Each week a QMI staffer gets to know a sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week Kirk Penton heads to Canad Inns Stadium to chat with new Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi, a Hamilton native who is with his fourth CFL team in seven years.
QMI: Do we address you as Dr. Barresi?
JB: No, no, no, no.
QMI: But you have a PhD from Penn State in Ö?
JB: Exercise science, motor learning. Itís how people acquire motor skills. For me, the big attraction was how people develop expertise in any type of training area. It could be becoming a fighter pilot. For me it was involving the mental things in sports skills enhancement.
QMI: So itís safe to say youíre big on mechanics?
JB: No doubt about it.
QMI: Youíre from Hamilton, but you wound up coaching NCAA football for 20 years. How did you end up in the U.S.?
JB: I was going to school at the University of Ottawa, and I was in the kinesiology program. Two of my advisors had done their graduate work at Penn State. They were really good guys, and they knew I was very interested in coaching. They said you should go to Penn State, start graduate school there and just see if you can get a job as a grad assistant. I got accepted as a grad student, and then I would go to the office, and I got to meet different guys there, and I just kind of made a pest of myself. It just so happened that one of the other grad assistants was in my class. Heís now the offensive line coach for the Bengals (Paul Alexander). He and I became friends, he brought me in, and from there they gave me work, some film to break down. It just grew from there.
QMI: How good of a quarterback were you at the University of Ottawa?
JB: Not very good. The advisors I told you about? I came back on a Monday morning after the most important game of the season where I missed a guy wide open in the end zone. And this was a class where all the really good-looking girls were. There were only three guys. And one of my advisors says in front of the entire class, ďBarresi, you couldnít throw a field goal.ĒThatís how bad it was. But I got to play.
QMI: Why arenít there any Canadian quarterbacks?
JB: Itís kind of a population issue in a lot of ways, and thereís also a training issue, an experience issue. They just donít get the training that you need.
QMI: There are two minutes left, and youíre down by six. If you could have any quarterback in history, who would it be?
JB: Thatís a tough question. Joe Montana.
QMI: Can you drop us a few names when it comes to famous coaches youíve worked with?
JB: I was at Penn State for such a long time (under Joe Paterno), and I stay in touch with those people a lot. Coach (Jim) Caldwell (now head coach of the NFLís Indianapolis Colts), when I was at Penn State, was the quarterbacks coach and I was the receivers coach. So I learned a lot from him. Then he brought me to Wake Forest.
QMI: Whatís your favourite TV show?
JB: I donít know, the Masters. Howís that? I donít really watch TV.
QMI: Whatís the one thing a quarterback has to have?
JB: The most important thing is heís gotta give your team hope. So heís gotta inspire the team. If you have a dud there, heís not going to be able to inspire. It all funnels up to this one thing: That this guy, when he goes out on the field, he gives you hope. Heís not going to even get to that part if he doesnít show skills. The bottom line is his heart. Weíre going to have five guys or four guys in camp. The thing thatíll separate them is the guy who can lead.
QMI: Speaking of heart, you worked with Buck Pierce for two years in B.C. How good would he look in Blue and Gold?
JB: He would really be good. Heís got a lot of qualities. I always thought he was a little bit like Dave Dickenson was. Dave was a mentally sharp player. Dave didnít have quite the skills that Buck has. I donít mean to say anything negative. The first day Dave is eligible heíll be a hall of fame inductee. Dave was amazing. And Buck is very similar to that, because heís very intelligent and a heady type of guy, and heís skilled.
SUN: Two years ago you said in a Regina Leader-Post interview that you were still ďinterviewing candidatesĒ for your wife position. How is that search going?
JB: Thatís the right way of saying it. Itís not really going too good. Iíve given up on that.
QMI: Come on, thereís lots of time left.
JB: Yeah, but Iím kind of running out of time in that regard. Iím starting to look like Paulie in the Rocky movies. Itís not happening.