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December 8, 2013

Bobby Hauck

Tina Kunzer-Murphy

Dan McCarney

Brant Ringler

Rick Villarreal

TIM SIMMONS:  My name is Tim Simmons, and I handle the media operations for the Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank.  The game will be played on January 1st, that's a Wednesday, at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium.  Kickoff is 11 a.m. central time and will be televised nationally by ESPNU.  There will also be a national radio, network that's being formed right now, and that will be releases in the next week or so.
Again, to start off the press conference we have Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Grant, welcome.
BRANT RINGLER:  Thank you, Tim.
TIM SIMMONS:  Brant, kind of get into the matchup with University of North Texas and UNLV and how that all came about.  Especially it was going to be Conference USA versus Big 10.
Get into that a little bit.
BRANT RINGLER:  First of all, I just want to say thank you to everybody for being on the line.  We're extremely excited about this matchup in the Heart of Dallas Bowl played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.
I've had the opportunity to get to know the athletic directors, you know, Rick and Tina.  I've known Tina for about nine years now.  They're two great people, and they have two great coaches working for them.
Their football teams are fantastic.  Great turnarounds that they've had this season.  They got their teams definitely on the right track and we're excited to have them in our game.
The way UNLV came about to be in our game, because they're in the Mountain West Conference, and obviously we were paired originally with Conference USA versus the Big 10.  They played two teams up into the BCS with Michigan State and Ohio State, so it opened up a spot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl game.
But our other game over in Fort Worth has the Mountain West Conference, and we were able to move the Mountain West Conference over to the Heart of Dallas Bowl because we had an extra Conference USA team that could not play UNT because they played earlier this year, and thus were able to put Middle Tennessee into the Armed Forces Bowl and it allowed UNLV to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl game.
TIM SIMMONS:  This is the first your that ESPN has been involved.  Kind of give a little history of where the bowl is gonna go from here.  Obviously we're excited about the matchup, but, again it's a new bowl for the ESPN events operation.
BRANT RINGLER:  Yeah, the Heart of Dallas Bowl is the new game at the Cotton Bowl Stadium that we own.  We work with the Heart of Dallas Foundation, which a nonprofit foundation that hosts sports and entertainment events benefitting Dallas charities, so really excited about that and the way we can give back to the local community.
In the future, on the football field, we have a six‑year agreement with Conference USA moving forward.  Big 12 or Big 10 in the future as well.
TIM SIMMONS:  Do you have any questions for Brant Ringler before we talk to the folks from North Texas?
Another easy night for you, Brant.  With the bowl game being played at the Cotton Bowl, you'll have a game two days earlier in Fort Worth, but the transition from where the Metroplex is gonna have four bowl games next year; you've got three.  So it's bam, bam, bam, football in the Metroplex.
BRANT RINGLER:  I think that's great for college football.  I think it's great for the fans and the Metroplex.  We hope they all definitely come out.
We're really excited about UNT being able to come down to the Cotton Bowl.  Coach McCarney has got that team fired yo and the fan base fired up.  They were setting attendance average records this year that they hadn't had in a while.  We think that fan base will do well at the Cotton Bowl.  It's a historic place.  A lot of great players have played there.  It's going to be a fantastic setting for UNT and UNLV to play in.

Q.  How long have you had your sights set on UNT as being a potential team to fill the bowl spot?
BRANT RINGLER:  We have been looking at them for over a month.  I was up at Rice game.  I was up at another game as well, and we sent another person up at the end of the season to watch a game as well.
They're very exciting to watch.  The defense is spectacular.  We feel like they're going to be a perfect fit here in the Cotton Bowl.
TIM SIMMONS:  Any other questions for Brant Ringler?

Q.  You may have already covered this, but wanted to ask about the location in terms North Texas being so close.  Do you think that's going to be a big boon for the bowl in terms of getting people to the game?
BRANT RINGLER:  I think it's definitely a bonus for us.  I think it's a perfect situation for both of us.  For fans, it will be easy and convenient.
It's the next step in the process for UNT as they grow their program to go to a bowl game, and to go to one that's local that the fans can gather and rally around their program, I think that a win‑win for everybody.
So should be an exciting day.
TIM SIMMONS:  Is Rick on the line?
TIM SIMMONS:  Welcome, Rick.  Just give your thoughts.  2004 was the last time the Mean Green were in a bowl game.  Obviously a great turnaround by your program this year.  Just some thoughts.
RICK VILLARREAL:  Yeah, when we made the decision to hire Dan three years ago this is what we had in our sights.  We've significantly increased our facilities.  We upgraded a lot of things on our campus.  The last thing you need to put in place was a head coach that could develop a program.
That's what the fans asked for and what we've given them.  Coach McCarney has done an outstanding job putting this team together.  Five wins his first year; four his second.
But either one of those years he could have easily gotten bowl eligible.  Now they have eight wins this year.  It's just steppingstone for him and this program.
We couldn't be more excited to go to Dallas.  Rick's been up a couple times.  We enjoyed conversations and been excited about the possibility of being in Dallas.  We have over 200,000 alums in the area, so it's a natural fit for us right here at home.
We're gonna challenge ur fans.  It's been a program that was kind of left out to die for about 25 years, and we started the process of rebuilding it in 2001.  I think we're now where our fans want us to be and continue to grow, and this is a great opportunity.  We couldn't be more grateful and honored to be in Dallas, and look forward to being there.
TIM SIMMONS:  Being in Conference USA for the first year, that's probably a good reason why you switched conferences from the Sun Belt to the Conference USA.  Do you think that enhanced your bowl opportunities?
RICK VILLARREAL:  Oh, I'm sure it did.  The commissioner has done a great job taking care of this conference and put us in situations to have bowl opportunities.  The Sun Belt where we were before, we battled between one or two teams to get the bowl games.  So it was really a little bit tighter.
To be 8 and 4 in this conference coming in the first year, expectations weren't quite as high from maybe some of the people in a lot of places about us coming into the Conference USA, but it's been a great fit for us.  We excited about the fact that we have a lot of the regional play, the fact that we have some teams and programs that are nationally recognized.
Coming out the first year to be in a position to not only be in a bowl game, but to be in a position late in the season to actually have a chance to win a conference was exciting.  We look forward to a great future in the Conference USA.
TIM SIMMONS:  Any questions?

Q.  Dan McCarney obviously did a great job turning around Ohio State.  Was that what convinced you he could do the same with North Texas?
RICK VILLARREAL:  Yes, that was part of the process.  It was really a matter of three things.  One, he had been through the process before.  He had been at a university where the program had been down and where the fan base might have been little bit disconnected, and rallied those troops and did an outstanding job.
Second thing was he's been around programs that have won games.  Not only won regular season games, but a lot of bowl games and a national championship.  While that might not relate to a lot of people, that's the mentality you want to bring to a football team to play at the very highest level.
Third and closing thing was everybody that I talked to, in making up a list when I first started, everybody just talked about how personal, how he was gonna be in contact with his players, with the administration, with the fans, that he was caring.  That's shown through.
That's the kind of personality that's carried over to our players.  It's been a great partnership.  We couldn't be more excited to have Dan here.

Q.  Rick, when you brought Dan in, obviously this is what you had in mind.  Are you surprised at how quickly he's accomplished what he has?
RICK VILLARREAL:  I'm not.  Some people might say that's been a little crazy.  When you looked around at what we had in place with the new stadium coming online, guys like Lance Dunbar, Zach Orr, and Derek Thompson, and Brelan Chancellor.  There was a lot of young talent in the room.  It needed just to be brought together.
It was apparent quickly that Dan took charge of his program, that he took charge of everything from academics to football.
The culture changed immediately.  I'll give you a for instance:  Today when it was announced we got the bowl bid, you know, the kids in the past probably would have tweeted something about, Can't wait to get to Dallas, or Can't wait to see what I get for my bowl package.
Brelan Chancellor tweeted, Everybody needs to ask for $75 for Christmas.  That's the mentality of this team.  It's about team.  If you're going to be champions, you have to have a sense of team.
I think that's why we've been successful.

Q.  You touched on the fact that it's close and that pretty much eliminates a lot of the excuses we typically hear from North Texas fans.  Are you concerned at all about the turnout being that this will be looked at for future bowl bids?
RICK VILLARREAL:  This is what we've asked for what we've worked for.  We've got a great opportunity.  What it might normally cost two people for plane tickets just to get to a game somewhere, to be here in a Dallas, probably can bring a family of four, spend a the night in Dallas, have a great meal and a great day at the game the next day.
So, yeah, we'll challenge your fans.  They've challenged us, and I think we've stepped up and met a lot of that challenge.  We got a lot of fans in the Metroplex.  Some of them haven't been reconnected to the program, but it's time they stepped up and got reconnected.
TIM SIMMONS:  Any other questions for Rick Villarreal?

Q.  When you hired Dan, I remember you and I talked about what you wanted to do; you're halfway or a part of the way there.  When you get here, do you have a hard time not thinking about what's next, or do you have to remind yourself to enjoy where you are right now?  Because a lot of people thought this may not come right way and maybe at all.
RICK VILLARREAL:  You know, we're going to do both:  we're definitely going to relish the fact that we've had success and gotten to this bowl game.  It's been a long time coming.  Although if you look in the past, it's been 49 years since we got to a bowl game.
So to get there this quickly, we are going to relish the fact we are there.  We are looking forward to what the next steps are we have to take to build the program and keep this program amongst the top in our conference and respected among the nation.
Whether that's in facilities or coaching staff or whatever that may be, we're training those folks.  That's what I'm thinking about right now.  What are the steps we have to take as an administration to continue moving forward?  We're going to take a week, I can promise you, right around New Year's and really enjoy the success we've had.

Q.  You mentioned about challenging the fans to make sure they participate.  They challenged you; now you're challenging them.  Rick, in terms of a number, what number do you think you have to hit to make this all worthwhile so to speak?  You hear horror stories about athletic departments losing their shirts on bowl games.
RICK VILLARREAL:  Well, to be honest with you, I think I'm gonna invite them to come back.  We didn't give them a reason for a long time to come back and watch North Texas football.
But I think the financial part of it, we'll sell enough tickets.  That's not going to be a problem.  I had phone calls all day today.  I think that response is gonna be great.  It's not that ‑‑ we need to have a great turnout.  We are 30 miles a way, 35 miles away.  A lot of our people are less than 15 miles from the Cotton Bowl stadium where they live.
So it's gonna be more in numbers than in dollars because it's an easy opportunity.  Again, they don't have to go very far.  Most don't have to take off work.  Playing on New Year's Day.
All the excuses are kind of removed, and so it's going to be about numbers.  And I expect to see big numbers.

Q.  Rick, will there be in sort of ticket packages that the athletic department might put together?
RICK VILLARREAL:  We're working on a number of things.  We'll definitely ‑‑ we'll work something on New Year's Eve, although that's a little more difficult for in the city of Dallas this late in the process.
But we're going to find a way and find a place, and then we'll do a big tailgate the day of the game, that morning, kind of a brunch‑type deal.
We got to go down this next week and see the site and find a place to do that.  But we've always done that and packaged that together with tickets for one price.  People don't have to worry about looking around for things or trying to figure out how much this or that is gonna cost.
Then we're going to encourage some more fans maybe to buy an extra student ticket or to maybe pay part of a ticket and put it in a package and then we'll turn around and help students get to the game.
But we think a lot of students are going to come anyway.

Q.  Do you feel like there is still a little extra significance to be able to play on New Year's?
RICK VILLARREAL:  Sure there is.  This game is really great for a lot of reasons.  We get to play in the Cotton Bowl.  When you think about the games that have gone in there.  I can remember Notre Dame playing in there with Joe Theismann and being sick and the whole nine yards.
It's just one of those deals where it's a great place to play.  New Year's Day is always the day everybody plays great games.  To be able to play on that day is a special day.
We get to play close to home, so for those three reasons it's going to be a special day.
TIM SIMMONS:  Coach McCarney, are you on the line?
DAN MCCARNEY:  I sure am.
TIM SIMMONS:  Can you give us some thoughts about playing is Dallas and some stats about your team's performance this season.
DAN MCCARNEY:  Yeah, first of all congratulations to Bobby Hauck and Tina Kunzer‑Murphy on their season.  Great job turning that thing around.  Bobby is not only going to be the opposing head coach in this great matchup that we have in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but he's also a personal friend and a heck of a person.  In this profession you really appreciate people that are really, really good football coaches, which Bobby is, and he's even a better person.
I'm really excited about this.  I haven't stopped smiling since I got the call Brant Ringler and Rick Villarreal that we were getting the opportunity to come to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.  It's my 21st bowl game.  I don't know that I've ever been more excited or thrilled or ecstatic or appreciative of the opportunity that we've gotten to represent Conference USA and play against a heck of an UNLV football time on January 1st.
This is a tremendous matchup.  When you talk about going into the Cotton Bowl, one of the great venues in the history of college football on January 1st, which really hits home for me because I've loved college football for so many years.  What a great opportunity for all of us.
Really appreciate it.  Thanks to Commissioner Bernosky.  Great job leading this conference.  It was less than a year ago he decided to invite us, less than a year ago, I guess, into Conference USA, and we are going to continue to do everything we can on and off the field to make him proud.
And thanks to Rick Villarreal, my athletic director, my president three short years ago to give me a chance to lead this program and turn it around.
There is no such thing as a bad bowl game.  This is a real special win to me for a lot of reasons.  I get a chance to coach against a heck of a football team.  These are two teams that have really been through some adversity in recent years in turning their programs around.
This time of year some ADs and maybe some coaches worry about players or coaches or fans that may not be all that excited about going to a bowl game.
I don't want to speak for Bobby.  I'm sure he feels the same way I do.  We'll hear from him in a little bit.  We can't wait to be a part of this bowl game.  Polled seniors after we got our seventh win, before we got to our eighth one, just to try and get some kind of feel for the bowl (indiscernible) that we have in Conference USA.
I will say I was surprised that all 22 of my seniors wanted to go to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.  That's not fabricated or fake or phony.  That's real.  So that their family and friends and relatives and high school coaches could come a watch them in their last game in college football at North Texas.
Easy to say I'm thrilled.  We've come through an awful a lot and overcome a lot.  We're really, really proud to represent Conference USA and get a chance to coach against Bobby and his football team in about 24 days.
TIM SIMMONS:  Can you spotlight some of the players, offense, defense, special teams, that have been major contributors for you this season.
DAN MCCARNEY:  Yeah, we went from 4 and 8 to 8 and 4.  From last year to this year was the best turnaround in almost 30 years at North Texas.
You don't do that by tricking people or smoke and mirrors.  No matter what scheme we have, you better have players that can go execute.  We came out of last year with a lot of disappointment.  We were 4 and 8 and felt like we should have been 6 and 6 and bowl eligible, but we didn't.
That's one of the reasons we were able to come on and do some real positive things this year.  Derek Thompson, our quarterback, you know, he's not going to reset any records or anything like that.  All you do is love to go to gameday with him out there.  No. 7.  He's tough.  He's been through a lot.  He's been through some ups and downs.  He's really had a heck of a year.
Brandon Brewer, our tailback, 1000 rusher.  We rotate three backs, but he's one of the most unselfish high character guys I've ever been around.
The offensive line, they're coached by Mike Simmons.  They tough.  They're hard nosed.  They're relentless.  They don't pass any of the eye tests.
There are not many guys out there that you look at and go, Oh, my gosh, look how great those guys look in uniform.
But all they do is drive and push and get better every day.  I'm really proud of them.
Brelan Chancellor, he's had an all‑conference season no matter where you put him on the field.
Defensively we were in the bottom ten in the country when i took this job three years ago.  Understand the leadership of John Skladany we've made dramatic improvement.  We had to and needed to and we've done that.  Zach Orr is our leader.  Marcus Trice has had an all‑conference year as a safety.
We have a lot of guys.  We play a lot of guys and rotate and try and stay fresh.  We've made some tremendous improvement on defense.  One of the great hiring I did was hiring Tommy Perry, my special teams coach, because we went from nonexistent to changing the game and flipping the field and making the difference in games last year on special teams.  It was a major strength almost every week of the season.
Put all those things together, we finished up 8 and 4 and we have a chance to go to this great bowl game on January 1st.

Q.  How unique or special do you think it is you have two teams that have been struggling for a long time to get to this point and they're facing each other?
DAN MCCARNEY:  Can you imagine?  I've dreamed of this since I took the job, and I'm sure Bobby has felt the same.  Nobody is taking anything for granted.  We're all appreciative for everything that we have.  I don't have one player that's ever been in a bowl game or one player that's ever been part of a winning season in college.
You talk about appreciative and thankful and excited and jacked up and all of the above?  It's all here now.  That's what this is all about.
When you get two teams so hungry and thankful and to the administration, to the bowl people, to Brant Ringler to give us this opportunity, that said we want North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.  He gave us that opportunity to go represent our conference.  Unbelievable.  You have two programs that way.
The long range forecast, by the way, even though we have a lot of ice and snow, sunny and 70 for January 1st.
TIM SIMMONS:  I hope you're right.  Any other questions for Coach McCarney?

Q.  Just real quick, you've given your seniors a lot of credit for the success this year.  How happy are you that they get to finish their careers on this note?
DAN MCCARNEY:  I can't put it into words.  They've meant so much, and we tried to raise expectations and tried to embrace the challenges.  But we haven't made any promises or guarantees or anything like that.  We just tried to get better each day.
But it's been led by these guys.  So when the torch was passed to these seniors last January after a real disappointing 4 and 8 season, they put their foot in the ground and put a line in the sand and said, Let's be different; let's be remembered and not forgotten and try to do some things that haven't been done here in a long, long time.
My respect and my love for this senior class will gone on forever.  I appreciate them as much as you can appreciate a senior class.  All of us together as a football family, that's the great thing about bowl seasons.  There are a whole bunch of teams in America right now that would like to be in our shoes.
We all want one last great memory together, that's to win a football game.  I think we've got two very, very competitive, excited, turnaround programs that are going after this victory, which makes for a heck of a football game.
TIM SIMMONS:  One more question.

Q.  Can you just talk about the momentum you guys have as a program?  Obviously you have the new stadium; moved to the new conference.  How far do you think you can take this thing going forward?
DAN MCCARNEY:  The sky is the limit.  I think that's one of the main reasons I took this job.  Villarreal came to Gainsville, Florida to meet with my wife and I.  I'm no rookie.  I've been around it as an assistant with Hayden Fry, as a coordinator with Barry Alvarez, as a head coach at Ohio State.
Those three programs were all pathetic excuses for college football when we started, and we turned them around.  We got to go to South Florida and we won nine.  We got to go with Urban Meyer and be part of a national championship.  I think we were 30 and 2 the last 32 games.
So I've been on both ends of it.  0 and 11 and national championship.  So what does that say?  Perspective.  I just think that there are just some exciting times here in North Texas.  We've got great leadership from the administration here and a tremendous fan base.  It's been a slow but steady process to bring our fans back.
We're going to really reach out and challenge them and hopefully they'll really, really come out and support us not only for this bowl game, but what it does is send a message for the future that our fans will support us no matter where we go.
Just happens to be in one of the great places in America in Dallas in the Cotton Bowl.  This is what it's all about.  This is the reward for everyone working the last 365 days.  The reward is bowl games.  For all of us to get together and put best against best, you're not in a bowl game unless you've had a really good season.  Both these programs have.
But let's say thanks and be appreciative.  We ought to be really blessed that we get this opportunity because there are lots of people‑‑ who are we kidding, there are a lot of people and coaches and administrators in America that would love to be in our shoes right now to go coach and play in this game.

Q.  How is the practice schedule going to look like for the next couple weeks?
DAN MCCARNEY:  We to have blend it and work it through obviously like we all do this time of year.  Finals are coming on.  Recruiting is going on.  Nice thing with this is the date is not until January 1st, so we have 24 days between now and kickoff.  You've got to get your work.  You've got to get your reps.  You want to keep the edge.
Yet it was time for my guys to get a little bit of rest.  I will mention we did have a couple of practices scheduled this weekend, but with all this ice that moved in it just kind of came to a standstill.  I got to work the last three days.  I grew up in the Midwest and I can get through the snow and the ice and the glaciers.  I'm good.
But they shut down the campus and we've not been able to practice this past weekend.  We've got to get our work.  When you're facing a team that finished really, really strong ‑‑ Bobby's team finished with their last two victories of the season and they finished with a lot of success; they had a four‑game winning streak earlier in the season‑‑ we have to get back to one of the reasons we turned this program around and had the success we've had this year is we got better with fundamentals.  We've got to get back on the field.
It's almost like another spring practice as we all know.  North Texas has been missing out on that for a number of years.  Will be here this year.  Not only getting ready for your opponent and trying to win a football game, but your developmental practices with all the underclassmen.  We'll be trying to do a good job of that.
This is what that's all about.  This is the exciting part of a season, when you get to go get extra work to develop your team and get a chance to coach against a heck of a program in UNLV.
TIM SIMMONS:  Coach, thank you very much.  We look forward to seeing you.  Tina?
TIM SIMMONS:  Congratulations on being named the permanent athletic director at UNLV.  This is probably a nice gift for you.
TINA KUNZER‑MURPHY:  Yes, it's been a fun week, Tim.  I couldn't think of a better gift than getting that call this morning when Brant reached out and called me early and asked us if we would be interested in participating in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.  We are just so excited to be able to come and play a great football team.
Rick, I'm looking forward to seeing you on Thursday.  We had a brief conversation a week ago.  And Coach, you got me fired up about this.  I just loved listening to you.
But we're just so excited to be coming down and playing.  I'm so proud of the UNLV Rebels and what Bobby Hauck has done here.  Thank you very much for this great opportunity.
TIM SIMMONS:  It's been a long time for UNLV to be a bowl game.  2000 I guess was the last time, and that was in Vegas.  Kind of give me some thoughts, because you'll be traveling.  What are the plans for the athletic department in promoting the game and the Rebels appearance here in Dallas?
TINA KUNZER‑MURPHY:  We've been talking about it all day.  The whole staff has been here.  You're right, the last time we went to a bowl it was right here in 2000 at the Las Vegas Bowl.  We haven't been out of state participating in a bowl for 29 years.  Last time was at Fresno in the California Raisin Bowl.
This is very, very special to not only our UNLV football team, but our university, the City of Las Vegas, and the great state of Nevada.  So this means a lot for over the 100,000 alums we have across the country.  We're ready to get them all wrapped up and heading down to Dallas in late December.
So we've got some packages that we're putting together obviously today trying to get the logics of our team, where they need to go and where we need to be.
But we'll be there and we'll bring all the glitter and glam that we have in Las Vegas.  You can count on a great football team.  Everybody is just so excited for this great opportunity.  I look forward to seeing all of you and having a great game on January 1.

Q.  It took a while to get to a bowl game, talk about the process of how you wound up in Dallas as opposed to, say, Fort Worth.
TINA KUNZER‑MURPHY:  Well, as all of you know, the Mountain West Conference had seven bowl‑eligible teams for six spots.  I can tell you this:  When UNLV beat a great San Diego State that last game, I believe we won our way into a bowl game.
It's been pretty nerve wracking, but Craig Thompson, the commissioner of the Mountain West did a great job managing this process.
First time the Mountain West has had a championship game, so there were a lot of firsts that went into it.  But Craig just did a great job of responding t all the AB's calls and really talking about the possibilities.
And with the ERT bowls, as most of you know, I've been fairly comfortable and know what's going on in that world sitting on that side of it.
This is a different side for me.  So we had to play the waiting game and see where it would all end up.  I can tell you this:  We really, really just had no idea that it would be such a great ending to this last crazy week of where are we going to go?  How is it going to end up?
To think we're playing on New Year's Day is really a gift and we're really appreciative of this.  It's been a crazy couple days, but I think Craig Thompson did a great job.
I want to acknowledge our football coach.  Bobby Hauck's been working really hard.  I think our football team won our way in there.  They're happy to be coming to Dallas.

Q.  But why as opposed to Fort Worth?
TINA KUNZER‑MURPHY:  Well, you probably have to talk to the ERT on that one.  I believe there was some ‑‑ obviously the Big 10 didn't fill their commitment at the Heart of Dallas Bowl so they wanted to make some moves.
I think that's not uncommon every year in college football.  As you know, this year know there are going to be more teams that aren't playing in the bowl season.  There were too many bowl‑eligible teams.  There was a lot of moving around.
We're just happy that this wonderful bowl decided they wanted UNLV in their game.  A lot of things happened behind the scenes we weren't privy to.  I felt the last couple days we had a chance to play in the bowl game, and that's what was really important to our football team and our head coach and our university, and that's why we are.  Those things happen.
I think this year there were a lot of different things that people didn't expect.  It's tough.  As coach said before, there are a lot of teams that wish they were in our place right now.  We're getting to play in a bowl game, and I'll tell you, we're very, very grateful and humbled by this experience, and our team is going to be respectful and so very appreciative of this great opportunity.
The things that happened, you know, those are things that happen all the time in the business world in college football.  We're just happy to be still standing.
TIM SIMMONS:  Any other questions for Tina?

Q.  The January 1st date, that means so much for college football bowl games.  What does that mean traveling so far for UNLV in the post‑season and playing on January 1?
TINA KUNZER‑MURPHY:  Again, we have been sitting here all day saying it's truly a gift.  We knew there were some options for us to be playing in the post‑season, which is exactly what we wanted to do, but when you sit back and think, We're going to be on television and we'll be able to compete against a great football team in a great bowl game on the biggest day of college football in the country, it's pretty amazing.
We're very lucky and excited about it.  It means a lot to the university.  It's going to give us an opportunity to show what Bobby Hauck and his football team can do.  That's going to be a great three‑hour commercial for the City of Las Vegas, the state of Nevada, and more importantly, the student athletes that compete for us and have worked so very hard to get us where we are.
It's a very special time.  And today when Brant called me, just over the top.  We think it worked out just perfect.  So happy to be able to come down to Dallas and bring our football team.
Hopefully a lot of fans will come down and cheer in a really special moment for UNLV.  As you know, I'm an alum.  We have over 100,000, and I'll tell you what, our people are excited.  It means so much to this university to be able to play on that very special day of January 1.

Q.  Over the course of time you've done some pretty amazing things in Las Vegas, specifically with the Las Vegas Bowl and its rise and keeping it here and so on and so forth.  Now in your new position and the new success with the football program as far as in your tenure as athletic director, where does this rank for you personally in the accomplishments you've had in terms of bowls and everything you did on the national level with the bowls and the positions you've held and now this?
TINA KUNZER‑MURPHY:  Well, you know, I've been the athletic director for about five minutes, so I would love to take some credit for Bobby Hauck and his football team, but I really don't think that's appropriate.
I can tell you as a former student athlete and a coach and administrator and now sitting in this chair, I couldn't be prouder to be associated with Coach Hauck and what he's done in Rebel football.
In the bowl world, sitting on the other side always bringing people and wanting to show off the city of Las Vegas.  Now it's a fun time to think that I get to have a small part in going with our football team and showing what UNLV football is all about.
I just got the job on Friday really, so I'm in great spirits.  It's just been a lucky week for me, I guess.  I'll tell you, it's just been a pretty special week.  I appreciate your comments.

Q.  And I wasn't implying they were going because of you.  But for you personally, I know a lot of the things you have done or gone through.  So just that feeling, especially being an alumni, just in terms of your personal feelings.  If you can answer that, thank you.
TINA KUNZER‑MURPHY:  No, thank you.  I knew you didn't mean that.  It's just kind of funny.  It's been a couple months.  It's a great day, and I'm so happy for our program.  So happy for Coach Hauck.  Thank you very much and thanks for your support of UNLV all the time.
TIM SIMMONS:  Coach Hauck, are you on the line?
BOBBY HAUCK:  I'm on, Tim.
TIM SIMMONS:  Congratulations on a bowl bid this year.  Give some thoughts about Dallas and your team's play this season.
BOBBY HAUCK:  Absolutely.  First, congratulations to Dan and his team.  What a year.  Winning 8 games is a heck of a season.  Coach McCarney has always been a great guy and good to me.  I've admired him in coaching and had a chance to watch a little bit of North Texas.  They're obviously a well‑coached team.  That goes without saying, any time you know who is on the that other sideline with him.
We'll be excited to play North Texas because we know they'll be a great challenge.  Thanks to Craig Thompson and Brant and the ESPN people in all their hard work in getting us into a game.  We know there was a lot of bowl‑eligible teams, and we're just very grateful to have the opportunity to play in a game.
And then when you go forward with the thought that who would have thought that UNLV would be playing in a New Year's Day football game, it's just really, really exciting for the people here, specifically the guys in our meeting and locker rooms.  We've had so many milestones we surpassed this year.  UNLV had never had five Mountain West Conference wins before.  First bowl game since 2000.  We've had about three winning seasons before this one in the last 30 years, and now we're playing in a New Year's Day bowl game.
So it's humbling and it's exciting.  I'm just fired up for our football team.  The kids are excited.  They've worked hard.  We have numerous kids from the great state of Texas on our team.  They'll be excited to come home and play in front of friends and family.
I think our assistant coaches did a magnificent job and got us to where we are, which is playing in this game.  The interesting thing about us and North Texas is we kind of mirror each other to a degree in terms of where we're headed and what we've had to overcome to get there.
It's been a substantial amount of time.  We had a little longer since our last bowl game.  Basically I would just say that we're thrilled to be coming to the Heart of Dallas Bowl and can't wait to get there.
TIM SIMMONS:  Talk a little bit about some of your standout players offensively and defensively and on special teams.
BOBBY HAUCK:  When you look at the offense, two of the marquee players, maybe "the" two marquee players are our starting runningback and receiver.  Tim Cornett and Devante Davis.  Both are from North Shore High School in Houston, Texas.  They are great players.  Tim is the all‑time leading rusher and touchdown leader in UNLV football history.
Devante is one of the leading receivers in the country this year.  Both have had big years.  Couple that with what I would think one of the really good stories in college football is our quarterback, Caleb Herring, who started some as a sophomore; was beat out last year as a junior; he played some wide receiver and was not the starter to open the season this year.
We brought him in in the middle of our third game and he's been terrific all year long.  So I'm excited about Caleb.
And then on the defensive side of the ball, kind of like Coach McCarney said, we roll a lot of guys through and play a lot of players.  We do have some senior linebackers that we're very high on in Tani Make and Tim Hasson.  Then Peni Vea and Frank Crawford at safety have played very well for us.
TIM SIMMONS:  Questions for Coach Hauck?

Q.  We talked during the week about how there is a big difference between being bowl eligible and being in the bowl.  How important is it to actually be in the bowl?
BOBBY HAUCK:  Well, it's huge for a lot of reasons.  One, the bowl system is the only reward system for the college football players.  For our guys to get that reward and get the extra game and all the extra fun things that go along with playing in a bowl game is big.  It's big for a kid and in terms of building a program.
The extra practices as Dan mentioned are huge for our young players in terms of their development and their understanding of what needs to get done in order to get back to this situation next year.
You know, from a perspective in recruiting, we have recruiting this weekend and next and we'll be practicing.  The enthusiasm is through the roof.  It's huge in recruiting as well as having all those kids watching a game now on the biggest college football day of the year, New Year's Day.

Q.  What was your initial thought when you were told you were going to this game?
BOBBY HAUCK:  We had little information about where we could potentially wind up.  There is no bad bowl game.  They're all terrific.  I've had the enjoyment of coaching in many of them over the years.
When I heard that the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's Day was an option, I didn't want to jinx it or anything, but secretly I really held out hope that we had a chance to play in that game on New Year's Day.
When that came through as the actual game we were going to play, I was ecstatic.

Q.  I just wanted to ask you, do you see any parallels between UNLV and North Texas in terms of where they have come from and what they've been through for the past several years?
BOBBY HAUCK:  Yeah, I'll berate the point that I said in the opening statement, which is that we do kind of mirror each other.  They haven't had to wait as long as their last bowl trip as we have.
Dan talked at length about where they came from.  I feel the same way about us.  When we first got here in 2010 I thought we were one of the worst teams in college football.  Same with our second year.  We were playing the who's who of college football.  The second year we played the second, third, fifth, tenth‑‑ or eleventh and fifteenth teams in the nation.  We certainly weren't capable, but a lot of our played in those games as freshman, and sophomores, some of them.  We're stronger and better for it.  We knew where we needed to get to.
Sort of like the guys at North Texas, we have had to kind of believe in ourselves when there wasn't whole lor of others that could or should.  It's just tremendously rewarding to be where we are right now.

Q.  Talk about playing in a bowl game close to where the other team is from?
BOBBY HAUCK:  Couple things.  I listened to what was said about their fan base.  You know, everybody talks a lot about home and the road and all that.  Basically what I would say is none of the kids wants to play in an empty, quiet stadium.  I hope every North Texas alum in the great state of Texas will show up to watch these two teams go at each other.  I think it's be a good game.
I think it's terrific.  I hope a lot of people show up.  We're gonna bring as many as we can and promote it as hard as we can here.  I just hope that all those people that are North Texas fans and alums show up for that game as well.

Q.  Dan was talking about how he knew you.  Talk about how you know him and the relationship you have.  He said a lot of good things about you?
BOBBY HAUCK:  Well, I've known Coach for a long time.  Coached against his teams at Ohio State when I was at Colorado.  He was ahead coach when I was just kind of breaking in to some of the major college football things.  He treated me with a great deal of respect and acknowledged me.  I just really admired him for that and the way his team has played.
All of us go way back.  Even John Skladany, his defensive coordinator, I think I replaced him at NAU in 1993 or something.  Coaching is a tight‑knit profession.  The good guys know who the good guys are, and Dan McCarney is one of those.
TIM SIMMONS:  Bobby, talk a little bit about your preparation for the bowl.  Knowing everybody is going through finals, what's the schedule up until your arrival in Dallas?
BOBBY HAUCK:  Well, we do have finals week coming up.  We practiced a little bit and had a recruiting weekend last weekend.  Our coaches will go out and recruit on the road this week.  We'll come back and practice and have another recruiting weekend.
We'll prepare through the following week and give our guys a few days off to go celebrate Christmas with their families, and then we'll be back at it on the 26th of December and then get ready to come to Dallas and also see you all on the 28th.  Look very much forward to that.
TIM SIMMONS:  Any other questions for Coach Hauck?
BRANT RINGLER:  Thank you everybody for your time, and we'll see everybody in Dallas.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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