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December 6, 2015

Brian Kelly

Urban Meyer

THE MODERATOR: Thank you and welcome, everyone, to this evening's call. I'd like that to extend a special congratulations to Coach Kelly and Coach Meyer for making it to the 45th Annual BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl. We are very excited to host two very storied programs, Ohio State from the Big Ten Conference and Notre Dame, an FCS independent school.
Ohio State comes into the game ranked seventh in the College Football Playoff selection committee rankings, 7‑1 in the Big Ten. Notre Dame comes ranked eighth in the College Football Playoff rankings with a 10‑2 overall.
This year's game will be played on Friday, January 1st at University of Phoenix stadium with a kickoff time of 11 a.m. Ohio State is making its seventh appearance in the Fiesta Bowl having last appeared here in 2009. This is the fifth appearance for Notre Dame. Congratulations to both schools and we look forward to hosting you.
We'll start tonight with remarks from our two coaches and then open it up to questions.
At this time I'd like to turn the call over to Coach Meyer.
COACH MEYER: Thank you very much, and thank you to Mike Nealy, the CEO of the Fiesta Bowl. Very honored to represent Ohio State, the Big Ten Conference, be a part of this great bowl game, one I've been a part of several times.
Two stored programs who had great seasons. I'd like to congratulate Coach Kelly and the Fighting Irish and we look forward to seeing you in Phoenix.
Once again, on behalf of Ohio State, our incredible group of players, we very much appreciate it. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Now Coach Kelly of Notre Dame.
COACH KELLY: Similarly, we're very excited about our selection and want to thank Mike Nealy and the Fiesta Bowl committee for giving Notre Dame this opportunity to play in the 45th Fiesta Bowl.
Congratulations to the Ohio State Buckeyes on an incredible year, the defending national champs, and Coach Meyer, we're honored to have an opportunity to be in this game. It's one that I know our kids are excited about, representing the University of Notre Dame in this kind of matchup, I know our fan base is excited.
We take this game as one that could be played as a championship game. So should be an exciting matchup.
THE MODERATOR: At this time I'd like to open it up for questions.

Q. Urban, I know how much Notre Dame meant to you growing up as a kid, how much it meant to you when you were coaching there. Could you elaborate how special it was there and what you learned from that experience.
COACH MEYER: I was hired in, I believe it was, 1996 by Lou Holtz. That was a dream come true. My son was born there, baptized on campus, the chapel. We were there five years. I stayed on for five years with Coach Davie. I'm Irish Catholic and have always been a strong fan of the Fighting Irish.

Q. As a coach, how did you grow from that experience?
COACH MEYER: That was my first exposure as a full‑time coach to that level of football. I still remember the day I was hired. I took a tour, it was very cold, I took a tour throughout the Touchdown Jesus Fair‑Catch Corby, all the great statues, all the great traditions on that campus.
On a side note, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, it came back, for five straight years every night on my way home I would stop at the Grotto. It's a very special place that has a special place in my heart.

Q. Brian, you just mentioned this is a game that could be played as a championship. I know how close you were to being undefeated. In the position that you guys are both in, what are your thoughts on expanding to eight teams from the four that you currently have in the College Football Playoff?
COACH KELLY: I said earlier, where we are is certainly better than where we were when we were just dealing with computers.
I think as football teams continue to invest, their universities continue to invest, you're going to see a deeper and deeper college football teams. Clearly these eight teams are all very good football teams.
I don't know if we'll be able to hold it at four. But I think we've got it right right now. I don't know that the committee is interested in going to eight right now. But I think if college football continues on the path it is, it's going to be more and more difficult to keep it at four.

Q. Coach Kelly, obviously Urban worked at Notre Dame. You worked here as the head coach at Cincinnati for several years. What was your exposure while in the state of Ohio to the program, recruiting against them, just your thoughts about Ohio State.
COACH KELLY: Well, first of all, the high school football is outstanding. You could build your program on kids from Ohio, the state of Ohio. Ohio State couldn't take them all every year. So kind of waited for Ohio State to take all their kids, and we tried to take the other ones. There were still enough kids in the state of Ohio that you could build a really good football team with.
I think it just speaks to the level of football in the state and the passion for high school football, and the kind of football there is in the Midwest in particular.
But, again, just a great area for football. What Urban has built there with his base, taking those kids from the Midwest, and I tried to do a lot of similar things at Cincinnati.

Q. Urban, you've been on both sides of this. It can be sometimes difficult to get a team up after it's fallen out of the national championship picture. Does that pass quickly for a team? Does it help to have a marquee opponent coming up in this game?
COACH MEYER: Well, I think we answered that bell after we lost the game, we got to play our rivals, and our team played very well. That was a tough week. I know Coach Kelly feels the same, that because the College Football Playoff has taken on a life of its own, it's March Madness basically. Great friends of mine are basketball coaches, they always talk about the intensity of March Madness. March Madness for us starts in August. That's the way it is.
To go undefeated in major college football is very hard, and then you start engaging in the losses when they happen, how they happen, that's very hard on the team.
It's not like this all the time. We're very fortunate to have great leadership on our team. That was proven by the way they played last year and then also this year after a loss. So the fact we are playing a team that should be playing for the national championship, they're certainly talented enough and well‑coached enough that certainly will make the focus that much easier.

Q. Urban, what do you remember about Autry Denson when he was playing for you and now coaching at Notre Dame?
COACH MEYER: One of my all‑time favorites, extremely hard worker. Had ups and downs early in his career with Coach Holtz, then went on to be the leading rusher in Notre Dame history. I'm not sure if he still is, but when he finished he was. I keep in touch with him and I'm very proud of him.

Q. Urban, are there underclassmen other than the obvious ones that have requested information on the NFL?
COACH MEYER: There has. Our strength coach handles all that. I can't tell you exactly who has done it so far.

Q. Coach Kelly, talk maybe about the dynamic with Kizer being there in a pinch for you guys?
COACH KELLY: I think it's one of those things that as coaches you hope that you've recruited well and prepared your backup quarterback to go in there. But you never really know until they get the opportunity.
We knew DeShone's makeup, the kind of kid he was, the character he had. He went in, made a lot of plays, gained confidence. As his confidence grew, we were able to add more to his plate. Really proud of the way he handled himself.
Urban had a similar situation last year. We kind of stole a little bit of what they did last year: not making any excuses, just going and playing. The kids really responded to that, in particular DeShone did and was able to lead our football team to some big wins.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you to everyone for being on this evening's call, especially Coach Kelly and Coach Meyer. We look forward to seeing everyone on January 1st at the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl. Have a great night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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