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December 30, 2019

Paul Chryst

Pasadena, California

Q. How has your year been?
COACH CHRYST: It's been a fun year, and you don't know how each season's going to turn out, but I have appreciated my time with this group of players and what coaches have done. And the journey of every season is kind of the fun part. And for them to do all they've done and earn the right to play here, this group means a lot to me.

Q. Was talking to some of the guys about their last kind of go-around, making sure they finished well. You've been around a lot of senior classes. What makes this group maybe unique if it's been as enjoyable as you referenced?
COACH CHRYST: I think that every senior group has a personality. It's made up of the players. And this particular group, really our senior class is not a big class, but it's been led by some guys that I think have truly made the most of this season.

I think the group of leaders that we've had and certainly as seniors and we've got juniors in this that are true leaders of this team. And I think what I've appreciated the most is our leaders, our best players are as unselfish as any group I've been around.

Q. Talked to a couple of them that said (indiscernible). What do you think about the Pac-12 prior to watching film and what do you think about it now after watching Oregon. They said they're totally different. How did you describe Oregon to your team when the matchup was announced?
COACH CHRYST: I think that when the matchup was first announced, we were on the road recruiting. So when you get a chance to study them and watch them, it didn't take long to see they're a really good football team. And offensively, defensively, special teams it shows up.

And I think any good team, which they are, is made up of -- you've got some obviously led by really good players, but you just take a look at them, they're, physical. They play fast, they're well coached, they know what they're doing. They cut it loose.

The guys saw it quickly watching the film. We've had good preparation. We need to have good preparation because this is a really good football team.

Q. Lastly Jonathan, what's allowed him to be so consistently dynamic in all of his runs? It looks boring and it's a 60-yard run.
COACH CHRYST: You ask what makes Jonathan, his performances, the consistency in that, and I think it goes to the consistency of his approach and the work that he puts in every day. I think that leads to the consistency on the field.

Certainly he's talented but he's an unbelievable worker and he's one I was talking about before, a great teammate, but he is always -- has a purpose and a find to way to get better.

Q. Any memories of previous games against Oregon, like from your time at Oregon State?
COACH CHRYST: Yes, certainly. When I was at Oregon State it was a big game, right? And so you do have memories -- some good, some not so good.

Q. What's the best one?
COACH CHRYST: Well, I know the one game we played, it was in my second year, and we had a triple-overtime game. That was a big game, especially where we're at in the program. And that was a good memory.

Q. Paul, your time at West Virginia, how did that influence how you approach football, how you view the game, how you view those players or how you approach anything personally?
COACH CHRYST: I feel fortunate getting the opportunity, it was my first job. And Coach Nehlen was unbelievably great to me and that staff, it was a veteran staff. And so was able to really be around and learn the profession.

And I didn't know. I'd been around it. And my dad coached and I played college football, but it was the first time where I was approaching it as a coach, and it was a great experience.

Q. How do you and Coach Haering meet?
COACH CHRYST: I met Coach Haering when he was a player in my first year as a graduate assistant. He was playing on the team there. And I had a lot of respect and appreciation for how he played the game. And then when you get to know him and who he is as a person and felt really fortunate to be able to coach with him the last however many years it's been, eight years I think.

Q. What most impresses you about him, not only as a coach but as a person?
COACH CHRYST: I think he's extremely detailed. Cares a ton about the players. And as a person he's as good as there is.

Q. Philosophically guys have been pretty steady for the last 15, 20 years in terms of the approach to the game. Oregon's identity went from a (indiscernible) offense to Mario Cristobal wanting to power the ball. (Indiscernible) plays that you guys do. Has there been a program like theirs that's had an identity shift so drastic over the past few years?
COACH CHRYST: Well, I don't know -- I haven't studied every program and don't know -- certainly in preparing for this game and watching their team you have a lot of respect for how they play the game. And I think teams can do it in a lot of different ways, but the fundamentals you see on film.

And you see obviously a talented football team but a very well-coached team. And they are, they're a physical team -- defensively, offensively, special teams. You see that. And I think that's something that doesn't just happen. It's obviously emphasized and they're putting it on tape.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about the Rose Bowl isn't as special because of the college football playoffs. As someone who grew up in Wisconsin, played for the Badgers and now being here once again?
COACH CHRYST: I didn't have to come here this year to be able to say, boy -- I've known what the Rose Bowl is. Been fortunate enough to be a part of it and there's a reason why all of our players were truly excited about the opportunity. And they call it the "The Granddaddy of Them All" and I think it's fitting.

All the bowl games we've been able to go to, you appreciate and they're great experiences. And yet this one is special. And you know you're going to face a great team. It's in maybe the one of the best if not the best settings in all of football, nonetheless college football.

And when we found out we had an opportunity to play in it, I was really excited for our players, because it is a heck of an experience. And now it's our job coming up here where we've got to make the most of that.

Q. When you took the job at Pittsburgh, what motivated you to appoint Chris as an assistant even though (indiscernible) been coaching a couple decades?
COACH CHRYST: I had known enough about Chris and that he's heck of a football coach. And I always had the vision and the desire that if I ever got an opportunity to be a head coach I wanted to do it with good guys who I knew were really good football coaches and he certainly fit that bill and then some.

Q. How has your approach to the game grown as a result from having him as an assistant or as a friend?
COACH CHRYST: Well, I think you're always affected by people that you work with or players you've coached, and you're always learning. And I think they can challenge you in good ways. You see what they do and you pick something up or it reinforces it and he's a guy that's all in and when you have that, you can -- there's a lot to learn.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about being physical. And I think that kind of runs counter to the image of the Pac-12 over the years. You know the Pac-12. Are they different? Do you see a difference between them and the average Pac-12 team in that department?
COACH CHRYST: I do see the physicality on film. In preparing for this game, it's so much less about trying to compare the other schools. So, I'm not going to comment about the rest of the Pac-12, but I can say with confidence that when you watch Oregon this year, they are a physical football team.

Q. You guys are, too, pretty much in all aspects?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, and that's kind of the game of football, right? And we know that that doesn't just happen. You don't just put on the helmet and all of a sudden you're physical. You've got to go out and every play you've got to do that.

And I think a big part of being physical is knowing what you're doing, knowing how to do it, and then players stressing where they can kind of cut it loose and play that. That, to me, when I say Oregon is a well-coached team, I think the players know what they're doing and they play with good technique and then they play fast. They cut it loose. I think that's how you then play physical.

Q. Will you coach that or --
COACH CHRYST: Absolutely. I think you have to -- players have to want to do all the things, but I think that's truly a sign of coaching and good coaching. If you play with lower pad level than the guy you're going up against, it's easier to get movement. If you play so the technique and you know the knowledge of you know what to do, you'll play -- if you hesitate, you try to play as physical as possible.

But when you know what you're doing and know how to do it and trust that, then I think you allow yourself to play physical. So I think coaching has a big part to do with it. And guys that value that, right? And that's in the recruiting part or who the person is.

Q. One of the really unique parts about the bowl experience is just the mix of business and pleasure. How important is that for you as a coach in finding that right balance for these guys?
COACH CHRYST: I think it's real important for the players to be able to balance just what you're saying. And that's enjoying the experience. And we've got a lot of guys this year that have never been to California, haven't ever been to Disney, have not -- you go down the list, right? And you want them to experience that. And then we got the opportunity to play another game and you want to be as prepared for that game as possible.

And our guys have done a really good job of balancing that. And you know what? They have to balance it all year long. They're balancing school. They're balancing football. They're balancing their personal life. It's not like they're not used to doing that. And I think our guys also realize there comes a point where it's less about the bowl experience and more about making sure you are kind of honing in on the preparation for the game itself.

But I think that it's important to make sure they get experience -- and both of those are in what the bowl offers and in playing the game. And to play the game your best, you've got to prepare for it. This group's done a good job.

Q. How about for you in particular, do you allow yourself to kind of get away from the game planning, have a little bit of fun out here too?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, you try to do that. A lot of what we do, you normally don't have this long to prepare for a game. So a lot of the work can be done before so you can take some moments and enjoy being with your family or have something with the players. Absolutely, I think everyone's got an opportunity to -- it's different. It's different than a normal game.

Q. Wanted to ask you about Chris and Zack. How have you watched their relationship grow, and why do you feel like maybe that relationship has helped them so much on the field?
COACH CHRYST: Well, I think that both have truly grown, and each one of their stories is different. But they've kind of grown up together through this program, right? And both have had a huge impact on this team, not just on the field, off the field. And I think the relationship has grown and all of the relationships because they invest in it. They invest a ton of energy and time into their teammates.

Q. How about also for Jonathan, just to understand the magnitude of this moment, how he's carried himself this entire season?
COACH CHRYST: You think about it, J.T., he came on the scene and introduced himself quickly. And from that point they've all been big moments and a lot has fallen on him. Everyone's looking for him to be what he's been, and that's, my opinion, the best back in college football. And he's handled it tremendously.

And I think what helps him handling it is that like all of our leaders, what matters most is this team. And he will do anything and everything for this team. And it's not just about him.

And yet he does everything he can to make sure that he's as prepared and he's always working, always looking to find a way to get better. But what matters most is this team.

And I think that's what I've appreciated from this group is our leaders, our best players are -- the team is really important to him, and it's the most unselfish group I've been around.

Q. I know he said he's not ready to make a decision about his next decision, that being whether he goes pro, but if he does decide to take that next jump to the NFL, what have you appreciated and loved so much about coaching him?
COACH CHRYST: It doesn't matter what you have -- that's an example of he's not going to let anything rob this team and himself of this moment. And I think what you appreciate from all your players, and you specifically asked about J.T., it's just that. He's going to do everything he can to be the best that he can.

And the reason is -- certainly every player wants to be the best they can be, but it's truly for this team. And what he's done on the field has been as good as there is. And yet how he's done it, how he's gone about it -- and we're lucky, right? We get to be with him every day -- that's even more impressive.

And it's not necessary for us to talk about it and all that, but just being around him every day and how he's approached it, that's been the best thing. He's given a gift to everyone that way.

Q. How are you feeling in preparation for this big game, because I know that the players, they'll get butterflies? But let's talk about the coach, how are you feeling, how do you sleep the night before?
COACH CHRYST: I'm doing well with it, first of all. And you appreciate the opportunity to be preparing. And I've always thought this, especially when you like a team, to get another opportunity to play with this team, I've loved it.

And one of the things I've really appreciated from our coaches, I think as we should, we put in a ton of time making sure that we do have a good plan for our players. And our players have done a great job of taking that plan and knowing it. And then you get ready and you get the opportunity to go play, and -- for this group to play in a great game.

And I've always been able to sleep every night and don't anticipate that being any different. It's not to say -- probably different type of nerves or anxiety or excitement, anticipation, probably that a coach has than a player. But you want to see it through and you want to make sure your kid are as prepared as possible.

And yet I've been lucky. And the players I've been around, they get the work done and they give you a good feeling as the preparation goes and it goes closer to game time. You know when they're ready to play. You don't know how the game's going to turn out, but you know they're ready to go and that's always, as a coach, I've appreciated that, because it makes you sleep better.

Q. As a leader, you have to instill that confidence and leadership to your players. How do you see that happening here at the Rose Bowl? Do you see any difference in your players? Do you see more excitement, zeal in your players?
COACH CHRYST: I don't see any differences. Certainly there's experiences that are new. That brings out a different type of an experience or an emotion or whatnot. But I think what I like about this team is they're kind of staying true to what their personalities are and who this team is.

And I've liked how they've gone about the preparation and we've got to finish that up. But I like where we're at right now.

Q. As far as -- what is it going to take to come out victorious? And with a win, what would that do for your program?
COACH CHRYST: I think the first part, what you need to do to win this game, it comes down to playing good football, and it's going to take everybody. It's going to take offense, defense, special teams. It's going to take the players that we've known about and have been really important and made big plays.

And it's going to take players that have another role, kind of you don't know who -- you don't know if you're going to be in for 80 plays, or you're going to be in for eight plays, right? I do know it takes everyone.

And what it means, I think that this game, it's about this team and this year. And what it means to the program, I think less about that and more about what it means for this team.

Q. What would you say to all the friends and family in preparation for this game?
COACH CHRYST: Well, I think for all of our fans, you appreciate their support. And we'll have a number of fans that -- it takes a lot to come out, and we'll have a number of them here. And you appreciate that. There's a sacrifice. There's something there. And you appreciate -- it means something to all of us.

And yet, you also know that there's true fans that you know are supporting you, but they couldn't come out. But you still appreciate knowing them and the family and those that are close to our players. It's been a long journey, way before they started at Wisconsin.

And that's fun to see our players and those families get to have these experiences, because it's taken a lot of people. So you appreciate them all.

Q. When I was talking to you back in Tampa, did you envision wanting to be back in Pasadena and (indiscernible)?
COACH CHRYST: No, I think you always -- you know, that's the beauty that we get to live, and you play out the season. And you know the season's a journey. And you don't know how it's going to end up. And so I think that's why, as a coach, you're grateful.

At that time, I didn't know that we had earned the right to play another game. And this team earned the right to play two more games. And so be awful thankful for that. And have appreciated all that's gone into this group getting us to this point, and now it's how do you finish out the best you can.

Q. Looking back at it, was there any one thing specifically that you think led (indiscernible) to you in the second half against Ohio State? You seemed to be in good position (indiscernible)?
COACH CHRYST: There wasn't one -- certainly a lot of people are going to point to Chris not being able to play, and obviously you want to play with all your players, right? And certainly has an impact. But it's the 60-plus-minute game, and you have to keep playing.

I think you look at that and there was points in the first half as well as the second where if you're going to win that game, you've got to do certain things. And to their credit they made some plays and we didn't make enough.

So I think you do really look at -- it wasn't necessarily a tale of two halves -- it wasn't a tale of two halves, it wasn't like you came in at halftime and guys relaxed. You just play the game. And that's a good football team.

But I don't think it was one -- if you were going to point to that, we would have loved to have played that game with Chris, but it's football and it takes so many -- it's always more than one guy.

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