Nov. 26, 2007
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Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan
"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Early this morning, I met with the football team, coaches and support staff and indicated to them that Bill Lynch had been offered and accepted a multi-year contract through 2012 to remain as the Hoosiers' coach. I am sincerely honored that Bill would choose to tackle this challenge of building the program to the level in which we aspire.
"As you all know, this has been an incredible year. A year of sorrow and sadness, joy and happiness. Taking you back six months or so, we celebrated a groundbreaking of new and needed athletics facilities on the same day that we mourned the passing of Terry Hoeppner. From that day forward, Jane Hoeppner and Bill Lynch, as well as our assistant coaches, have been rock solid in the resolve to keep the hopes and dreams that Hep brought to IU alive.
"This season brought great emotional moments, beginning with the Indiana State game and a rousing applause for Jane as she represented Hep and their family. The loss to Illinois was difficult, and brought out some cynics and some critics. Many wondered if the team would enter into a swoon. But consistent with their mantra throughout the season of "Never Quit," they traveled to Iowa City and played very successfully in defeating the Hawkeyes. The decisive win the next week over Minnesota got the fans re-engaged and optimistic. Losing decisively to a physical Michigan State team was deflating, as were the next two losses to Penn State and Wisconsin. In the tenth week, we visited Northwestern and lost that ballgame inside the last minute. For the first time all season, I was uncertain if our team could sustain that crushing body blow. I was very concerned about their ability to emotionally rebound for Purdue. I was wrong. Bill and his staff did a great job in preparing our team to take back the Old Oaken Bucket, to gain a seventh win, a winning season and hopefully a bowl bid. Throughout the year, I have traveled with the team, attended many practices, spoken to players, staff and others and the resounding message that I have heard is one of great pride and appreciation in the job that Bill has done in some of the most trying, unique and uncertain conditions. Bill walked a fine line of setting long-range team goals without losing focus on the here and now. Bill and his staff kept this team together as they recruited student-athletes for the class of '08. Bill honored and respected Hep's plan, but wasn't fearful of putting his own stamp on the team. He moved Nick Polk to defense. He changed the defense, leading to a school record in sacks and was committed to running the ball and balancing our offensive attack. Bill will bring his years of experience, his knowledge of Indiana University, the state of Indiana and his genuine honest, hard-working approach to this position. We will work hard to build a football program that consistently competes with the best. Thank you and it is now my honor to introduce your football coach, Bill Lynch."
On whether there was a time this season that he decided he would retain Coach Lynch:
"I don't know that there was any moment in time. I thought the team showed tremendous resiliency throughout the course of the year - I don't think that is necessarily unique in a football team, I think it's unique in a football program that has been devoid of postseason competition and has not made it to a bowl. I think it becomes very easy with strong leadership and guidance to bounce back. I don't know how the team felt - I can imagine - but when I left that locker room up at Northwestern, I went home and pulled the covers over my head for about 14 hours so I can only imagine how they felt. To reinvigorate them, to have them put the game behind them, to move forward - which can be very cliché in saying it - is much harder to do and I think it showed great leadership for a team that had struggled for many years. That happened over the course of the season, where we seemed to fight through some various adversities, going on the road and winning, going on the road and losing - I think there was a point in time in the Purdue game where we were on our fifth running back. As I joked to Blake Powers
during the game, he had the longest yard, that was a great yard that he had. For a kid that hasn't played as much as perhaps he thought he would several years ago, I thought that was a huge yard that he got us. I saw a lot of that throughout the course of the season and have gotten to know Bill, through his time here with Hep and certainly a lot more this year."
On the process of hiring Coach Lynch:
"I've always had a belief that wherever you can, you want to inform the team of a decision like this, and the circumstances of us playing our game with Purdue and then effectively the campus being closed last week made, in my mind, today a very important day. I've shared my thoughts throughout the course of this season and even before with President McRobbie about what I thought was important for this football program and the leadership of this program, and discussed some of the things that Bill had stated in terms of the transition we've had in coaches and what happens during breaks of continuity to recruiting classes and style of play and all those other types of things. So I shared that information with him. President McRobbie, for those of you that know him, is a brilliant guy and a very analytical guy, and he went through whatever process he chose to get additional feedback and then came back to me and granted me permission to make the offer and the hire."
On the partnership between he and Bill Lynch:
"I think the time is a little bit different [from when Coach Hep was hired], but certainly a partnership with a major coach, to me, is critical. When Terry came in here, there was a period of time where I thought our program had suffered from some very strong ambivalence in the marketplace for whatever reason. Terry's role was probably a little bit different than Bill's role. Terry, and Terry's personality, were critical in terms of outreach. He was like Will Rogers - he never met a crowd or a person he didn't like - and that was so important to just restoring the general fan's interest and the sense that we cared about football at Indiana University. I think he did that and he recruited well and did so many other great things. Now we have some momentum going and we're certainly not there - wherever `there' is - so I'll rely on Bill's partnership to help us determine what we need to do financially and budgetarily, what we need to do to enhance our facilities, what we need to do to grow this program, but the inevitability of some of the success that we've had and the winners that we've had, I think provide us more visibility than we had when Terry came in."
On the importance of the hire in terms of continuity:
"I think the continuity is very important and I think if you look across college football today, you can make arguments why coaching tenures are shorter, whether it's appropriate or not. But there are a number of programs that have not had historically great success that have hired what they think to be good people, good coaches, and have shown strategic patience in trying to build those. There was a game on Saturday night that made that somewhat evident, when Kansas and Missouri played, and the story of Bill Snyder at Kansas State was well documented. There are many others like that. For us, I think we need to continue to grow players and develop players and have the same systems, in general, in place so that they can run faster. It's a term that Bill uses all the time, your football speed is dictated by not only your physical capabilities but how well you understand the game and how quickly you can react, so I think continuity for us is very important. In saying that, if I didn't feel convinced that Bill was the right guy, then the continuity would not be as important as having the right guy. Years ago when Terry came here and brought this staff with him, he made a statement that Bill Lynch was his best recruit and certainly it's proven that way."
On whether there was a certain number of wins that would make him retain Coach Lynch:
"I don't know that Bill and I ever had that discussion or anything like that. Going back to June, I would probably describe the job I asked Bill to do would be almost in the way of triage. As the season progressed, I think we could see where we were going from mending some broken hearts to mending some ankles. I thought Bill did a terrific job. I never sat there and said, `we've got to get six wins, five wins, four wins.' I think there's so much more involved in our program for the last couple years that I think that would have been short."
On whether there was a national search:
"We didn't go out and interview people. What I did and what I traditionally will do on these type of things is spend a lot of hours looking at what I would call background material - people that perhaps would have an interest in Indiana, would fit our characteristics and style and all the rest of that. I don't like to, I don't think it's appropriate to contact coaches during their season and I knew at the end of this season we would have a short window. I certainly do that kind of homework and that kind of due diligence. But I felt like in Bill's case, he had an interview that probably lasted about nine months long, and that was better than anybody I could interview."
On whether the Purdue game was important in Bill's hiring:
"People have told me the last few years that beating Purdue is pretty important, so I would agree with that. If you're asking me in my mind if there was a point at which it cemented it, I've had very positive feelings about Bill leading this team for quite a while, even before that game.
Head Coach Bill Lynch
"I first want to thank [Indiana University] President McRobbie and the Board of Trustees and the support that they have given this decision. Obviously, Rick [Greenspan] has been tremendous through this whole thing. And along with the rest of his senior staff and all the administration in Assembly Hall. It couldn't have been done without them. And I have been in this long enough to know support is sincere. When everybody is pulling together for success, and we certainly had that over the course of the last six months. I can't thank Rick enough, along with [Senior Associate Athletics Director] Tim Fitzpatrick and their entire team that has been so good. I would like to thank Jane [Hoeppner], and I know [Coach Hoeppner's daughter] Allison is here, and the entire Hoeppner family, not only for the support, but the courage that they have shown on a daily basis. Not only throughout our staff, but our team, and I can say throughout the entire Hoosier Nation. So Jane, thanks again, and Allison sitting next to you and Amy and Drew, who aren't here, we wouldn't be sitting here without you.
"I'd like to thank my wife, Linda. She signed on for this 30 years ago and had no idea what was in store. I really appreciate your support as we have gone through this. I would also like to thank our tremendous staff. I would like to introduce all of them, but most of them are out on the road recruiting football players right now. The timing of this is really good because today is really the first contact period day where we can get out in schools and the homes. We have seven guys out on the road now selling Indiana Football as we speak. The group that Hep brought and we were able to keep together, they have been tremendous through this whole thing and I think that had a lot to do with the success that we had, because there was great continuity and consistency throughout. I think our players knew that and the message never changed, so I can't thank the staff enough. Also, the support staff. I think that is what makes football such a tremendous game, because there are so many people involved that make it work.
"Thanks to Mark Wateska and all the guys in strength and conditioning. I think our guys spent more time in the weight room than with the coaching staff. I go back to the summer, when they were the ones with the kids right after Hep's passing, before we could really be with them. The stability that Mark and his staff had is really unbelieveable. Brian Lund, our head athletic trainer, fits in the same place and replaced a great guy in Dean (Kleinschmidt) last spring. It's the same thing with him, because throughout the summer when we could not work with them in June and July, those guys were unbelievable. I know the players have such great respect for them and they made this all possible as well. I don't want to leave anybody out, but our staff in the office was just unbelievable. And it really took all of that to get us to this point.
"Last, and most important, are the players. This is a unique group of guys. And I start with the 16 seniors and what they have gone through since they came on this campus, some of them five years ago and some of them four, is really amazing. And for them to stick together the way they did, and I know not all of them that came in are still here, but those that did stick together and trusted one another and trusted what Hep brought and then once the transition took place, I couldn't be more proud of them. Not only for the lessons that I think they have learned through all of this, but they are also the group that has taken us to our first bowl game since 1993 and that is a real credit to the seniors. But it is the entire football team. I think about the fourth-year kids and they are on their third head coach and the third-year kids had new things. We had a big group of freshmen that we worked so hard to recruit a year ago that signed in February and came on campus with a completely different situation. I'm sure their parents dropped them off and wondered what they were sending their sons into. For all of those kids to still be here and to be a part of it and achieve some success, they really deserve all the credit.
"It's great that everybody is here and we are talking about a coaching position, but this is about the players and what they go through. We are very fortunate here at Indiana to have the group that we have now and are certainly looking forward to working with them in the future.
"As we look to the future, there are really good things ahead. Number one, because we have very good football players and good kids coming back, but we have everything in place. I mentioned the support staff and the administrative staff and their support. Our recruiting has gone very well. The new facility that is being built. All those things add to a future that we are looking forward to. As soon as we are done with this press conference, I am going to disappear. I'm going to jump in my car and I'm heading to meet a recruiter to meet some kids this afternoon and tonight, because that is such an important part of what we are doing right now. I think our recruiting has gone well because there is a buzz out there about Indiana Football. Everybody in this room has something to do with that because everybody in this room has done a great job spreading the message and believing in what is going on. I think the opportunity to play in a bowl game, that takes us to that next level. The opportunity for these kids to practice through the month of December, which is a big part of building a program and maintaining continuity.
"Again, Rick, thank you so much for your support and what you have done. As I look around the room, there are so many people I would like to thank, but it would become a marathon. I'll cut it off at that point and open it up for questions."
On when the offer was made and how long it took to think about it:
"The offer was on Friday. Did I have to take the weekend [to think about it]? No, I had to take long enough to say `Yes.' The process was what needed to be done. I go back to Rick. From the day things started, way back when, when he said `are you willing to take this thing over in the fall?' I said absolutely and he told me he would give me all the support I need, which he did, and when the season is over we'll talk about it. That is exactly the way it worked. Getting the support of President McRobbie and the Board was something that really energized our staff to move forward, knowing that there was such support for us and what we are doing."
On whether he ever dreamed of being the head coach at IU:
"I'm glad you mentioned that because I look through here and see someone in the crowd I want to recognize - Coach Mallory's back there. Coach Mallory's the reason I got the chance to come here in the early `90s. Growing up in Indianapolis and getting into the coaching profession, I was probably a lot like Hep. When you're an Indiana kid, you want to get into this profession to be the head coach at the state university, that's certainly a dream. I think when I came with Coach Mallory, I really found out what a great institution Indiana is and the people here. That's why I say the support staff is so important. When I left here after those couple of years, I just knew this could be a special place. The opportunity to come back here with Hep - that was an easy sell for him because of the memories I had of being here and knowing that you can be successful in football here in Indiana."
On the impact of his extension on recruiting:
"I think it's huge because kids want to know who their coach is going to be. I think from a professional standpoint, I'm proud to be a college football coach in this day and age, because through the whole thing with Hep, I never once heard guys use that against us. I think that was out of respect for Hep and that situation and never, ever used that as an uncertainty. I do think once we got into the middle of this year and people were worrying, `maybe they're going to recruit some pretty good players,' they might have used the uncertainty of who the coach was going to be. I think that certainly clears that up and I think the timing's great because when I was able to tell the guys late last night - some of them were already in the cities where they were recruiting this morning. Knowing at 7:30 a.m. when they walked in that first building we had all our guns firing and I think that's important. We've got quite a few kids that have verbally committed to come, and that certainly reinforces with those kids and their families exactly the direction we're going, so I think that's important."
On the lessons he's learned that will apply to this job:
"I would hope every profession's a little bit that way, but the coaching profession is certainly that way. It's like we tell the players, you've got to get a little better every day. In the 30 years or however long I've done this thing, hopefully you get better every day because you learn a lot of lessons. Some of them are really hard lessons in this profession. I've always felt like, if I make a mistake, I'm not going to make that one again. Then you end up making it again and you tell yourself you're not going to make it again. But I don't think there's any question that each place I've been and all the experiences I've had and the people I've worked with have certainly made me a better football coach and more prepared for the challenges starting last June and the challenges ahead."
On going forward selling the program to recruits and fans:
"I think we just keep going. I don't think there's any magic to it. Building a program, there's a process to it, there are steps you have to take. This was the year we had to make that next step. The first year you're just introducing yourself to the players and they're getting to know who you are. The second year, we had a tough start to it and I think we really bounced back and the second half of last year we made the kind of progress we needed to. I thought we had a good offseason and we needed to make that jump this season and we did. I'd like a bunch of plays back from this year and we'd be sitting here with even a better record, but you can't do that - you just have to keep moving forward. I think there are so many things that are so positive about what we have going on. Number one I think we have a great university - academically, campus, it's a national university - so that's an easy sell. Football-wise we're showing success and I think kids want to see success. We're going to a bowl game - kids want to be a part of a team that's playing in a bowl game. They want to see facilities - we've got a brand new facility coming. And the facilities we have being built, and I've shared this with Rick on a number of occasions, are so positive because everything we're building is for the kids. I learned a long time ago and I had an administrator who put it pretty well. He said, `the job of a college football coach is to recruit the best student-athletes possible and then develop them to their full capabilities.' And that's what we're doing. We've got things in place now to recruit the best kids possible and with the new facilities we can develop them. We're that kind of football program. We've got to develop kids once we get them here. We've got to develop them academically, and the new support center over there is going to be top of the line - I don't think there's going to be one better in the country when it's done. The End Zone Facility is about the players. That new weight room and all those things, that's where you develop them along with on the practice field. Everything that's happened, it's fallen in place where we've got the things we need to get where we want to go. So that's what we're going to go sell. We're not going to sell any magic, we're going to sell a great university, we're going to sell a great staff, we're going to sell a great commitment to football and we're going to get better."