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December 6, 2009

Mack Brown

Nick Saban

GINA CHAPPIN: At this time I'd like to introduce the head coach for the University of Texas Longhorns, Mack Brown. Welcome.
COACH BROWN: We're very honored to be invited back to the Rose Bowl. The Texas fans loved it out there in '04 and '05. And we're honored to play such a great team like the University of Alabama and a coach, Nick Saban, whom I have tremendous respect for. And those guys have done a tremendous job.
And you have to really be excited about the senior classes of both of these teams, because over the last two years they've won a lot of football games. And we're excited about the challenge.
GINA CHAPPIN: Thank you, Coach. Next up I'd like to introduce the head coach for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, Nick Saban. Coach, welcome.
COACH SABAN: Thank you very much. We are truly honored. We think the Tournament of Roses is the grand daddy of them all. In my years in the Big Ten we did have several opportunities to play in the Rose Bowl.
And it's first-class all the way. And we're excited as a university and as a team to have the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl and to play such a quality opponent with tremendous tradition and great accolades in terms of accomplishment over this year and being 13-0 in the University of Texas.
Coach Brown has done a fantastic job at the University of Texas in his time there. And their team this year has done a fantastic job to go undefeated. And we have a tremendous amount of respect for their accomplishments. And at the same time we're very excited about our opportunity as a team to be able to come and represent the SEC in the national championship game.
GINA CHAPPIN: Questions.

Q. Coach Saban, I was wondering, I'm sure your schedule is obviously not quite firm yet. But could you tell us what it looks like over the next month as far as the practice schedule and also a travel schedule?
COACH SABAN: We have not decided and made all those decisions yet. We spent a lot of time doing some research on it today. And we'll probably know more about that in the next day or so.

Q. For both coaches, you two are coming into this game kind of off very different, you know, last games. Coach Saban, you had a very decisive victory yesterday. And, Coach Brown, you had that last-second finish. Is it dangerous to read too much into that as you prepare your team either knowing about what the other team just went through and vice versa about your own team as you head into this match-up?
COACH BROWN: Well, we have great respect for Nebraska. And we're excited to be playoff champs. They've got a tremendous defense like Alabama. One of the best defenses in the country, and our defense played very well. Their offense had struggled some throughout the year.
But our offense made some plays to win the game at the end. And we felt like you have to give Nebraska credit for the way they played and give our kids credit for the way they hung in there and found a way to win.
Because great teams find a way to win. I heard Coach Saban say after the Auburn game, it's the strong survive this time of the year. And when you look at Alabama at 13-0 and Texas at 13-0, these kids should deserve so much credit because they for 13 straight games have found a way to win, and that's a very difficult thing to do.

Q. For both coaches, how much have you been really been able to see of either team to this point, and as far as -- for Coach Saban, when do you feel like you'll get guys back to practice? I know you say you don't have a schedule. It's going to be a lull of a couple of weeks, I would imagine.
COACH SABAN: We didn't have an opportunity. We looked at our game today and graded it. And we have the banquet for our team tonight, which is great to recognize the players. And I know we won't practice for two weeks. I just haven't solidified exactly the days when we start and when we're off for Christmas and when we come back and all those kind of things to this point.
But I was also supposed to answer the last question and didn't get the opportunity to, but I think you read much too much into one game. Consistency and performance is the most difficult thing in this day and age. And I think Mack's point about only the strong survive or the strong survive at this time of year is they find a way to win because you don't always play your best.
And we went through a game like that at Auburn and won scoring in the last seconds of the game to win 26-21 and then came back and played a great game the next week against Florida.
I think it's tough to hit on all cylinders all the time, but the great teams find a way to win.

Q. Coach Brown, I did want to ask about that Nebraska defense and how important it might be for your team to have played that type of defense in preparation for what you'll see from Alabama. Do you think that will be a good experience to kind of have in their minds as they prepare for Alabama?
COACH BROWN: I'm not sure you would say it was a good experience, because they knocked us out and we had nine sacks and didn't play very well.
But I think it got our offensive team's attention, and we moved the ball very well against Texas A&M. And as like Nick said, you just don't play well all the time in all phases. What you have to do is find a way to win.
The Alabama defense is as good as any in the country. And they play well each week. And I said earlier in the conference call, when you look at what Nick's accomplished, it's as good as anybody in the country. And he's a great football coach. He's smart, intense and those kids are well coached and they're in the right place.
I could tell the first time the Florida team -- I got to see about the first quarter of the game the other day. The first time the Florida team ran their option shuffle pass and the defensive end followed the tight end all the way down and tackled him in the back field, I said those guys, they're prepared and watching it and know what they're doing.
We're excited about Will Muschamp. And Nick raised him. And Will's tremendous at what he does. He learned what he knows from Nick. They do as good a job on defense as anybody in the country.

Q. Nick, this is for you, two-part question. Did you guys get a chance, either on the ride back or whatever, to watch any of the Texas/Nebraska game, is the first part of the question? And given what you just said about sometimes you put too much stock into one game, the reality is that you guys will be considered the favorite going in. How do you combat that over the next four weeks or so?
COACH SABAN: I think that, first of all, we did not get to see the game last night. I saw the highlights of the end of the game because we were traveling back from our game.
But with our players, we really try to insulate our players as much as we can from what we call clutter out there, which we really have a tremendous amount of respect for the media and all they do to give our players a lot of positive self-gratification for their efforts and cover our game and make it what it is.
But at the same time you can't drink the Kool-Aid by listening to what everybody says is going to happen in a game when nobody really knows what's going to happen in the game and you've got to stay focused on what you need to do to prepare and play your best football and you're just being set up when you listen to some of these talking heads out there that make these predictions about what's going to happen and why they pick who is going to win based on a lot of probably misinformation.
So I've always tried to insulate our players from that and make sure that they have the proper respect. And I know they have a tremendous amount of respect for Texas, Texas players and the Texas team and their coaches, and will do everything we can to not listen to anybody's prediction, because that doesn't mean anything in terms of the outcome of the game.
The game's going to get decided on 53 yards wide and 100 yards deep when the game comes on January 7th.

Q. Mack, on the flip side of that previous question, it seems like one of the questions you and your players are going to get for the next month or so: Do you deserve to be in this game? Obviously you're undefeated with the other teams that were up for it, too. And how do you handle that, and do you embrace the underdog role in this?
COACH BROWN: Number one, the system put us in the game. So who are we to question. Whether you like the system or not, it's what it is. And it's not changing.
We've been told for the last three weeks, if we won our games, then we would be in the game. We do feel like we've earned that right as players. And our guys are excited about that challenge.
The second part of that is the University of Alabama and the University of Texas lives in a fishbowl of high standards. And the expectation is to win every week.
And when these two teams match up, there's tremendous history. These are two storied programs in college football. Both groups of these kids will be excited about the Rose Bowl because it's something they've heard and read about their entire lives. They'll be excited about the challenge of the other team and they know how good Florida is. And they know that Alabama stepped up and beat Florida this weekend.
So I think, as Coach Saban said, too much is put into all the stuff. The team that plays the best on that day wins the game. I think teams that have won 13 games understand that.
And all year there's been talk about this team's going to upset that team or this team is better that team. And really none of it matters until this game's played. And these two teams get it.

Q. For both coaches, just the process coming to Pasadena, with the Rose Bowl being such an historic, the oldest Bowl and your thoughts coming out here.
COACH SABAN: We feel like it's a tremendous honor. And I've been to the Rose Bowl on several occasions before being in the Big Ten and thought just the tradition of the Rose Bowl and the pageantry of the Rose Bowl, and it's really tremendous class, great organization and as fine a competitive venue for college football players as any place you could ever go in the country. So we're really excited about the opportunity to come to the Tournament of Roses.
COACH BROWN: I would reiterate everything that Nick said. Our five-year seniors in 2005 were in the group that came out there. We made a tremendous amount of friends with the Rose Bowl.
And we heard so much about the Rose Bowl is so locked into the Pac-10 and Big Ten that they're not going to treat you nice and the experience may not be good.
And we found it to be totally opposite. People reached out to us and were excited with us being there. I'm going to tell you now, LA and Hollywood are going to be full of Texas and Alabama fans. It's going to be an exciting week.

Q. You each have a preeminent Heisman trophy candidate. Could you each offer maybe a sentence or two, no more than that, on just why your guy deserves it?
COACH SABAN: I'll go first on that one. I think that Mark Ingram is one of the best players on a very good team and has done everything we've asked him to do as a player.
Because you have a player that's done that, you really would like to see him get all the accolades that he deserves, yet, as a coach you don't see everybody else all the time so it's hard to make comparisons. If I was to vote I would vote for Mark Ingram, because he's my favorite because he's one of the great players on our team.
COACH BROWN: And I can't say it any better than Nick did. Last year I sat there with Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy. I wanted Colt to win. And he would have gotten my vote. But Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford had tremendous years, too, just like Mark.
There's great players across the country. And I would vote for Colt McCoy for what he's done for us winning 44 games and the number of comebacks that he's had and all the records he's broken.
But at the same time there's great players across the country. And I guess I'm glad I don't have a vote.

Q. Mack, just a question on the big game presence that Colt brings and what makes him unique in the time he's been there in your program over the years, seems like he rises to the top when a lot is on the line.
COACH BROWN: He really does. In fact, Bill is sitting here with me. He said he's won 45 now instead of 44. I messed it up. I guess I still haven't gotten over last night's last-second win. He called him "Colt 45." But what he's done, he's raised in a coaching family. In fact, his dad is in the high school state playoffs right now doing really, really well.
He's a guy that was a winner in high school in basketball and golf and football and everything he ever touches, and he does get excited about the game. And he, like myself, is a historian of college football and he'll be so excited about the challenge of playing Alabama.

Q. Guys, the way the BCS is set up, really one game is the only one that matters. And you both have won it before. Is there a difference in how you manage getting ready for the game versus the kind of reward experience, the reward of a Bowl system given what's on the line in this particular game?
COACH BROWN: I would not think so. We understand, the University of Texas and the University of Alabama, every game is important, from the starting game of the year and any Bowl game that we would be playing in that we need to win. So our guys will understand that this game is very important, like the last one and the one before that.
And like Nick, we have not looked at it yet. We're in the process right now because you do not want to start looking at where you're going to go before you earn that right. And I'm getting calls and we're talking today about plans and where to go. But until a few minutes ago we didn't know we were in the game.
So we'll start looking right now to have the best preparation that we can based on our other Bowl experiences.
COACH SABAN: And I guess I'm supposed to answer this question, too. But I think Mack probably said it as well as it could be said.
It's an important game and you want to do everything you can to prepare your players to play their best game so they have the best opportunity to be successful and they had a great season. And they're going to have a trip that they can enjoy and experience that they can enjoy, but what they're going to remember most about this is the game itself and they'll live with the outcome of it for a long, long time. That should be the most important thing that they're focused on.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to introduce Acting President of the Tournament of Roses, Jeff Throop.
JEFF THROOP: Gentlemen, we appreciate you taking time out of what I'm sure is a very busy schedule. On behalf of the Tournament of Roses staff and volunteers and the City of Pasadena, we congratulate you both and look forward to an exciting match-up on January 7th.

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