To what extent is there negativity around the program after the 4--8 season?
RN: People are pessimistic because we haven't given them anything to be excited about. It's been years since the team's been where we all think it should be.
SI: DO YOU FEEL ADDED PRESSURE TO HAVE A WINNING SEASON?
RN: IF YOU DON'T LIKE PRESSURE, DON'T GET INTO COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHING. NO ONE'S GOING TO PUT MORE PRESSURE ON ME THAN I DO; THAT I CAN GUARANTEE.
What are your thoughts on the schedule?
RN: I'll give you Coaches Axiom 101: The first game is the most important game. But anytime you play nine conference games, you better strap it on.
How do you build a mentally tough team?
RN: You make it hard, you talk about [problems] openly and you try to get closer as a football team. It's not so much about holding artificial [team meetings] but having a lot of open dialogue as to how we are going to handle adversity. We test ourselves as often as we can.
You played in Drew Brees's celebrity golf tournament in May. How'd you do?
RN: I shot a 73 and a 76, which maybe isn't outstanding for the rest of the world, but it was for me. It's my Walter Mitty life to be a golfer. My wife [Susan] was my caddie in the last round, and we're still married. Good chemistry. She only got mad at me for one three-putt.