Idaho football coach Paul Petrino has been on the job for 16 days. In that time, he's assembled his coaching staff and had 13 recruits verbally commit. We've got a transcript of what he said in an afternoon teleconference below.
Coaching staff finalized
Petrino's recently completed staff has two holdovers (Al Pupunu and Patrick Libey) and plenty of faces that are either familliar with Idaho, the Northwest or coaching with Petrino himself.
"I wanted to have people that I felt comfortable with, people that had either worked with me before or worked with people I really trust," he said. "So it’s kind of a family tree, and that’s how a lot of staffs are put together."
Petrino said he'll share playcalling duties with offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich. The whole offensive staff will be involved in game-planning, he said, and Cinkovich will give his input during games.
"We game plan as whole staff and we always do everything as a whole staff," Petrino said. "A lot of plays will be scripted. Third down plays will be scripted. Our opening plays will be scripted. ... (Kris) will be up in the box. A lot of times I’ll ask him, ‘Give me the best runner out here. Give me the best pass.’ And then I’ll make the call. A lot of it we’ll call together.
"Basically if everything works and goes great, then give him the credit. And if it doesn’t go good, then you can blame me."
Here's the full staff:
- Kris Cinkovich, offensive coordinator/receivers. We had details on his background yesterday. He coached the receivers at Arkansas for three years after six years at UNLV. Cinkovich played for Petrino's dad at Carroll College and later coached Petrino there, too. Said Petrino of hiring Cinkovich, "That was huge. That was as a big commitment as I’ve gotten since I got here. I’m real excited to have him."
- Ronnie Lee, defensive coordinator/secondary. He coached at Idaho with Petrino in 1992. The former defensive back at Washington State has been on the staff since shortly after Petrino was hired.
- Jon Carvin, offensive line. He was a grad assistant at Illinois when Petrino was offensive coordinator there. Petrino said he's fiery and has great energy.
- Jason Shumaker, running backs. He was hired by Petrino at Arkansas as director of high school operations. Played fullback at Kansas.
- Bryce Erickson, quarterbacks. The son of former Idaho coach Dennis Erickson. Coached at South Albany (Ore.) High last year. Said Petrino, "Been around football his whole life, understands the game."
- Al Pupunu, tight ends. He was on Robb Akey's staff in the same role. Petrino said he loved Pupunu as a player. The two have spent time on the road recruiting in the last couple weeks. "I think he does a great job recruiting," Petrino said.
- Mike Anderson, linebackers. The former Idaho linebacker/defensive lineman was a grad assistant with the Vandals before taking a job at Washington. Petrino said his connections with recruits in the Seattle-area will be beneficial.
- Patrick Libey, defensive line. He was on Akey's staff as safeties coach and special teams coordinator. A young coach with lots of energy -- something Petrino looked for when compiling his staff.
- Mike Mickens, cornerbacks. He was on the Indiana State staff with Lee. Petrino was familiar with him when he played at Cincinnati and Petrino coached at Louisville. Mickens coached at Cincinnati in 2011.
"I’m real excited about our staff," Petrino said. "I think we put together a great staff. Guys who are going to coach with passion and the love of the game."
On putting together his staff: "When you assemble your staff, a) you have a pool you can pay them. I went out and got the two best coordinators I could get. I’m really happy with both of those. They’ve both coached at the highest level you can coach at — they’ve both been in the Big Ten and SEC. I feel like they’ll be the great generals.
"Then I wanted to go find the hungriest, brightest, up-and-coming soldiers that I could find. And that’s how I kind of looked at it, to be honest with you. When I came to Idaho in 1992, that’s kind of what John L. (Smith) always did here. And then the guys just moved their way up."
On coaches moving up: "(We) understand that if we’re going to be good, we’re going to win, then people might want to take the coordinators. And if that happens, great. That means we’re being successful. Then you bring those young guys along to train them to be your next guy, and they just step up."
On fighting his brother Bobby, the new coach at Western Kentucky, for assistants: "We didn’t actually to fight, no. They would have all showed up here. I’m just kidding. There were definitely a couple guys that he was interested and I was interested in, and it just all worked out best for the both us. I think that’s the best way to put it."
Vandals sign two JC running backs, two linebackers
Petrino announced the signing of two junior college running backs -- Jerrel Brown of San Mateo College and Kristoffer Olugbode from the Community College of San Francisco. Both will be juniors in the fall and be available for spring ball. "I think those are two kids that will really help us both leadership-wise, on the field. They’re great players."
Idaho also signed JC linebackers Marc Millan from City College of San Francisco and Eric Tuipulotu, also of San Mateo College.
Petrino expects to sign one more JC linebacker and a JC cornerback in the next day. After looking at tape of each Idaho returning player, "The two needs we really felt like we had to address were the running backs and the linebackers," he said.
The new coach also expects to sign a JC quarterback who will be available for fall camp, and a high school quarterback he can redshirt. As for the quarterback competition in spring camp, "It will definitely be wide open in the spring, because they’re the only ones that are going to be here. So we’ll find out who comes out of spring as the best player that’s right now on campus. And then whoever comes out of that will be the starter at the end of spring. And then we’ll bring in one junior college kid to compete against him. I would like to bring in a real good high school kid that could redshirt and then compete for the future."
Petrino said he's been going after two JC QBs "really hard." He called one of them "the minute I left the press conference."
On reaction from recruits: "The reaction’s been great. I think people have been really excited about Vandal football. The reception has been good in any homes I went in to."
On how lack of conference affliation is affecting recruiting: "I think one thing that’s helped us is me coming from the SEC and having been in the Big Ten and having taken the job, they feel I obviously feel like there’s great things that can happen here. And I think that helps going into the homes. They feel like I came here, I believe in it, I believe things are going to go well. … I’ve put together a great staff, so they believe what’s going on here, they believe in the president, the athletic director, everything that brought me here. And the reason I’m here makes them want to come here also."
On strengths of current roster: "I felt like one of the strengths might be the offensive line. There might three or four kids that I felt really good about. Defensive line, I felt pretty good. I thought there was speed at the cornerback position but maybe a little bit undersized. And thought there were a couple receivers that have a chance to be good players."
On assessing needs: "We have a whole board where we put where our needs are and how many guys we are going to take at each position, and then there were a couple that had to be junior college guys. We’ve got to get some O-linemen in here that are freshmen. We’ve got to get a quarterback in here that’s a freshmen. We’re still going to take one or possibly two freshmen running backs, a couple freshmen receivers on the offensive side of the ball. We have a great freshmen linebacker committed, actually a kid that I had a lot of ties with when I was at Arkansas. We’ll probably take a couple D-linemen, obviously one more linebacker and a couple guys in the secondary from high school. So a little bit of everything.
"You’ve got to build from the ground up. You’ve got to address your needs with the junior college kids, but then you’ve got to build for the future with the freshmen."
On junior college players: "You’ve just address your needs. Sometimes they’re in junior college for a reason. That’s a little scary. But what I like about this group we’re bringing in from junior college is they’re great kids. … If you can go out and they’ve got two years of playing college football and they’re a little older and they can help you and they have great character, then that’s a big-time positive. If we can always find as good as kids as these guys are, we’ll take four or five of them a year from junior college. Then the rest of the class we’d like to be from high school."
On recruiting in the Northwest: "I think we’re doing a good job in the Seattle area. I think Mike being up there at UW has a real good understanding. I think Cink coming in here having a Seattle background really helps. The Erickson name definitely helps you up there. So I think we’ll do real well in the Seattle/Tacoma area. We’re working hard on some kids in Oregon. A couple we might have gone on a little late, but we’re trying real hard. Then we’ve just got to work as hard as we can on the kids in Idaho and get the best kids we can get. That’s something we’ll continue to work on."
On his family: "My family is not here yet. They’re still in Arkansas. They’ll probably be there through the school year. Both twins, my daughter made the varsity softball team as a freshman and my son made the varsity soccer team, so they’re going to stay there and finish out the school year. And then they’ll all join me at the end of the school year. I’ve settled in fine. I’m just running around working as hard as I can. You know, excited to keep doing it."