Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' Benjamin Wade has been called a lot of things: "Coach," "The Dragon Slayer." But, as his fans and teammates know, you can't call him disloyal. Unfortunately, Coach's honor wasn't enough to save him from elimination. After Tyson Apostol and "Boston" Rob Mariano were both sent packing, Coach was the strongest male left and therefore a big target for Sandra Diaz-Twine and Courtney Yates, who injured herself in the immunity challenge. Following his ouster, the 38-year-old spoke with TVGuide.com about his alliance with Russell Hantz, his "showmance" with Jerri Manthey and why he felt the game of Survivor has been "disrespected" this season.
TVGuide.com: What was going through your mind walking into Tribal Council? How likely did you think it was that you would be going home?
Benjamin "Coach" Wade:
It was a complete and utter blindside. I thought there was a zero percent chance that I was going home. Courtney rolled her ankle in the challenge. Russell had promised me that he was taking me to the end, and even though I was in a forced alliance of five, they had all worked long and hard convincing me that they would blaze to the end with me, to the death. I was really blown away, especially with the fact that Courtney couldn't even compete in the challenge and was really hurting us in each challenge that she participated in.
TVGuide.com: Did you think there was a small possibility you were going home after Tyson and Boston Rob were blindsided?
[That's] why I was so sure I wasn't going home. I thought, certainly these people who are not eating want to eat and want to be strong in the challenges, so really no. There always comes that moment when you're in Tribal [Council] and they're reading the votes and when Russell looked up at me ... I thought, he knows I'm going home but he's trying to play for my jury vote ... Then there was a point where I thought, "Am I going home tonight, and if I do, am I OK with that?" And the answer was: This game is not for [me] at this time. I love Survivor, I can't wait to play it again if that ever comes up, but at that time, just with the amount of backstabbing and viciousness and lack of honor and lack of loyalty and lack of everything that I stand for ... if I get sent home tonight, so be it.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think Sandra and Courtney chose to talk to Russell specifically about you?
Just like Sandra said, Russell is definitely a bully and when he thinks a strong male is gunning for him, then he gets rid of him. So I think that's why they chose me. Another thing is that I really would talk as much as I could to the [Heroes] tribe with non-verbal gestures. They would sit there and look at me, fingers-crossed, and basically make it to the merge. I know that a lot of the Heroes, they do play with honor ... I assumed that they wanted to play with me because I was going to be truthful to them. So I think that had a little part to do with it ... Danielle came up to me and said, "Coach, I saw everybody talking to you and making hand signals at you. So are you going to flop when we merge?" So we had had that talk. That might have had something to do with it.
TVGuide.com: You say that Russell was playing for your jury vote at the Tribal Council. Do you think that's why he voted for Courtney?
I think that's what he was doing. But I also do think there was a little remorse. I knew when I left that he had a big hand in me going, but I still shook his hand ... I think I've been very chivalrous in both of my exits; no crying over spilled milk.
TVGuide.com: What's your take on Russell? Was he who you were referring to when you talked about the Survivor game being disrespected?
He's the most ferocious player to ever play the game and he's a powerful player. I talk about disrespecting the game because ... We had a terrible shelter, nobody wanted to look for food as a tribe, everybody was out getting stuff by themselves ... The disrespect of the survival part of the game is what really, really upsets me because I wanted it to be survival of the fittest, not survival of the weakest.
TVGuide.com: You said last night that you were upset after Tyson and Rob were both voted out. Which elimination do you think hit you and the team the hardest?
I think Tyson was the beginning of the end. You look at the variables and you look at the fact that we shouldn't have been at Tribal anyway, it was a double elimination and we lost nothing ... Russell should have gone home then. It would have been me, Boston Rob, Tyson, Courtney and Sandra. I think me, Tyson and Boston Rob would have made it almost to the end ... We had it so perfectly planned and for [Tyson] to go out like that; it was tough. That was the biggest shock.
TVGuide.com: Can you talk about your relationship with Jerri on the show? Was it just a friendship or was there something more to it?
No, when I went out there, I really felt like Jerri and I had a connection. What a great girl she is to be independent and to be a free spirit. I didn't expect that coming out there ... We had to talk early on because we actually started becoming a target because we were tight. We wanted to have some type of emotional and maybe physical bond out there and we were the targets. We had to separate and not talk that much. The same with Tyson and I — we couldn't talk that much either. The game is brutal in terms of personal relationships. Like I told Jerri, I said, "We have to promise ourselves that when this is all said and done, that we get together and we are actually able to see each other outside the game." So we both made that promise.
TVGuide.com: Looking back, do you have any regrets or anything you would do differently?
No. The only thing I would have done differently is [two episodes ago], Jeff had gotten done questioning us and all of a sudden, it was right before the vote, I felt like yelling at Tyson ... because it just hit me and for some reason, that sixth sense that you should always listen to ... something told me to yell at Tyson, "Stick with the plan." It was that clear and I sat there in silence and didn't say anything. And I wish now that I would have because I'd still be in the game.