The Q&A session with head football coach Ron Turner lasted 28 minutes and, once transcribed, extended to 70 newspaper column inches. The original budgeted space was 30 inches, which got pushed to 40 inches. Here's a good chunk of the 30 inches that didn't make the prime cut. Sort of like DVD extras.
Coaches must be teachers. What’s the schoolteacher parallel to Ron Turner? What subject
would that teacher teach? What level of school?
“Probably high school. But any level. Teaching is teaching. I’m not sure what subject. Part of me wants to say history, part of me wants to say English. I do like history, I do like to read. Definitely not science, definitely not biology, definitely not math.”
What adjustment in dealing with players have you had to make again in going back to college after eight seasons in the NFL? Or have you had to make an adjustment?
“I don’t think there’s any major adjustments. Once you’re there, in the NFL or whatever, coaching’s coaching. Teaching is teaching. College ovviously, they’re younger, not quite as mature. In the NFL, you’re getting guys that are in the NFL because they’ve learned to do things right. Most of them are pretty accountable. Unless they have such tremendous talent that they don’t have to be and
still play. Otherwise, they’d get cut. Biggest adjustment is dealing with the immaturity and youth of some of them.”
When you sell yourself as a coach to an athletic director, another coach or a parent, what assets of Ron Turner do you first advertise?
“I think the biggest thing is my character, what things I believe in. The kinds of things I learned from my mother, about how you treat people, doing what’s right, working hard. But, most importantly, treating people right, treating the players with respect. Giving them the respect they deserve and that they’ve earned. Treating it like a family.
“When I talked to (athletic director) Pete (Garcia) and President Rosenberg about this job, I made them understand this will be my football family, but my personal family is very important to
me. Through all the years of coaching – long hours, we’re gone a lot -- but I’ve always made sure I made the effort to be around. To get involved in as many of their activities as I could. To be there every possible minute that I could and involve them in what I’m doing. And I encourage our coaches to have their families, their kids around so our players see how important that is.”
Ever a moment as a father that you question the devotion coaching requires?
“It can be a tough balancing act. I’ve been around coaches who poured 100 percent of themselves into their job. Which is easy to do because we get so consumed with the pressures and the time. And I saw some guys when I was young that did so much of that, it broke their families apart or they didn’t have a relationship with their kids. And I said I’m not going to do that. I think you can balance both. But it takes some effort.
“When I leave the office, especially when the kids were young, I was home. At least, until they went to bed. I didn’t work while they were there, no “Leave me alone, I’m working right now.” If I had recruiting calls or scripts to do, if I was home, I would wait until they went to bed or do it here before I went home. When I went home, I tried to give them my time as best I could. I tried to make as many of their events whether it was a sporting event, choir, band, scouts, whatever they were doing, I wanted them to know it was important to me. I tried to include them in what I was doing. I tried to get them to come to practice as often as I could. I think you can balance it, but it takes work. Like any job.”
"When my kids were young in Champaign (Illinois, where turner was the University of Illinois head coach from 1997-2004), during the season, Friday’s the day everything’s winding down. So I made sure to have breakfast with them Friday morning and drive the kids to school. And they remember that. They still talk about that stuff. The rest of the week, they were in bed by the time I got home.”
What was your reaction when you found (your sons) wanted to go into coaching?
“I was proud that they would see this their whole lives and want to get into it. But I wanted to make sure they were doing it for the right reasons. I encouraged them both to major in business or something else. They both majored in business. Morgan was a finance major at the University of Illinois, one of the top schools in the country. I said, ‘Morgan, you've got a finance degree from the Universtiy of Illinois…go out in the business world and make some money.’ He said, ‘Dad, I want to coach.’ 'Well, you can help at the high school.' He said, 'Dad, all my life you told me to go with my passion. My passion is coaching. That’s what I want to do.' I said, ‘Well, do it.' Pretty much the same with Cameron. He was a business major at The Citadel. Both of them knew all along they wanted to coach. Morgan didn’t’ play college football, but he helped coach
at the high school while he was in college in Champaign.”
How long does it take for you to learn where to go in a new city?
“With the GPS, not long at all (laughs). It depends on the city. Miami’s pretty easy to get around. Chicago, took me a while. Took my wife like that (snaps fingers).”
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
“I get asked that a lot. Probably something in law enforcement. Whether that would be an attorney, police or FBI, I don’t know. I’ve always been interested in that. I read a lot of books on that stuff. Probably somewhere in that direction.”