Inside ASU Football
At the time of this writing, we are on our way down the hill from Camp Tontozona. Sixteen practices and a lot of hard work later and it will feel good to sleep in our own beds tonight. Thanks again this week for all of the great e-mails and questions about ASU Football. I am going to cover several topics this week; so let's get to it.
In conjunction with Fan Photo Day this Saturday, August 17, the Athletic Department is having an open house at the Carson Student Athlete Center from 9:30-11:30 to show off our new facility. More information can be found elsewhere on this website.
Please remember that I can't talk about specific recruits per NCAA rules. I will be glad to answer philosophical-type questions, but can't ever name names. We would love to recruit, in every freshmen class, defensive tackles like Ali Likio and develop them over a 4-5 year period. They are very hard to find and even harder to get. Most offensive linemen are not mobile enough to play DT. For example, Scott Peters ran around a 5.1 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine last year, which was the fastest time there. The top DT's will run more in the 4.9 range. This makes it difficult to convert an offensive lineman, but there are exceptions to every rule.
We have received several questions about why we accepted the Nebraska game when we will obviously field a young team in 2002. Gene Smith, Mark Brand and myself all agreed that this was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. Experience, opportunity, exposure, and a great motivating tool for our program were all taken into consideration. Honestly, money and injuries were not discussed. Injuries are an unfortunate byproduct of football and can happen at anytime. I don't believe that there is a greater risk of injury against Nebraska than there is in the spring game against ourselves. I have heard all about what happened a few years ago when Arizona played Penn State, and none of us really know how many of those injuries were due to the opponent, the playing surface, or just bad luck.
We have used the shotgun formation at different times in the past, but we do not feature the shotgun as a major part in our offense. The shotgun formation by itself has never won any games for anybody. Some individual QB's are very comfortable in it and some are not. Some teams have adopted the shotgun as their base formation in a spread offense just like some other teams use the wishbone as their base. We like to run or pass, run inside or run outside, throw short, long, intermediate, and play action routes. Will we ever use the shotgun? Maybe. Will we ever run the wishbone? Maybe. Whatever we do, it will be because we think it gives us the best chance to win that particular game.
I always get questions about the uniform. This year, our uniforms will be the same as the past few seasons with one exception. As I now understand it to be tradition, we will wear gold pants on the road. I have a great deal of respect for the tradition of ASU Football and the players and coaches that have preceded me. If that is our traditional look, then what better time to bring it back than our 25th season in the Pac-10.
We received some questions about what fans can do to help give us a home-field advantage. That's an easy one. Show up and be loud. Make it difficult for our opponents to hear themselves think. That's what makes playing at Autzen Stadium in Eugene so tough. I know when we start to play better and win consistently it will help make the fans job much easier.
We definitely have all the resources we need, as well as the administrative support needed, to compete on a national level. Look at Gene Smith's background. How many AD's have both played and coached on a national championship team? Probably none besides Gene. I also had the opportunity to meet and visit with our new President, Michael Crow, and was very impressed with his vision for what athletics at ASU should be. He made it quite clear to me that he wants ASU to compete on the highest level in all areas. I took that to mean football!
Finally, I am often asked about motivation. If there were an ironclad method to successful motivation, everyone from the business world as well as the athletic world would be using that system. I have studied the styles of Bill Walsh, Vince Lombardi, Bill Parcells, Don Shula, Pat Riley, and Rick Pitino, to name a few. My background in coaching comes indirectly from the styles of my father, Vic Rowen, Don James (Bob Stull), Bill Parcells (Tom Coughlin), Joe Gibbs (Dan Henning), and Rich Brooks (Mike Bellotti). I learned a lot from all of them, but I believe most in the approach of Don James - motivation and confidence comes through preparation, teams cannot get up emotionally for each and every game; therefore a more even keeled approach will be the most successful over the long haul. I don't think that rah-rah speeches before the kickoff have much carryover. We tell the players after a Thursday practice that the 'hay is in the barn' and their mental rehearsal over the 48-hour period leading up to game time will have a much bigger impact on performance than a last minute plea by the coach. I heard a great quote two weeks ago from NFL Hall of Fame Coach Marv Levy. He said, 'motivating a football team is easy. Select intrinsically motivated players to play.' Our staff believes that if we are recruiting the right type of athletes who have character, and we are doing a good job of developing them in all areas (athletically, academically, and socially), and teaching them the fundamentals of football and the schemes we believe will make us successful, motivation should then come from within the character of the team.
See you next week!