an individual coach.

Coach, Congratulations on a great season thus far. It seems that we are hurting physically right now. How can we sustain the high level of play with all the wounded warriors? Thank you! Yes, we are an injured team at this time. But that is the joy of football. It, like life, presents opportunities for us to step forward and rise above the obstacles both in life and the games we play. The strength of our team is that we understand that bad things will happen in life and that the key is our response to those negative events. Understanding the proper response does not guarantee success, only that you have moved success closer to your corner.

What are some of your keys to the recruitment of qualified Stanford student-athletes and the presentation of a championship caliber football team? I would hope that our recruitment would reflect the many great and successful Stanford alumni that I have met. They have been amazingly bright, tough, energetic, disciplined, caring, hardworking and generous with time and person. This type of individual will fit very well in our program and the community at large.

After losing an emotional game to the Cardinal, UCLA appeared deflated and uninspired in their loss to a good WSU team. After Stanford's emotional wins against Oregon and UCLA, then a difficult loss to UW, a game where opportunities were missed, what did the coaching staff do to prevent a letdown against Arizona? We often speak to our young men regarding the importance of today. For it is today that we have some control and not yesterday for it is gone, nor tomorrow for it is yet to arrive. That means that our words must duplicate our actions and our actions must be identical to our words. The next game is the most important game we will or have played. That is the mindset we seek to develop in our young men. That type of preparation is daily and not only when we suffer a defeat.

Are you available for an challenging job northeast of Stanford? - Cal Alum. I am flattered that a California alum would acknowledge anything good and right with the Stanford Football program. As far as challenges are concerned, I will have enough of those this weekend. Thank you!

Would you say you encourage or discourage multitalented high school recruits from becoming 2-sport collegiate athletes (e.g., Teyo Johnson)? I am neither as it relates to the multitalented high school recruit until he makes a firm decision regarding his participation in 2 collegiate sports. Once he is sure, whether one or two sports, then he has my full support. He must understand the commitment he is making and the sacrifices necessary to complete that commitment. I only desire that our young persons reach their full potential in their areas of choice.

How do you keep a team's motivation high and focused on doing its best when the #1 goal of winning the national championship is no longer within reach? - Fan from Australia. Dear Australia, thank you for following our program and wishing the team well. I am one to never say that a goal is removed until it is removed but our chances for the National Championship are slim. Yet, the fact that our chances are slim create an opportunity to practice one of life's lessons. That lesson is adjusting to a different set of circumstances and/or a change of goals. To be successful a person has to possess that ability and what better place to learn that lesson than through football. Life is about going forward and I hope our young men will always be about moving forward in their personal and public lives.

Why do you insist on running the ball so much? Our average yards per rush is 4.2, while average yards per pass is 7.9. Yet, we have rushed the ball 316 times versus 225 pass attempts. Doesn't it make sense to pass the ball more when you get almost twice the amount of yards per pass? On the surface you are absolutely correct. My running backs want to run more, my quarterbacks desire to pass more, and all I desire is that we win more. The goal is to provide the team the greatest opportunity to win. With the current team it is our excellent running abilities that are allowing the 7.9 yards per pass. It is the two working in combination that are allowing the successful passing yardage, rushing yardage, points scored and most importantly victories. We will always seek to be successful in all areas but the ultimate goal is to win. Thank you!

Is it the Quarterback's call to change the play or does it stick with what is called from the sidelines? The quarterback will be required to execute both a change in play and stay with the call at the line of scrimmage. We believe that because of the complexity of the game the quarterback must have the ability to change the play and yet there are times that he must stick with the play given.

Was the crowd noise in Husky Stadium louder and more intense than at Eugene? It is very difficult to distinguish which stadium has the loudest crowd noise without the aid of a noise meter. I would venture to believe that the one with the best team that day probably seems louder.

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