When I head that Chris McKeown was available I said 'Yes' I would be interested in having him join us, ... The talk was can two head coaches work together...you know, too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Chris was such a professional person and he told me this was my deal. He was very thoughtful and he is a phenomenal head coach. He is also a great recruiter. He has a knack of finding good talent. I learned so much from him.
We had a tough weekend getting a handle on the race track, ... This time of year, (John) Force is the toughest car and you have to elevate your game. We've come up just a little short against them three times lately. We're still a competitive car. He's always a tough guy to run, but especially at this time of year.
We had a problem in the fuel system on the first pass and still ran 4.77, ... It should have been a better run than that. The clutch didn't wear properly and it shook the tires on the night run. The weather will be decent on Saturday, so we should be able to run between a 4.73-4.75 and get into the top half of the field.
Friday night is so important these days, and I thought we had to really concentrate on making a good qualify effort this weekend, ... After being No. 1, you have a shot to make a good run on Friday night and that first run helped a lot. It's so important to make a good pass on the first run to put yourself near the back of the order for the night run.
So from the 2003 season to the 2004 season we cleaned house. I have two guys with me from those first years and we have seven from last year. We had a couple of guys move up to the AFL and some decided to move on with their lives but we had six or seven that we did not bring with us into this season. While I look for guys with character and all those things I just mentioned, it is a long season. Most guys are use to a 10-week season in college and we play sixteen. Some guys taper down towards the end of the season. That was something we couldn't see in guys when we recruited. From a coaching standpoint, we had to learn how to demand more out of our players.
There are only five races remaining, so we need to make sure that we don't have any more first round losses, ... We certainly didn't do ourselves any favors at Indy. Qualifying will be really important at Reading. It has been known to be a one lane race track with a narrow groove. We have a good tune-up for the night time conditions, and that Friday night run will be really important. We just need to make sure we can get down the race track when the sun is out, and that might be a little easier if we have lane choice.
Coach Zaleski taught me a lot my first year in Louisville, ... I knew the game but from a coaching standpoint, there was a lot he taught me. Zaleski took the head coaching job in Albany. He wanted me to come with him. At the time, Louisville was in a transition. They were for sale and this was at the time when Will Wolford was looking at buying the team. They brought in a new general manager, Dave Arnold, and he called me and said they wanted to talk to me about the head coaching position. I met with Will Wolford then as well. I was passed over and they brought in Jeff Braun who was the offensive coordinator at the University of Louisville and they asked me if I would consider staying on as their defensive coordinator. It was a tough decision to make. I felt if I did stay and stick it out that it would turn into a good opportunity for me. Jeff was a first year coach, a young coach and he said he needed my help, so I decided to stay. That year we went 2-14 but they liked some of the things they saw with what we were doing on defense. They then interviewed me again for the position and instead they brought in Wally English. There was a situation I didn't mind because of his experience. He has great credentials. I couldn't come close to having what he has. That decision was not so tough to take. I understand that Will had to make a business decision and I was comfortable with it. So again, I was asked to stay on as defensive coordinator. Through all of that, I got to know Will Wolford...what he stood for, what he wanted with the team. Will is the most non-selfish guy I know.
Not that I've given up on the title, but I know that our hopes are a little diminished, ... My goal is to buckle down and make sure that we finish in the top five. I'm excited about the final three race swing. My attention is off the point chase and back to racing each race. We need to have a good showing and finish strong.
Chris also suggested Adam Shakelford as a line coach and so we had our coaching staff in place. Then we had to get players. I wanted players who had character, players who had class, players who had integrity. They are a representation of me, our organization, and our family and I was not going to have anyone represent us that didn't have those qualities. Even if a great athlete came in, if he had a character flaw, he was gone. Matt Sauk was our first transaction. When I heard he wanted to play for us I couldn't believe it He is a quarterback that I knew could get us where we wanted to go. He was a proven quarterback. Coach Petrino (University of Louisville) called and recommended him.