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Quotes and Video from Rich Brooks' Retirement Press Conference




Jan. 4, 2010

Head Coach Rich Brooks | Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart | University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd

Head Coach Rich Brooks

Opening Statement ...

"I would like to start like I always do with the injury report, I am walking and well. That is the injury report. (laughter from audience)

"Seriously, I would like to start out by thanking a few people that have contributed a great deal to advancing this football program to a competitive level. Some of these people made contributions when it wasn't necessarily a popular thing to do. These are people that contributed directly to the football facility upgrades that have been made: Greg Wells, Tim Couch, Dick Barbella - a new one that is under construction right now- Mitch Potter, Glenn Salyer, Grady Stephens, Mark Swofford and my good friend Brett Setzer. I would also like to thank Will Southerland, who has been the president of my foundation and worked very, very hard to raise money for people in the Commonwealth. I would also be remiss, obviously, not to thank Mitch Barnhart and Dr. Lee T. Todd for seeing through the rough period so we could advance to more productive times the last four years.


 

 

"I have decided that it is time for me to step away and turn this program over. Hopefully, it will be not only competitive but reach the heights that I failed to get to. That is my biggest regret, not having broken more of the streaks that needed to be broken. We did get quite a few of them and did achieve some things. I can't leave without saying thank you to a great group of players who dedicated themselves to coming here and making Kentucky football respectable on a yearly basis and to a great group of coaches who have really done so much for this program, not only on the field but off the field. One of the things that I am proud of is that I have been associated with some outstanding coaches and outstanding players and young men that have made my life better. I have really enjoyed it.

"Karen and I have really enjoyed the Commonwealth. We will not be exiting, we will be around. We feel that this place has become part of our lives. I want to help, if I can, to take it to the next level. I think that there are some things that do need to be done. I think the facility thing still needs more attention. We are currently redoing the break-out meeting rooms over in the Nutter Training Center. I do feel that there is a need for stadium renovation that will also provide a continued revenue stream for the program to continue to grow. One other item, I think at least on my agenda, would be the expansion of the weight room on our current facility over there. I think that those things are important to continue the progress of Kentucky football.

"I want everyone to know that it has been a pleasure for me to work here. It has been a good ride and a very bumpy ride. When it started it was really, really bumpy. The end also had some bumps because we were close to achieving some things that I feel unfulfilled at this point not having achieved. I also feel that it is time to turn the direction over to someone else."

On what made him go from 80 percent for sure he would leave to 100 percent ...

"The more that I thought about it I just felt that it was time to make the change. The losses take their toll. It was very, very frustrating to be close to something and not be able to grab it. I didn't want my frustration to change the direction of the program. I think that a younger person that has been through it can be at a better position to take the program forward. It is a good time to change, rather than on a down note necessarily. Yeah, we did lose our first bowl game in four years, but I think that this is a good time to change the leadership in the program."

On how hard it was for him to walk away ...

"It is always difficult when you have done something virtually all your life. What made it more difficult was the players and the coaches that I have gone through this with. At the same token, it is hard to explain, but I just kind of reached the point that I felt it was time. The transition, I think, can be a positive thing for the advancement of the program. I am interested in staying around and watching the progress of the program. I hope that people will get behind the program even more to try to take it to the next level. I know that all the fans want that to happen and it is close to happening. I just hope that everybody will support it in a way that is necessary."

On what he told the players after the Music City Bowl in the locker room ...

"I told them that I was 80 percent sure that I wasn't going to return next year. I will visit with them when they come back to school. They will read the finality of it, obviously, before they return. I have had texts and some other calls from players encouraging me to stay, as my own children did. It seems, at this point in time, the only person that was comfortable with this decision was me. But, like I said, when it is time, it is time. I just feel good that it is time to turn this program over to somebody else."

On what his family said to him about the decision and support that they gave ...

"None of them wanted me to give it up. They all thought that I would miss it a lot and that I could come back and ride out on the white stallion next year and have victories over all those teams we haven't beaten and everything would be wonderful. That is kind of where they are coming from. The only sane one was my wife, who said she just wanted me to do what I wanted to do."

On if he will have any role in the University as an administrator ...

"I don't think so and I don't know that. I said that I will be available to help if they choose to use me in any capacity. That is not a part of this conversation."

On where Kentucky stands in the landscape of college football right now ...

"I think that we are one of the programs that is close to breaking into the top 25. We had a few moments there in the last four years. We have visited that lofty place. We are a team that is consistent in year-to-year. Even some of the teams that have been ranked ahead of us, haven't accomplished what we have accomplished in postseason. Some of the teams in our own league haven't done it as well as we have done it. I think that the program is in good shape, it needs to be in better shape. That is a good thing. Everybody that likes Kentucky football and supports it understands that it is close to being good but it is also close to going the other way. When you are in a league as tough as this, you are going to have a lot of games that come down to one or two plays. We won quite a few of those games and we lost quite a few of those games over the years. It can go either way, which is why I am asking people to support this program. It doesn't happen overnight, or with one person either doing it or not doing it. It takes a collective effort, the trainers, the equipment men, the groundskeepers, a lot of people."

On if there was anything that Kentucky could have done to keep him as head coach ...

"We were negotiating salaries for coaches and for me and in the end it was close to what I had asked for. It wasn't exactly what I had asked for, but that was not the overriding thing. Had they given me everything that I asked for in that regard, I probably would still be here making this same decision. As I went through the last week, I became clear to me that I was at peace with this."

On what was his favorite win ...

"There are a lot of them that put a smile on my face, briefly, before I started to worry about the next one. The LSU win against the No. 1 team in the nation and coming off what they had done to us the year before, the first Georgia win (2006), the win at Mississippi State (in 2006) after the LSU game, there are a lot of them. People won't want to hear this, but a lot of the Vanderbilt games, those were great games. When I came here, Vanderbilt had the lead in the overall series history and I leave with a two-game lead on them. There are just a lot of great things. In this league, anytime that you play the powers that be, the Auburns, Alabamas, LSUs, Tennessees, Georgias and Floridas, there were moments where we had a chance to beat all of those teams. In my first year we had a chance to beat Florida and we didn't finish it in the fourth quarter. Since then, in most games, this team has learned how to close games and win in the fourth quarter. There are just a lot of good memories that I have of the games here."

On how he hopes Kentucky fans remember him ...

"I just hope that they understand that they have a chance when they come into Commonwealth Stadium to win football games now, not just coming in to tailgate."

On what is the key and what he will say to Joker Phillips about what will take Kentucky to the next level ...

"I think, as I mentioned, I have talked to Joker about being available. Whatever he does or doesn't want to ask me is his choice. I don't want to be in his way. I think something that is important is the facilities that I outlined. I also think that Kentucky needs to move more to the middle of the pack in salaries in football in this league, recognizing that the top end of this league is the top end of college football. But, you still need to be competitive in that regard moving forward."

On being showed patience when things were bumpy at the start ...

"Every situation is different. Patience is something that really doesn't exist anymore in sports, I think, in taking programs to the next level. Sometimes, patience is not rewarded. Just because you stick with a person four or five years doesn't mean that fourth or fifth year is going to be productive. I feel very good about Mitch Barnhart and Dr. Todd having the sense that maybe another year was going to change what the results were on the field. They saw enough progress in other areas that made that possible. In most situations, that does not exist because of the internet and talk radio. Really, all of you people (are) trying to shape questions and attitudes by different stories and different angles by trying to gain an edge in a very competitive media market. It shapes people's attitudes. Most of the time they are shaped in a negative way then in a positive way and that is unfortunate to me. I understand it. That is the nature of the beast."

On how he turned around the program ...

"Just hard work and, like I said, outstanding young men and outstanding coaches to help me."

On if he anticipates any staff changes ...

"That is not my call. I have called all my coaches and thanked them for what they have done to help us do this in this program. Those decisions are no longer mine, I don't anticipate anything, just passing the torch."

On what point will he allow himself about feeling good about what he did here ...

"I don't mean to give the impression that I don't feel good about going to four straight bowl games, because I do. I will always have that part of me that (looks back). Tennessee, four out of the seven years we had a chance to beat them and didn't finish it. Florida, the first year we could have beat them. There are just those different games, the South Carolina game the last two years. Realizing how close we were to taking it to the next level. The good news is that Kentucky is now in that position and we are close. I don't think that magical year is impossible here. It is a lot closer to happening now then it was seven years ago. I feel good about that. I don't feel as good as I would like to feel about what I have accomplished here."

On how prepared does he think Joker is at filling his role ...

"I thought that he was prepared a few years ago and obviously, the administration agreed as well. The one thing that he has going for him that I didn't is that he is not an outsider. I got a lot of that my first couple of years, I promise you that. He is a Kentucky guy who lives and dies the job of college football, which I have the last couple of years. There is a week here and a week there where you can shut it down, but it is a seven days a week, 24-hour a day job. Joker lives it and breathes it. He is prepared from a fundamental standpoint. He has a great personality and he is good with the young men he coaches. He and the coaching staff are in a position to take it and run with it and do a very good job."

On if he sees himself ever coaching again ...

"No, this is the end of the road for the old man's coaching career."

Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart

On what you think Rich Brooks' legacy is ...

"I think his toughness and that he never blinked or wavered in the face of tough decisions. His bold-faced honesty; for example he walked in here today joking about the injury report. There isn't another coach in our league that walks in first thing and lists the injuries. Most coaches do their best to hide injuries, to mislead you and things like that and he just walks in and says, `here it is.' I'm thankful for that. His honesty, straightforwardness and dealing with him and the job have been wonderful and he just was who he was. He was a guy that went through an incredibly difficult period of Kentucky football and brought it back to absolute respectability, gave us some fun moments to enjoy and displayed a toughness that our program didn't have."

On what made you stick with him during the tough times early on ...

"His relationship with the players and it goes back to that early group of recruits like the Wesley Woodyards, Rafael Littles, Keenan Burtons, Jacob Tammes and Andre Woodsons and those guys that led that team early on. They came here sort of under-recruited and they believed in Rich and they believed in the coaches and what they were doing. It was just the foundation of the program getting better in terms of effort in the weight room and just his unwavering toughness to represent the program."

On if think Rich Brooks did what you brought him here to do ...

"Did we accomplish what we wanted out of Coach Brooks? Absolutely, he absolutely contributed to this program what I wanted from my head football coach. He put the program in a position that we can go forward and do some really cool things."

University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd

On the pressure that Coach Brooks faced early in his tenure at UK and the decision to give him time ...

"While the pressure was there from the public point of view, we felt that we had to stick with the plan. The fact that he brought in such outstanding coaches from day one, shows the testament of how much people thought of him that they wanted to come here. Then, the kind of recruiting he was able to do surprised me. We were making progress and in my own mind, you look for continued progress. If you are making progress, why change? It is not easy to turn around a football program that is playing 19 scholarships short. It is not easy to find somebody who is willing to do what he did. He was the right person at the right time for this program."

On if there was a message of patience in all of this ...

"I have often thought of writing a book and if I ever do there will be a chapter on how Rich Brooks brought this program around. And Mitch Barnhart, because it required patience and some investments at right times. Mainly, the real lesson is that if you hire the right people and let them do their jobs. You just try to support them. The patience Rich talks about quite a bit, you really don't see it out there very often. You get coaches that don't get opportunities. This coach (Rich Brooks) was in a deep hole. You want to be fair to the fans by giving us a shot of working out of that hole and getting on the other side of it. There are a lot of lessons with this."

On needing more facilities and his thoughts on that ...

"I totally agree. We are in a process now of trying to find a way to build facilities. In this day and age with the cost of facilities, you can't just say, yes I want to build suites and then go out and build suites. It is just too expensive. Mitch and Rob (Mullens) and Frank Butler along with others in our administration are working to try to line up a package deal not only to do the Rupp Arena rebuild but also baseball and football. The best hope we have of getting football facilities like we and coach wants them is to get the package done so we can put it all together. There are a lot of interest in building a basketball arena here because it helps the city and so forth. But Mitch has been vigilant with tying the football expansion in with the baseball stadium and putting them in the same package."

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