Friday, August 19, 2005

Chan Gailey Interview - Part II

To read PART I of Chan Gailey's interview on CSS a couple of weeks ago - click here.......... Here is the 2nd part of the interview............... Coach Gailey picks up talking about his career with the Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers. Great stuff.....

Is all this a walk in the park after coaching the Cowboys?:

"Oh yeah. but that's like comparing apples and oranges. College football and college age young people and the things that surround college football are totally different. Dealing with the press is the same, but the games and the environment are really different.

When people say you are under the gun and feeling the heat, they probably forget you worked for Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys, the most visible team in the world.

"This is no big deal. If this bothers you, then you're in trouble, in this business."

Did you get a fair shake with the Cowboys?

"Well, first of all, I want to set the record straight about Jerry. Jerry and I had different opinions about how to build a championship team. He was a good person and he was good to Laurie and I when we were out there. He treated us very well as people. But we had different philosophies. A fair shake? Probably not. We went to the playoffs both years we were there and I think the next guy didn't even sniff the playoffs and they kept him for 3 years. So probably not. I don't think Jerry realized that the Cowboys were a team in transition at that time, and we were still able to keep our head above water while in transition. That's what we were doing. We were trying to win while you're going from an old team to a young team. That's what I think was missed during the whole thing. He got caught up with things because the press got on me and some other of his friends got on me a bit, and I think he just lost sight of some things.

On the press - do you pay attention to it?

"The last 10-15 years, I've just gotten to the point where I don't pay attention to it, don't read it, because things are blown out of proportion. The only thing I worry about is - I have them during the season give me the paper and highlight highlight the player's quotes. Because I want to hear what they players are saying. I want to see that. I don't want to see anybody's opinion or all that. I want to see what the players are saying to make sure that we're on the same page."

Back-to-back 50 point bowl performances. Maybe not the bowls you wanted to be in, but not a bad way to end the season 2 years in a row.

"I think it's a tribute to our players, because they prepared very well for those bowl games. They were excited about going to the bowl and playing in it and it showed on the field. They did a great job."

How good is Calvin Johnson?

"I don't know. We've not gotten there yet - to how good he is. I've never had one - and that's including pro, college, anywhere - I've never had one this big, this fast and this good of hand-eye coordination................ Yancy Thigpen is a guy nobody ever really heard of but was a great player at Pittsburgh. We had Michael Irvin. I had Vance Johnson................. Calvin is above everybody else. He's got some things to learn about coverages and offensive thought processes and route running, but he's way ahead of the game because of his work ethic and because of the type young man he is. He's a great athlete, but he's a better person."

Do any moments in your career standout?

"I have a hard time picking out one or two. Anytime you win a championship and I was fortunate to win a National Championship over at Troy State, when I didn't know anything. I thought I knew everything at 33 and I knew nothing. There are so many great moments. You don't stay in the business unless you have a few great moments."

You're on that Denver staff during "the drive". You're on the sidelines when that kickoff gets flubbed. Did you think you had any chance of winning that game?

"No, I think it's pretty tough. but when you've got John Elway you think anything's possible. and that's the thing that's so unique. He's the best I've ever coached."

What about the Elway / Shannahan / Reeves gossip? Were you privy to any of that stuff?

"I was right in the middle of it. It got blown out of proportion like everything else does. There were some things going on there where the relationship between Dan and John was not close. They were not buddy-buddy. The relationship between Mike and John was very buddy-buddy. So what happened, Mike ended up being the go-between somewhat, because Dan was very involved in the offensive gameplan, but wasn't involved in the day-to-day meetings with the QB's and team. So you had to convey what Dan wanted to John. When Mike left, that was my job. I took over the offensive coordinator job and QB coach. So you had to make sure that John what Dan wanted."

So why did that relationship deteriorate?

"That's blown out of proportion. It wasn't that they didn't talk. They did. They were both very professional. They just didn't spend off-time with each other, away from the office. They did talk and communicate. You can't do that otherwise. You can't be successful, and we went to 3 superbowls while I was there. Some of the thought process was, Dan had a great deal of experience and knew what we had to do to win. John wanted to open it up more, but Dan was smart enough to know we had a great defense, and we needed to run the football and we didn't need to open it up. We needed to keep it close and let John go win it in the 4th quarter. That's how we went to 3 superbowls. If we'd been opened up offensively, we might not have made it to 3 superbowls."

Kordell Stewart was so dynamic. What do you think derailed his career?

"I wish I could tell you. Kordell wishes I could tell you, because he and I talked once a month there for about 4 or 5 years, with him trying to figure out what was wrong with his game. He first year as a full time QB we went to the AFC championship game and came within one pass of going to the superbowl - in his first year as a QB. It was a great run with him - he was "Slash" for a year or two, then he became starter and played great for us, and I don't know what happened."

You deserve credit. He never performed better than when you were in Pittsburgh helping to develop him.

"We had a great time. It was a lot of fun. The gameplans - oh man."

Finish this sentence - "We're going to have a great season if........."

"I think, obviously, we have to have consistent play at QB. Our O-Line has to come around and gel. We have some young players. We have one guy who started at the end of the season at the same position on the O-Line. We also have to stay pretty injury free. There are a lot of guys in that line-up that need to stay healthy for us to win, because we have not had a lot of depth and we are continually trying to build that up. And the way you build depth is you go blow people out and play guys behind them. But we don't end up in blowout games. We end up in nailbiters it seems like every week one way or the other. The bowl games have been kind of fun the last couple of years, but other than those, we're playing to the last minute in every game. That takes its toll on your team and you don't get to play a lot of guys to get them experience."

How big a loss is Travis Parker on D?

"Travis Parker, he didn't do the job academically at Tech. But, like we said earlier - he's gone, and guess what - we have Adamm Oliver and Darrell Robertson who are sitting there waiting to play and get their opportunity. Who knows, they might go out there and do a great job this year and that's what we're planning on."

Is academics one of the toughest things you fight in recruiting? Paul Hewitt talks about that.

"If people attack or tell a kid - you don't want to work that hard. You've got to take calculas or whatever it is, we turn around and say - you mean they don't think you're smart enough? Is that what they're telling you? Most guys don't like that connotation, being told they're not smart enough to do the job at Georgia Tech................ And we can't recruit every tom-dick-and-harry that just happens to be able to run fast, jump high or block well. We have to be very particular about the guys that we take academically at Georgia Tech."

Are there one or two names you think we might be hearing more from this year? Guys who we don't know as much about now?

"Well, I look for Damarius Bilbo to have a good year. He's finally gotten into WR shape. I think he's really excited about playing WR this year. He's a great leader for us. I'm looking for him to have a great year. Tashard Choice is a transfer from Oklahoma that has come into the offensive backfield as a RB - same size as PJ Daniels. So he gives us a little bit more size, about 210lb roughly. He is a very good player. And then on the defensive side of the ball, I think you're going to have Gary Guyton and Philip Wheeler - two guys at LB that I think have a chance to be pretty good players."

You certainly have a lot to motivate your club - opening at Auburn.

"Oh yeah - that's no challenge to motivate our guys and get them ready to play."

Do you know much about the rest of the ACC? Favorites - do you worry about that?

"No. You can't worry about that. And the preseason polls have never been right. Never."

Are you trying to say that some of us in the media don't know what we're talking about. I can't believe that?

"I know. You make educated guesses. And that's what they are."

On the upcoming tough schedule:

"You can't be great without great challenges".