First off, thanks for all the kind words and the get-wells as I deal with this biblical plague. It seems to have passed, and I haven’t broken out in boils, but I’m still a little feeble-boned.
I was feeling well enough to go through with lengthy sit-down interviews with Joe Tresey and Mike Johnson today for a two-man Q&A that will run next week, but I also asked Johnson one question about recruiting, about why he seems to love it so much, and well…(mind you, this is one answer, one five-minute answer:
“I believe that everything in life revolves around relationships, including recruiting. I love going out and talking to people. I love going out and selling a vision, a passion and a core conviction of beliefs I have inside. I believe that UCLA football can be a BCS-bowl football team and I believe that if I go out and do my job effectively in the inner-city of Los Angeles, and a couple areas around the nation, that we can bring the talent in here to get to that point.
This is a great academic institution, this is a great campus, and you’re sitting right here in the heart of Los Angeles, which is a great place to go to school. I believe that part of it. I also believe that in the city of Los Angeles, there are enough kids out there with strong character, fight, desire, will and it is my job as the L.A. recruiter to go out and get these guys to understand what we can be.
Now, in saying that, I’m looking for a kid who is not necessarily looking to go to a program that has a pretty uniform or go to a school that is winning right now. I want the kid that is strong enough to jump on the train that is going in the wrong direction, stop it and turn it around. That is what we did at Oregon State. Those are the kids I recruited in Los Angeles that took that program to where we took it, to a Fiesta Bowl.
That deal right there is something that is different, and you have to be able to see that. I don’t necessarily deal with kids that don’t listen to me, that don’t listen to that vision. You don’t want those kids. There are a lot of kids out there who are hungry, who want to be something special, who want to be difference-makers.
I say this quote all the time: “Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who believe they were different than their circumstance.” I try to recruit kids that think exactly like I do, that believe they can go in and affect change. That is exactly how I believe. I believe the future is not something we enter, the future is something we create.
I am never going to be a guy who is defined by circumstance. I go out in the inner-city in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, the San Gabriel Valley, and I look for kids that have that type of character. Those are the strong-willed kids who will walk into the Coliseum, that will walk into Autzen Stadium in Eugene and compete. That will fight. That will not be intimidated. That will go out and bring this program back to where it needs to be.
I absolutely love talking to people. So I get a chance to recruit L.A., from L.A., and that is a dream of mine, something I am passionate about. I have a good feeling for who is listening and who is not. It’s like I always did as I was younger and wasn’t married with women. I’ve always liked who liked me. That was it. I always like who liked me. It wasn’t always necessarily the prettiest girl, not necessarily the most glamorous girl. I liked who liked me. That’s the same way I recruit.
If you are a kid who is strong enough to say, ‘I can make a difference, I can take the UCLA program back to where it is supposed to be, where it’s been in the past,’ then you’re the kid I want to talk to. If you’re a prima-donna, if you’re a guy who just wants to go to a program that is on top right now or has a pretty uniform, then you go right ahead.
You’ll be the ones we beat in a couple years.”