Mickey Joseph understands the top priority of his new job as LSU's receivers coach.
It's recruiting. More specifically, it's recruiting New Orleans, his hometown.
"My thing is, let’s put a gate around it and keep our kids home," Joseph said Tuesday, just a few minutes after the Tigers announced his hire. "We’ve got a product we’re putting out there that a kid wants to stay home. My job is go get the ones we identify and keep them home."
During a 20-minute interview with The Advocate, Joseph addressed a number of topics, including a story published Tuesday on SECCountry.com that generated buzz. The site reported that New Orleans-area football coaches planned a meeting to discuss a boycott of LSU after Orgeron's decision last week to reassign former running backs coach Jabbar Juluke.
Joseph, a Marrero native, was one of the city's most heralded high school stars out of Archbishop Shaw, signing with Nebraska in the late 1980s. He's spoken to several New Orleans high school coaches Tuesday.
"They assured me, ‘Mickey, it’s no boycott,'" Joseph said.
"I have good relationships with these coaches. They’re not going to shut LSU out. They’re not going to shut Mickey Joseph out. They know at the end of the day I do what’s best for the university and what’s best for those kids."
Joseph will begin his new gig at LSU on Thursday morning, he said. He'll arrive in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night, spending the day Wednesday saying good-bye to Louisiana Tech, where he's spent the last year coaching running backs.
On Tuesday, he also discussed his to priority for his receivers — showing toughness — how he landed his first major college job and how important recruiting is in his home state.
Reports linking Mickey Joseph to the LSU football coaching staff began to trickle out Monday, and they poured in Tuesday.
How did things start with you and LSU?
It started last week sometime, talking to Ed (Orgeron), talking to Matt (Canada). Just feeling the situation out. It’s an opportunity I thought I needed to jump on right away before they changed their minds. LSU is one of the top 5 guys in American if not the best job. It’s just a blessing to be able to work there and get there with those kids and coach them up and develop relationship and get after it.
I bring the blue-collar mentality and that’s the kind of mentality I want to bring to players in my room. Whatever job I have, I work hard at it. I do believe I’m a true players’ coach. I think that this is an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass up.
What do you know about the receiver room and what are your goals for them?
I’m not too familiar with their names. I know (D.J.) Chark is in there. Drake (Davis) is in there. I went through some of the names today, but, basically, I want to meet them face to face, sit down with them.
My goal is to make them the best players and best people they can be. When I’m finished with them, I want them to be a better person, better football player. In the game of football, you get better, get worse every day.
My thing is attack them with, ‘Hey, we’re going to do things the right way, work hard. We’re going to do things the right way to help this team win.’ If that’s (run) blocking 80 snaps or that’s throwing the ball 80 snaps, we’re going to do what we have to do to win. Like I said, bringing a blue-collar mentality in that room.
One thing I’m big on is toughness. I think you’ve got to be mentally and physically tough to play this game. What I want to do as a coach, what I’ve got to do, is give them something they can mentally do and physically do. That’s one big thing I do believe in — something they can physically do and mentally do. After I put that on them, the ball will be in their court.
This is going to be your biggest major college job of your career. Did you ever expect to get to this level or want to be here?
My thing is, I really never chase jobs. Jobs come up and I really never chase them, unless something comes up and people say, ‘Hey, somebody is interested in you.’
What I try to do, I try to … the job I’m on, I try to work it like it’s my last one. Coming out of high school, I played big-time football (at Nebraska) so the pressure at being at LSU, I know the standards there, I know the bar is high, and it should be high. I know we’re expecting to win that SEC title and national championship. That’s one big reason I wanted to come — I wanted the challenge.
That’s one thing about coaching football, we all believe —all of the Joseph boys — we believe in the challenge. This is a great challenge and I can’t wait to get there.
Does this job mean more that it’s coming at the flagship university of your home state?
No doubt. It means the world to you. Just like these kids dream of playing at LSU, I’m sure every coach dreams of coaching at LSU, and now I’ve got that opportunity. To stay with this opportunity, I’ve got to do a great job, a really good job. That’s what I’ve set my mind to, and that’s what I’m coming there to do. It’s a privilege to coach at LSU.
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How big of this job is recruiting?
I think recruiting in college football, in any job but with this job at LSU, is the No. 1 thing. We reside in one of the best football states in the United States. Louisiana is probably a top 3 state as far as high school football.
Recruiting is big because you’ve got so many outside schools coming in trying to get your kids. My thing is, ‘Hey, let’s put a gate around it and keep our kids home.’ We’ve got a product we’re putting out there that a kid wants to stay home. My job is go get the ones we identify and keep them home.
Did you hear about a story today regarding a boycott of LSU by New Orleans high school coaches?
It’s not going to be a boycott. I’ve been having relationships with those guys in the city … .I started recruiting the city of New Orleans in 1999. I know I’m not a big name, what a lot of people have been expecting, but I’ve been in the city since 1999. I have good relationships with these coaches. They’re not going to shut LSU out. They’re not going to shut Mickey Joseph out. They know at the end of the day I do what’s best for the university and what’s best for those kids.
They know when I do get those kids, I take care of those kids. When I was head coach at Langston, I had 37 kids from New Orleans on my roster. I have a good relationship with the coaches in New Orleans.
I don’t foresee it being a problem. And it being a boycott …. When I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re going to boycott?’ I talked to those guys. They assured me, ‘Mickey, it’s no boycott.’
They are having a meeting. The meeting isn’t about a boycott. The meeting is about … they’re trying to learn the recruiting process better to better themselves as a head coach in high school. They’re meeting on that. We spent a lot of times with those guys at this past (NCAA) convention in Nashville, and we started explaining to them how the recruit process goes. At the end of the day, every high school coach wants their kid to be recruited by LSU. We had to explain to them how the recruiting process goes. We need this paperwork. We need these kids to play how we want him to play. We want a good character kid. It’s a lot of things. That’s all that meeting is about.
I have a good relationship with all of those guys, with Al Jones at St. Aug, Bryce at (Edna) Karr, Coach (Emmanuel) Powell at Landry-Walker and coach (Wayne) Reese and (Frank) Daggs at McDonogh 35.
I never had a run-in when I couldn’t go to a school. That’s never happened because of relationships. We’re going to be fine down there. It won’t be a boycott.
When will you start at LSU?
I’m going to finish up at Louisiana Tech (on Wednesday). (Head coach) Skip Holtz … he was great to me, a great mentor to me. I really appreciate how he handled the situation with me, really guided me through this process. I really appreciate him.
I got to speak to my (players) today and let them know exactly what’s going on. There were some teary eyes. I develop a relationship with these kids, but at the end of the day it’s part of the business. You explain that to them, and they understood.
I’ll be in tomorrow night and first staff meeting will be Thursday morning.