User Interview: Richramirez

Q&A with noted Gridiron Dynasty user Richramirez

We recently contacted six-time GD National Champion, Richramirez, to discuss recruiting, gameplanning, BCS teams, Jerry Seinfeld, CNN and Tim Tebow.

WIS

Who is Richramirez?

Richramirez

I am a 39-year-old husband and father of two, with a two-year-old daughter and a 2-month-old newborn son Ė which actually helps for overnight recruiting because Iím up late to feed the baby anyway. I live in the Washington D.C. area. I am an ex-CNN Sports producer turned stay-at-home dad, and I soon go back to school for graphic design.

WIS

How did you learn about WhatIfSports.com?

Richramirez

Through an internet search of some sort, though I donít remember exactly what I was searching for. I saw Gridiron Dynasty (GD) and got excited about it. That was just a few seasons into the Rockne World so I remember having to get up at 3:00 am at that time just to get a spot in DIII of the world; that was dedication.

WIS

Which of our games have you played? And which do you prefer?

Richramirez

Obviously GD, but I have also played a couple of seasons of Hardball Dynasty and SimLeague Football. I liked Hardball, but I did not quite have the passion to do everything that needed to be done to succeed like I do with GD. Similarly, SimLeague Football was fun, and I liked some of the detail that I got in the stats from that game that were not yet available in GD. But I always gravitated back to GD. College football is one of my biggest passions.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Richramirez

I love comedy, and I took a couple of comedy classes and have even attempted some stand-up of my own in the area. I love to watch movies, particularly comedies. As a father of two young children now parks, playgrounds, playgroups and potty training have become new hobbies. Itís different, yet itís very enjoyable. I am also a huge Gator fan. I grew up in Florida and went to my first Gator game in 1983; after that I was hooked for life. Florida athletics are definitely a huge hobby of mine and Florida Football is the king.

WIS

Who sits at your dream roundtable discussion (five people, past or present, need not be sports related)?

Richramirez

My late mother who left us too early Ė she was my best friend; my grandfather who also passed Ė he had two daughters, so I was very spoiled as his grandson; Jerry Seinfeld Ė classic comedian; Will Ferrell Ė canít go wrong there; and Jason Bateman Ė call it a man crush, but I think it would be awesome to hangout with this guy. Heís just the coolest.

WIS

Did you play much football (or other sports) growing up?

Richramirez

In junior high and most of high school, I played football and basketball. I was the kind of guy who never really filled out until later, so I was always a bit scrawny for football. In my junior year, I broke my elbow and gave up organized sports after that. Growing up in Florida, I surfed my whole life as well.

WIS

Who are your favorite players all-time? In todayís game?

Richramirez

Right now, I love Tim Tebow. I know that I am supposed to say that as a Gator fan, but I think I would like the guy if he were on another team. Heís not the greatest quarterback, and heís obviously not the fastest either. Heís just old school and does whatever it takes. He is a leader and beloved by his teammates and fans. Another college player I loved to watch was Deion Sanders. Even though he played for the Seminoles, he was electric. Outside of college football, MJ was a favorite. How could you not love Jordan? Barry Sanders was awesome and Eric Dickerson was a running robot. He had the coolest wristbands and goggles and just ran wild. In baseball, as a Braves fan, I have always admired Chipper Jones. He has the sweetest swing.

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

Richramirez

The 1996 National Championship Florida football team Ė more specifically the 1997 Sugar Bowl where the Gators beat their rival Florida State Seminoles 52-20 to win the National Championship. I was there, and I will never forget that feeling.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Richramirez

If I can get greedy, I guess I would like to go the Final Four. Working in sports, I have been to BCS Championship games, the Super Bowl, World Series and the Masters, but I have never been to the Final Four.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

Richramirez

In Leahy World I took over at Virginia as the schoolís first ever human coach and turned them into a powerhouse. That was a cool feeling knowing that all the players were mine, and that I was the only coach who had ever been there. I got the hell beat out of me for several seasons, but then I won the National Championship at the highest level with that team. I also had a lot of fun at Syracuse in Rockne. I think over my last ten seasons there, I lost just three games. That was a monster team, and I had a ton of fun with the ĎCuse.

WIS

As a coach in GD do you draw on the philosophies of any past or present coaches?

Richramirez

Not really. I would love to say that I do, but I donít think so. Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer are the coaches I have followed most closely, but my teams donít really look or play like theirs. I love to run the ball.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of GD?

Richramirez

Recruiting without a doubt. No other game that I have played has anything like it. You get to search for players, plan your budget and set your rosters Ė all while competing against others who are trying to do the same thing and win. I also like that GD has halftime adjustments. That keeps me coming back to figure out what I need to do in the second half to give me the best chance to win.

WIS

Least favorite?

Richramirez

Running backs seem to go for 6, 7 and 8 yards on just about every carry even against a defense that should be prepared to stop it. Great defenses do not stop average running teams. With the ability to go for it on fourth down and the relative ease of gaining yards running the ball, I rarely punt. I think last season I only punted six times.

WIS

Having won 29 conference championships and 6 national championships with a winning percentage over .910 in just over 39 seasons, what do you believe is the biggest key to GD success?

Richramirez

First and foremost, I found a mentor. The biggest thing that you can do when you are new is to contact someone who is succeeding. I saw how well Cravedogg was playing at DIII, and I asked him for some help. That was crucial to my success. Iíve returned the favor and helped quite a few coaches as well. Along those lines, I have taken the opportunity to experiment with several teams. When I was at Memphis, I knew that it was either going to be me or another guy who won the conference. As soon as I knew it wasnít going to be me, I would experiment a lot with the settings, since I had nothing to lose. That proved to be pretty important because I learned the best balance for running practices and many things that still help me today. I do the same thing with pre-season exhibitions Ė often experimenting with my backup players and game plans. I also think that my ability to focus, because I only run between one and three GD teams at a tim, is an advantage. Obviously, I am also very passionate about college football and this game as well. That passion drives me to do well. Lastly, I should say that Iím pretty lucky that Iíve been in good situations with good players. The coaches who preceded me left me teams in good shape. Iíve been lucky, I try to stay humble, and Iím happy that Iíve had some success. Iím happy to share my success.

WIS

What is your approach to recruiting?

Richramirez

At this point, at USC, I am pretty lazy. For the most part, I can get the best players in a certain area without having to put up much of a fight. I do not always get everyone that I want, but I get most. In the past, I had to be more aggressive. Finding the right balance between being aggressive and being patient is key. Patience is so important in recruiting. You donít always have to have the best guys every year. If you try that, you will never have enough money for the rest of your recruits. If you know you are a couple of years away from competing, donít blow your wad on guys early. Go after close guys who can help with depth but are not necessarily the best. You can save up and target the best players in a few seasons when it matters more. Exercise some patience to do well; donít let the ego get in the way. That is easier said than done.

WIS

How do you go about setting your depth chart and game plan?

Richramirez

With my depth chart, I focus on the core talent ratings for each position. I give my starters higher percentages to keep them as fresh as possible. The backups get lower percentages. A lot of people think this is backward, but I would much rather always have my starters fresh and my backups playing, than get my starters tired, play through my backups and have an offensive lineman playing defense.

For game planning, at the DIII and DII levels (I have only played one season of DIAA because I would rather not just be fodder for DIA), I focused on scouting opponents and exploiting weaknesses. At DI, all of the coaches are good, so I stick with what I know is best for my team. I play to my strengths. Generally, I love to use balanced formations like Trips where I could run or pass. But I donít like to get too cute. I would rather run the ball on second-and-short with a very good chance of picking up the first down than drop back for a pass and get sacked or intercepted. Thatís a quick way to end up in a punting situation. Keep the drive alive. On defense, I donít try to guess what the other team is doing too much. I play a defense that Iím comfortable with no matter what he does. I prefer to try to stop the run. With passing, there are a few things that could go wrong. I try to contain the run and hope that one of the bad things happens to the opponents passing game.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

Richramirez

Cravedogg obviously, he was my mentor and he knows so much. He has helped me a ton. Along with being an awesome coach he is a really good guy; I was lucky to have such a great mentor. Buffalo_rob is a close friend, and we have had lots of fun and also have helped each other a lot. Both of us share a similar outlook: we like the game, but itís the friends on here that make it most worthwhile. Bruin_killer is a great guy and one of my protťgťs and so is rdawg. Both of those guys are great coaches and have several National titles between them. One other coach, all2matt, is a good guy I enjoy playing with. We were together in D3 in the Iowa Conference together with bruin_killer and wlarson back in the day.

WIS

You currently have a team in a 'BCS' Conference Ė USC. What is your ultimate goal in Gridiron Dynasty? Have you achieved it?

Richramirez

I have achieved it. When I started at D1 in Rockne at Memphis I just wanted an elite. I got into a great situation at ďThe CuseĒ and it paved the way for me to get USC. Iíve won multiple National Titles in D1, but I donít really play for those anymore. If you play only for National titles, D1 isnít the place to do it. The ranking system and no playoffs take a lot out of your hands. I love helping other coaches a lot; I think that has been my most recent goal lately. A few seasons ago my friend all2matt was ďIn JeopardyĒ at Ohio State in Rockne. I wasnít going to sit back and watch him get fired. I contacted him and I overhauled his team and his thinking. Well, not only is he still at Ohio State, heís now very secure after winning the Big Ten 3 of the past 4 seasons. To me, that is what makes me most happy now- helping out a friend.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?

Richramirez

I would be a stud RB in Gridiron Dynasty. I would be one of those 90/90/90 stud RBís located in Los Angeles area so I could recruit him easily for my own USC team. That is 90 speed, 90 strength and 90 elusiveness. Those guys are worth their weight in gold. Since I did this interview, you can make me this guy and locate him in LA for me right? LoL

Lastly, I would be remised if I didnít mention my old D2 QB Lee Hill. His name still makes some coaches shutter. HaHa. This D2 QB of mine at Mars Hill had sick ratings: 91 Game Instinct, 86 Tech, 63 Strength and 71 Speed. Most good D1 QBís donít have those high of ratings and again he was at D2. He was a stud and brought me back-to-back National titles. Iíll never forget him and neither will some of my opponents.

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