Just like with Cam Lynch, SB Nation/TomahawkNation's Bud Elliott was at 2014 ACC Kickoff to ask some questions of Scott Shafer on behalf of TNIAAM. Here are hard-nosed answers to our questions as well as some answers to other questions asked during the hour-long session...
What was the No. 1 thing you learned in Year One as a head coach?
That it's harder to be on the sideline than it is in the press box. Controlling your emotions (laughs). No, there were a ton of things, the list is so long. I really enjoy it. I think one of the other things I learned is that simplicity leads to complexity. I've always said that on defense but now I believe that as a team. Keep the number of plays in a game plan down, to the point where it doesn't slow the kids down. A lot of times we slow the kids down because we get too smart for ourselves. Put too much offense or too much defense in a game plan and then you're kid that's supposed to be running a 4.4 runs a 4.7 cause he's thinking, you know. The fastest dogs on the track are the ones that say 'that's the rabbit, go get it.' You gotta try to keep it simple to some degree yet bring enough guns to the fight, too, on both sides of the ball.
I look back at the Penn State game and I did a poor job. That was our opener and I lost that game for us. I felt like I should've limited the number of calls, the number of checks and adjustments on both sides of the ball and just let them go out and play. There were a couple games early in the season, that one and the Northwestern one especially, where we gave up some plays because we asked kids to do too much mentally as opposed to just playing football.
There's been a lot of talk of Coach McDonald's up-tempo offense this season. Why is it so critical for SU to succeed with that kind of game plan? Jimbo Fisher says he doesnt like to go up-tempo too often because it puts pressure on his defense. What concerns do you have?
All the same concerns. It's part of the process. There's different ways to go up-tempo, too. We'll try to be creative and see how it works this year. We can talk detail after this season.
On how he ended up putting together his staff...
"It was easy. I just waited for them to call. We all played together or most of us coached together in the past. So if you look at our staff, we have George McDonald and I have coached, this is our third job together. We were at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and here. Chuck Bullough and I were together at Western Michigan. Timmy Daoust and I were together at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and here. Tim Lester and I were together at Western Michigan and here. Joe Adam and I were together here and Western Michigan. DeAndre Smith and I coached together at Northern Illinois. Bobby's one of the newbies, Bobby Acosta doing a great job. Clark Lea, that was Chuck said, 'You've got to hire Clark.' I said, 'OK, I trust you.' So I hired him.
"This is the truth, we used to go to the (American Football Coaches Association) convention (in Indianapolis) every year. I was a career assistant coach and we all sat around and said, 'Are any of us gonna get a shot to be a head coach?' It would be just like us sitting around having a couple beers, and I'd be like, 'Hey, Nate, if you get the job, you've got to call.' And then we all jumped in and were like, 'Yeah. Everybody agree? And if we say, 'No, we won't be offended, but we have to promise each other that whoever gets the head job will call.'
"So I got the job and I called. One early guy couldn't do it. Called George McDonald, he goes, 'Hell yeah, I'm in.' I go, 'You're in? I don't know if I can pay you as much as Arkansas.' He said, 'Shaf, I'm in.' He said, 'By the way, 'Call D(eAndre Smith). Call D, now.' I called Bullough. Bullough goes, 'What the hell took you so long to call?' I go, 'It's been a day, man. You know?' Daoust was already on staff. Fred Reed, when I found out Fred was from the south side of Chicago, I said, 'Hire him.' He played at Thornton High School. I never met a guy that wasn't tough from Thorton. So Fred was an easy hire.
Check out some more in-depth answers from Shafer over here.