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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

December 8, 2008 at 4:35 PM

More from Sarkisian

After he held his official press conference, Steve Sarkisian also met with a few of the regular beat writers for some questions a little more specific about the football program and his background.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
Q: At USC and BYU you were winning but this program went 0-12, you are going to have some lumps to swallow, what are some things within you or your experiences helped prepare you to get over that kind of adversity?
A: The biggest thing is I’m a winner myself. I pride myself on being a competitive individual. If you want to play darts, I want to beat you. If my wife wants to play horse, I want to beat her. If my mom wants to play me in pool, I want to beat her. I don’t care who you are or where you are from, I want to win. Hopefully that’s contagious, and that’s been something throughout my career as a player and coach that’s come across that I’m going to do everything in my power to win football games. and that comes through preparation and hard work and at the end of the day it comes through belief, especially in tight moments.
Q: When you don’t win, how do you get over it?
A: You don’t accept it. And you find a reason, you try to get to a point of why you didn’t win and try to fix it but you don’t ever want to accept losing because the moment you accept losing then it can become you. Just like anything else, losing is contagious. But fortunately for us, so is winning, and we just need to get winning, winning some tough games and then we can start stringing them together.
Q: When you scored 56 points against UW did you see across the line a team that had come to accept losing?
A: No question, no question. There’s a belief here, as I said before this is a better football team than 0-12 and I think you all would agree with that. This is a better team than 0-12. Are they are 12-0 team yet? I don’t know but I do know they are better than 0-12. We just need to change the mind-set and the culture here right off.
Q: How will Jake Locker fit into your offense?
A: We are going to play to his talents and that is going to come through evalutation. I’ll look at Jake over the last two years, see what he does well what he doesn’t do well. See the potential of the things that we can change to get him to do other things well and how it fits around him with the personnel that we have. We would be dummies to come in here and say this is our offense and you guys make it fit, make it work. We are not going to do that. We have a system in place that is very flexible, that is going to fit into the talents of not Jake but our entire football team. Jake is going to be part of our offense, he is not going to be the entire offense, and I think that will be a breath of fresh air for him knowing we will put him in a position to be successful but we are also going to put the other 10 guys in a position to be successful.
Q: Will you have someone with the title of quarterback coach?
A: We will have a quarterback coach title because it takes a lot of work to mentor a quarterback, takes a lot of off-season work, in-season work. So we will have basically two of us heading this thing up. But I will work hand-in-hand closely with Jake and Ronnie [Fouch] and the guys we bring in. They will play well.
Q: The reason you wanted the job so bad is because you wanted to be a head coach or because of the UW?
A: Both. I’ve always strived to be a head football coach in Division I football and this job to me is a hidden gem because I know what it was and what this place is capable of being. I know the support that it has here from the fan base, the alumni, the university. I’ve been very intrigued by it, and where they are at now is not where this place is. I’ve witnessed this as a player and coach and seen it first hand. And in my opinion it shouldn’t take us very long.
Q: What are areas this team needs to start doing that?
A: Strength and conditioning. We need to get a guy in here who will get these guys bodies changed. We need to become leaner and faster and then get a mind-set of being a physical team, that when we get to the point of making tackles we play at the point of attack in the run game that we are an extremely physical football team, no question.
Q: You interviewed on Thanksgiving night. What was your family’s reaction?
A: Well, that’s the life of a football coach, really. It’s football season and that kind of takes precedent over everything else, so they have been extremely supportive. My family is fantastic. You’ve seen them running around here, they love it and they feel like they are already at home. My kids were running around on the field yesterday. So it’s an exciting time not just for me, but for my entire family
Q: Is there anyone on the current staff you could see retaining?
A: I’ll evaluate them all evenly and talk to them all separately and we’ll work our way through and we’ll see if some guys stay, some guys [might not]. We’ll work our way through that, no immediate decisions will be made.
Q: When will you make your first recruiting call?
A: Probably this afternoon. I’m going to do some things here this afternoon to make sure that some guys understand where we are going and what we are doing and also that they understand who I am and they get a feel for who I am and what I am and what I represent.
Q: Are there guys on the USC staff you will try to bring up here?
A: Possibly yes.
Q: The last coach was slow in getting here, was also slow in assembling a staff. What can you do to ease Husky fans who hear you are still going to be coaching the Rose Bowl and taking time to assemble a staff?
A: The best way to ease that is to hire really good people. The names of the people we will bring in here are respectable coaches, young energetic guys that they can be proud of, and the last thing is to go out and put a good product on the field at the Rose Bowl Jan. 1. If I am going to spend some time doing it we better play well.
Q: Will you recruit any of the players who have committed to USC?
A: Obviously there are some code of ethics there. We are not going to go in and try to take guys from USC. Those kids are going there for a reason. That’s a great place, they’ve got a tremendous football program, a tremendous head coach. But there are still a lot of good football players to be had, so we’ve got to go get them.
Q: Oregon, Oregon State and Cal weren’t regular players when UW built its tradition. Has anything fundamentally changed to make the road to the Rose Bowl more difficult for UW than it was for Don James?
A: Yeah, the players that used to come here are now going to Oregon, Oregon State and Cal. That’s the biggest difference. So we need to do a better job of getting those kids to come here and not going to Oregon, Oregon State and Cal. That’s a real key for us.
Q: What are some of your memories of the 1996 game here at Husky Stadium?
A: Jason Chorak, I know that guy. He sacked me five times, four in the first half. He killed me. Ink Aleaga, Tony Parrish, Nigel Burton, I remember all of those names. David Richie, I remember all of those guys. I remember that place, it was loud, it was hostile. We had a really good football team that year, we were 14-1, fifth in the country. It was a tough place, I was beat up, our team was beat up, it was a tough physical game and that’s what we want to get this place back to being.
Q: Scott [Woodward] said you started sweating remembering that game?
A: I did, I did. Fourteen wins and I seem to always remember the loss that year. I do remember the crowd noise, I remember the siren, I remember coming down that tunnel. It’s an intimidating place and we need to make it that way.
Q: How do you feel about your ability to recruit in Southern California?
A: I feel very good about it. Growing up in Southern California I know a lot of those high school coaches and then coaching at USC I know a lot of them. I’ve had two different areas down there so I’m excited about it. I think a lot of those coaches are, too. The opportunity to get kids to come to the University of Washington, to come to Seattle again, is exciting for them. They know my coaching style, the way I handle the kids. I think it’s exciting for them and it’s exciting for me to go down there with a W on my shirt and go get players.
Q: What areas of Southern California were yours?
A: I went from Ventura County to Santa Barbara through Pasadena, even all the way out into Ontario, Palm Desert. So I had a bug chunk of Southern California. There are a lot of good football players from that area, whether it’s Oxnard to Westlake Village to Pasadena to Santa Clarita. Obviously we need to do a great job in the city and in Orange County.
Q: What is your recruiting philosophy?
A: We need to be detailed and go after the guys we think we can get and not be spread too thin, driving all over the place. Be detailed and earmark the guys we think we can really go after and put a full-fledged effort and go get them.
Q: Why did you stop playing baseball at USC and end up at El Camino CC?
A: They didn’t throw sliders at El Camino, they were throwing those at SC and I couldn’t hit them. They didn’t throw those in high school. I was a pretty good hitter in high school.
Q: How did you end up back at El Camino for football?
A: John Featherstone recruited the heck out of me, and he’s another great mentor in my coaching career. A guy I played for in my playing career and then went back and started my coaching career under. He’s been a big influence on me.
Q: What did you think of the press conference:
A: I love the energy. I wasn’t quite expecting people to be cheering at a press conference, things of that nature. It’s what you thought this place could be. I love the support that is already here and hopefully we can build on it.
Q: Did you turn down the Oakland Raiders in 2007?
A: Yes.
Q: And why college vs. the pros?
A: I love the kids. I love mentoring young men on and off the field and in the classroom. These are 18, 19, 20-year-old kids dealing with family issues, girlfriend issues, classroom issues, football issues. And at the end of the day when a kid walks out of here four or five years later with a degree and a championship ring with an opportunity to go on and play in the NFL, that is gratifying to me. Especially most kids don’t start off the way they always want to and there are trails and tribulations and they have to work through and it’s a very satisfying feeling to see the smile on their face after you win a bowl game or they get that degree or the day they come up to their office on the day they are walking out of here and they say thank you. It’s a great feeling.
Q: The Raider job didn’t feel right to you?
A: I’ve always said I assess every job the same way. If it feels right, I’m going to go for it, if it doesn’t I’m going to let it go. That job just didn’t feel right to me.
Q: And you were ready to be a head coach in the NFL at age 32?
A: I don’t know if you are ever completely ready until you do it, but I have been mentored extremely well by Pete Carroll, John Featherstone, Norv Turner, those guys have been tremendous to me through my career. There are still going to be growing pains, still be learning experiences, but we will work through them.

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