Grothe on Jim Rome: Here it is ...
USF quarterback Matt Grothe was a guest on Jim Rome's nationally syndicated radio show Tuesday afternoon. Here's a full transcript of the nine-minute interview, verbatim as best I can decipher ...
Rome: I'm joined right now by a junior quarterback who passed for over 2,600 yards and rushed for nearly 900 yards last season. South Florida is ranked 12th in the AP this week. They're 3-0 after a big win on Friday night. Their quarterback, Matt Grothe, joins me right now. Matt, great to have you on the program. How are you?
Grothe: I'm doing good. How are you?
Rome: Good, Matt, really good. Go back to that comeback. That was the biggest comeback in the history of the program Friday night. You're down 20-3 at halftime (edit: actually in the second quarter) against the 13th-ranked team in the country. As you're sitting there in the locker room, did you have visions of your national ranking and your dream season maybe going up in flames?
Grothe: Offensively, we had moved the ball a little bit all night. We knew we could move the ball, it was just going to be a matter of if our defense could come up with big plays and us creating some on offense. Once we got the momentum going, I think it kind of swung our way. That, and the Florida heat I think tired them down a bit. We just fought to the end and came out on top.
Rome: Were there any adjustments you made in terms of scheme or attitude, or did you basically just have to get back to playing your game of football and make some plays?
Grothe: Going out there, we were going to come out and just throw the ball, run when we needed to, or if we had to, but for the most part, we were going to come out and throw it around because we knew we could.
Rome: Which is exactly what you did. You scored 31 unanswered points in the second half (edit: seven were in the first half), you get up 34-20, then they come back and tie it at 34. It comes down to a 43-yard field-goal attempt by a freshman kicker, Maikon Bonani, which he makes. Matt, talk about just how big this kid is on campus right now, a freshman nailing a kick like that. Has he replaced you now as Big Man on Campus?
Grothe: It's huge. Everybody's talking about it, especially the fans, who don't like seeing a kicker that misses field goals like we've had the last couple of games. For him to come in like that and set himself up for success, to win us a ballgame. (unintelligible) all over the place. Everybody's talking about. I'm proud of him and so's the rest of the team.
Rome: Matt Grothe joining us. Matt, Jim Leavitt built that program literally from scratch 12 years ago, and it's amazing how far the program has come in a short period of time. For instance, go back to even when you signed there, did you see a team that could be a top 25 school, a top 15 school or even a national player two years later?
Grothe: Shoot, I didn't really think about it when I signed here. I just wanted to throw it around and have a chance of playing, where I could help build something. I don't think too many people out there saw the program building as quickly as it did. Being a part of is something I'll always remember for the rest of my life.
Rome: Shoot, Matt, did you know when you got there that he'd even let you play quarterback? You came in a little bit undersized, and there was some talk that you might play the corner. Did you know he'd let you play quarterback or did you have to talk your way into that and show him you're good?
Grothe: When I came in, he said, I'm going to keep you at quarterback, but the first sign that I'm starting to have a hard time, I'm going to move you. After our first spring, he came up to me after it was over, said 'You've had a pretty good spring, I'm going to keep you around,' and everything fell into place from there.
Rome: Matt Grothe joining us. Matt, what about the way they're going about it this year? They're trying to get you to change up a little bit, because you've always been that dual threat and never have been that proverbial true pocket passer. Your game's been about improvisation, making things happen outside the pocket, and they're trying to rein you in a little bit. What do you do when that's always been a big part of your game, a big part of the offense. Has it been challenging at times?
Grothe: Actually, I don't mind sitting back there and throwing the ball around. We can throw the ball 50, 60, 70 times a game and I won't have a problem with it. We want to score points, and as long as we're winning, it doesn't matter really.
Rome: Last year you guys started out of course 6-0 and then the bottom fell out. You're off to a big start again this year. Were there lessons learned from what happened last year and are you applying them right now?
Grothe: Definitely. The biggest thing we learned last year was that people are going to recognize you as being one of the better teams, but they're not going to come out play you the same way they play everybody else. I think last year, we kind of struggled with (that), we went into a football game like it was another football game, but it didn't work. People were gunning for us, everyone giving us the best they had. I definitely think we're ready for that this year, ready to stay on top this year.
Rome: Let me ask you something before you go. This something you broached, last subject, as as long as I've been in this business, it's been a controversial point. You said you think college players should be compensated considering the amount of money they're making for schools, especially selling gear. Lay that argument out, because no matter what, I've done this over the years, time and time again, and no matter how many times you bring this up, it's always a lightning rod for controversy. The typical fan will say 'Pay them for what?' They get free room and board. Lay out your argument for why that's still not enough.
Grothe: Um ... It was just a ... The guy asked me if I thought we should. It wasn't like I came out and said we should. I'm getting caught kind of in a corner on this one. We get paid room and board, but this is all we have time for. It's not like we can go out and make more money for ourselves if we wanted to, and get a job because we don't have time to. That's basically what I meant. A lot of my friends that aren't on the team go to school and have a job and get paid for it. A lot of my friends get paid and have scholarships. I don't know. It's hard to explain. I don't see why not, you know?
Rome: Hey, listen, I'm not trying to trip you up. I think there's an argument to be made there, especially when it relates to jerseys.
Grothe: That and when it comes down to professional sports, we're doing basically the same thing they are, and they're getting big dollars for it. It's not like I'm saying everybody should be getting paid millions of dollars, but there's been plenty of times where the money we do get paid doesn't come in on time or isn't enough for my house payment I've got to pay for. It would help out a lot of us ... (unintelligible) The extra money would help.
Rome: It sounds like you're not looking to be a salaried employee, you're not looking for six figures a year, you're looking for maybe a stipend to get through the end of the month.
Grothe: Yeah, not six figures every year. I'm just talking about a couple extra thousand dollars, because our stuff we get, our scholarships pay for our room and board like you said, and that's it. You don't have enough time to have jobs to make money, so fortunately I have parents who are fairly good on it. There's plenty of people out there who have grown up ... where their parents don't make a lot of money. ... Especially when your checks don't come on time and you don't have any money for food or anything. (unintelligible) I've got friends all over that play football, so the extra money would matter a little bit.
Rome: Matt, then you can walk around campus and the entire student body is wearing your jersey that they paid for. They could probably hook you up.
Grothe: (Laughing). I don't know. Yeah. (Laughing).
Rome: I hear you. Don't worry about it. I've got you on that one. I'm going to take a break right now. Matt, great to have you on the show. I appreciate the visit. Thank you very much. Good luck to you. Let's do it again soon.