Curtis Johnson excited for Tulane's first bowl game since 2002 - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Curtis Johnson excited for Tulane's first bowl game since 2002

Updated:
AP Photo AP Photo

New Orleans, La. - Tulane and UL-Lafayette's New Orleans Bowl matchup will be part of the first day of bowl season and the end of the Green Wave's 38th season playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The following are coach Curtis Johnson's comments to the media Tuesday, as transcribed by Tulane Sports Information:

Opening statement…

"I have to say this. I would really like to thank God for divinely straightening my life. To have me here at this time, to get this new contract, to get into this bowl game, to get into a new stadium, to move into a new league, I have to also thank Rick Dickson and Dr. (Scott) Cowen for having faith in me. Even before, if you think about my career – which was a good career, but not what most head coaches have been through – I'm just grateful for the opportunity. I would like to thank these coaches for staying and sticking behind me, as well as the players. I'd also like to thank my wife definitely for my wardrobe. We have had too many meals though. We need to lighten up a little bit. But seriously, this is a wonderful opportunity for our players to go to a bowl game. We haven't been in a number of years, at least not in my time in New Orleans, that's for sure. The hard work that all of our coaches put in has built up to this. It culminates in a great bowl game in a great city. Our young men get a chance to play in their home stadium again. We also get to play a great opponent who beat us up pretty good last year. But we get to play in the Superdome one more time. I'm very thankful for that. I'm very happy to the New Orleans Bowl because they chose us. Some of those other schools out there didn't get selected. But they chose us, so that is an honor and a privilege to be selected."

On Devon Walker receiving the Disney Spirit Award on Thursday…

"This young man is so full of class. He is such a great person. He is an inspiration. If there is a modern-day hero of this football team, I think it's him because of his attitude and his personality. It embodies everything you would want to be. He is very spiritual, he is always positive, he is inspirational, he gives great speeches and he is always around. It is hard to get a degree from Tulane, but he is doing that even with his limitations. Everything he is getting, he is deserving of it. He will represent our school with the most class that you can ask from anyone."

On receiving a contract extension, and what that means for recruiting in the future…

"I think it was perfect, because we have known each other for about two years now. They are taking a chance on me, and rewarding us for our hard work. It was very important to me for the assistants to get what they needed. Those families know it is Christmas time, so it's time to up their pay so they can get some real presents. I don't know if they got real presents last year. That was real important on the recruiting trail for us. We will be in a new conference in a new stadium. There is a lot of new stuff going on. I'm pleased with what our president and Rick Dickson have done. I think it was perfect. I appreciate it, and so does our coaching staff."

On whether he will take a new approach to recruiting …

"What we do is we evaluate the players. We aren't into the scouting services or anything like that. We do look at them, but we recruit our players. Each year, the recruiting has gotten better and better. I don't think you jump into something you aren't already accustomed to. I think you just get a little better each year. You talk about building a foundation. We did that with our first class, and we did a little bit better last year. I think this next class will be a little bit better. You just keep working, and the good players will come. I like our approach. I think Louisiana has a lot of great players. There are a lot of great players in the state of Florida, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama. The numbers are right. We now just have to get the right player that we want."

On the offense …

"Our team was not healthy offensively. We took a beating the last couple of weeks. Our quarterback wasn't very healthy since early on in the season. (Orleans) Darkwa wasn't healthy. (Ryan) Grant is finally starting to get healthy. I think we just need to get healthy and back up and work on some fundamental stuff. I thought our fundamentals were slipping with the offensive line and the receivers. I think that will help us a lot. We have had a couple of weeks to heal. I think a lot of those guys are healing and haven't done much since the last game. I know (Chris) Davenport hasn't done much. (Nick) Montana hasn't done much. Darkwa is standing on the sideline. That is all by design. One thing I learned from (former Miami Hurricanes head coach) Butch Davis is to get the players healthy for the big game. I think we will be healthy and ready to go."

On whether his coaching staff will remain intact…

"I think the coaches are happy, but I do think there will be some offers to some of our coaches. I think we have become attractive enough. I want our guys to get offers. What I also want them to do is for them to look at what we have built and the direction we are going. They are getting more money. They are getting more help. That helps a lot. Right now, I can at least compete with these guys who are coming in to try and pluck these guys off my staff."

On how happy he is for the senior class…

"I'm happiest for them because of what happened last year. We came in and brought in all these new additions, and all of a sudden you don't know how all of this will blend together. Then, you win one game and then another. You kind of see the fruits of their labor. I'm very impressed with those guys. I'd do anything for this senior class. They are the building block of what we are going to do in the future."

On the seniors buying into the coaching staff…

"It took a while. Last year was so spotty with the injuries that were happening. It was just so hard for everybody to see what direction this thing was going in, especially after Devon was injured. But now they've been around us, and they know we are good people. They like our style and they like our tempo at practice. This is an honest program. If they are playing bad or playing good, we tell them so. I think they have bought into what we are doing."

On the team's motivation…

"I think we are very motivated. In Sean Payton's words, ‘the most desperate team wins the bowl game.' I think we are a little more desperate than they are. I think if you look at what happened last year against them, they really took us to the woodshed. They played sensational. They have the better record and they've been in this bowl game several years. I think we are pretty desperate for a win right now, and we are practicing like it. We are going in the right direction."

On UL's preparation despite potentially losing their starting quarterback to injury…

"You have 85 scholarships. Last year, we lost two quarterbacks when we played them. We are eager to get into a bowl game. We are eager to showcase what we have. We want to make this thing as big as we can for our fans. All of our kids' parents can come see them play."

On the plan if Nick Montana can't play…

"We are about three-quarters of the way done with preparation for what we are going to do for the bowl game. They are a good football team. They kind of took the same turn as we did the last few weeks. We want to be basic. We want to be as basic as we can, but we are going to prepare for (UL QB Terrance) Broadway. Broadway makes the whole thing go. We think Nick will be ready, but if he isn't, then we'll move onto Devin (Powell)."

On the change in perception of the program…

"(This year) sure changed my perception. I think (the Tulane administration) is committed to football. I think they are definitely committed to us and to me. You can't ask more when coming to a place, especially when they come to you to say they want you here longer than they originally said. I think the commitment is there. We have some things we definitely need to do. When you look at the locker rooms and meeting rooms those are things we will address. But we are headed in the right direction."

On what he heard when he initially took the job…

"This isn't the easiest place. I can tell you that a couple of the NFL coaches told me I was crazy for interviewing here. They said I was out of my mind. A couple of other guys said it was a great opportunity. I look at everything in a positive light. This is an opportunity. Everybody has been so great."

On having a practice facility built on campus…

"If you look at the conference we are going into, everybody has one. Everyone has something that has been built recently. I'm looking at Memphis, and they've got their new deal already. Cincinnati's is the Taj Mahal. We aren't asking for that. If we want to be serious about winning, we have to parade some recruits in and we have to look at some stuff that is attractive to them."

On whether an on-campus practice facility is convenient…

"That is the best of anything you can get. You want to get an on-campus center where you can play indoors. I've gotten spoiled this year with the Superdome and the Saints Facility. It's going to be hard for me to give that up. It was cold outside today. We would love to have that. I'm not saying we don't have it, but when we see better, we want better. I think it is extremely important for recruits. You look at your recruiting facility, and everybody has them. We would love to have one also."

On whether the profile of the Tulane player has to change now…

"I don't think the profile changes. I look at our program and I think of us like Stanford. Stanford doesn't go after everybody in the world. They go out and pick and choose their players and they sell some different things at Stanford. We can definitely do that here. First of all, our players have to be smart on the football field and in the classroom. That's kind of what Stanford has done. You may not go after the five-star receiver, but the receiver you get will be good enough for you, and will fit your job description. The Saints fit players into job descriptions, whereas Atlanta (Falcons) goes out and get the best receivers they can find. What is more effective? I don't know. Julio Jones is a great player, and I would have loved to have him, but I also really liked Marques Colston."

On difficulties he has faced in recruiting…

"I don't think I've overcome all of it yet, but we have to change the mindset of what people believe this program can be and where it can go. A recruit asked me once how many games we can win. We can win a national championship. I believe that. This reminds me of the University of Miami (Fla.). They are a private school that began to get local talent and then branched out. Once you get this going, you never know. I think that one day, they'll be talking about us like they talked about Boise (State) and some of the other schools a couple of years ago."

On Devon Walker's role with the program going forward…

"He is going to be a part of us as long as we can keep him here. I know he is going to have a speech ready (for the bowl)."

On playing in a BCS Bowl game year and if that is a realistic goal…

"I don't know what the goal is. When we come back, we'll look at it. We'll look at what we do, and how we do it. What I will say is that we will have a chance in the not-so-distant future to win all of our games. When we do that, we'll let everybody else decide where we go and what we do. That's what college football is. You have to win them all. Florida State won them all. Auburn lost one, but beat all the right people, and they are in it. If Ohio State would have won, they would have won them all, and they'd be in it. If we win them all, we'll have just as good of a chance of getting (to a BCS Championship Game)."

On how long it will take to get to the BCS level…

"I wish I had a crystal ball to give me a date. I think the progress of the program would say that we take a step forward, then another, and then another. One day, you play (a championship-level team) and you beat them. At the University of Miami (Fla.), they all of a sudden played Notre Dame or Penn State, and beat them, and then the program was on the map to stay. We'll play enough of those games where we will beat one of those good opponents, and everyone will say ‘here comes Tulane.'"

On who on the team will play in the NFL…

"You just never know how it goes. If you look at the senior class and the starters on defense, all of those guys should get a look. They played wonderful defense. The offensive guys who played and were around will get a look. The NFL will get talent anyway they can. I know of guys who were working at Popeye's who are in the NFL now. You just never know, but I think this senior class has as good of a chance for an opportunity."

On Ryan Grant's NFL chances…

"He is one of them. He is going to the (Reese's) Senior Bowl. That's one of those things that normally tells you those guys will get drafted somewhere. But then there is the NFL Combine and some other deals. Then, there are guys like (Chris) Davenport who people haven't seen much of before the season. Now, he is one of our better players. Those guys will get an opportunity to play. I'm hearing some buzz from people about this guy and that guy. When they start sending the head scout back for a second time, we know our guys will have an opportunity."

On his relationship with NFL scouts…

"I try to help our guys as much as I possibly can. I've made some calls to some guys about our guys. It's a big recruiting tool when you can have a relationship with the Saints and the NFL. Out of the 32 teams, I know guys on at least 20 of them. If you come here and do what you are supposed to do, you'll get a chance (at the NFL)."

On whether or not this is the last game at the Superdome…

"I've been told this is the last game at the Superdome, depending on how the schedule falls. But if we have to play at the Superdome again, I like playing indoors. I enjoy the indoors. If not, we'll like that stadium too. We have to get ready during spring ball to play wherever against this league. This league will be a lot tougher. This is a tough league."

  • Sign up for emails from FOX 8 Live

    Get news and forecasts from FOX 8 delivered to your inbox by signing up for the lists below.

    * denotes required fields





    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

Fox 8 WVUE-TV
Louisiana Media Company, LLC.
1025 S. Jefferson Davis Parkway
New Orleans, LA 70125

General Number: (504) 486-6161
News Tips: (504) 483-1503
News Room Fax: (504) 483-1543

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVUE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
WVUE's Public Inspection File can now be accessed online. To access the online public inspection file click here: https://stations.fcc.gov/station-profile/wvue-dt.