AP: This is the first time we’ve had a chance to talk to you since the season ended, so I wanna cover a couple things. One is, you’ve just completed one of the worst — if not the worst — seasons in Maryland history. You have replaced your offensive and defensive coordinator. Numerous players have left with eligibility remaining, including a three-year starting offensive tackle. And I gotta be honest with you, I’ve said this on the air, that I don’t think you should be returning as head coach, and I wonder how you respond to that and others who feel the same way.
RE: Well, you know, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and I think that anytime you come in and take over a program there’s always gonna be transition that takes place. All’s I know is that we’re going forward here with a program that’s working to make these kids the best they can be in terms of athletes, students and people. I thought we’ve made a lot of progress, and we’ll continue to make progress. All’s you gotta do is take a look around at other programs when there’s coaching changes — Florida and Virginia, just to name a few — you’re always gonna have people leave the program when a transition comes in.
AP: Well you said when you took over that you were going to build on the success of Ralph Friedgen, who was coming off a 9-4 season. And I believe just three games into the season, after the loss to Temple, you talked about rebuilding. At what point did you realize that this was going to be a rebuilding situation.
RE: Well I don’t think I ever used the word “rebuilding” in anything that I’ve ever said since I took the job over, so I think that’s not a correct statement. But I think that what happens is when you have the injuries that we had last year — we had 118 games missed by guys that were starters — and I think that there were some things that took place with injuries. . . . You call it the “bad storm,” we got it all in one year. I’m sure that’s all gonna be behind us, and now we’re just looking forward to 2012, and being successful in 2012.
[The conversation then delves into the subject of team discipline.]
Steve Czaban: Do you think your players were shocked at your level of discipline?
RE: Um, maybe. And again, I can only comment on what my philosophy is, what I’ve done, and it’s been a philosophy that’s won, it’s been a philosophy that’s developed young men into better people, and that’s what I believe in. If it’s wrong to ask people to be on time and do what’s right, to go to class, to be respectful of others and to conduct yourself in a manner, then I don’t know what college athletics has gotten to.
SC: Have you softened in any way since you came here?
RE: I don’t know what you mean by “softened” . . .
SC: I don’t know, in terms of: Have you relented on anything . . .
AP: On any of your policies that you brought in with you?
RE: Well, the policies are the same. . . . Again, a lot of things got blown out of proportion. I’ve never asked anybody to get a haircut. Do I ask them not to wear hats in the building? Yes, we’ve asked them to do that because I think that’s just something . . . that most parents have their kids do. So again, no, I guess I haven’t [softened my policies] because I don’t think what we’re doing is wrong. And the amazing thing, when you go out recruiting and the class we put together: We put together a really good class. And one of the things that came to my attention . . . all the parents of the kids we were recruiting [said], “Coach, we really love what you’re doing. That’s why we want our kids to come to Maryland, because you’re preparing them for life. You’re preparing them to be better, and that’s what we want for our young men.” . . .
SC: When a kid says, “I’m leaving,” do you sit down and ask him why, or are you like, “Okay, there’s the door.”
RE: No, you have discussions. What I think what happens is, not everyone is gonna want to to work with your company. You know, when there’s change and when somebody comes in, and there’s things that go on, no everybody’s going to be happy with change. Not everybody’s going to like . . . if there’s accountability, if they’re held to a higher standard. That’s everyday life. That’s what happens in everyday life: When there's change, sometimes it’s tough for people to change, and sometimes people might not like where they’re at on the depth chart. My whole thing is when they come in, I sit down, hear what they say, listen to what they say, and then if they don’t feel like they can be happy in this organization, and they want to move on, then hey, they can do that. The thing is, I don’t think I’m any different than any other coach, any other manager, any other supervisor. If people don’t want to be here, and don’t think that they can be happy being here, you’re gonna have a very tough time of having a very good team because now your chemistry, the camaraderie, isn’t what it’s gonna need to be in order to be successful, and that’s not only in sports, that’s in any organization that you’re involved with.
AP: You talk about things being blown out of proportion. Certainly, you have to accept some of the responsibility for that. In retrospect, what did you do wrong in creating a scenario where that would happen?
RE: Well, hey, I’m the head coach. It’s my responsibility. I think I’ve learned in terms of this area, from a media standpoint, that there’s things here that I definitely can do better. . . . There’s gonna be some things that we do a little bit differently. The thing is, I’m not going to change what I believe in terms of my core values and what I believe in developing players and people and students, I’m not gonna change those beliefs because what I have in place, it’s been proven to be successful, and it will be successful here at Maryland, as well.