In my attempts to help Youngstown State University head coach Eric Wolford win the FCS-Division I Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, I spoke with College Football Hall of Fame inductee Archie Manning through Google Hangout on Thursday.
The video, which is available on YouTube, featured Manning, Richard Deitsch from Sports Illustrated and six journalists, including myself. Everyone was able to ask Manning two questions regarding their school. I transcribed my questions and Manning’s answers below.
And be sure to vote Wolford for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. He is currently in fifth place according to the Liberty Mutual website.
Catullo) My question to you is how much do you know about Youngstown State and coach Eric Wolford?
Manning) I know they’re 7-1, and their only loss was to Michigan State this year. How about that? Those Youngstown State boys are pretty good. Tell me a little bit more. Tell me about the club.
Catullo) Well, as you mentioned, 7-1 [and] 4-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, tied with North Dakota State. North Dakota State is obviously the team to beat this year. I think the greatest thing so far about the team is Martin Ruiz, a freshman running back, has been outstanding. He began the year as a third, fourth-string running back, and now he’s starting over a senior. That’s pretty much what’s been going on right now, and you can’t forget about quarterback Kurt Hess and the great year he’s having. We got North Dakota State coming into the “Ice Castle” in a couple of weeks, and we’re honoring Jim Tressel in the Hall of Fame. That’s what we got going on right now.
Manning) Well, it sounds like a lot going on there. I know everybody’s excited about it. My understanding is you have an opening this week, you got South Dakota, and then is that when you play North Dakota State?
Catullo) We got at South Dakota next week. We’re on a bye this week. Then, after that, at the University of Northern Iowa. Then the week after that, we’re at home against North Dakota, the second to the last game of the year.
Manning) That’s great. Well, you certainly got a good year going. I know you’re excited there at the paper. And, of course, I’m sure the students [and] fans of that area are really excited. Congratulations to Youngstown on a great season so far. Keep it going.
Catullo) I’m sure a lot of these guys here, including yourself Archie, are used to going to big stadiums. But at Youngstown State, we’re not. This year we got to Michigan State. It was awesome even though we got killed. Last year we faced Pittsburgh in Heinz Field and defeated them, actually, in one of the biggest games of all time here. My question to you is are you a fan of FCS schools facing FBS schools?
Manning) I love to watch it. They have the playoffs, so it’s kind of interesting to watch that [and] see how it works. I think the fact that that’s been successful has a lot to do with the BCS kind of dropping things and finally going to a playoff system here. I know that that’s so exciting for those schools as you rally through the course of the year, try to get to the playoffs and try to advance. I’m sure that’s exciting for your fan base, especially for your athletes to try to win that championship and advance.
Manning) You know, I can remember my oldest son, Joe, told me when he was a sophomore in high school; he said, “I want to play college football.” You know, as a parent, it kind of scares you a little bit in that I don’t know that he’ll be good or not. I knew that he was an Ole Miss fan, he lived here in New Orleans, and right up the road was LSU. You know, I really believe kids in Division II, Division III, I believe that they have more fun than the other kids. And I’m not sure that that’s the case, Joe. One thing I see a little too much of in the big schools is the kids are sprinting through college on their way to pro football. I just think it’s a great time in your life to be able to go to college, be a college student, and playing football is just gravy there to kind of slow that and enjoy your whole journey. I believe that the kids in the smaller schools do that. I really believe that they kind of enjoy the journey more and, sometimes, maybe even get more out of it.