Dirk Koetter Weekly Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 17, 2001

Quoting Arizona State Head Football Coach
Dirk Koetter
September 17, 2001

Opening Statement
'It seems a little weird to be up here talking, with no game last week. The main thing I'll fill you in on is what our schedule was. Obviously on Tuesday we didn't practice. The players were shook up and concerned. We canceled practice and had a team meeting. We talked about a few issues, the team wanted to say a prayer for the victims and their families and we did that. Wednesday we had a very general practice. A shortened down version, we didn't do much. We'd been off for a few days, we just went out and played football. Thursday, we had what would be a normal Tuesday practice, and started to gear towards Stanford.'

'I must say, the Pac-10 and Tom Hansen, our commissioner, really was at the forefront at canceling college games last week. I think that shows the type of leadership we have in our conference, along with the leadership at our university with President Coor and (Athletic Director) Gene Smith.'

'Stanford overall is an extremely veteran team. I think they have 18 starters back, including both of their kickers. On defense, ten of their eleven starters are seniors. They are a well coached team, their schemes are solid. A lot of you people in the media predicted them to be high in the Pac-10. The one game they played was Boston College, and they dominated Boston College...Stanford is a team that is probably going to contend. We are looking forward to getting tested ourselves in the Pac-10, and also getting tested on the road.'

'(Stanford Head Coach) Tyrone Willingham called me on Friday, and one of the things that was suggested was that we are going to have both teams on the field a few minutes early this week. We are going to observe a moment of silence, and also have both teams on the field for the national anthem. That's one of the things that's different in college football. Tyrone used to coach in the NFL, and in the NFL, by rule, both teams have to be on the field for the national anthem. Not since I was a high school coach in 1984 have I been on the field for the national anthem, so I think that's a great idea. We will re-organize our pregame warm up so that we can be out on the field for that as a team. That's something that we are going to look forward to for this week.'

Concern about tall wide receivers against ASU corners
'We are going to have that every week. Our corners are short, and every team has tall receivers. We'd like to recruit tall receivers too. We're going to have that every week, and there's nothing we can do. Go play, and go play the best you can.'

Stanford Quarterback Randy Fasani
'Randy Fasani, when I coached at Oregon I saw him coming out of high school and I thought he was one of the best high school quarterbacks I had ever seen. He committed to Stanford early, that's where he wanted to go. He had some injury problems early in his career at Stanford. Apparently, he's been able to overcome all of those. He played very well the latter half of last season and against Boston College. Stanford does a great job with their schemes. Their offense, from a structure standpoint, is quite similar to ours. They do a nice job when he scrambles, they have a little scramble package they do. Our defense has been working on it, but it's hard to contain. They are a team that is very capable of putting points on the board, and our defense is going to have their hands full, no question.'

More time to work out the problems?
'W had several areas in both offense and defense and special teams that we had to get straightened out, and we will find out if we did coming up on Saturday. We certainly did work on some things that were not up to par against San Diego State.'

Trouble with the game plans?
'Tuesday is usually the day we introduce the opposing team game plan, so we never really got into the UCLA game plan. When we canceled Tuesday's practice and it became evident we weren't going to play, we actually started as a coaching staff to work on Stanford on Wednesday. I don't think from a game plan standpoint it's going to affect the team at all. From an emotional standpoint, everybody is different. Everybody grieves in a different fashion. When we actually have to get on a plane on Friday, and we get onto the field for the national anthem, players on both sides of the field are going to feel the emotion.'

Fears about flying?
'I've been on flights with teams for several years now, and you have guys who are afraid to fly under normal conditions, let alone what we're dealing with right now. That's going to be something that's going to come up during the week, but nobody has said anything to me so far.'

Position battles
'We still have 11 games left in the season, so there are still position competitions. Just because the season starts doesn't mean you stop the competition, even though you have an established depth chart.'

Mason Unck
'Mason (Unck) really did have a nice game against San Diego State. That was a nice battle between Mason and Eric Fields for the Linebacker spot opposite Solomon Bates. Mason came out on top, although Eric is one of the most respected members of our team. Mason is a really good leader, a student of the game. He is able to anticipate what is coming next, he's like a quarterback out their on the defense. It looks like Mason has finally overcome the injuries that have plagued him the last couple of years. He played very well against San Diego State.'

Any connections to the attacks
'To my knowledge, we had four players on our team that had some kind of a connection, either some relative or friend of the family was in the area. To my knowledge, all of those turned out positive. I talked about how everybody grieves differently. There are some people who had no connection and there's some who had indirect, and some who have direct. You can't expect all those people to be on the same emotional plain.'

Mental state right now?
'I think everybody is a little bit different, our world has been changed forever. I'll be honest, at this press conference right now, I'm not having any fun. I like to make fun of you guys and the stupid questions you ask me, but I'm not having fun doing this. It's just hard to think about why this many people would show up to hear a coach talk about college football in light of what's happened in our country. I don't get it, it's hard. Now that's my job as well as my staff, and we will do the best we can to have our team ready to play at Stanford on Saturday. But to think it's business as usual, we are kidding ourselves.'

'I have to admit, I've been thinking a lot, if the nation stopped playing football, how would I be feeding my family? It's just pretty insignificant right now, college football. And we all know, they pay us a lot of money.'

'Our coaching staff had been together long enough. We had a player die when we were at Boise State. It was very tragic when we had a player pass away. And our coaching staff developed a plan to get through that. We followed a similar pattern for this. The main thing again is that everybody is different, you can't hurry it, you can't force it, you just have to let it happen.'

Would you prefer not to play this week?
'I would prefer to play this week. I didn't see a whole lot of interviews with college players, but I saw a bunch with NFL players. I thought the NFL players did a great job of saying all the reasons why football shouldn't have been played last week. Time heals all wounds, and time will heal these wounds. What's the right amount of time? I don't know the answer to that. If you don't play this weekend, then you're getting into scheduling issues, pretty much postponing one week of college football, you can make it up. But more than one week, you'd have everything all screwed up. I think you have to play, but I think we get back on the field I'll feel more normal than I do now.'

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