Question: Saturday's Notre Dame game is not a sellout. Does this come as a surprise to you?
Answer: I'll be completely pragmatic about that - I think if we were 7-0 it wouldn't be any question. I think fans tend to be a little bit fickle. That's what it is. As they say, 'If you win, they will come.' We're a 1-6 team. I think that's part of it, but I think you will see that by the time this game kicks off we will be sold out. Our history of walk-up tickets on game day is pretty solid - several thousand tickets sold on that day. So I think the last of them will go and we'll have a sellout.
Q: Ticket prices were raised substantially for the game, so even if it's not a sellout will you achieve the financial goal for the contest?
A: I got some push back, as you can imagine, from people who said we were taking advantage of the fact that Notre Dame was coming. My response to that was, 'Yes, we are.' With Notre Dame and Army, those are big-time games and we want to fill the stadium. The short answer is yes, we did meet our goals. With season ticket revenue we've set an all-time record and we have an all-time record with money in already with season ticket sales and single-game sales. We're fine.
Q: Is Notre Dame week extra busy for you, or is this just a regular week that happens to feature a high-profile opponent?
A: I think the latter. Our staff has this down to a science. Whether it's Notre Dame coming in or anybody else coming in, the preparation is the same. We're encouraging people to get there a little early because sequestration has reduced the number of security people so it's going to take a little bit longer to get into the stadium itself. I know people love to tailgate, but I would encourage them to leave tailgates a little bit early to get in those lines so they don't have to miss the first part of that game (lots open for tailgating at 11 a.m., four hours before kickoff). Beyond that, we're ready. We'd be ready for whoever came into the stadium. It is Notre Dame, so there will be more people, but beyond that it's just game day.
Q: Your women's soccer team is playing a stretch of seven games in 14 days as the result of games postponed during the government shutdown. Was there talk of canceling games rather than putting a team through that?
A: Absolutely, but you know our cadets. If you ask the coaches, it's terrible. If you ask the players, they love it. They want to compete. They've had some tough, tough losses and they know they're better than their record, so to throw away an opportunity to show that would be to go away from everything our cadets stand for. It's a tough stretch, but they're up for it and eager to show what they can do.
Q: Are there any other lingering effects of the shutdown?
A: Travel has been greatly curtailed. It's difficult to send people to coaching conferences and NCAA conferences, etc. It's not just in the athletic department, in the faculty people trying to keep up with their disciplines aren't allowed to travel. Those kinds of things really hurt. Our flying program is still basically shut down - they have no money. So across the academy there are still some serious repercussions of not just the shutdown but from the sequestration that was already in place.
Q: What are your thoughts on the football game?
A: Oh, I still love this team. We've shown flashes of brilliance, but I feel for the team. Think about this, in the history of this institution we've never gone through quarterbacks the way we have with this team. It's just been a string of unluck, for lack of a better word. But coach always has a great attitude about this. When things like that happen it's an opportunity for someone to step up. I love cadets when it comes to that because they will step up. They won't want to let their brothers down, so someone else will step up. Their problem is not lack of effort. Their problem is simply lack of experience. It's a young team going through tough times, but if anybody can handle tough times it's our cadets. I feel good about this. If we get a jump-start on them and keep hanging onto the ball and keep some time of possession and do our things, we've got a legitimate shot of knocking off a real contender here.
Q: Are you looking forward to seeing Falcon Stadium buzzing Saturday, even if a number of those in attendance happen to be wearing the other colors?
A: God bless them. My experience with Notre Dame fans is they are great football fans. They have the right attitude. If we do beat them, just like at Notre Dame, I believe they will applaud us. That's the kind of fans they are, so we welcome them to Falcon Stadium.