Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Jeff Horton's candor a nice change of pace

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Maybe it's because I've spent months listening to coaches dodge, spin and downplay questions, but I've enjoyed listening to Minnesota interim coach Jeff Horton these last few weeks.

A big part of my job as a blogger -- and, to a lesser extent, yours as a Big Ten fan -- is sifting through what coaches say to figure out what they really mean.

Jeff Horton
Gophers interim head coach Jeff Horton hasn't pulled any punches when taking questions.
Horton makes it easy for us. He's brutally honest because, well, he can be.

Unfortunately, it's only in times like these at Minnesota, when the coaches know their days are numbered, when we get no spin from the men wearing whistles.

Last week, Horton was asked to project the future for receiver/quarterback MarQueis Gray.

"I don't [know] because I'm 99.999 percent sure I will not be here," he said.

Horton's news conference Tuesday in Minneapolis started with the question, "If you look at the teams ahead of you in the Big Ten ..."

Horton interrupted, saying, "I think they're all ahead of us, aren't they?"

Here are some other notable quotes from Horton during the last few weeks ...

On Minnesota's kicking game: "We have no consistency punting the ball. We don't have any consistency. Obviously, I don't feel comfortable kicking field goals."

On Minnesota's losing streak: "We need to win for them [the players]. Who cares about me? I'm 53 years old. When you're in coaching, you got a lot of ups, you got a lot of downs. That's all part of it. Wade Phillips feels like crap today. He's won a lot of games, been in Super Bowls. That's the nature of the business."

On several suspensions last week: "Things happen. It's part of life. No program's squeaky clean, everybody has issues. I always say those issues are all encompassing. Nobody is immune to them."

On the offensive game plan: "We’ve really got nothing to lose. We can try anything. If it works, it works, If it doesn’t, who cares?"

On facing a top-10 team: "To me it's how do you think you can win. It's no different if you're [having surgery]. You'd want the surgeon coming in to operate on you, you'd want him coming in that day thinking that he's going to do a great job, got a chance to make you better. You wouldn't want him coming in there thinking, 'This is a little tough, I don't know if I have a good chance to save this guy; Or a lawyer going against F. Lee Bailey: 'Can I beat him in court? Should I even show up?'"

I know these are tough times for Minnesota fans. Neither Horton nor anyone else in that program wants to be in this situation.

But after listening to a lot of overly positive spin from Gophers camp for the last few years, Horton has been a nice change of pace.