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TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 6, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We'll have each coach make an opening statement and then we will turn it over to the media for questions. We will begin with Coach Petersen from Boise State.
COACH PETERSEN: I tell ya, we are thrilled to be back in the BCS. We're equally excited to be going back to Arizona. I think the people there do such an unbelievable job. I think it's a memory that we've had that will never go away, the last time we were there. The one thing is we're thinking right now sometimes it's "be careful what you wish for" because TCU is that strong of a program.
We know each other pretty well. I think there is no better coach out there Gary Patterson and the things he does. I think the good thing about this is everybody knows how strong TCU is. I think everybody thinks they should be playing for the national championship, and I think it will be a tremendous challenge for us to show up and give those guys a good game.
We're excited and honored and pleased to be back in Arizona.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Patterson, if you would make a brief opening statement?
COACH PATTERSON: I would echo what Coach Petersen said. Every experience I've had with the Fiesta Bowl has been marvelous. We haven't had a chance, being our first BCS game, to be in the Fiesta Bowl, but I know our kids are excited about the opportunity to come out there and get a chance to play a great BCS program.
Coach Petersen is very nice but they've been winning for a long time. A year ago we played in a bowl game 17-16, could have went either way, a lot of good players on either side, so not only is he a good coach but I consider him a friend, one of the best men in the business, not only as a coach but as a person.
And you know we all do "coach speak" but I'll be honest with you, I'm excited about it because I know these are two class programs that know how to play at a very high level, and when they said this was going to be the match in the Fiesta Bowl, I was excited about what was going to go down.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. I would like to introduce the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Alan Young, and he has a brief opening statement.
MR. ALAN YOUNG: Thank you. We couldn't be more excited and happy to have this match-up. It's going to be a great match-up on the field. You have great teams, you have great coaching staffs that we admire and respect and have watched this entire year.
We know your fans support you, and we've seen that. We have had a tremendous media support for this event, excitement for this event for 100 different reasons, and the community of Arizona, the Fiesta Bowl, couldn't be happier with both of you in this game. Thank you, again, guys.
THE MODERATOR: And at this point we will throw it open to questions from the media for either of the coaches or John Junker, our president and C.E.O.
Q. Last year you met in what would be called a bowl game. This year you're under the big spotlight. How does that change what happens on the field if at all?
THE MODERATOR: Coach Petersen?
COACH PETERSEN: I don't know if it changes anything. I know we got a tougher challenge at hand than we had last year, and we didn't come through last year. Their players and team are playing at a higher level and Gary has taken that thing to the next step. That's what I'm talking about with the challenge that we have going on here. You know, I mean, heck, our players -- players want to play against the best, and I think our guys consider TCU the best, so I know they'll go and fight hard.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Patterson?
COACH PATTERSON: Would you repeat the question?
Q. Coach, last year you played in a game that wasn't in the big spotlight in the BCS Bowl. This year you have that stage; how does that change things?
COACH PATTERSON: Number one, you couldn't have told me or our players or Boise State that we weren't in the big spotlight. We were certain it was a big ball game. Boise State was ranked in the top 10, we were 11 or 12, so we played it and prepared for it like it was a national championship game, and that's what we're going to try to do in the next thirty days is do the same thing, try to prepare, understanding we're going to get everything that Boise State has, and we're going to put on a good ball game.
We want to make sure by the end of the ball game win or lose people understand what TCU is about and what Boise State is about and make sure that they understand -- because I don't consider us a nonqualifying school, and I don't think Boise State considers themselves that either. I believe the state of Arizona and the Fiesta Bowl are getting two teams that I think play with a lot of character and a lot of class and are going to give 'em everything they want.
Q. Coach, you were one missed field goal away from possibly playing in the title game. Your reaction now to playing No. 6 Boise State?
COACH PATTERSON: They're a very good football team, and it's like I told somebody earlier today, anybody that gets into one of these games is a really good football team. There is such a small margin of error. You look at the Boise win over Oklahoma a couple of years ago in the Fiesta Bowl. There is such a small margin of error, they don't understand what kind of players -- how good a players there are on the Boise State and TCU football teams.
So, you know, it was a hard win, like I told everybody. I sat there with my wife, we were sitting alone at home, and I opened the door because I knew if the Texas kicker missed it, that probably you could hear screams down the street from TCU fans, but I didn't hear any screams so the guy made the kick and here we go.
Q. For Chris and then Gary, there is an argument out there today that your programs would be better served by playing a team with let's call it a more positive "brand name" like a Florida or an Iowa than playing each other. What's your reaction to that?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, that might be true for TCU but it's not for Boise State because I think everyone knows about TCU and how strong they are. Like I said before, I think there is a lot of people that think they should be playing in the national championship game, so, you know, people think of TCU as good as there is out there, so that doesn't -- that statement I don't think holds up for us.
Q. Do you have a thought on that, Gary?
COACH PATTERSON: My biggest things is I don't let my kids think about that, because by saying that, we're saying that those leagues or those teams are better than what we are, and I think both Boise State and TCU belong to be talked about, in the latter days here where we've been having teams that have been able to play.
Again, I go back to the Boise State win against Oregon. Look where Oregon is now, and they only had a couple of first downs in the first half. And for us to go into Clemson and win -- so my point is when I was asked about playing in the Fiesta Bowl, number one I wanted to come to the Fiesta Bowl, and number two, I wanted to play a great opponent, and I think Boise State is a great opponent.
I didn't care who that was. We wanted to get a chance one more time to be able to step out and show what kind of a football team TCU has, and I don't think you can have a better opponent than what Boise is.
Q. Mr. Junker, John, I wanted to make sure I got the selection down correct. Sugar Bowl picked first, and they went with the SEC runner up in Florida. You had essentially the second pick and you took TCU; am I correct?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Yes, sir.
Q. And then Orange, who took Iowa, and back to you for Boise; correct?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Yes.
Q. So you had a chance to take Cincinnati but instead you took Boise; is that correct?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Correct, sir.
Q. Gary, do you give yourself a chance to think about what could happen in the AP Poll -- if Texas were to win and you guys were to be very impressive, do you think you've got a shot at a split title?
COACH PATTERSON: That's what I told my football team, but I would say Chris is probably saying the same thing to his. Our whole point is to feel like we feel this year at times when we played, we felt like we could play with anybody in the country. I voted ourselves "2" today because I felt like I owed it to my football team to do so.
I felt like on a big stage at certain points they had played like that. Whether we could beat any of those teams we're talking about, I don't know, but we would like the opportunity, just like we're glad that we have the opportunity to play a great Boise State team.
For me, you know, I try to stay away from what they've done, but I do believe that's one of the things we're trying to get accomplished, because probably just like Chris on the other side, we're trying to set ourselves up to be in a situation where you can start higher with the right folks. And that's one of the things that probably hurt us this year is we ended up 7th in the BCS, and then we started out preseason 17th.
We had a lot of our football team coming back, so you wonder if we would have started higher would we be in a different situation? But to me it doesn't really matter, I'm excited about what we're doing. Like I told our group, we've never been to this game, we're excited, and our kids are excited, and they practiced really well today because we've been off for a week. They're excited about getting back, and we've got a chance to get some bumps and bruises healed up and get ready to go.
They get another month to be together as one football team, because when this game is over with, this team is never going to be the same again. People leave and then you're going to have to try to remake another one. So we understand that this is going to be a special time.
Q. For Chris and then Gary, I'm curious, especially, Chris, you've gone undefeated multiple times now and never caught a whiff of the national title game, the "big game." Do you think a team from outside a BCS conference could ever make that game, Chris? And is there a measure of frustration where you beat Oregon with your competition and you're not even close?
COACH PETERSEN: I think this: I think each year it changes, and nothing is going to happen over night. I think everybody knows the system is not perfect, people are trying to figure out how to get it better, but I know by how many people are talking about TCU playing in a national championship game, things are changing.
For us to be in the bowl game and have a chance to play in two BCS bowl games in four years, five years ago, even for us, people didn't think that was possible. So slowly and surely things change. We're making progress and it's awesome that they're talking about TCU should be maybe playing in a national championship game. That gives us all hope.
Q. Any thoughts on that, Gary?
COACH PATTERSON: I think Chris is exactly right. You know, even as a school we probably never thought that we would ever be in a BCS game 12 years ago, and really Utah and Boise have opened the door. We've won three out of four games when our group has gone into those games, and I do believe that we've made a lot of strides just for them to be talking about this football team that could play for a national championship.
I think five years ago that would have never happened and we just got to keep climbin' the mountain. I keep telling people we don't need to whine, we need to keep doing it on the field, and I think people will respect that, and we'll keep doing it on the field, whether it's Boise State or Utah or whoever the next team is that does that. I think people are going to take note, and someday I think a team will get to play for a national championship.
Q. For both coaches, you were talking about the progress that's been made. I'm wondering if you believe it hinders your progress to have to beat up on one another instead of playing a "big conference" team?
COACH PETERSEN: For us at Boise, again, I don't think it does because I think people have so much respect for TCU, for us to go battle those guys, you know, I don't think we think of TCU as a nonBCS -- everybody knows how good they are, so for us we feel good about this.
COACH PATTERSON: I feel the same way about it. Playing Boise, that's why I'm excited. They're the 6th ranked team in the country for heaven's sakes.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions?
Q. John, can you talk about the reasoning behind putting these two teams together?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: I think our first position was to begin with we wanted the highest ranked team possible, but one that filled some other requirements. We were interested in the great job done at the University of Cincinnati this year, but candidly a team more from our region would make our game more accessible to fans, so TCU was an easy choice in that regard.
They've been at the top of the polls for the last month. It's a great program, they've grown in reputation, and many people felt nationally that they were a candidate to play in a national championship game. So knowing that we could get a regional team to do that, they were our first selection because it's important that our game be followed avidly and supported by many fans.
Following that we went through the selection process and it became evident that Boise State would be the next selection based on availability but also the tremendous job that Coach Petersen and his staff have done, the great season, undefeated season, and I'm not sure this has been followed very well, but this is only the 20th time in the history of bowl games that two undefeated teams have met in a bowl game, out of the hundreds -- thousands of bowl games.
To us this is an incredible attraction and I think it's been borne out by our research of Fox Television and other people's opinions we have sought out in the quality of the match-up. Anybody who says these teams should be playing a bigger conference is clearly doing a disservice to the quality of these teams. They are credible all the way, they belong, and we think it's a game that's going to have a tremendous amount of attention across the country.
It's also one candidly we're happy to host because of the quality of the programs, the quality of the players and the coaches. They do things right. We're excited about that and looking forward to hosting them in our community.
Q. I know there are people out there who want to say that you guys are putting these two teams together so they don't beat the BCS conference teams, but I'm assuming you're doing what's best for your bowl game; correct?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Attempting to be a gentleman that's the biggest load of crap I've heard in my life! We're in the business of doing things that are on behalf of our bowl game and we don't do the bidding of somebody else to our detriment.
These two programs either belong at the top level of college football or they don't, and clearly they do belong, and if they do belong they should play anybody, including each other. There was never a question for us, gee, would it be a problem if they played each other? We think it's going to be a tremendous celebration of college football. There will be a lot of collisions on that field and great college level football being played, and that's what a top bowl game is about.
Q. I think I heard you talking today about taking a chunk out of the glass ceiling?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: I think Coach Petersen and Coach Patterson did a great job of summarizing that much better than I could, and I think from a better perspective, but the fact is if we want to say these programs are as good as any other. We shouldn't be making distinctions about anybody they play other than they are a high-ranking opponent and an undefeated opponent and we hit it all on that one, it's a touchdown all the way!
Q. Obviously there were people up here who felt that if Texas lost last night Boise State would have gotten left out. Would you have done Nebraska/Boise State?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Thank God we don't have to answer that question because we just don't know. It's a challenging time. Anytime you make any decision we're always mindful of the fact that you have tremendously worthy, tremendously deserving groups of young men out there that have broken their bones and spilled their blood for their universities and for the friendships they have on that football team and for what they do in college football, so we never enjoy making a decision that -- we like the fact we get to reward worthy, wonderful teams like Boise State and TCU, but it's always a tough decision when you realize that you do leave some out.
I think the nice thing is we don't have to worry about that now because it's all speculation and look at Nebraska! What a game they played, what an incredible monumental effort, but that's college football! They were 1-second short, but that's the heart breaker and the system that we play in, and I think these coaches can think of places where they were in games that might have gone another way this year.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, I would like to direct you back to the coaches. Anymore questions for the coaches? Coach Petersen, Coach Patterson, we thank you for your time and look forward to having you out here, we look forward to seeing you.
COACH PETERSEN: John and Alan, we are so pleased and can't wait to get out there.
COACH PATTERSON: Same from us.
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Thanks, coaches. We're thrilled to have you coming out.
THE MODERATOR: We'll see you soon. Remaining media members that have questions for John?
Q. John, last you could have taken Boise State; you took Ohio State. This year you took Boise State, what made the difference this year?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: I think the distinction that people need to understand is every year is different and every year is an attempt to make a match-up. You know, I think last year our thinking was really pretty clear as last year we had a first selection and really the way the BCS lines up with participation by the Big East and other selection criteria is our Fiesta Bowl doesn't get a chance to match up legacy universities and, again I referred to it earlier as the difficult time you have when you decide among very worthy teams and groups of young men who all really -- you would love to have three or four teams in your game.
We made that decision last year because we had an opportunity to match two legacy programs, Ohio State and Texas, and all I can say is for us that year it worked out very well. The game went down to the end, it was called by college football news the "best of the bowls," it was a stirring finish to our game, we had tremendous TV ratings and a full house, it was everything we wanted.
I might name three or four other teams, including Boise State, that would have been wonderful teams to have, but for the reasons of the system we decided to go otherwise, and we were happy to see by the way they were involved in a high-quality game that got a lot of attention also, as both coaches said.
I think the key is to remember every year is different, every year is a match-up and I think to that point I would note that people saying, oh, we played them last year, well, you didn't. As Coach Patterson said, every year is a brand new group of young men, we're not the NFL with the same rosters every year, every year is different, it's a brand new challenge, a brand new group of senior leaders, a brand new story line.
You know, I'll simply tell you, there is no question, Boise State's win over Oregon put them on our radar screen early and it kept them there late in the season. You don't think we're proud of the fact that we got a team in our bowl game that beat a representative of the Pac 10 to the Rose Bowl? The fact is it's an appealing story but every year is different.
Q. I'm assuming when you took TCU this is how it would end up?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: We thought it might but we don't try to plan too much. We don't spend any time talking to the other bowl games about what they want or what match-up, because we see ourselves in competition, number one, and number two it's an unfair place to put someone, you know. I respect all my counterparts, they work very hard, they have tremendous histories at their games and great stories to tell, tremendous, tremendous traditions, and it's just not something we do is to call and say what are you thinking about. It puts people in a position they shouldn't be in.
We stick to our knitting and try to determine what match-up we want. TCU was an easy choice in terms of the appeal they had, but we had to go through the steps of looking at it carefully because Cincinnati was appealing, Iowa was appealing, Penn State was appealing and Boise State was, also, and we knew once we made a selection that would set some Dominos in order and some choices and results that were maybe somewhat unpredictable but we couldn't be happier with how things worked out.
Q. What's the expectation in terms of crowd or TV ratings? What do you expect this game to draw?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: We will ask Fox Sports about their assessment of ratings but there is a consulting clause if you will in our contract that we're asked by the BCS to consult with Fox Sports on possible match-ups and we've had three to seven or eight conversations with them over the last couple of weeks, and this was one of them we consulted with them and they were thrilled with the possibilities for it so we feel good about it.
In terms of audience, we're sold out now, both universities want more than their allotment of tickets, which is great news, and it's going to be everything a major bowl game should be: A full house, a great setting, it's going to be two teams that are extremely well coached and that belong in a major bowl game.
Q. Beyond the 17,500 each team gets, everything else is sold out already?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Yes, both teams will get a smaller number of additional tickets, and I don't know exactly what but I think the fact is that there is genuine excitement in the team markets in this match-up and about being in a BCS game and hopefully about being with us here in Arizona at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and I think if people think about it, hey, our programs belong at the top level of college football, we're both undefeated, we're both in the top six, let's get it on.
Q. And you sell out all of your local tickets in advance, right?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: Yes.
Q. Do you feel like you took a risk with this pick?
MR. JOHN JUNKER: You know, I've known Coach Petersen since he played here the last time, and I've known Mr. Blaymeier for years before that. I've known Coach Patterson since before he started at TCU and a few years as an assistant coach, and there is never any guarantee when you make a match-up.
I remember matching up Nebraska and Florida going in thinking it was going to be an exciting game and it turned out 62-24, and that's no umbrage to our friends in Florida, the next year they won the national championship and their quarterback won the Heisman Trophy, but we feel good about the quality of the people we're associating with here. They're wonderful people and wonderful programs, and we can't wait to get them here.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks and we look forward to seeing you out here in Arizona.
End of FastScripts