Posted Dec 8, 2015

See what the representatives and head coaches from the University of Minnesota and Central Michigan State University had to say at the Quick Lane Bowl introductory press conference.



Opening Statement: “Again, I’d like to thank the Quick Lane Bowl for inviting us. On behalf of the coaches and the players, we’re extremely excited when we found out we had the opportunity to come to the Detroit area. For me personally, it’s a lot of fun. My career started at Saginaw Valley State about 20 years ago with Coach (Jerry) Kill. We hosted the Lions for camp up there at that time, and I just happened to be the liaison that worked with the Lions, so I still see a lot of familiar faces from that. At the same time, we’ve had experience in the MAC West. We know how difficult of a conference and a division that is. It’ll be a tremendous challenge for us, but at the same time, for everything our kids have been through, we look forward to having the opportunity to play one more game together against a very good team. Hopefully, we’ll bring our best on that day. It’ll take our best and, like I said, for our kids and what they’ve been through, they’re really looking forward to the opportunity to get a chance to finish this season with one more game together.”

On the academic progress made by the football program in recent years: “When we first took over, there were some issues there at the University of Minnesota as far as the APR. It’s all an expectation, so when you set that expectation and that standard, kids will do what you ask them to do. We preach, I’m the first one from my family to have a degree, I wouldn’t be here without it. Coach Kill was the same way. That education has taken us a long way, so we preach that and we’ve been able to recruit kids that believe that same philosophy, and I think it’s a great reward to them from where we started to how much it’s improved to have the academic component to it. Had they not done that, we would not be here. So they take great pride in that.”

On what jumps out to him about Central Michigan on film: “They spread the ball out all over. I think they had five receivers that had over 500 yards. They do a nice job of controlling the ball through the air and getting it in space. Defensively, they don’t give you anything easily. They make you earn every yard you get. So they’re very well-coached and disciplined and they play hard. That’s why they’ve had the type of season that they’ve had.”

On if he has any specific memories from being the contact for the Lions Training Camp at SVSU: “I do, I do. It was fun at first setting it up, but I mainly worked with, at the time Larry Lee, who was the player personnel person and then Danny, who was the equipment person. So those were my two main contacts in making sure everything was organized in meetings back and forth. But I can remember Coach (Bobby) Ross walking through all the buildings and taking notes. I think everybody at some time, you think about coaching at the highest level in whatever sport you have. It was really an eye-opener to me how much detail was paid to everything in the NFL. Great experience and something I’ll never forget.”


Opening Statement: “Good morning everyone. I’m so excited to be here in Detroit this morning, and can’t tell you how thrilled the University of Minnesota was to accept this invitation to the Quick Lane Bowl. I want to first thank the President of the Detroit Lions, Rod Wood, and also Kelly (Urquhart-Kozole) as well, for their invitation and their hospitality, along with everyone else with the Quick Lane Bowl and Ford Motor Company. Our student athletes, our coaches and our fans couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity to compete in one more game against just a tremendous Central Michigan football program. We’re excited to be able to spend some time here in Detroit, and know that with just a quick flight, our fans are also excited to get down to the city and support this great bowl event. So again, we’re excited to be here and we thank you for the invitation to participate in the Quick Lane Bowl.”

On her reaction to the sexual harassment external review and where the department goes from here: “Well, I think anytime you can have an external group really take a look at what you’re doing, I think that’s feedback that we want to embrace. All of us strive to get better every, single day. Our coaches and our athletes do that on the field and in the classroom, and we do as a department. So we welcome the feedback that they’ve provided and we will be very intentional about making sure that we’re committed each and every day to continue to make the University of Minnesota Athletic Department an even better place, and we want to make the state of Minnesota proud in everything that we do.”

On if she will make any changes in how issues are handled within the department: “Absolutely, and we want to operate with most integrity and where change needs to be made, we’re going to be committed to getting that input in place as soon as possible. So we’ll see some change here, and we’re going to be very thoughtful about what that looks like. But we want to put ourselves and our student athletes in a position to be successful in all areas.”

On what changes she has already made: “We certainly put into practice some changes in terms of the financial areas that were addressed, and we want to make sure that how we operate aligns with our values and the values of our institution. So not to get into too many specifics, but I think we’ll see some significant changes along the way that will help to continue to do what we do and do it in a way that we can all be proud.”

On if she is a candidate for the permanent Athletics Director position: “The president is going to manage the search for the Athletic Director position and I’m really happy to be a part of the University of Minnesota athletic department and will be glad to represent the university in any way that I can.”


Opening Statement: “Hello everybody. A lot of familiar faces here. I was trying to think when I walked in here when the last time I was in this room was. I was trying to figure out if I even knew this room existed, and I realized that the last time and the only time I was ever in this particular room was when Jason Hanson announced his retirement. But it’s great to be back in Detroit. Thank you to the Lions organization, thank you to the Quick Lane Bowl. We are very, very excited to be playing in Detroit. A little perspective, this past week, we knew we were going bowling but we didn’t know where. There were about four different locations that were being tossed around where we could end up. I started to take some informal polls with some of our senior football players. It’s no secret 75% of our roster is all Michigan kids. When you’re looking at warm weather locations and that sort of thing, I was pleasantly surprised the number of players on our roster that had Detroit as their first choice. It’s important to be able to play in front of friends and family. That’s one of the things that our program is built on is family. We’re really, tremendously excited to have this opportunity to play a quality opponent like the University of Minnesota, a Big Ten team. It’s one of the ways we try to measure ourselves. We want to measure ourselves against the very best, and certainly, what Minnesota’s been able to accomplish this season under very, very difficult circumstances, it’s a little bit of a parallel to what we’ve gone through. Our team has gone through a tremendous amount of adversity this year, as has Minnesota. We’re looking forward to a great game. We can’t wait to get down here and start our preparation. Again, thank you very much for the opportunity.”

On how much support he received from the Lions after the cancer diagnosis: “A tremendous amount of support. It was very important – That whole process, I’ll try not to be too in-depth, it took about four weeks from where I got early warning signs to when we finally thought we knew what we were dealing with and then we knew for sure what it was. So we kept that under wraps. It was very important to me that our players were the first ones to know. I didn’t want them to hear that second-handed anyways, particularly given the fact that we had a highly respected and beloved teammate that was also involved in a battle of their own. So I reached out to a number of people that I consider very close to me. Obviously, I was in constant communication with Dave (Heeke), but Jim Caldwell was one of the people that I reached out to. So before the media knew, before the team knew, Jim Caldwell was one of the very small handful of people that I talked to. Just from a head coaching perspective, I just wanted his input on how to handle that situation. I make no secret about it, I care a tremendous amount about Jim Caldwell, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He’s the type of head coach, I’m sure a lot like Coach (Jerry) Kill was. When you work for somebody like him, it makes it very difficult to work for somebody else, just the way he treats people and how he carries himself day in and day out, and really it’s about one word, and that’s integrity. So that’s in a nutshell a long answer to your question. Coach Caldwell was one of the first people that I reached out to.”

On being back on the sidelines at Ford Field: “I think it’ll be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it. I’m as excited to be in this building today as I have been, probably the day I got the job at Central. I’m looking forward to going down and seeing some of these players and thanking them. I got an awful lot of text messages throughout the year, phone calls from a lot of those guys. So it’ll be special.”


Opening Statement: “Likewise, we are so pleased to be here in Southeast Michigan and the city of Detroit. We want to express our appreciation to Quick Lane, to the Detroit Lions, Ford Field, all the great partners of this magnificent bowl. It is truly an honor to play here, to play in this city, and to play with that backdrop of the Lions. So this is a powerful experience for our young people. We really look forward to the opportunity to compete against the University of Minnesota. A great institution, great athletic programs and history and heritage there. We’re really proud of what we’ve done. We know our way around Detroit a little bit. We have quite a few student athletes who are from this region, certainly from the Midwest footprint. Our fan base is engaged and excited to be here and be with our team and enjoy some time here in Southeast Michigan. So again, it’s a real honor and a pleasure for us to be part of this and we look forward to be another piece of the revitalization of the great city of Detroit. Thank you very much, and we look forward to being here.”