"Good morning. Thank you for coming on such short notice. I have
made the decision, in consultation with a wide number of people, that the time
is right for us to make a change in our football leadership. First of all
let me say that I have appreciated my relationship with Walt Harris and his
staff. And I have appreciated all of their hard work on behalf of our
university. This has been a tough year, and in some measure, this decision
wasn't made as a result of being 1-11 as much as it was a result of not seeing
the progress in some of the really critical areas we would have hoped for after
two years. We are going about the process of identifying candidates.
Obviously, every athletic director keeps a short list in their back pocket, and
I have mine. And it's not one that I'm prepared to share at this point.
We are going about the process, and I would hope to be able to get on down the
path in about two weeks - be done with the search. Our assistant coaches
are on contract through June 30, and we will stand behind those contracts.
There are mitigation clauses in there where if they find other work, our
obligations are reduced. Walt Harris has three years left on his
contract. We are in the process of negotiations on the terms under which
we will separate. Once again, let me reiterate that there were some things
that were certainly not of Walt's making and he certainly didn't have a lot of
control over, but in the end it was my belief that we ought to start fresh and
do all the big things and all the small things that it takes to return Stanford
Football to its appropriate position of competitiveness every game."
You said that there are criteria beyond 1-11. Can you share some of
those criteria which this program and this season did not meet?
"I think that there are a lot of ways in which you improve without it
necessarily showing up on the scoreboard. Those are the kinds of things
I'm talking about. We are in the bottom 10 of virtually every statistical
category that the NCAA keeps on offense and on defense. There's plenty of
work to do in a wide variety of areas, and I think, as you've heard me say
before, the margin for error is relatively narrow at Stanford. We have to
do all the little things right, and we have to get the big things right as well,
if we have any chance to compete over the long haul. That's the process
that we will go about."
What qualities are you looking for in your next head coach?
"I think we need a person who is a relentless recruiter. I think all of
our coaches in all of our sports are faced with the same task. They have
to go out and find the student-athlete prospect in Georgia, Indiana, Montana or
someplace else who is academically capable of benefiting from a Stanford
education and athletically competent to the point that they could play at any of
the programs around the country and could do well. And we have to convince
that student-athlete to leave their home state, come to Stanford and make a
lifetime difference in terms of their education. We need somebody who
embraces that, goes about it energetically and can go out and attract to our
campus the people it takes to compete in the Pac-10 Conference."
Speaking of recruiting, you gave two weeks for this timeframe. There
are a number of kids, close to a dozen, scheduled to come in on Friday. Do
you cancel that now?
"I have asked the coaches that are on campus to stay on campus and those that
are away to come back as soon as it is practical. That means touching base
with recruits and letting them know what's going on. I will personally
call everybody that we've offered and everybody that has been committed and let
them know what's going on. I think it does create some challenges,
obviously, with the visits this weekend. To the extent that we can, we
will keep those together. If the prospects want to move them later in
order to know who the new head coach is going to be, then we'll certain
Bob, how much were the empty seats this season a factor?
"There is no question that's a factor because people vote with their
pocketbooks and they vote with their feet. The last game against Oregon State, we probably had 12,000 people in the stands. Fortunately we had
sold 34,000 or 35,000 tickets. That's the good side from the financial
standpoint, but one has to wonder if those people who had $45 tickets and didn't
care to come to the game will buy them again next year. I would be less
than honest if I didn't say that declining attendance, declining fan support and
all of the things that go along with that are certainly a factor with this
Will you meet with the current players?
"I will meet with the current players at 11am this morning."
What do you believe that this program is capable of?
"Anything. I think it's harder here. We have to have the very
best people. I've said it before - it was a huge detriment to Walt to lose
five assistants after last season. Continuity is as important maybe as
anything in building a program, and we're certainly going to be very careful
about who comes in as our next head coach. The additional piece of that is
that we have to have the right people on the staff. Then we have to keep
Before you decide on your next head coach, have you decided on any
assistant who will be held over for that continuity?
"That will be up to the head coach."
Is the short list in your head the same one you would have had at Iowa?
"No, it's not the same one I would have. Some of the people are the
same, but this is a different place and a different situation."
Do you want somebody with head coaching experience?
"Preferably. I think you have to look for somebody who has done
something as closely akin to the job you are asking them to do as you possibly
can. The more you depart from that, the more risk there is."
Beyond the relentless recruiter, is there any other set of unique
characteristics you are looking for?
"Impeccable integrity. Someone who understands and embraces what it is
that Stanford stands for, what the place is about. I think that's
important. If at all possible, it would be nice to have somebody who has
had an experience here. There aren't a lot of those people out there, but
we're certainly going to talk to anybody who has that skill set and experiential
background. I think that you have to be a teacher here. You have to
be able to recruit the best athletes here, but you also have to be able to coach
them up and teach them how to compete against the people who we play in our
league and in our non-conference schedule. Our business at its core is
helping 17- or 18-year-old adolescents to become 22- or 23-year-old adults.
This person needs to be a mentor, needs to be a teacher and needs to be a person
of impeccable integrity and who has a substantial work ethic because that's
certainly required here."
Salary certainly was the issue last time. Can Stanford pay the going
rate for a football coach right now?
"I don't know what the going rate is, per se, but we're going to try to find
the right candidate first. Then worry about the compensation. I
think it's a fair question; I just don't know that I have a really good answer
for you, Darren."
Because of the financial implications of the three-year buyout and the
current state of the department, did you have to meet with John Etchemendy to
get an OK to make this move?
"I have met with all of the appropriate people on campus to get their buy-in
and their approval for what we're doing."
Do any of those powers give any guidance on what you need to do
financially when bringing in this next head coach?
"No, we didn't talk specifically about that. It's obvious that if we're
going to take this step that there are some financial implications, and we
certainly have contemplated those financial implications. We understand
the ramifications and what we need to do."
Will you put a committee together for this?
"I will do most of the screening myself. When we get down to a final,
small group of candidates, I imagine that there will be a group of people from
inside and outside of the program, on and off campus, who will get involved in
some level of consideration. But ultimately, when it's all said and done,
I'll make the hire with input from a variety of sources."
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