Q & A: Tyrone Willingham

Oct. 29, 2001

Question: Clearly much of what you do influences the character development of theyoung men you coach. After victories like the one against Oregon and UCLA, alot of positives can be taken from the experience. What do you learn morefrom: a hard-fought win or a hard-fought loss? Do you try to derive lessonsfrom both and distill them into equally effective teaching tools?

The key to life is one's response to its questions and/orcircumstances. I believe that everything that happens in life can beturned into a positive. If one has that will and vision, then you learnand grow both from positives and negatives.

Question: The play calling against Oregon was a brilliant and courageous adjustmentto the situation. We are very proud. Will Chris Lewis be able to maintain thedownfield passing game?

As Chris Lewis continues to gain experience, also will he gain amastery of his game. He will do things with ease that may seemdifficult today. Our goal is always to execute the full depth of ouroffensive resources.

Question: Great wins over Oregon and UCLA. I am glad I made the trip to see theOregon game in person. With the pass-interference penalty in college footballbeing 15 yards rather than 'the spot of the foul' as in the NFL, do you coachthe defensive backs to interfere with the receiver on bog plays (i.e. passlonger than 15 yards or passes into the end zone) where it looks to the DBthat the receiver will make the play unless he is interfered with? Itappeared to me in the Washington State game that there were opportunities forthe DB to do that to prevent the bigger pass completion that took place.

To teach our young men to intentionally interfere would surely be abenefit in some situations but would also go against the spirit of thegame. I believe that the spirit of the game is important.

Question: After the first three games, you running backs had combined total of 2 or3 pass receptions for very little yardage. Now they have combined for 12 and180 yards (15 yds/catch). Are you consciously looking to the backs asreceivers more now than at the beginning of the season or is it coincidence?

It is not coincidence to take advantage of what the opponentprovides. They have created opportunities for us to get the ball to our backs, andhopefully we will continue to take advantage.

Question: Will Stanford ever think about playing ACC or SEC schools?

We have in the past played an ACC team in the University of NorthCarolina. Our series was a home and home. We will continue to playdifferent conferences to expose our program to the country.

Question: About two years ago, my mother and a friend saw you in the Track House.She convinced you to choose a visor you were trying on. You bought it,apparently, and I'd like to know how it's worked for you and the team. Is itnow your 'good luck' visor?

Please thank your mother for me, the visor was very nice. No, it hasnot become my good luck but occasionally I wear it.

Question: After wins over UCLA and Oregon, as a fan it is hard not to think abouthow if we had beaten Washington State, Stanford would be in the running forthe national title and that even with one loss, we could go to a major bowl.My question is how do you keep yourself and the team from not looking downthe road? I know coaches tell their players, 'we have to play one game at atime', but it seems like human nature to fantasize about how good thingscould turn out. How do you compensate for that?

It is those fantasies that often drive one to greataccomplishments. Yet we recognize that to reach that level of successit is truly one game at a time, for there are no mid-season bowlgames. They are awarded on successful completion of the season. Themore mature the team, the more they listen and heed the words of theircoaches. Then it is their actions that make the difference because wecoaches do not play.

Question: Even after Stanford turns the ball over again and again, you seem so calm,and composed. How do you avoid showing frustration? Are you really calm orare you upset in the inside and just have a good way of not letting it show?

I believe that I have been blessed to always look forward or find thepositive in any situation. If one can do this, then success will alwaysbe within reach. I believe that the team and I deserve success but also thatit may not always arrive when I wish.

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