The First Bank & Trust Company Friday Q&A: Redshirting, Coaching Evaluations, And More

Virginia Tech
Brent Pry wants to increase his talent pool at Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

1) When the coach consistently says you have to recruit better, is there any worry in upsetting or losing the team?  To me, it seems a little damning of the current players. – Mark from Pittsburgh

Chris Coleman: That’s a good question. I see where you are coming from. At the same time, at his post-game press conference following UNC’s loss to Notre Dame, Mack Brown was asked what UNC could do to prevent more losses like that in the future. His answer was that UNC could recruit better and that it’s hard to beat teams like Notre Dame who sign a lot of good classes. Last I checked, Brown had recruited a lot of good classes (on paper) in his own right. But that’s beside the point.

Brown making those comments didn’t seem to affect UNC’s players any, at least not last week against the Hokies. That was a game the Tar Heels dominated from start to finish. I didn’t see any morale issues as a result of what he said after the Notre Dame game.

Sometimes what coaches say in press conferences matters, but sometimes it doesn’t. Players know what their coaches are dealing with when being interviewed. Players get interviewed, too, and they understand that sometimes they get asked questions that either they can’t answer or they shouldn’t answer honestly, so they sort of just make something up as filler. In fact, it’s likely that most players don’t even read the comments Pry makes to the media.

They see him every day, and there is a ton of communication between the head man and the individual players. They don’t go home at the end of the day and say, “Well, let me check to see what Pry said today.” They’ve already been talked to by him a lot during the week. If anything, they probably go home and try to tune it out.

Players also probably know that there’s a talent issue when one exists; it’s just one of those things that they can’t admit publicly. What do you think the reaction would be if a mid-week press conference with a player went like this?

David Cunningham: “Grant, what do you think of your chances of running the football against Pitt this weekend?”

Grant Wells: “Well, David, I don’t think much of them at all. Of all our running backs, only Keshawn King can force any missed tackles, and he’s still just 180 pounds. And the offensive linemen and tight ends couldn’t even block Wofford, so how are they supposed to beat Pitt? Plus, our receivers aren’t making plays, and sometimes my own decision making is questionable as well, so defenses don’t have to worry about the passing game. So in short, we have very little chance of running the football successfully against Pitt this weekend.”

Players don’t do that stuff, and neither do coaches. Even if they believe them.

Point being, sometimes people put too much stock into what gets said publicly. Other times it’s totally fair to take what a coach or player says as 100% gospel. Guys like Bud Foster and Jim Cavanaugh generally shot it straight. Other guys don’t, and for good reason. Before the season, Joe Rudolph looked me in the eye and told me that he trusted all five of his starting offensive linemen. I doubt he was being honest with me, but it wouldn’t have done much good to tell me, “Nah, these guys are having trouble picking it up, and I’m not confident we’ll be able to block anybody for quite awhile.”

In short, I don’t think any of Pry’s comments about recruiting will have an effect.