Aug. 1, 2005
"At Minnesota we are very optimistic for the 2005 season. I'm not exactly sure why, because I think our conference is as tough as it has been in recent history. But we return most of our offensive team that was pretty respectable a year ago. I feel we will have an outstanding offensive line; Greg Eslinger, our All-American center returns. I feel he is the best in college football and the best center I've ever been around. Another guy that I think is of All-America stature, although he hasn't received it, is All-Big Ten performer Mark Setterstrom at the left guard position. We return our quarterback, which I think is very important in Big Ten play in Bryan Cupito, who I felt played pretty well last year. His is play against Alabama in the bowl game really put him in a position to establish himself as the leader of this football team."
On the Big Ten coaching changes:
"I think most people think Ron Zook got a raw deal down in Florida, but he is a very hard recruiter and I look for him to be very competitive in the Big Ten, as is Terry Hoeppner. I've had the opportunity to watch his team down at Miami (Ohio) on film and it is obvious he a very good coach. We've lost some good men that we've replaced with a few good men."
On the loss of Marion Barber:
"The question I was asked last year was how I was going to keep (Marion) Barber and (Laurence) Maroney happy. That was never a problem because they really complemented each other, they needed each other. Neither one of those guys was capable of handling as much as we run the football. If any program loses the caliber of player as Marion Barber, it's a tough loss. But if there was a position that we could afford to lose a player of that caliber, it would be running back."
On waiting for a breakout season:
"I think coaches who have gone to places that have been down, like Minnesota, Kansas and Kansas State when I went there, they say, `Ah coach, as long as you are competitive, get eleven on the field and don't get delay of game penalties, you can stay around here as long as you want,' Before long they wonder when the breakout year is coming. We've been good for a number of years. We've been awful close to - I don't use the term `breakout' - but close to being great. Great means as you play in a conference like the Big Ten, you win the Big Ten Championship and we've been awful close. It's frustrating, but it hasn't discouraged us. You don't expect it to happen overnight. The more we keep knocking on the door, one of these days it's going to open.