Quotes From Lisa Love and Dennis Erickson's Monday Press Conference

Dec. 11, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. -

Arizona StateUniversity Vice President for University Athletics Lisa Love


Opening Statement:


'I visited with you all two weeks ago and spoke with you candidly about the direction we would like our football program to go.  My office is on the sixth floor and I have a pleasant view of Sun Devil Stadium out of my window.  It is impossible, for the last few weeks, when I was actually in my office, to have conducted that search with out looking out into that stadium and envisioning and dreaming for what it can be and what it will be.  Filled to the brim, suited up in gold, and `Go Devils' resonating until you can't hear anything else.  It is the kind of excitement I've witnessed in that stadium before and I believe so strongly that we can capture and have again.  So through the two weeks of the search, a lot of travel, a lot of telephone conversation, a lot more reading than I can ever tell you.  I had three driving forces and it is the same three tenants that I've spoken to so many times.  Who is the best fit to lead the Sun Devil football program in regards to our standards? Who fits us, `us' being a commitment to the scholarship and academic standards and the success of student athletes and ArizonaState.  `Us' means a commitment to following the rules, the Pac-10 rules, the rules of college football, the rules and policy of Arizona State University and certainly those of the NCAA.  `Us' means winning championships.  We participate in the Pac-10 conference and there is no other goal for us annually than winning the conference and positioning ourselves for the rose bowl.  It is our standard that that is our goal.  But all three of those components and inextricably linked and unyielding.  So through the past ten days, the search has been, who is the best person that can fit with in `us'?  That is ArizonaStateUniversity, surrounded by those three tenants.  I am pleased to introduce the Head Coach of Arizona State University Dennis Erickson.  Dennis Erickson you know quite well.  You know the indelible stamp he has put on college football already.  You already know how he has already won two national championships.  You know how he has competed in every BCS bowl except the Rose Bowl.  In fact he has coached in the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls multiple times.  The Rose Bowl is the only one left that is not on his resume yet.  You know that he has remarkable success at elevating programs at everywhere he has been.  Whether it is 1-AA, the WAC Conference, the Pac-10 Conference, all along the way he has made very marked success in elevating programs.  So there is not a doubt in my mind, when people talk about this man, they talk about extraordinary talent as a football coach.  Whether its an X's and O's man, what he knows about the game, how people play the game for him, the joy of football and the passion and love of the game, and what he brings out in young men who play the game for him.  When Dennis Erickson looks across the table at me and talks about practice, and he says, `Lisa, we practice very intently as we prepare for a high level of play and we practice at a very high rate of speed.'  Well, when Coach Erickson looks at you and says, `We practice at a high rate of speed.' I immediately think, `I could sell tickets to his practice.'  That is the way we will be prepared.  He is not only a big game coach, he is a big season coach.  Obviously that is very difficult to do through a 12-game, competitive collegiate season.  And he is a big program builder, which we are seeking.  We are not seeking just a success on one great game day, we are seeking a season.  Then we are seeking a repeat.  We are looking at this from the depths of the program and we are marrying that to our concepts of integrity and to scholarship commitment.' 


Arizona StateUniversity Head Coach Dennis Erickson


'I am really excited to be here.  It is really an honor to be the coach at ArizonaState.  I have obviously admired the program when I played against it at a couple of different places.  They have been great competition all along the recruiting trail.  To me it's a great place.  I'm looking forward to elevating the program, like the University is being elevated with President Crow, to elevate the program with everyone in the athletic department, with Lisa.  It is exciting to me to have an opportunity to come to ArizonaState and to compete for the BCS Championship, the Pac-10 Championship, to compete for the things I look forward to competing for in college football.'


On what brought him to ASU:


'If you look at my career over the years, obviously I've moved.  Every moved that I've made is to meet a challenge in the business I'm in, which is college football.  I've done that.  When I was at the University of Idaho,  I wasn't planning on leaving.  Sometimes in this business, opportunities come at different times, and that just happened.  To have the opportunity to come here, whether I was there for a year or five years, and build this program was something I wanted to do, and that's why I made this decision.' 


On commitment and loyalty:


'I'm my profession and in what I want to do, I just wanted to the best that I could be.  Commitment to me is doing things that you ask people to do.  Commitment and loyalty are different things depending and where you are at and what you want to do with your life.  The bottom line for me, leaving Idaho to get here, was the opportunity to be the coach here.' 


On the selling points of the ASU program:


'The selling points of ArizonaState, you start with the University itself.  The academics, the things that have been done here and continued to be done, obviously that helps in recruiting football players.  The other things, the area, how it's growing and the weather.  All those different things and the tradition that they've had, starting with (legendary ASU head coach) Frank Kush and some of the great coaches they've had.'


On ASU's potential to grow as a program:


'We have to elevate the program.  It has been done very well here.  Now we have to elevate it and take it to the next level.  That takes a little time, but I'm impatient.  I believe that they are good football players and we want to take it to the next level.  I don't know that there is a time table on it, but starting with spring football we want to start getting to that level.'


On discipline in the program:


'I believe we bring in talent.  When I talk to our players we talk about what it takes to win. They play with a tremendous passion for the game.  Obviously there are times when we've had penalties.  But basically they play the game they way it should be played. Undisciplined, I don't see that as something that happens regularly in Dennis Erickson football at all.  We play hard, we play with a passion, we play the game the way I think it should be played, and there are times we get some penalties.  And sometimes that happens.  Do I condone them?  No, not at all.  Our players will play hard and with a passion for the game.'


On assembling his coaching staff:


'I've made a decision on a couple, (former ASU offensive coordinator) Dan Cozzetto, who was here before, will be with me.  And (current ASU cornerbacks coach) Al Simmons, who was on the coaching staff with me in San Francisco will also be on my staff.  I am looking at a number of different options as time goes on.  I'm down to a couple guys for offensive coordinator, of course I'll be involved in that.  There are some people that I've worked with that know exactly what I want to do and exactly how I feel about it, that I'm looking at hiring now.'


On coaching in the NFL:


'I did not regret the Seattle move at all.  I really felt that we had an opportunity there and it was going back home for me.  I thought we were very close, obviously they had an ownership change and they made a coaching change of course.  When I got (to San Francisco), it was a little different than when I left as far as salary cap and some of the things that were involved.  I learned a lot about the game, X's and O's in the National Football League, because that's what you do.  You obviously deal with personnel, but you deal with the X's and O's in that league more than anything.  Dealing with the players wasn't all that much different.  People ask me that question all the time.  Those that want to win, those that want to play the game the way they play, doesn't make any difference whether they are in the National Football league or in college.  But the X's and O's is probably the biggest thing.  And the ownership change, they change mind quite often.  The NFL is like I've said, it's the `not for long league.'  I went back with the idea that we could get to the Super Bowl and obviously that didn't work out.  It is out of my blood with out a question.'


On learning from having coached in the NFL:


'You learn something every step that you take.  Football has changed.  X's and O's are different.  But you learn a lot about life.  I've made a lot of mistakes through out my life and I've learned from all those mistakes.  I believe I'm a much better football coach than I was, dealing with players, the X's and O's part of it, learning how to play the game the right way.  Things like that, you learn as you make mistakes in your career.' 


On leaving Idaho:


'What I told the players when I left at the University of Idaho was, it was an opportunity I felt I had to take advantage of.  It was an opportunity at this time in my career to go to a great program and have an opportunity to have great success and an opportunity to win a national championship.  That's exactly what I told them and I would tell the fans the same thing.' 


On learning from his career as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers:


'I learned that the NFL does stand for `not for long' league and that things do change real fast there because it's quite different.  The year that I sat out, I had a year to sit out in San Jose and had an opportunity to watch a lot of football and do a lot of different things.  Obviously my wife wanted me to get the heck out of the house after six months.  So I did, you always listen to the boss.  I learned how much I missed the game and how much I wanted to be in college football more than anything.'


On the projected length of his coaching career:


'I don't know if there is a time table for anything.  I'm here to build a program.  And to build a program that the people here at ArizonaState can be proud of.  If I do leave because I'm retiring, that might be 20 years down the road, I don't know.  But it is a program that will be very solid for a long time.'


Lisa Love


On the projected length of Erickson's coaching career:


'My conversation with him was along the lines of program build and how you do that and how to sustain a program if he coaches for 10 years, eight years.  I don't know that.  I don't go in naïvely say that there is some kind of predicted outcome or timeline or anything like that.  I think that's a naïve approach to people in this business and to careers.  What we focused on is what he can contribute to this program and that it's for the long haul.  And if it's not, we'll go hire another great football coach.  But in this stint right now, I believe Dennis Erickson will lead our `troops' for a really long time.  I don't work in terms of hypotheticals, `what ifs' or `give me absolutes.'  It's just not reality and I think that's just a little naïve.' 


Dennis Erickson


On responding to his critics:


'I believe at the University of Miami, if you are talking about the NCAA Pell Grant violations, we (as a coaching staff) were not involved in that if you check the NCAA records.  It started before I was there, and while I was there I was very unaware of it.  I mean it was a different situation entirely.  There have never been any NCAA infractions that I've been involved in.' 


Lisa Love


On Erickson being compliant to NCAA rules:


'Because of those three tenants I mentioned, I read the transcripts and findings and consultations with the compliance officials with regards to the Miami affair to get down the crux of it.  Not just what is perceived but to get to the facts and I found that indeed, Dennis Erickson was not involved in those issues and that is what was found to be true.  Also, in interview the compliance officers that worked with him and his staff, we found that they gave him excellent marks at being very much involved and very committed to rules compliance and abiding by structure.  So I went right to the source and right to the key people who were responsible for those areas and departments.  The more I heard the more confident I was in what I believed to be true and what other athletics directors have shared with me in who he is.' 


Dennis Erickson


On Academic Progress Rate (APR) requirements:


'Well the APR to me is one of the greatest things to happen in college athletics and the reason being, everyone is held accountable as far as graduation.  The way that it is structured is that these athletes have to take certain units towards graduation and requirements, so that when they are done playing they've graduated or they're really close. Does it affect your recruiting? No, not really, because you have to evaluate regardless of that rule or any rule. You have to evaluate guys that can be successful not just on the football field but also academically.


On his expectations for ASU football...


'(I expect) to be very competitive. Like I said earlier, (I expect) to compete for the Pac-10 Championship, and to compete to go to the BCS. To be competitive in that arena, that's what it's all about. Obviously as well all know, the Pac-10 is a great football league. Teams have gotten better, so it's competitive year-in-and-year-out. But that's our goal, and occasionally if you fall short of it you're still going to have a pretty darn good season.'


On coaching in the Pac-10 Conference:


'It's been a large part of me. It's where I was born and raised. When I was at WashingtonState, and left to go to Miami, it was a hard thing to do. The Pac-10 is part of me. I've now coached at three Universities. It's so competitive, it's so much fun to coach it in it and it's so much fun for the players to play in it. It's a conference that players play in. It has a high rate speed. It has a lot of national recognition, and it's a great opportunity to be back in it.'


Lisa Love


On Erickson's ambition:


'I might add something to that, with regard of where Coach Erickson has been in the last 20 years or so. Ambition doesn't bother me at all. As a matter of fact, in hiring staff in our department last year I was only hiring people if they aspired to have my job. I understand that, and I understand when you look at his career track that he wanted to grab the brass ring in the NFL. He wanted to go from a Division 1-AA program to a 1-A program to a BCS conference to a Miami. He was only 41 years old when he got that job at Miami and by all means he was a fairly young coach but was highly regarded to be given the keys to that kingdom at the time. I understand the desire to coach at the very highest level of your profession, or to be an administrator at the very highest level of your profession. To me that makes only good sense, and that does not even make me blink when following his career track.'


Dennis Erickson


On immediate plans for recruiting:            


'Right now I'm going to meet here with in the next couple days with the staff here.  The biggest sense of urgency is in the junior college players that can sign on December 20, and where they thought this program was, as far as needing immediate help.  After that we will talk about the high school recruiting and go from there.  But right now that's the immediate thing and where we will go junior college wise.' 


On speaking with the Sun Devil team:


'I talked with them today before I came in here.  The two biggest things I talk to them about are the two biggest things for them right now which are finals, which they are in right now and preparation for the (Hawai'i Bowl) game and go and play for Coach (Dirk) Koetter and his staff, which is a great staff and get ready to play that football game.  The other stuff can wait until they get back.'


On offensive and defensive philosophies:


'Offensively, we are going to be somewhat similar to what you have seen.  Although we would probably try to run the football.  A lot of it depends on personnel.  As you know if you've watched my teams, we will spread them out.  We will probably be a one-back, two tight ends and those types of things.  I really believe you have to throw it and get it down the field, but you have to be a physical running football team and a physical team on defense.  To win consistently the word `physical' is such a key.  If there is one thing I can say offensively or defensively, we are going to run a 4-3 and we are going to blitz, but we are hopefully going to be physical on both sides of the football.' 


On changes in the Pac-10 since he last coached in the conference:


'The conference has a lot more equity.  The conference is a heck of a lot more even.  If you look at the programs and how much better a lot of them have gotten.  Obviously the emergence of USC now over the last four or five years has made a difference.  But they've all improved.  Oregon is better, Cal, OregonState, they keep getting better and better all the time.  The competition and the closeness of the teams is the biggest change.' 


On what is necessary to elevate a program:


'Personnel, recruiting and attitude (all help elevate a program).  Dirk (Koetter) has done a good job here, he really has.  You just have to look at it.  I mean, how do you get better, as a coach you go into your program and evaluate your players.  Speaking about OregonState, that was one the proudest four years of my life to be involved in that program and take it from where it was to where it is playing right now. That took a lot of work because you had to evaluate where you were every year.  At the end of four years it was obviously better than where it started and (current OregonState head coach) Mike (Riley) has made it better.  But you have to evaluate where you are at and what you have to do to make it better in all aspects of business and especially in a football program.'




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