DiNardo Press Conference

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!

    January 8, 2002

    Michael McNeely

    "First of all, thank you for your patience. I would also like to thank you for joining us today for the announcement of the new head football coach of Indiana University."

    "The mission of the IU athletics program is to prepare student-athletes for championship competition. Which means performance as a champion on the playing field, in the classroom and in life. Our new head football coach will serve this mission well. He is prepared to make a difference for the IU football program. He has a plan to win and we will win with character and class. The IU football program needs a proven builder. One who will recruit top student-athletes who will make their academic welfare a priority. Our search began its final stage this past weekend. A recommendation was made by me and a final follow up was completed yesterday and this morning. We extended a formal offer this morning and it was accepted."

    "Our new head coach will receive a five-year contract with an annual base salary of $225,000.The coach is paid by the athletic department which is a self supporting unit of the university. His total package is valued at close to $800,000 annually with performance incentives are fully achieved."

    "It is now my pleasure to present to you Indiana University's head football coach, Gerry DiNardo."

    Head Coach Gerry DiNardo

    Opening Statement...

    "Thank you Michael. I want to start off by thanking the IU community, President Brand, and Director of Athletics Michael McNeely. It is certainly a pleasure and an honor to be with you. This is a day that I will always remember. I can't tell you how excited my wife Terri is. Terri could you please stand up and say hello. My son Michael is here with me."

    "I want to thank the IU community for entrusting me with the leadership of their football program. It is certainly a great honor. I will be a strong leader, a consistent leader and I'll be someone that our team can always look to for leadership."

    "I want you to know that I understand the big picture. I have been on university campuses all of my life. How athletics fits with the university and how football fits with the athletic department, is very important to me. I understand the big picture. I understand the issue of compliance, whether it is institutional compliance, Big Ten compliance, or NCAA compliance. You can be sure that we will conduct ourselves with class and dignity."

    "I want to say to the IU people, I know how much pride you take in this school. The pride that people take in IU is legendary. I expect to add to what you take pride in. Thank you for letting me be part of what you have so much pride in."

    "To the other sports, to the other coaches, to the administration and to the athletic department, I look forward to being your co-worker. I look forward to learning from you the things about Indiana University that I need to know. There is nothing like going to work everyday to a university. I treasure that. I treasure working with everybody in the athletic department because we are in the education business. And to be excited to have your own life tied into young people on campus. There is nothing like it and I look forward to it."

    "Our mission is simple. Michael has already stated it. What we do is move the people in our charge , the student-athletes in our charge towards championships. Championships on the field, in the classroom and success with the people in charge when they leave this campus. They will represent us and will always be Hoosiers and will always be people from IU."

    "My vision is simple. My vision is that everyone of our student athletes in our charge walks across the graduation stage at the end of the academic career at IU. While at the same time, wearing a championship ring. That's what we do. We move forward towards that goal everyday while we're on campus. We do everything we can, always keeping in mind that we're here for an education. Long after we leave IU, people may forget what position we played, what our record was, but as soon as we open our mouths, they'll know we're educated. We have to contribute to that in a positive way, everyday."

    "There are two immediate issues that we have to deal with in putting this back together. One is putting a staff together. I will do that by visiting with every coach on the previous staff, respecting what they have done here and the service they have put in to our university. Always keep in mind that staff chemistry is a critical importance. So I will move quickly as possible, and yet deliberately enough, so we have the best possible staff we can put together."

    "The other issue is recruiting. We have some time left and recruiting is always an issue. The philosophy of our program is that we recruit everyday. There is not a day that we don't recruit. I have a lot of background and history with the Midwest in regard to recruiting and that will service well. I have recruited this part of the country in every job I have had."

    "To the Indiana high schools, to the Indiana coaches, to the Indiana student-athletes and really to all high school educators in the state of Indiana - we will service you. We will outreach to you, whether you are a prospect or not, we will be in your high schools. We will have a presence. I personally will have a presence. I will be in every high school in the state of Indiana as soon as it is possibly human to do. I will map out a plan and part of the plan will be that I will be in every high school, whether there is a prospect or not."

    "Recruiting is important, but within our state boundaries, we have an obligation as the state institution to service the high schools. I take that seriously and I will do that."

    "And in closing, I will tell a story before we open to questions. At the end of my tenure of one of the universities I have worked at in the past, Terri and I were having dinner with some very close friends. The dinner closed out and we all started to go our separate ways that evening. These close friends said to me, `Gerry, I want to give you some advice. Next time you take a job at a university, only give them your mind. Don't give them your heart. It's way too much of an investment. I've had some time to think about that and most of the time I take advice from my close friends. In this case, I reject their adv ice. IU has my mind, my heart and every fiber that I have in my body to lead this program to a championship level. So I welcome the opportunity. Once again, I am thankful to President Brand, all the people in the IU community and I look forward to the future."

    "With that Jeff, I am open to some questions."

    What was it about Indiana that intrigued you?

    "Indiana is a major university that stands for the right things in my opinion. It's in a great conference and when you look at higher education in this country, I don't think there are many places that have the reputation academically and athletically that IU has. I went to school in Indiana, I'm familiar with IU, I have been a coach all my life and this is one of the truly fine places in America. To be a part of that is pretty exciting."

    Coach your predecessor came up here and had the same goals, what makes you think you can be successful here?

    "Well, I'm responsible for what happens here from this point on. I don't know that I can speak on the past. One of the things that we control as football coaches is personnel--our staff and our players. That's enough control to me that makes me think that we can be successful. If you look at the recent history of the Big Ten, it proves that you can come in and build a successful program at places perhaps that are historically not as successful as some others. But more importantly than anything, our ability to control our personnel, meaning good coaches and good players, is enough for me that gives me confidence that we can do it, but I can't speak for the past."

    I know you are going to put together your staff but coach Hal Hunter was a coordinator for you at both Vanderbilt and LSU and he was on the previous staff here, I was wondering if you had any chance to talk with him about the situation here and the potential future for him?

    "I spoke with Hal prior to the season and after the Wisconsin game because I needed some tape for a broadcast that I was getting ready to do and I thought maybe he could help. But I have not talked to him since.

    Coach, with what a fiasco that the XFL became, are you pleased to get back into college coaching?

    "Well fiasco is one way to label it. The other way is as a learning experience. It was my first experience in professional football which is drastically different than being a part of the education system. But I learned a lot, and I'm certainly glad to be back. But too, I was glad for the opportunity, I really was. It made me a better coach I think."

    Have you been able to watch any tape of the team from this past season and grade the personnel?

    "No I have not had a chance to look at tape and I think with coaches I think you don't want to study a lot of tape from the past. You're better served and the players are better served if you start fresh. I think it's one of those things that gives a team a lot of enthusiasm during this transition. That's difficult and I'm going to tell the team this when I meet with them. Relationships take time, especially strong relationships, and I want to respect the relationship our team has had with the previous staff. And I'm always going to respect it, never say anything bad about it and we're going to move on. But I do think that it gives a guy some excitement to know that he starts fresh."

    Gerry it seems as if it has been difficult to win here, particularly recently, is there any similarity with the situation here and what you had at Vanderbilt?

    "The similarity I see between the situation at Vanderbilt and here is that the academic mission is always kept in perspective. I think as a general rule if your in the Big Ten Conference, perhaps the Pac 10 Conference, it is in the forefront to protect your student-athletes. Vanderbilt certainly held the student-athlete in high regard and never compromised their academics and integrity and I see IU doing the same thing. That's the biggest similarity I see. On the field, it goes back to the personnel. It goes back to control, just like we controlled at Vanderbilt. I look back in history and feel that we had their four most successful years because we felt we had control of our coaches and players selection. As long as you have those two things, I think you can make progress."

    Comment a little on your style of football:

    "I think any time you are in a strategic battle, which is what the game is, your opponent not knowing what you're going to do is most important. If I can answer that briefly, it would be balance. I'd like to line up on first-and-ten and for our opponent not to know whether we're going to run the ball or throw it. I'd also line up on defensive and have our opponent not know if we're in man coverage, zone coverage, or we're going to blitz. Having said that, it's more important to have the plays instead of the play of the defense you call. So we're going to work toward balance. Where we will be in 2002 will have a lot to do with who we have on our football team. That's more important--if I could state our goal it would be a balanced attack on both sides of the football."

    Coach, I spoke with Joe Dean (former LSU athletic director) today and he said that nobody will work harder at this job than you will. Is it your work ethic that will put you over the top here?

    "Well, I think work ethic is a part of that. I don't know any coaches that don't work hard. I might have that reputation because of the 4 a.m. wake-up and not coming home until 8 p.m. But I think most coaches work hard, I think work ethic is a part of it and I think you can work and lose. If you work smart you have a better chance to win. But I don't know if working hard guarantees you anything, I think it just gets you in the game."

    One of the problems with IU football has been lack of fan support. How do you think we can draw more fans to football games?

    "Well I think the most efficient way is to win. I think people want to see a winning team. When Assembly Hall explodes tonight, it will have a lot to do with the history of IU basketball, in the fact that people go to Assembly Hall expecting to win a basketball game. It's a lot more fun to go to any venue and expect your team to win. If outreach is something that we feel as an athletic department is important for me to do, like going to the dorms or alumni meetings, I'll certainly do that. I will do anything that I am asked. But in the end, I think the most important thing is to win some games."

    Who are your mentors and what do you bring from them?

    "I have a few-I would say as a rule without being specific about high school coaches-high school coaches mentor all coaches in this regard, that they are the first ones outside your family that really show love and cherish for you. I have been around a lot of high school coaches that have proven to me that someone outside your family really cares about you. I'd say in college football, the ones that have had the most impact on me, were Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame Football Coach, 1964-74) who I played for and played for him in his last game, and Bill McCartney (Colorado Football Coach 1982-95) who I worked for for nine years at Colorado. I'd say those two more than any college coaches I've had.

    What did you learn about yourself in the last year at LSU? What did you learn about coaching?

    "That's a great question. I learned at LSU towards the end of the year that consistency is really what you put in to your team more than anything. I made some decisions that I wish I had back. From a technical standpoint, we had three quarterbacks that we played in the first three games, but in game four I decided to stay with one. That was a mistake. If I had to do it all over again, I would have rotated all three quarterbacks again. No one quarterback separated himself. I made some staff changes that I think if I could have done it all over again, I may have look at it with a different perspective. Those are the things I probably learned. The longer you're in this job, the better you get. Experience is the most valuable teacher and so learn quite a bit through that experience...through every experience."




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