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Interim Head Coach Larry Scott Pregame Press Conference

Courtesy UM

Interim Head Coach Larry Scott Pregame Press Conference

Duke – October 27, 2015

Opening Statement…

“I’m glad you’re here. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to stand before you today and really just share a little bit of where we are right now as a program, but most importantly where we’re headed. The first order of business, I think, is to tell you a little bit about our team and where we are.

“This morning, we got some news one of our starting corners - Artie Burns - his mother passed away this morning. Obviously it hit our team hard and our kids pretty hard. She’s always been awesome with all of our guys, she has opened her home and fed a lot of our kids from out of state, she’s had several at her home at a time. It obviously impacted them, in consideration for Artie, and it impacted all of us, as Artie is a very important piece to our program here, and what his mom has done for us and our family, she really became the a part of the Hurricane Family. Our prayers and thoughts go out to him and his family.

“You take that and you put it on top of the last four days, which have been kind of rough for our program and young people. At the end of the day, for all of us, that’s all that it’s about – it’s the young men in this program. I challenged the coaches when we all got this whole thing started, when I was given the title of interim head coach, to really tap into some of the reasons you choose to be a coach. That’s what it’s going to take right now. It’s going to be far more than the X’s and the O’s, and getting this from a standpoint of corrected football. It’s going to be about being able to mentor and reach these young men, and help them and guide them through a rough period in their lives. Anytime you have a person come into your home and recruit you - bring you in, offer you an opportunity at a great education here at the University of Miami and to put you around really good people that are going to help develop you not only on the field but in the classroom - to have a change in that area, of course, it’s rough. They’re young people. They’re young men. They have attachments, they get attached to people, get attached to the things that they need and feel like they’re getting on a daily basis from people who are trying to impact their lives. Obviously that was tough. That’s what we’ve been dealing with over the last four days.

“The thing about it is, we don’t want to get too far away from the human element of what that’s all about. We can skip straight to the problems and fixing the issues in football, which obviously we have to get to with having Duke here on Saturday night, but first we needed to make sure we reached them on that level, and make sure we get them back in the boat, get them back all in and try to get their mindsets back focused on winning football games. But a part of that is reaching the person first. If you don’t reach the person first, and you don’t have the player, obviously all that is for naught. That’s been our challenge. That’s what we’ve been attacking. I was very pleased with the way the guys came in this morning. We knew it was going to be hard, because we delivered the news to them at our team meeting this morning right before we got into the football part of it. Obviously there was another range of emotions. The last two times we’ve sat in that room altogether, it’s been a very emotional time. But I was pleased with the way that they proceeded about the business of going to meetings. We still had some guys that we had to help work through it, which is a part of it. They attacked the information, they received it, they took good notes, and as we worked through the morning, they were able to dial in more and more as we worked through it. The meetings were really good. They were sharp, everything was on time. We got out on the field, and they really got back on the grass. I think a lot of that helps the healing as well, when you get back out. As I was telling the guys, it’s like getting back out on the playground. It’s like recess. You kind of get back outside, and you let it loose, you get going, and you get back to doing the things you’ve been doing since you were four years old, seven years old. You put on pads for the first time and you just started playing football, because that’s the environment and that’s what we want to create for these guys right now - an atmosphere of really getting back to enjoying what we do, and how we do it. A part of that too, the biggest piece of that, is making sure we have them, and we have a human connection going with them, in order for them to take the steps that we need to take, towards making sure we reach our goal. Every team that’s part of a conference, part of a division, has a goal. Our goal is to win the Coastal. Today was a step that we took towards that, as we entered this five-game Coastal stretch. We had some things we had to care of first, and we always want to take care of family, take care of home first.”

On how much adversity one team can face, specifically the last 72 hours…

“That’s always a tough question. We have to ask ourselves, when things happen in our lives, ‘how much can we take?’ in things of that magnitude. You mix in taking a mentor away - a guy who they were used to having as head coach – mix in death with that as well, and that’s a two-fold combination. That’s a tough combination. All I know is that we’re going to go about it every day. We’re going to go about it every day, and hopefully - every hour, every minute, every time we’re around them, every time we can reach out to them - we can help pull them closer and closer to healing through that.

“We know it’s going to be a process. That’s the thing - we don’t want to make this seem like there’s some magical potion we’re going to throw out there, give them gimmick words or something like that, that that’s going to make it heal. Time heals. Having people around you that really, genuinely care about you the person can help with that, can aid with that. That’s why I started this thing out with a challenge to our coaches: ‘Hey guys, we have to make sure we reach these guys at another level today. We have to make sure we’re tapping into some of the things [behind] why you do what you do. I know we all have families and things like that, but right now, the most important thing for us is this team, is this program, are these young men - their families and our families. Let’s make sure that’s the justification and reason for going to work today, and nothing else. If we do that first, I truly believe in my heart, the way I’ve always done things, is that will always take care of the other things. As long as you can take care of the person first. If you show me a good football player, I’ll show you a good person first.”

On if he felt the program was getting away from having fun on the field…

“I don’t want to talk about what was, in a sense. We’re trying to move this thing forward in that aspect, and I think it’s important that that is the central point of it all, because isn’t the game supposed to be fun? Aren’t you supposed to be having fun playing a game that you love? You have to love it. You have to have love for this game. Things like passion and emotion, it pours out of you when you’re doing something that you really enjoy doing. That’s a huge piece to what we’re trying to do right now. But that’s going to take time, especially on top of everything that they’ve gone through, to fight those emotions. It has been emotional. You’re talking about two extremes – an extreme of a low-low, to trying to get them to be as high and as energetic as you can. It’s going to take some work, but you know what? They’re going to have to feed off of you. We have to bring it every day. We have to understand we do what we love to do and, so it has got to pour out of us too. They have to see it. It’s got to be real. It’s got to be genuine. That’s what you got to get to. I think that’s what passionate play on the football field starts with. It starts with the human emotion. You have to love what you’re doing. We have to create an atmosphere of guys that are disciplined, smart, but having fun. Football is a hard sport. Being a student-athlete is tough with their schedules, and football, treatment schedules, tutoring sessions, then football. But in all of that, when you go to play football, we’re going to have fun. That’s the fun part of it. You do all of those things to get to the grass. Now let’s go have fun.”

On what changes he might implement to avoid having negative results moving forward…

“The first thing I will say is just that Saturday was very difficult. It was difficult for all of us, and for a lot of reasons. When you talk about how change, as far as what you have to change, I think change starts with each of us individuals. As long as we are different, in the aspect of what they get and what they receive from us. Young people are very impressionable. I think if you come in with the right mindset, the right attitude, change as how you define it, can be defined a million different ways. Change can be how I came in and had a little more pep in my step today. Guess what they do? They react to that. Change could be, I walk in and I’m pounding the desk, and a lot of [players] are sitting there wondering, ‘What is wrong with him?’ Some of them are sitting on the edge of their seats, about to jump out of their seats.

“I think that change is relevant. What I want to do is make sure that everything is a positive, fast-moving, very forthright, honest, pure, genuine emotion every day in what we’re doing. Football is a real sport. It takes real emotion, and it takes real passion to motivate young people to do things that sometimes they don’t want to do. When you talk change, it starts with me obviously, and it starts with our staff and everybody that is going touch our young men. That’s a relevant term. They’ll feed off whatever you give them.”

On the status of QB Brad Kaaya and how QB Malik Rosier & others are preparing for Duke…

“One of the best things I admire about Coach Coley has been his ability to teach. He teaches every one of those guys in the room like they’re the guy. That’s an awesome thing. Our doctors and concussion protocol are being handled by our medical team. They’re the experts at that. We’re following their lead with that. We’re going to do exactly what they want to do with Brad, as far as that’s concerned. Brad’s a very smart individual, a very smart person. He also has an unbelievable work ethic. I’m sure he’s doing the things he needs to make sure he’s prepared for this game. He will be prepared. However, we’re going to follow the protocol and do the right things that our medical team will have us do.”

“As far as Malik, Malik has really attacked this thing. We’ve been happy with his attitude, his mindset. He’s feeding of the energy coming from Coach Coley, and he’s feeding off the energy that, even in these times, we’re bringing to the building every day. He’s preparing. He’s in watching film. He’s in the middle of it all. He really wants to do well. If we call his number, he wants to be able to produce and do the things that we do with Brad and not miss a beat, keep it going. With the situation with the other two guys, they’ve both received reps today. They did a tremendous job, I thought, of picking up where we are with the offense and the game plan. We went right at it right away. Everything we’ve done from four days ago has been attack. We have to attack game planning, we have to attack various areas of the program, do it with energy and do it with passion. They’re feeling that. They’re all preparing and moving forward to the point where if their number is called, I think they’ll be ready.”

On how much returning to the field helped the players cope…

“That helped me. You hope that that’s the feeling that they get. You remember as a player, that’s really what it was. If you had a lull, had things going on, or were in the meeting rooms, you couldn’t wait to get outside. It’s about getting back on the grass, getting my feet back under me, that first hit…it was great to see that that started to happen. You started to see the energy and passion level pick up, a couple of little shoves, a couple of things that were good, in the spirit. You saw the passion. You saw the energy. And that made you feel really good about today, considering everything that they’ve been through. It made you walk away and kind of smile and say, ‘You know what? We have a chance to push through this thing.’ We just have to continue to attack it every day, every minute, every hour, every opportunity we get to be in front of them, we need to make sure we got that kind of juice and that kind of energy for these young people. It’s about them. It’s all about them.”

On the nature of the decision to retain the current staff as interim head coach…

“Some of the conversations that Blake [James] and I, or Jenn [Strawley] and I had, are between us. We’re all about trying to do the right things for these young men and for these young people. Right now, they have left a lot of things to me. It’s one of those deals where we’re going to do what’s best for the kids…everything has to be taken into consideration, top to bottom. That’s going to be the approach, that’s going to be the style. Everything is going to always be taken into consideration. Right now, it’s about Duke. Right now it’s about moving forward, what’s the best way and the fastest way to track that, towards getting ready for Duke.”

On how much he’s using the rest of the season as a chance to be the head coach long-term…

“[Laughs] It’s not about me. It’s really not about that. When this opportunity was presented to me, it was, ‘Yeah. Let’s go to work.’ But for me, it was about the kids. It’s about the guys that I’m in the room with every day, working with. We owe them an opportunity. That’s what it was all about. It’s about here, right now. All those other things always will take care of themselves. They always do. Regardless of how much you might want something, it’s about them. And if you make it about them, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. No matter how it works out or how it shakes out, it’s about the kids. You can walk away with your head high, or do whatever you need to do, because you did right by the young people that you were around. We’ve recruited some of these people, we know their parents, we’ve sat in their living rooms, we’ve ate some of their dinners. You know them. They become an extension of your families, become an extension of your kids. Right then, it was all about, ‘What we can we do to help them through this? What can we do to help them reach their goal of winning the Coastal?’ That’s been my only focus. That’s it.”

On how to avoid a letdown after such adversity…

“I think it comes down to one thing – relationships. Because of the relationships you have, you’re able to mentor them through tough times, and letting them know that adversity is around every corner. Just as sure as you’re walking, breathing and living in this world, change and adversity is going to be a part of everything, and it’s going to be all around you. It’s going to be ever present in your life. Being able to understand how to learn and develop - to handle that situation, to overcome that situation - is key. Since that time,  a lot of our responsibility is to always make sure we’re adding those life lessons, adding that element of adversity and change into our everyday teaching and our everyday style, so when those things do hit, they’re prepared for it. They know it’s coming, they’re prepared for it, and they have the will and know how to fight through it. It’s the human element of it. It’s about being able to take them places because of you relationship with them that they can’t take themselves - that’s mentoring, that’s being a really good teacher. That’s what I know. I’m adamant about attacking and what we’re going to be after here is first and foremost, we have a system, we have a scheme, we have those things in place. What we have to make sure is we have their hearts, we have their minds.  We can overcome anything as long as they stay together, and I think this group will.”