November 27, 2001
Where is the Bucket at this point in time?
"(Director of Football Equipment Operations) Marty Clark went and had our 'I' welded on it. There is a plan for it to travel around a bit. Marty can probably tell you more about it than I could. (laughs) I'd like to take it fishing with me when the weather warms up again."
Talk about the challenge of coming off a win and facing Kentucky:
"That is a critical thing. The more we sit here and talk about the Purdue game, it gives us less of a chance to focus on Kentucky. The critical thing for us is to focus on Kentucky. If you take care of business against Kentucky, then you can revisit some things later. I've looked at all of the Kentucky tape. They have all of their suspended players back...the ones who were suspended from the earlier scheduled game. They would have had several guys injured when we would have played them. They are all back and are playing their best football right now. Especially now that (Jared) Lorenzen is back at quarterback. His last four games have just been phenomenal. He will be as good as or better than any quarterback we've played so far this year. He has done some phenomenal things. I think since he has been the starter they are averaging close to 34 points per game. They have gone back to running the offense that they run under (Hal) Mumme. They are back to running the offense that gave everybody problems. Defensively, they have given up some points. They have made some plays though. Our guys are well aware that this is a good Kentucky football team. All you have to do is look at the Tennessee game."
Having just played Purdue, does it help in preparation for Kentucky's offense?
"That is pretty much the way it is now on everybody's schedule. You're going to have 50% of your teams be that way. I think someone had asked me why so many points are being scored. Defenses are being stretched thinner than they have ever been stretched. You have to prepare for much more different type of offenses. You play an option team, they you play a two-back team, a one-back team and now you play Kentucky who is somewhere in between. The key is going to be how we execute. These guys are blocking well up front. The receivers have been catching the football. Their punter is leading the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in punting. (Seth) Hanson is in the top of the SEC and so is their return man (Derek) Abney. He has run kicks and punts back for touchdowns. He reminds me of Tim Dwight. He is a smaller version but is very, very dangerous."
What was the key to Kentucky's effectiveness versus Tennessee?
"I think Tennessee was committed to coming out and handing the ball off and trying to run the football. Well, it was against a nine-man front. Dennis Johnson is having the great year that they always thought he would have. There are three or four Johnson's on that defense that are all good. Two of them are brothers. Then they start throwing the football and that is how they were able to make up some ground. I think Tennessee came out thinking they could run the ball on them and they didn't."
What about the emotion of the seniors who will be playing their final home game?
"When you represent Indiana University and you represent yourself, and then you throw in that this will be the last college football game, and for some of these guys it will be their last football game...Most kids think they are going to go on and play at the next level. We all know 98% of them don't. Besides some all-star games and those things, this is their last game at Indiana. This senior class has a lot of pride in playing for Indiana."
The offense has kind of dropped off in the second half as of late. Does that concern you at all?
"Yes, in a way. There were some things in the Penn State game that happened and we didn't stop ourselves. We weren't able to overcome those things. In this past game, the weather and field conditions had a lot to do with it. When your defense is playing pretty well you adjust what you're doing offensively a little bit. We haven't scored any points in the last two second-halves. We will need to score some points in the second half of this ballgame, that I can guarantee you. That is for sure to win the football game."
Even Derek Barnett?
"Yes, and we anticipate that he will play. I really thought that was a gutsy performance by him. He not only stayed in there hurt, but he played well. I would expect him to play Saturday."
What was his injury?
"His shoulder. He has played in a shoulder harness all year. Actually, the last couple of years."
The groundskeeper has his work cut out for him, doesn't he?
"The good news is that we have the best in the country. They are out there right now, lead by Stan Moscrip and Brett Emerick. In my mind, we have the best in the country. These guys work at it all of the time. Whatever needs done, they will get it done. That field will be as ready as it can possibly be."
Does it change your approach?
"Sure it does. Before that field got completely soaked, we wanted to get as many options run as we could. The option is tough to run when it gets slick out there. Offensively, I think that was smart. We started out throwing the ball on the first play. We saw on the radar that the rain was coming. It helped us. Think back if we would not have gotten those first two series of the half. The big plays from the option game set that up. I assume that is why they quit trying to run out there."
Why was it so tough to run out there?
"A game like that is made for (junior fullback) Jeremi Johnson. You need a back with some size. If we needed to play the game again, we would have run him more inside."
What do you expect out of the special teams play in this final game?
"This game becomes critical in the kicking game. I would separate the kicking game in this way...the special teams have been very good this year. We have not kicked the ball very well. Some times you lump those two together. I go back and look at our kickoff return team and kickoff coverage team. They will be tested this week. Special teams have been special for us this year. We have not kicked the ball, in any way, shape or form, what is acceptable for this team."
"Do you guys know the story on (senior punter) J.R. Drummond. It is really a pretty amazing story. Here is a guy who is punting for us and is doing a decent job who was in our student body at the start of the season. He'll punt for us and Adam Braucher will kick off. I keep telling him to aim to the left farther. We've missed five field goals one foot to the right. Just aim two feet to the left. It sounds like an oversimplification, but you have to be careful what you say to these guys. Jack Nicklaus made a living aiming down the left center of the fairway. He didn't aim down the middle because he knew his ball was going to go to the right a little bit. Aim to the left a little more. He has really hit them pretty decent. If we're going to miss this one this week, let's miss it to the left. Can we do that?"
On Sunday, you talked about the coaching profession and your philosophy. Can you elaborate on that a little more?
"I'm a little hesitant to talk about that. It is perceived as self-serving. We have a way that we go about doing things. I personally have a way that I feel an organization should be run. I think that speaks for itself. The only difference between where we are and people thinking, especially locally, that we're a good football team is our ability to win close football games. That has been our Achilles heel if there has been one. Obviously, the focus then shifts to the win/loss record. I am accountable for that and I understand that."
"There are a lot of coaches that I respect and in a lot of different sports. Did you guys ready the article in Sports Illustrated on George Karl? George Karl has been my idol since I was six or seven-years-old. Joe Torre is a guy who I have talked to some of you about. You know my relationship with Coach Knight. Jim Mora...you cannot believe how much I respect Jim Mora. I can go on and on and on. All of those guys have been fired. Some of those guys have been fired two or three times. This is the profession that I chose. For me to think that I would never get fired...that stuff doesn't phase me like you would think. It's almost like it is a rite of passage. If you get fired, and you know you can coach--and you go somewhere else and you show that you can overcome that--I believe in myself, I believe in my staff. We don't have every single thing available to us here that sometimes maybe you would need. That is not an excuse. That is just a fact. I am not going to let some misfortunes at Indiana University make me believe I can't coach or my staff can't coach. That firing stuff that people talk about--all of the guys I admire have been fired and have comeback and won. Usually, when they came back and won, it was at a place that was committed to them -- completely. We all know it comes down to players and commitment. There are a lot of guys that can coach. That is my stance on the whole conversation that is out there. The Cameron family and the Indiana football program...we can deal with it."
Do you believe that given the point in time, this will make the players find something to play for?
"You guys won't believe me or else you wouldn't have asked the question. When you are on the field of competition and you take the approach we take, we truly think it is important how we represent ourselves. We don't always have to manufacture something to play for. It is just like everyday when I get up to represent myself, my family, and all of those things. We truly believe it is important to represent Indiana football and Indiana University in a certain manner. It doesn't always have to be for the Bucket. Those are always nice. We went to represent ourselves in Madison, Wisconsin. We embarrassed ourselves against North Carolina State. We truly have a lot to play for in this game. That is why we have to get this Purdue game behind us."
Is it hard to talk about job security?
"Let me tell you what. I have talked to every recruit about it. We're on the best recruits that we have ever been on here at Indiana. One of the reasons I firmly believe is because I tell them, 'Have you heard they say we're going to be fired?' Nobody outside of a hundred miles has heard that. You go outside of a hundred miles of Bloomington and the recruits haven't heard that stuff. They think we're good. Kids in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Illinois and Northern Kentucky think we're good. I bring it up because eventually I know it will be used against you. I say to the kids 'Have you heard we might get fired? No? Well, here is what you're going to hear.' When you tell them, and these are top kids in the country...when you tell this other school that you are thinking of coming to Indiana, they are going to tell you that we might not be there. I plan on being here. I address it, because if I don't, nobody around here is going to address it. No one else is going to address it, so I'm going to address it. I'm not going to let speculation determine my future. I'll guarantee you that I will address it. The kids have been great. We had a bunch of kids in last weekend. We have 12 great players coming in Saturday. We have 20-some guys scheduled for the eighth (of December). These are kids that want to come to Indiana, and most of them because they haven't heard all of the negative stuff."
"This is the best one. We're meeting with ESPN, and I'm not talking to our loyal fans when I say this. An ESPN announcer told me 'Cam, I see you guys as a national program and a national school.' I said why do you say that. He says, 'Everywhere I go I hear good things about Indiana football and Indiana University. Until, I get here. I fly into Indianapolis and when I come to Bloomington and everybody talks negative. It's interesting because you are one of the few schools I see as a national school and not a local school.' I'm not talking about the local people who have supported us. I think it is important that we understand that is the reality. I go all over the country and recruit and people feel good about us around this country. Where they feel the least good about us is right in our own back yard. And it shouldn't be that way. I'm not pointing the finger at anyone. I am just saying that is the way it is. I have never been down and out as the people a hundred miles of here. I've got a different perspective."
So, you're not going to let speculation determine your future?
"I'm not going to let speculation determine my future. My future is Indiana football. Because if I let (speculation determine my future) it will kill us in recruiting. It happened to Bill (Mallory). The same thing happened to Bill and people let it go on. If you let that kind of speculation go on, it hurts the program. And then you have to fire the guy. So, I ain't going to let it happen."
How important is it by next Tuesday or next Wednesday that something is said one way or another?
"That is not important to me at all. I'm going to deal with what I have to deal with. The critical issue is the recruits. If we don't get the recruits, it isn't going to matter. You can go get Lou Holtz or get whomever you want to get. It doesn't matter. I've got to make sure the recruits understand that I feel like that I'm still going to be here and this is the direction we're going."
If they waited a month before they made the decision, that can't help in recruiting can it?
"If you don't address it. Kids may not have it all figured out that much. I'm not sitting here and lobbying for somebody to come out and say something. That is not what I am trying to do. I'm just telling you all of the positive things that are going on. The great news is, there are not a ton of prospects within a hundred miles of here. Are you following me? There's not. The kids in Fort Wayne, the kids in Evansville, those kids feel great about us. If there were a ton of local players in this area, it would be different. I don't run my life on speculation. I'm either going to be here or I'm not. I'm going to do the best job that I can."
Earlier you talked about not having everything available. Can you clarify that in terms of the people at this University and their support?
"I'll say this. Obviously, there is a relationship developing in this department. There have been a lot of changes in the department. From Bryan Hall we've had tremendous support. Presidents have a lot more to think about than the head football coach. They have global things to think about. I can honestly tell you, Myles Brand, Terry Clapacs, the entire administration, the vice presidents have been tremendously helpful and supportive in everything we've done. They are as disappointed in the close losses as we are. If I had a nickel for every time Charlie Nelms met one of our recruits at breakfast I'd retire. We take recruits to Myles's office and the kids walk out and commit to us. They have been tremendously supportive. Curt Simic, you can't be more supportive than our Foundation is. That was a legacy started by Bill Armstrong. Jerry Tardy, you couldn't be more supportive than the alumni director was before Jerry passed away. And, whoever replaces him will be as equally as supportive. Again, there is a relationship being developed within the department. I'm looking forward to seeing how that progresses because at this point, I don't know. I don't that is uncommon either. We're right in the middle of the season and I'm sure Michael McNeely has plenty of things to do."