MADISON - Early in the week it became known that defensive coordinator Dave Doeren had accepted the head coaching position at Northern Illinois. Following Wednesdays practice, Doeren spent some time with a handful of reporters.
The following is the transcript of that interview.
What's your schedule like right now?
Doeren: Normally I would be hectic because I would be recruiting here and balancing the bowl and travel. Now, I'm not traveling. So I've kind of replaced some of my normal duties with other duties. It's just a matter of being organized and balanced. But there's not a lot of sleep going on right now. It's all good.
Did the timing seem right to you?
Doeren: Yeah, it was the right fit for me and my family. It was a great opportunity and it's a program that's had a tradition of winning. There are a lot of things that just made it right. I was really excited about the administration and the vision they had. Just a lot of the right things went together on it.
Was it hard telling the players or were they pretty supportive?
Doeren: Extremely. This place has been five years of my life so I've got great relationships and I love these guys. They work hard for me and I told them the reason I'm going is because they gave me that opportunity. They played hard for me and they did what we asked them to do. It's a great bunch of men.
You mentioned in your press conference down there that one of the reasons you wanted to stay on for the bowl game was because of the journey. What has that been like to get to Pasadena?
Doeren: Well obviously coach Barry Alvarez established the Rose Bowl being the ultimate place for this program. For us to be able to get back to that spot is a great accomplishment. Even though we had a great first season here we weren't in the Rose Bowl. Every time you walk into our office you see those three Big Ten championship trophies and what they represent. To be a part of us going there I wanted to finish the ride.
What about just being in the Rose Bowl for you personally and getting a chance to coach in it?
Doeren: Well it's the pinnacle of what you do in this conference. Obviously you can get into a bigger game, but it represents the champion of this league, which to me is a great, great league with great coaches and great players. It's a great accomplishment.
When you and Bret Bielema talked about coaching all the way through where there any reservations even initially about whether that would be workable or doable?
Doeren: Well I asked him, and I said is this something we can talk about or is it out of the question? He said, 'No, we can absolutely talk about it.' He's been through this having to transition here. He knows the stress and strains of it. He's been awesome to work with.
Are you prepared for it? I know there's not much you can do with Northern Illinois right now, but you've got a lot to focus on.
Doeren: Yeah, the timing couldn't have been better. Their team finished school and they left for a bowl game. There's nobody on their campus right now. If I was there I'd be by myself.
The recruiting calendar
Doeren: Yeah, I got their list of committed kids and I'm able to work through that at night. If I wasn't doing that I'd be calling kids I was recruiting for Wisconsin. I've kind of just swapped who I'm talking to. It's been good.
As far as the staff goes have you started making calls for putting that together?
Doeren: Yeah, fortunately until the bowl game is over I'm not allowed to talk about who I'm talking to. That stuff is being released daily.
TCU's defense gets all the attention but their offense is ranked fourth in scoring. Are people overlooking their offense a little bit?
Doeren: I don't know. I think they're tremendous and their special teams are good, too. That returner, No. 85 (Jeremy Kerley) is a phenomenal player. They're a very, very good team and they've been very good for a long time. They beat Oklahoma a couple years ago. They're a good team on both sides of the ball.
Do they run it better, throw it better or do both equally well?
Doeren: They are balanced. They're good at taking what you give. They mix it up a lot formationally. They don't have a ton of plays but they have a lot of formations and ways to get to them. They do a really nice job.
The fact that they're balanced and can give you different looks, is it similar for what you face in practice, not in the schemes but similar to the balance you face?
Doeren: I think so. They have a quarterback that was up for the same award as our guy and that tells you what he does managing their football team. He's extremely, extremely good and makes good decisions. He doesn't put the ball in bad places and he's protected well. He's been sacked seven times.
You mentioned their special teams, but how much of a boost has David Gilreath given your unit just by taking some pressure off the field position?
Doeren: Every yard we gain is a huge deal. It's been awesome having those return yards this year and David has had a fantastic year. The coverage units have had their ups and downs. For the most part they've put us in good positions as well.
What do you think of their skill guys? They're wide receivers and running back?
Doeren: Honestly I don't see a lot of weaknesses on their team. There is a lot of depth and they rotate three tailbacks. They've got a lot of good receivers. Most of the games they're way up on people so they do a good job.
With Brett being a finalist for the Bear Bryant award and you guys up for jobs at other places, what does that say about the kind of job you've done this year?
Doeren: It's fun to look back at the body of work because we're so focused on the day. You go into this cave upstairs and you shut the door. You don't see any daylight and all of a sudden it's three months later. It's neat to sit there and rattle off awards for all these players and to see him up for one. That speaks for itself.