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Zips Football: Transcript of Terry Bowden Press Conference

By gthomas Published: December 28, 2011

Q.  Talk about just the culture change you want to try to enact, what are some of the things you want to change philosophically from the outset?
TERRY BOWDEN:  Well, the only thing that can change that is winning, now I can create an expectation of success, I can talk about success I've had somewhere else or the success I've experienced and vicariously you would hope they would be able to feel some of that and buy in.
But until we win, you can't completely sell the culture of success or the culture of losing.  I think you've got to show them something.  We have got to go knock somebody off that we ain't knocked off lately.  We have to go play a little better than we've played and do something a little better than we've done.
But the first thing you've got to do is be a little bit bold in your presentation and you've got to create an expectation of success that these players will buy into and they will get excited about, and that they will believe that if they will just go with us, if they will go with our staff and go with me, that we together are going to have a successful level.
So I think all I can say is that you want to create a great expectation of success, and get the players to invest and buy into that and then ultimately, I don't think you can ever win anybody over until you actually have some success.  I think you've got to at some point generate that success.

Q.  It's been a roller coaster for fans and alumni the last month, can you take us through the past couple of weeks to tell us how you became head coach of the University of Akron.
TERRY BOWDEN:  Todd Turner with the search committee, and I want to appreciate Todd how good he was to me when he called me and told me that the University of Akron was interested in me as their head coach.  I don't think he realized the knowledge I had of the university.  Not just because I had been here; he knew I had been here, but just fact that when I was broadcasting, when he left at 42 years old, I had been a head coach 15 years, and I left coaching to go to broadcasting.
But right before I turned 50, I hit that point where I looked in the mirror and said, is this what I want to do the rest of my life.  I want to go coach again, and I was looking at schools even then identifying schools that I felt were on the verge.  This is a place that's on the verge of something special happening.  And there were about three or four but Akron was one of them.  It was one that you just identified at that point and so I had had my eye on them.
And so when Mr.Turner called that they wanted to interview me, I said, are they really interested in me, are they really interested in me, because I'm interested in Akron.  And I wanted him to know, I'm interested in Akron, are they interested in me.  And he said yes.
And we came up and we met and you know, I sold my heart out, because I want to be here.  I think I might have touched a few chords, and the next day, they offered me the job and I'm here.
So it was?? the process of meeting and face?to?face, was very quick, was over a couple of days, but my knowledge and my experience of getting to know about Akron was really way back before four or five years ago.

Q.  With all of this energy, how did you stay away from coaching for ten years?
TERRY BOWDEN:  Maybe another time we can address all?? when I left Auburn, not just the exit there, I was disillusioned a little bit about that I always want to go, and win or lose, and face the fact that if you don't win, you might lose your job and that there are sometimes other factors involved.
But I think what happened was when I resigned at Auburn, I got offered a couple of jobs and turned them down and ABC called and wanted me to work at ABC.  I said, well, that's something I could do just to get myself?? I feel like mentally, I needed to sit for a year.  But I got to work at New York City at Times Square with John Saunders in probably the greatest fun job in the world, can you imagine, just being paid to watch football all day.  You're always right, you're never wrong, you're an expert, you go to the championship every year, undefeated five straight years; then after work you go out in New York City.
Really to be honest with you, my dad was hitting that level where he was becoming?? at one point he passed Joe as the winningest coach in college football and I said you know what I'm not going to be the winningest coach in my family.  And I said I want to be a spokesperson for the game, and I want to be that person that can be someone they can come to when people talk about the game; and they can come to me and I can present myself as a part of football, always a part of football, in a different way that was different than maybe my father.
And so I jumped in and got?? and loved it and got very involved with it and I didn't go out and enter a different industry or business.  I was out covering football games and he valuating film and studying players and being a part of the game in a different way.
So it kind of soothed some of that passion of being around football.  But like I said earlier, there came a point in time where I looked in that mirror and I said, I've got?? this is not what I grew up as a kid wanting to do at Morgantown because my dad was a coach at West Virginia year ago.  At about 14 years old, I wanted to be a football coach.  It hit me and it hit me at a point and I said that's what I have to do.
I don't know if I ever got farthest away where I felt like I was removed from football because I was so much a part of it.  But when it hit me I had to go back, I knew I did.

Q.  Several years ago I had an opportunity to hear you at one of your public speaking engagements an hour south of here and you are obviously a guy that can talk the talk.  I guess walk us through, and we can see here this afternoon, people that have never heard you speak before, what do you do specifically in your program that allows you to walk the walk.  You've had success, North Alabama, you've had success at Auburn; what do you do that transitions that talk into the walk to success that you've had.
TERRY BOWDEN:  I'm glad you asked that question, because when I was coming up, having been the son of a football coach, you kind of learn that you need to be a polished speaker and those things, and you learn to do some of the peripheral things that you need to do to be successful and then I jumped into broadcasting and for six months, you speak, and you do a lot of speaking and motivational speaking and so you get good at speaking.
I've often said I got tired of talking about being successful and I would like to see if I could go be successful again, because you can talk a pretty good game after a while without having to do it much.
The bottom line is my foundation is X's and O's, blocking and tackling and the fundamentals of football.  The day I was born, my father was a football coach, and I learned how to be a football coach.  And my brother Tommy, I heard him say at a press conference, what is it about being the son of Bobby Bowden that has helped you as a football coach.  He said, you just know how to act.  Like some other coaches ?? you know how to act like a football coach, you know how to act in football coaching situations, you know how to respond.
I think the foundation has got to be in X's and O's and fundamentally blocking and tackling and teaching the fundamentals of football and building a team and being good in your scheme and knowing football and so no matter how many years I've been a head coach and right or wrong, I'm going to be the opposite of the coordinator; I'm going to you call the plays, I'm going to run the offense.  And that day, we are going to go after it.  We are going to go after it.
And so I've always tried to ground myself, not in the CEO responsibilities, which are very important, but also to maintain my core, which is in the fundamental X's and O's of football.  Spent a lot of years in a small college.  I chose to start out and be a head coach like my father from a very early age, because I wanted to learn all of the things that you need to know to be a football coach and so I have been?? I've been in the SEC, I've been in Auburn and I've had the Jets and all those things, but most of my career, I've also had to wear that hat as fundraiser, order the equipment, line the fields sometimes, and all of those things that you have to do, all of us guys that have been coaches at different levels that I think make you a coach and make you appreciate the things that you have.
So I think my foundation, I think the strength is, you can't ever forget, football is about blocking and tackling and getting our 11 to play their 11 and ultimately that's what you have to do.  I think that's the key strength because at times, I've never seen a Bowden that didn't talk.  So you have Bowdens that talk in front of a microphone; I have a good mentor that when he comes up, you will not get him off the podium, I promise you.
The foundation, those coaches will tell you, has got to be in the fundamentals of staff building and team building and blocking and tackling and those things that are consistent no matter where you are as a football coach.

Q.  How do you look at this job, do you look at this as last stop on a coaching career, or do you look at this as perhaps a steppingstone to getting back into a Top?25 program?
TERRY BOWDEN:  I don't think?? it's been since I was in my 20s before I looked at it as a job as I hoped to get a job.  I think my job is the last stop job.  When I go to a job, that's my last stop.  I don't have an exit strategy.  My exit strategy here is about retirement between 65 and 70, and how far and how much we can go; and our president, he paint an exciting picture of how he feels the importance of athletics, not just football, but athletics plays at this university and the growth of this university and the importance of it.
So, you know, I don't have any exit strategy and it's not when you can come here and how fast you can leave.  But my goal is to be a part of this university and this program and build this program as far as we can go.  Let me say it starts with winning; I have to win my first football game.  When I go to bed at night, I'm not going to be thinking about these questions.  I'm going to be thinking about how are we going to dag?gum win two, because we only had one last year; we have got to get two to have one more.  Last time I did that, I went to Auburn and they had won five and I said, I have got to win six; that's all I have to do is win six and I can and keep my job.  We won 20 straight.
But I think when I came to Akron, I came because all I saw is Akron, I'm 55 years old, I may not be as anxious as when I was 25 years old, but I do feel I've got a job, I've got the energy and I've got the professional lifespan to be a part of this program to see it through.

Q.  Just wonder what styles you plan on running on offense and defense and if you've hired any coaches at this point.
TERRY BOWDEN:  Talked to a lot of coaches and I don't think we are ready to say we have hired anybody yet.  But I've talked to a lot of coaches.  Two things; one, it's funny, I've been a head coach a lot of years, but I still say, I do it like my dad did, and that's kind of what you say.
But I'm an offensive coach and we are going to run the offense that I run.  And it's going to be unfortunate?? I'm not going to change my whole offense for the personnel here.  I'm going to change parts of it.  We may run a little bit more or pass a little bit more or roll out a little bit more because of the personnel.
When my commitment is to an offense, I know I can be successful in?? I think too many coaches try to change things and they get down the road, and they find out in the middle of the ballgame, they don't know the adjustments to what they are doing and they shouldn't have made that move.
It's up?tempo, fast pace.  If I can get a snap up before the defense is ready every single play, if we can go 85 snaps a game, we are going to do 85 snaps a game.  We are not going to be in a huddle.  We are going to move fast and we are going to try to chunk that fall down the field and go.  It's going to be a fast?paced offense, and I feel real good about it.  I feel like I can be successful with it, that we can be successful with it, and it's going to be?? all I can say is hold on to your hat.  It's going to be fun, and it's never fun unless you're winning but it will be as close to fun as it can be when it's a close loss as it's going to be.
Defensively, I am going to make sure, because of the way I have run my staff, I'm going to hire a defensive coordinator that's in charge of the defense and I'm going to ask him to be totally in charge of the defense and I'm going to expect and demand him, based on some things I ask of him to bring us a championship defense and so we are going to go out and recruit the best players we are going to recruit and I'm going to turn that over to him.  Whether he's a 3?4 guy or a 2?5 guy or a 4?3 guy, if I'm sold on him, I'm going to be sold on what he's doing, I'll be sold on what he's doing and I'll give him great leeway, and even some participation, as we talk about our staff on that side of the ball.

Q.  Teams tend to take over the personality and characteristics of the head coach.  One year down the road, two years down the road, minus the wins or losses, what's a Coach Bowden team going to look like?
TERRY BOWDEN:  I would hope we would be relentless on defense.  Nasty is a word that gets you in trouble.  I want to be ?? I want to get after it, and I want an aggressive defense that you like watching, you like watching, we want to tackle until the whistle.  An offense, I think there's an excitement.  I don't like to play defensive offense, as far as an exciting brand of offense.
The biggest thing, I want my players to have great enthusiasm.  It's important to have fun.  You don't ever have total fun like I said unless you're winning, and I don't think young men are ever going to love the game as much as us non?coaches or game coaches.
Our lives are committed to it and part of their lives are committed to football, and I believe at some point they have to enjoy what they do and have fun, given that they had better learn to have fun going full speed every play and playing with great enthusiasm.  But I would think that we are a pretty enthusiastic bunch that's exciting on offense and relentless on defense and at that point that we can get there, we are going to have a good football team.

Q.  There were a couple 63?60 games that year, so that doesn't scare you at all?
TERRY BOWDEN:  I don't buy the philosophy that if you have a high?scoring offense, you have to have a high?scoring defense.  I would love to go out there and?? a lot of offense because we have to run a lot of inside middle drills and we do need to be tough.  But if half your opponents are spreading out and not allowing you to make gang tackles, they are forcing you to teach more open?field tackles by individual defensive players because they are spreading you out, then you had better get a lot of that in practice.
So, no, I want my defensive coaches to have the exact same goals.  Their job is to have the other team score as little as possible.  The great teams over the years, whether we can become a great team, they will score a ton of points on offense but it's the defense that wins championships.  But we will create some excitement early, if we can play exciting offense, but it's going to be that defense that gets us to a championship level.  And so we have got to play a great defense.
So those are fun, but I thought about the one against, was it, Toledo, that was great fun for everybody, the two defensive coordinators, I don't imagine they had a lot of fun in that game.
I don't think you want to?? you don't want to see every game like that and I don't believe any of us will tolerate as a staff that that's where we want to go, and I know any defensive coach would feel the same way.  And I'm going to be honest with you, the one good thing about being a head coach that calls plays, at some point if I have someone that I feel can handle that with me and move me away from that.  Buddy Ryan once said, when I became a head coach, I fired my best assistant, himself.  He was the best defensive coordinator he ever knew and he fired himself and hired somebody else and got fired three years later.
Now I forgot what I was talking about?? that great saying, what did you ask me?? did you ask me for.  But I would hope?? our goal is to play great defense, and that's when you win championships with.

Q.  You indicated how important it is to have recruiters on your staff from northeast Ohio.  Is it imperative that you are part of that developing those local relationships as well for you to truly have recruiting success in the area?
TERRY BOWDEN:  Let me say this.  I think it's important to have enough for local recruiters.  If somebody can point me?? if I have one guy that knows where to go, point me in the right direction or if I have two guys that can point me in the right direction or the rest of us, there's a mix.  There's a lot of important aspects of building a staff and that's one of them.
All you have to do is look over the great hires around the country at whatever level, and when somebody goes after a great coach, they hire a great coach no matter where he's from and when he hires great coaches, a lot of the time, he hires coaches where they are from.
But you are going to want to see a couple guys, maybe two or three or four on your staff that can cut the learning curve down, that have relationships.  I'm saying yes, you're right.  I don't know what the exact number is going to end up, but you've got to have a few that can cut the learning curve that already have established great relationships with the coaches and there's a trust between them, and as you know the great thing is when you can make a few phone calls and get real answers to tough questions about players and that takes some local guys.

Q.  You talked about local recruiting quite a bit, you obviously have strong ties to the staff; your staff going to recruit in the south?
TERRY BOWDEN:  I don't think all over the south.  I think you say?? first impressions, if I said?? and I remember sitting in staff meetings 25 years ago with a staff and talking about?? and I don't think it's changed from northeast Ohio to the state of Ohio is your bread and butter of western Pennsylvania, maybe as far as Detroit.  That's your before he had and butter and it's right here in Ohio, western PA, then where is your strength?
And to me, I'm going to go to South Florida if I have to have a speed guy here or a skill guy there, and I feel like we can bring in guys.  If you look at other teams, not just in the MAC but this part of the country, go look at their rosters.  It's just the right mix of some there.  That's not your meat and potatoes to me.  To me, Ohio is a ?? your meat and potato football player came from right here, guys that grew up understanding high school football, understanding football and what it means.  I think those are your meat and potato guys.  But you have to find a few gazelles around that can bring in some players around them on the edges that, and I'm going to go Florida.

Q.  What would you say about transfers, especially in the first couple of years?
TERRY BOWDEN:  And I can't answer totally because you've offered a question that presents a dilemma do we want to go all out and try to win.  Whatever it takes to win as quickly as you can, or do you say, okay, we are going to build a foundation, and we are going to go out there and get 25 high school seniors and we are going to get them in a weight room and build them and redshirt some of them.  And we are going to suffer some of it a little bit and we are going to move forward and I think the answer is somewhere in between.  I think ultimately that's what you're going to strive for.
But I think there will be a?? now I think we have already got some commitments from January at this point.  But this first year, because if we are late and we can't fill up and we have to touch some junior college, I would think this year might be a year that might have to happen.
But I don't think you can build your program on junior colleges except as those that can fill in for you, and I think that's what you want to do.  Whether it be three or four in a season or something like that, maybe two, that you want to do.
But I'm saying this first year there's going to be a mix of where can we hit the ground running and come up with the right class of people that can help us win and not lower our level of talent that we are trying to bring in.  We don't want to sign 25 just to sign.  We want to bring in 25 that can help us get to where we go.
I think if there is a need immediately, I think if we have a few areas in junior college that we can get and meet that, we will.  But I think from a standpoint of where you like to go and build your program, would you like to build them out of high school players that you build up within the foundation of your program that can build your program.
I know when I went to Stanford, UNA, which is division II, you do a lot with one?year transfers and two?years transfers.  And in Division I, it's a different level of football, especially in the deep south.  I remember when I was at Stanford and we moved from Division III to Division I AA.  We jumped over two and moved up, so none of the three guys at that level could play at the next.  And we signed 25 freshmen, got our fannies, we went 4?7.  We went 25 more, and then kept going and went like 4?7, 5?6, 6?4?1.  But then by that fourth year, building from within, we went 12?2 and we lost to Jim Tressel in the national semifinals in I AA in that fourth year, but that's that other side.  That's building through your program.
Now we had to suffer through losses, you know, and maybe four losses would not seem like losses maybe at some time, but I think those are the two extremes.  Once you get your program settled, that's the way you like to go.

Q.  How have you changed as a person and as a coach your first go around, 1993 to now?
TERRY BOWDEN:  How have you changed when I made a decision to get back into coaching out of broadcasting when he can when he can when you are out ten years, your entrance strategy is hard, how do you get back, do you something most coaches have not come.  I called Dick Vermeil and asked if I could come spend the day with him, I spent eight hours with him, because he had spent 15 years with ABC, a little bit with CBS and we talked about things, and he said something that I think is true.  You become smarter and wiser.  I think you don't go off in as many different directions and go the wrong way.
You may not be able to work harder than when you were younger but you worked a little bit smarter and I think I'm a little bit wiser.  I don't say this?? I don't point to any bad?? when you're young you get tunnel vision, you just go like a thoroughbred, and I think I'm a little about the wiser and a little bit smarter and to be honest with you, I think I'm a better coach now than was when I was back at Auburn.

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