June 25, 2009
Auburn, Ala. -
Each week AuburnTigers.com will give fans a chance to get to know a member of the football coaching staff with a quick Q&A. One coach will be highlighted each week, and this week's subject is assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor.....
Q: Being the 10th of 16 children, your family could have basically fielded two full baseball teams. What type of activities did you do as a family?
TT: "Most of our activities were work to make ends meet. As far as play time, we played football and basketball a lot. It was more of a throw it and tackle who ever had it deal. We didn't line up and kick off and all that. When we played baseball we never had to use a ghost runner. We always had someone that could run because we had plenty of people. My whole family was pretty athletic. My mom, dad, all my brothers and sisters all played sports all the way through high school, so most of our stuff was outdoor activities."
Q: How did you get the name Trooper?
TT: "My uncle was in the military, and when he came to see me in the hospital, I had a little patch of hair and he said I looked just like one of his troopers. And, he called his paratroopers crybabies, and I was crying all the time in the little bassinet when he was looking through the window, so I became Trooper after that."
Q: With your job requiring you to work so many hours, how do you make time for your own children?
Q: What was the worst job you ever had growing up?
TT: "You steal family time. That's why they're here at the complex a lot. It starts with the Athletics Director and head coach being family men. They understand the importance of family. I try to get mine to be on the sideline and be around me on game days. They help me relax and keep me focused. And when there's vacation time or they have ballgames I try to make sure I'm there. It requires a lot of traveling, like with my son playing travel league baseball and my daughter playing basketball, we've been traveling all over the country. And as far as my wife is concerned, I married way over my head. I outkicked my coverage by a long ways. We actually got married on a football field and she was a recruited athlete and ran track and Baylor, so she understands athletics and is very understanding."
TT: "The worst job was slopping hogs when I was about eight or nine years old. It's not a nice-smelling job first of all. And the food that they eat - slop is an understatement, because of what it smells like when you're digging it out with a bucket."
Q: If you weren't a football coach, what do you think you would be doing?
TT: "I'd probably be working in a youth program, either at the YMCA or the Boys & Girls Club. I just enjoy being around sports and I like being around young people. That, to me, has always been fun - watching people develop and trying to be a part of their life. "
Q: What's the funniest story you can share about your college days at Baylor?
TT: "Probably when I had blocked a punt against TCU, and I was celebrating and raising the roof, and the whole time the play was still live and they were able to pick it up and get a first down while I was playing to the crowd and trying to get them up after I blocked it. It was funny after the fact more than it was funny then. That made a lot of highlight and blooper reels along the way, so you have to laugh at yourself sometimes. If you can't laugh at yourself, you take life way too seriously. "
Q: Like most coaches, you've had to move several times over the years. What strikes you as unique about Auburn compared to the other schools or cities where you've been?
TT: "It's pretty comparable to Stillwater and to Knoxville. It's not a great big city but it's got enough to entertain you and your family. I think the biggest difference between Auburn and most other places so far during the short time I've been here, is that relationships have been built so fast. People really take you in and it's been like a family from day one. At other places you kind of had to earn that and work your way into that trust, but we've already had kids spend the night with our kids. They've only been here a couple of weeks and people are already allowed their kids to stay with us. I think that community support is probably as good as it's been."
Q: You spend a lot of time on the road. When you're in the car, do you listen to the radio, CDs, your iPod, or what?
TT: "I'm usually on the telephone. A lot of times in between schools I'm calling other coaches and trying to set things up. I was fortunate to get an earpiece because without it I probably would have some accidents. I don't text while I'm driving, though. I don't listen to a lot of radio shows because you have to be from the area to know which shows are the best. If I do put on some music it will probably be Al Green. I like listening to the old school. I listen to Al Green while I'm driving because he tells stories with his music, and Bob Marley. But other than that I'm usually on the phone talking to the next coach or trying to set up the next visit, and that's also a good time to call and check on your players."
Q: You're known as a very energetic coach. If or when you become a head coach, do you see yourself becoming a little calmer and more laid back, or will you continue your chest-bumping ways?
TT: "I was taught as a young kid, you don't go to sleep a circle and wake up a square, so I'm going to be me. Nothing will change but the address probably, because that's what I've been all my life and it's not something that I even work at. When I played ball in high school and junior high, we started chest bumping, and it turned into the rump thump. Me and a teammate meant to hit chests, but he spun and I spun and our bottoms touched and we started calling it the rump thump. To me, nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm, and I think enthusiasm is contagious if it's real. If it's something that you're trying to make happen or something that you're trying to manufacture, then it's different. For me it's just natural because I grew up in a big family and we were always energetic and excited about things. My mom was the same way and my brothers and sisters, so it was contagious, and it's always followed me wherever I've been."
Q: If you had two weeks to spend a vacation completely away from football, where would you go?
TT: "We played in the Hawaii Bowl when I was at Tulane and I really loved the islands out there. My family really enjoyed it. It was the closest to heaven on earth that you can probably get because it was so surreal. It had its parts that were romantic for my wife and me, and it had everything for the kids, too. So if I could spend two weeks, and I didn't have to pay for it, it would probably be Hawaii."