Larry Coker press conference quotes
Larry Coker (opening statement) "We do appreciate this very much. I don’t know you get the respect you deserve, but you are definitely very important. I hope to be accessible to you as we start building this program. There will be some mistakes made along the way and I know you’re going to write about them. You do your job and I’ll do everything I can to help you do your job in the best way that I can. Being accessible to you is very important to us. I guess the first order of business is to open this up to questions."
Coker (on when he first got the call of being offered the job) "The last few days have been like a whirlwind, but it was late Wednesday. It seems like Saturday to me already. I got a call from some of you earlier in the week saying, 'Are you going to be the coach?' and I said, 'Well, I hope that’s true, but I haven’t heard from Lynn Hickey yet.'"
Coker (on how it feels to be a different part of Texas history with the fall of the Alamo anniversary being today) "It's a different part of history, but yes, I did hear that today was the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo. I know there was a reenactment of the ceremony at six this morning, but I wasn't able to make it. Maybe a year from now I can do that."
Coker (on why you chose to come to a school starting up football) "First of all, it’s going to be a tremendous challenge. The bottom line for me is that I really see great things and great potential here. We have to do this the right way. We have to work hard, there’s no doubt about that. As (UTSA Athletics Director) Lynn (Hickey) said earlier, it is a marathon, not a sprint. I see some very special things and you really don’t have an opportunity to start something like this very often. I’ve been very fortunate to coach at every level. I’ve coached junior high school, small high schools, large high schools and I’ve been at some very prestigious universities, but no place I’ve been at has shown more energy and enthusiasm than what I’ve seen here at UTSA."
Coker (on how he plans to recruit against the other universities in Texas) "I plan on talking to the coaches across the state. I’m very good friends with some of the coaches at Texas and Texas A&M. Our staff has to do a great job of evaluating players. For me to go head to head with the other programs in the state probably isn't the smartest approach to take at this time. Some of the great players I’ve been around haven’t been five-star marquee players. Sometimes you make mistakes, but as the years go by, players continue to get bigger and stronger. One example is Roscoe (Parrish). He was a great player and helped us win many games, but he wasn’t recruited by anybody. He was the first player I signed and did a great job. I’m talking about marquee players that were great for our program. At this point, all I can really do is sit behind a podium and smile because I know there are great players throughout the state of Texas. They all can't go to Texas, A&M, Texas Tech or Baylor, so there will be good players here. We have to do a good job of evaluating character first. I always tell my coaches not to miss on character. They might be a little shorter or a bit slower, but find out about their character. You would be surprised how many times you go to a school and the coach tells you one thing, but the secretary says, ‘Boy, I’m ready to get rid of that guy.' That’s always a red flag."
UTSA Athletics Director Lynn Hickey (on how much consideration was given to attracting minority candidates) "Any time you announce that you are going to have a position open for a football coach, you get a letter from the BCA (Black Coaches Association). They list some things that they would like for you to do and give you a list potential candidates. We worked with them and looked at some really good football people that are not just in the state of Texas but nationally to try and find the very best candidates. I think it’s a very unfair thing to go and say, 'We are going to give you an interview because you are a minority' and we did not do that. We visited with coaches and put a list together of the people that we felt were the best candidates for our job. Paul Randolph was outstanding. He went through the same process as everyone else. He had an opportunity on telephone interviews with me first, then with the committee in Dallas. After that, we brought him to campus. He is an outstanding young man and will be a head coach soon. I think we ran a very good and fair process."
Coker (on the minority candidate process) "I want our staff to be diverse and I think what Lynn said is true. It is insulting that a minority gets a position based on that. I choose who is best person for the job. I think that is the best thing for the program."
Coker (on the expectations of starting a new program) "We're all impatient these days. This is a society of McDonald's and fast food and we all want it now. We just have to step back and do it the right way. We can't afford to go too far forward and then have to back track. I haven't put a time frame on things, but I know this. We are going to recruit better players in years two, three, and four as the process goes on. We are going to keep getting better each year as far as winning. We're going to win here because there are too many good players here not to win. We have to do a good job recruiting, evaluating and coaching them once they get here."
Coker (on what he can promise students to keep them excited until the first game is played) "Well, I can say, 'You started it.' As alumni, you'll know there is a place you can go on a Saturday afternoon. You go to an A&M game or a Tech game and you see the tailgating and the families. In my career, I've been around people that have sons playing at a university and they've been able to come back and say 'I started this program'.' That's something special for you. If we win a National Championship some day, you can look back and say, 'Wow, look where we've come from.'"
Coker (on if there was an urgency to get back into college football) "That was a factor, but let me say this. I've had some opportunities in the last two years. I've worked for ESPN and had some opportunities. I had two opportunities to be an offensive coordinator at major schools and an opportunity to go to the NFL. I don't want to be a coach in the National Football League. That's nothing derogatory toward them. That's just my feelings on the subject. This wasn't something where this was my only opportunity, so I had to take it. Not at all. This is a great opportunity, as I think you can see by the leadership sitting here beside me and by the enthusiasm of the students. I think we have a great opportunity to build here and do it from the ground up the right way."
Coker (on if he missed the game and why he wasn't hired for any other jobs) "I didn't really try for very many to be honest. I did try for some that I didn't get. Why? I don't know. Again, you hire the best people and different people make different decisions. I did miss college football and wanted to get back into college football. As this progressed, I got much more excited as the process went on. I had some opportunities to be a head coach at some other schools and at some other levels and probably make a lot more money, but this opportunity really appealed to me a lot more than some of those other opportunities."
Coker (on the time frame for hiring a staff) "Lynn and I will visit about that. I should have said this in the ballroom, but we're going to go step by step in this process. We're going to build it the right way and be partners in this. I'm sure we'll talk about a time frame before too long. My phone was about to explode. I think there are two reasons for that. I think people are excited to be a part of this and see a really good opportunity."
Hickey (on if she felt pressure to make a splashy, big-name hire) "Not at all. It's going to appear that way today, but in all the counseling that I got from football minds across the state, the one thing we discussed over and over was that I needed to make a hire that was going to stick, one that is for the long term. We are so very fortunate that it just so happens that we found a very solid person, coach and citizen that has a pedigree that's pretty special. This was a call for someone that has the maturity, experience and the values to build something from scratch. I think the other two candidates had some of the same qualities, but when you laid everything out and looked at it, the best fit was with Coach Coker. The reason he's here is because of the kind of person he is and the level of coaching expertise he has."
Coker (on how he is going to make this San Antonio's team and what he is going to do about fundraising in this economic climate) "The thing that's going to be helpful for me with fundraising is I'm going to have a lot of help to do it. There's no season in the fall, so I'm going to have more time to do that. Fundraising-wise and speaking-wise and promoting our program, if I'm out talking to someone and trying to get somewhere, then I need to do a good job of selling our program and let them know what we're trying to accomplish. I don't know San Antonio very well, but I think it's probably a little similar to Miami in that it is very diverse. With my background, I feel very comfortable being in any situation. I have a real passion for people. I want to somehow, in the remainder of my career, be able to touch lives like Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden. I want this to be San Antonio's team. We have to do a good job making it our team. San Antonio is going to be patient but only for so long."
Hickey (on making this San Antonio's team) "We're not adding this program to add football. If we were just adding another program, that would not be the right thing to do. We're adding this program to have an impact on, not only the city of San Antonio, but the south part of Texas and eventually the entire state and southwestern part of the United States. We're in a city where we really need to enhance the idea of going to college and finishing high school. If we can put a product in the Alamodome that kids in this community can come and watch and be a part of, that may give them the idea that it's cool to go to college. Can you imagine a kid from the south side today that saw the enthusiasm of those college kids celebrating and having fun and thinking, 'Hey, I want to be a part of this and I can because it is right here in my own community.' That's the agent that Coach Coker and his program can be for us."
Hickey (on if it has sunk in that football is now in San Antonio) "I don't think so and I don't think it will for a while. I think that we are in a daze right now. We're very excited. I think when it will probably hit is when we get to the tough times. Where are we going to put the office? How are we going to build the field? When the staff is coming in and we have our first recruits on campus. We've got a long way to go, but I think the important thing is to have a sense of confidence and maturity when we hit road blocks, and ladies and gentlemen, we're going to hit some road blocks, but I think Coach Coker is prepared to handle and overcome those road blocks. There's going to be some tough times and he's going to be resilient. He's going to have the maturity to just get through it and pick himself up and just go do it again. We're excited now, but I don't think the reality of the whole deal has quite sunk in quite yet."