Western Carolina first-year head football coach Dennis Wagner
Sept. 9, 2008
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head football coach Dennis Wagner returned to the weekly Southern Conference Head Football Coaches Teleconference Tuesday morning. He briefly reflected on last week's game against Florida State, and turned his attention to this week's opponent, the Liberty Flames from the Big South Conference.
Saturday's game is set for a 6:00 pm start at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field on-campus in Cullowhee. The game has been deemed "Kids' Day," presented by Sonic, with kids 17 and under admitted free (must have a printed, bar-coded ticket; contact the WCU ticket office at 800-34-GOWCU to obtain).
Kids' Day festivities commence at 2:00 pm with inflatable toys for the kids outside the stadium, with the team walking with the Victory Bell from Alumni Tower to the locker room in the Ramsey Center at 4:00 pm. Gates open at 4:30 pm.
Liberty (2-0) broke into The Sports Network top 25 at No. 25 this week, while standing second in the "Others Receiving Votes" category - or 27th - in the FCS Coaches Poll released on Monday.
Wagner is scheduled to make his first in-season appearance on "In the Litterbox," the weekly, interactive sports talk show aired on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee every Wednesday night beginning at 7:00 pm. Fans can call in with questions and comments for Coach Wagner at (828) 227-7173.
Here is an excerpt from Tuesday morning's SoCon Teleconference:
On last Saturday's game at Florida State:
"Well, it is a real quick talk with regards to last Saturday (at Florida State). I disagree with (Chattanooga head) Coach (Rodney) Allison (who precedes Wagner on the teleconference) there are no moral victories. I think when you get beat, you get beat; whether it's 69-0 or 34-14, you can't accept losing. And that's the problem they have had here in the past. We have to get that changed. I was not happy with our performance in any shape or manner. We came in, watched our film, put that game to bed and now its time to move on to Liberty. We have got to become a better football team and fast."
"We didn't play well. We had opportunities. We were down 7-0 with 8 minutes to go in the first half and things got out of hand. So, there are no moral victories in my opinion; you either win or lose, it's black or white. This team can't accept losing no matter who we play. Sometimes you are going to be outmatched and you got to do everything you can to find a way to win."
"(We have to) Learn from the experience; take what positives there were - and there weren't many - but the ones there were, learn from and move forward because if you spend too much time on the past, you are not going to make moves to the future."
On playing Liberty, a NCAA FCS team which broke into the Top 25 this week:
"I think this will be a true measure of where we are at as a football team. They're 2-0 and have had a lot of success, scored a lot of points and not given up much on defense. Over the past few years they have reestablished their program, so we are glad they are coming here to Cullowhee.
On how he and the coaching staff at WCU look to move forward:
"I think we got to keep talking about mental toughness, our mentality and not accepting failure. Whenever you have that for such a long time, it's like a disease. We had to cut out a lot of things that were wrong and we are still in the process of building the foundation to make this thing work."
On the Liberty Flames:
"I think they are a very physical football team. They're big up front both defensively and offensively. They can run the football, mix in the passing game. Overall, they are a well-rounded football team. From watching film, they are sound in all areas, special teams, offense and defense and that just tells us they are well coached and they will be prepared when they get here Saturday."