Matt Canada Opening Statement:
Unbelievably excited to be here. Coach (Bielema) said it, this is a place I've always wanted to work. I'm very fortunate to have worked for great coaches in great places, but when I was at Northern Illinois, I was given the chance to recruit the state of Wisconsin for coach Joe Novak. From that time on this was the place, for me, that I wanted to work. It's a great day for me and a really, really excited opportunity for me to come and be part of the great tradition that has been here. From coach Alvarez back when I was watching all the way then to what Bret has done and continued on. To come in here with back-to-back Big Ten championships is just an awesome day. I'm really, really excited. Any questions you have I'd love to answer.
When you were looking at this place, could you articulate some of the things that you liked that made you say, I'd like to work here at some point?
Canada: I think it's exactly what coach talked about. I was able to recruit where we were at in Northern Illinois and we were building a program from not much - - I'm not saying it's exactly what coach Alvarez did, but similar - - the players that were here in this state, the linemen, the tight ends and the things that we could go get and the unbelievable following from the high school coaches and all the people here, you saw that and everything that was great about the place. I've always had that as a destination for me.
Do you have an offensive philosophy? How would you answer that question? What is it?
Canada: Score points. That's probably silly, but it's true. I think I've been very fortunate to work at great places, with great coaches with great players. At Northern Illinois we had Michael Turner and Thomas Hammock - - I'm so excited to be back (with Thomas), I haven't seen him yet because he's out on the road - - I recruited Thomas and coached Thomas. We ran the ball. It's what we did. We were really good at it. Two guys were over 1,000 yards. Michael is obviously still playing and Thomas had a great career.
I went on to Indiana and we threw the ball. We had a quarterback who could run and that's what we did because that was the talent. We had some wideouts and that's what we did. Then you come and go back to Northern and had a great year this year.
The bottom line is I know what this place is about. We're going to come in here and we're going to run the football, we're going to be physical because that's what the talent is. We're going to find ways to score points. There's no question about the philosophy of Wisconsin, and certainly the offensive philosophy of Wisconsin. I'm just joining and being part of that philosophy.
You have varied experience at quarterback, especially with Chandler Harnisch down at Northern last year. It's going to be a little different thing, but what are some of the first things you want to do when you start evaluating the personnel you've got? How do you build up young guys who haven't played that much?
Canada: Well obviously I've done that as well. I've coached guys who haven't played a lot. I'm so excited. That's the next thing to do here. I'm just getting in today (Wednesday) and I'm going to get on the phone here and call those guys and reach out to them. I knew some of them through recruiting way back here and there. Everybody has got a clean slate.
We're going to find the best way to maximize our talent. I think that's our job, put our players in a position to make plays. That's what our strengths are. We're going to put people in position to make plays. Whatever our strengths are is what we're going to do. That's what we've always done and that's what we'll do with our quarterbacks. We're going to find what they do well and maximize that. The weaknesses, we're going to try to hide and not do.
Do you think labels get thrown around too much with coaches? Guys get categorized as spread guys or whatever.
Canada: I'm sure. I think we're fortunate as coaches. Some of us just coach. I love coaching ball. I love being a football coach. I've got the greatest job in America. There's nothing better, no offense to what you guys get to do, but there's nothing better than calling plays. Being around the guys, and going out on Sunday night and figuring out what you're going to do and finding those matchups with the talent you've got. I'm not really hung up on labels.
I understand that's something out there, but there's no question I wanted to work at Wisconsin for many, many years. Whatever offense I've been a part of, I know what the offense is here. Like Coach said, we're going to put together our terminology and we'll teach it the way we teach it. We've got great coaches already here and get a couple more to come. We'll come up with how we do those things, but the bottom line is we're going to coach football and get ourselves back to winning a third championship and follow what has been set by coach Alvarez and what Bret's continued on.
How many years have you called plays?
Canada: I've called plays … probably seven years. I'm not positive that's sure, but four or five at Indiana, one at Northern before I left and then Butler was my first job. I've been doing it for a while. I really like it.
How much of a learning curve is there to call plays? To go from being a wide receivers coach or running back coach to calling plays?
Canada: I think it's like anything else. You hopefully get better after every year. You certainly learn. We all have our nuances to things we feel comfortable doing. I think it's something we all have our own way of doing it.
When you were calling plays against Wisconsin at Soldier Field, could you imagine that just a few months later you would be on the other sideline?
Canada: No, I would not. You never know. This has been an unbelievable week for me. How things turn out, you certainly realize how blessed you are. Certain things happen for a reason, so no. My honest answer would be no. I certainly would hope so. Again, this isn't recruiting talk. This is a place, and you can call my best friends or anybody you want, this is a place that I wanted to be. That part is awesome. But no, I wasn't thinking about it that day. I was trying to find a way to score.
How was Dave Doeren about the whole thing?
Canada: He was great. Dave knows what this place is about. We did something they hadn't done for 28 years. It was special. Dave gave me a tremendous opportunity and let me go at it and do it the way we wanted to do it and find the best way to go. He certainly wished me the best. We're very good friends and we continue to be. He understands our business. He understands how special this place.
Different offenses and different quarterbacks you've worked under and taught. What are some of the common traits they all have, the good ones, the ones who succeeded?
Canada: They're ball guys. They love ball. They're students of the game. I think when you look around, all the way through to the NFL, the guys that play are the guys who study it and love it. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how that works with these guys. And then understand their strengths. Our philosophy will be to keep it as simple as we can. I believe it firmly that nobody who plays us will think that, but for our kids it will be simple. So we will find what our quarterbacks do well and make it simple for them. If they like it it's great. If they don't like it it's out. It doesn't matter how many plays you can draw, it's matters what our kids can do. It matters what they know, not what we can show them.
Chandler tells a stories of you guys butting heads a little bit early on. Could you take us through that and how that worked out?
Canada: Well Chandler, as mentioned, he was a guy that had a lot of success. He had to go through a lot of quarterback coaches and there had been a lot of transition. We all have our way of doing it. We came in and changed the philosophy there. We ran the same plays because we felt that was the best thing for us to do last year. Be no huddle, to go fast and that was different. I coach the way I coach and I am who I am. I feel pretty confident in the system we run. There's pretty good numbers to show our kids have played well. We butted heads, however you want to look at it. He had a great career and he had a heck of a year. He broke a whole bunch of records. It all worked out pretty good and I talked to him yesterday. He certainly was complimentary and excited for me and I appreciated that. He's going to have a great run here with what he's doing.
With the bar that Paul Chryst has set over the past couple of years, specifically scoring over 40 points per game each of the last two years, is there a pressure or will there be a pressure for you to pick up where he left off? Will you feel that at all?
Canada: I think the pressure is for us to be great every day. I think that's the pressure we're going to put on ourselves. Again, I have unbelievable respect for Paul. It's a new team. Every year is different. Obviously that's the case here. We've got new coaches, but you've got new players, too. There won't be anything (like that).
It's going to be us trying to win a third Big Ten title, to be great today and to do a great job getting to know our kids first and finding our strengths. Some guys, I'm sure, get a fresh start. That's always good. I was thought about this way by this coach and now I have a new guy. I'm excited to get to know the new coaches we've got. Zach (Azzanni) and I have known each other a little bit through recruiting. We've got mutual friends and guys calling. It's just an awesome, awesome opportunity. We're looking forward to enjoying tonight, talking some ball up here with Coach and doing it again tomorrow.
How important is the offensive line coach going to be and will you have some input into that decision?
Canada: It's going to be extremely important. Obviously you win up front. All of us quarterback guys act like it's different, but we all know the truth. It will be an extremely important hire. I know coach has got a great plan and we're certainly involved in it and discussing it, but obviously he's making those decisions. I'm certainly aware of where we're going and what we're looking at and the important parts of each guy and what they bring to the table.
Coach mentioned it, this is an unbelievable opportunity to come and be on this staff. If you're an offensive line coach I'm guessing this will be a pretty good opportunity to come and work. So there are some pretty good names. I got pretty popular (Tuesday) at 1:30 p.m. or whenever this happened. So there's a lot of great coaches who have tried to get to coach and who are calling. We're not struggling to find great applicants. Coach has got a great plan and has it all unbelievably organized. He knows where he's going.
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