Stanford football coach Greg Roman carries the title of Associate head coach and assistant coach in charge of the offense, tight ends and tackles. That should keep him busy this year. There is a bumper crop of tight ends to work with, competition at the right tackle position and an offense that should be able to put up some points with sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck at the helm. July is vacation time for the coaching staff, but Coach Roman was nice enough to take some time out from his vacation to chat with me about Stanford football on the phone
Q: This is your second go around as a recruiter, have you noticed any difference when you are out and about in the way Stanford football is being viewed? Whether it is the football coaches, the parents, the students, is there any difference in the way Stanford is being viewed based on your success?
I was sitting at a Phillies game last week, and someone turned around and said “I really like your football team.” I asked him if he went to Stanford and he said no. He went to a school on the east coast and just loves college football and he loves our team. It has been night and day the past year from my perspective. The coaches, the athletes, the students, the people you run into in airports or sitting on an airplane. There is a lot of respect for our program. Not only for the results we were at times able to achieve, but also how we go about doing our business. It is a team. You don’t see a lot of guys trying to draw attention to themselves. Everybody on last year’s team was very committed to the team. Toby became our statesman. People loved what he was about. Then they got to see the rest of the team and the surroundings and loved what they are about. We strive to be all that is good about college football and college athletics. People were able to learn a lot about us last year. Some of our games, the USC game, the Oregon game, the Notre Dame game, just a few off the top of my head. A lot of the recruiting I do is on the east coast and in the south and southwest. I can not tell you how many old high school coaches would lean over and say “I love what you guys do.” It has been pretty neat to see that awareness rising throughout the country.
Q: My favorite question to ask all you coaches is how many airports do you think you have been in since the Sun Bowl?
Oh man, that is a tough one. I’d have to check my records on that one. I am slightly obsessive compulsive as my wife likes to say, my trips are planned out to a “t.” The thing that happens Dave is you run into some travel delays or weather or something and get rerouted. Like I was flying into Nashville the day the floods hit Nashville. I was getting ready to get on the flight to Nashville when they shut down the Nashville airport. I won’t even begin to describe what we had to do to get into Nashville the next day. There is a lot of travel, but there is a lot of fun going to all different areas of the country, developing relationships with all the coaches, and the players. It is really interesting to see the different culture of high school football across the country whether it is Texas, Georgia, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, there is just all these different cultures. It is a lot fun but it involves a lot of travel.
Q: What would you guess about 50 airports?
I would say that is about right.
Q: What does it feel like when one of these athletes calls you or comes into the office and says “Coach, I want to come to Stanford for the next four or five years.” What does that feel like as a coach?
I would say because you are so heavily invested from introducing that young man to Stanford and what Stanford is all about, taking him through that discovery process they go through, showing them the school with their own eyes, seeing how they react to the campus, the people, the faculty, seeing just how amazing the faculty are, sitting down for lunch with them. Talking about where they would fit in the program. Taking them through that whole journey, when they accept it is a very, very satisfying moment as a coach. It is very satisfying in the sense that somehow the message got put across that this is the best decision for that persons future. Personally for me, the thing that I get the most satisfaction out of is trying to help these young people see past today and past tomorrow and past next week, having them see the reality that there is life after you are 21-years old. The opportunity, the launching pad they are on right now, it is such a small window of opportunity. Most people make their decision to go to college and they get on a track and they are on that track just like one of those walking things at the airport, it just kind of takes you through life. But Stanford is different. They have the opportunity to be around the best and become one of the best. To get someone to think in a short term and long term manner is very satisfying. You, me, we know that the college years are great and a great time of discovery and development but there is a lot left to be done. Stanford affords them the opportunity to get the best education and therefore the best future they can possibly get. For them to be able to think like that is very rewarding. It really is a matter of getting them to think a certain way and think in a long term perspective. I think that is one of the things Stanford gives you. It gives you the brightest future.
Q: Stanford certainly has the acadamics, but the coaching staff has a long list of NFL experience. How big is that for the athletes that you talk too?
Once they get to know us, I think it takes on a life of its own. I think it becomes very powerful for the student athletes. Some of these kids are barraged by statistics by people that are recruiting them. At some point I think they become numb to them. You can say “Hey we have this many years of NFL coaching experience” and they can say “wow, that is a lot, what is next?” But once they meet us and they say “wow, he coached in the NFL for 10 years. He played in the NFL for 15 years and coached there too. He coached there for 13 years. He coached there for 24 years. Holy cow this is unbelievable.” That is what I hve noticed. At that point it peaks their interest. Once they get to campus and meet everybody and get to interact with them, then they see wow, this guy coached this player and that player and this player. I am a huge fan of that guy and I get to play for this guy. I think it really helps. Ultimately if they want to be an NFL player, they need to know what we know. It is like when I was a young coach I went up to an older coach and I said “if I am going to do what you do I need to know what you know.” So the only way for me to do that is to learn from you. It kind of gives them the ability to learn from those who have done what they want to do. It is very appealing to them.
Q: Who are some of the mentors you credit that you have learned from in your coaching life?
Dom Capers jumps out immediately. His organizational skills are second to none. George Seifert jumps out immediately. He is a very, very smart person. He is very intellectual. He is a very instinctive person. He is a very big picture thinker and a tireless worker. He is not someone that brought a lot of attention to how hard he worked. Those are two really great mentors that I was able to have. I have had some really good offensive line mentors. Jim McNally was one. Paul Boudreau, Tony Wise, these are guys that took me under their wing so to speak and I was able to learn a lot from.
Q: Are you starting to get excited for traiing camp or are you just enjoying some vacation and off time?
Right now I am enjoying some off time with my family. I constantly think about it (football) and jot notes down, but right now it is all about family. I am spending a lot of times with my kids. Once we get going we are fully invested. There will be plenty of time for that. Right now we are spending some good quality family time. But as my wife will attest, I am never too far away from the game. We will be sitting down for dinner and she will be talking to me and I will be staring off into space thinking about this play versus Oregon State, versus Arizona State, versus USC, how will this work against that.Then I will get that look (from her) and I snap right back into phase. (chuckle)
Q: Is your wife a football fan or has it been burned out of her?
Oh no, my wife is a big football fan. She understands.
Q: The question is does she get that blank stare while she is thinking about a play against Oregon State too? (Laugh)
No, (laugh), no, she is not that committed.
GREG ROMAN PART 1
GREG ROMAN PART 2
GREG ROMAN PART 3
GREG ROMAN PART 4