Q: You've coached in the NFL. More recently you've raced stock and muscle cars competitively, and spent the past 11 years in the NFL broadcast booth. Why leave all that behind to coach college football in the middle of the Pacific?
A: (Laughs.) Only because of one guy [Jones]. I promised myself that I would go back and coach college football. It just worked out to be with this group. I think the players here are special-June told me they would be different, that they'd want to become something that'd make the Islands proud.
Q: Under June Jones, the Warriors have lit up the scoreboard with one of the most potent offenses in the country, only to struggle regularly on defense. How will you reverse this?
A: You just take your kids and try to teach them, try to be the best professor on campus. The only reason they've won here in the past is Coach Jones, so we're still gonna need him to win all these football games.
Q: With a tough schedule that included an opening game with two-time defending national champion and current No. 1 Southern California, UH appears to be outmatched this season. How do you gauge success against such odds?
A: Really, it's between each player, and I tell each player, "Only you and God know whether you spilled all your guts."
Q: The last time you were together, Jones was your assistant with Atlanta. You've switched roles. Is it weird?
A: No, no, football is football. To come back as an assistant, I picked the right head coach. He's the best guy in the world to work for.
Q: You've always had an aggressive defensive philosophy, and imbued your players with the same. But how do you bring your "House of Pain" attitude to a place where people wear flower-printed shirts?
A: Well, the only question I asked June [before taking the job] was if I had to wear a shirt with a flower, 'cause everyone on the Mainland can't wait to see me wear a flower shirt. So, for the media guide, June fell down laughing, because my picture was in there with a flowered shirt. Flip-flops, shorts, the whole deal. But when you're on the football field, it's all about you and your character. It's what you're going to demand of yourself. I demand more than maybe [the players] want to give, and then they'll grow to the point where they want to give more than I was demanding.
Q: The Warriors lost some major offensive talent from last year. This puts even more pressure on the defense. Are people expecting you to be a savior?
A: No. I never feel any pressure, anywhere I've been. No person can put more pressure on a player, or a coach, than he puts on himself. So, I totally ignore any outside "Attaboys." I totally ignore any outside "You did it wrongs."
Q: You've had a short while to get acclimated to Hawai'i. Is this something you could get used to?
A: I tell everybody back on the Mainland, "I live right on Waikiki beach, I see the people surfing in the morning on the waves-somebody's got to have that assignment, somebody's got to do that." But, really, it doesn't matter where I'm living when I coach football. You don't care if you're standing butt-deep in snow or if you're in sunshine, if you've got the right technique and the guys are doing it correctly; that's why you're here.
Do you like what you read? Subscribe to HONOLULU Magazine »