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January 1, 2006
JOSH KRULEWITZ: Good morning, everyone. We're going to get started. Happy new year, everyone. My name is Josh Krulewitz from the ABC Sports/ESPN Communications team. We're obviously very excited. It's a great time of year, and we're going to have our folks here on the panel make some remarks, take some questions, and we'll get you on your way.
I'm going to start by introducing everybody. I'll give you a little bit of information about how it's going to flow, and we'll go from there. To my immediate left is Loren Matthews, who is the senior vice president of ABC Sports programming. Loren, as most of your know who have dealt with him over the years, is a great college sports programmer over the years for ESPN, and ABC Sports and the Rose Bowl will be his last event for our company. He's retiring at the end of the Rose Bowl.
I just want to publicly say that Loren has been a tremendous, tremendous asset to our company, and he will certainly be missed, not only by us here at ESPN and ABC but by the media. He's a great asset here. So I want to publicly thank him and congratulate him and wish him the best.
Mark Loomis is the producer of the Rose Bowl for ABC Sports. It's Mark's fifth Rose Bowl and third BCS National Championship name.
Len DeLuca is the senior vice president of acquisitions for ABC Sports and ESPN.
Michael Fountain is the College GameDay coordinating producer.
And then our commentator teams, Keith Jackson working his 14th Rose Bowl and fifth National Championship game; Dan Fouts working his fourth Rose Bowl and second BCS National Championship game; and the College GameDay team, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and host Chris Fowler.
We're going to ask each of them to say a few remarks and maybe take a couple of questions. I think most of you probably want one-on-ones. I know you had Keith outside so we'll give you a little more time with Keith, and then my colleague Mike Humes -- somewhere in the room we have a giveaway at the end. Don't leave without getting your piece of ESPN merchandise.
Let's start with Loren.
LOREN MATTHEWS: Thanks, Josh. BCS as everybody knows doesn't always work. This time it worked. I'm not sure that if we were given eight teams and schedule of BCS games and said put them together however you would want, I'm not sure we would deviate very much from what we're going to have over the next few days. It really went extremely well. We were very fortunate. So we will look forward to a great game. We thought we were having one last year, too, though. We don't have any control once the ball is kicked off, so we've just got our fingers crossed like everybody else.
We're coming off a terrific year in college football at ABC and ESPN. ABC was up 6 percent with regular season college football ratings. Both ESPN and ESPN2 were up, as well. So it was a great college football year for the Disney Sports entities. We hope that will continue. We expect it to continue.
I think if everything goes -- if all the stars are aligned and we do catch a break, I see no reason that we can't surpass the all-time BCS Championship Game rating record, which was a 17.2 for Ohio State-Miami three years ago because this game candidly has so much more anticipation than that one did. For those of you three years ago, I think the general feeling was that Miami was going to be a decided favorite in that game, and it did not turn out to be. It turned out to be a wonderful game. Of course I'm not sure we're going to have overtime this year.
But if we have anything, we have all the elements for the highest BCS Championship Game rating ever, and the fact that it's in the Rose Bowl called by these folks here, Keith and Dan and Todd Harris, everything is there. All we do is keep our fingers crossed, kick it off and hope for the best.
MARK LOOMIS: I guess if you were going to be asked to produce a college football game and got to pick one, you'd have to pick this one for sure. We've been on both sides of the BCS National Championship Game. We had the Miami-Nebraska game back when it was at the Rose Bowl a few years ago. We had Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl game with Miami. This group has been through both sides of that.
On the announcers' side, I've been working with Keith since about 1999 and Dan has been with us most of the way. I can think of no two people more qualified to be a part of this game. I was trying to figure it out; out of the 34-game winning streak that USC is on, I think they've done about 15 of those games, and they did the Rose Bowl with Texas last year. They did the Texas-Oklahoma game this year, so they have been right in the middle of this whole run.
We're doing everything we can to enhance this game. We have HD; we had it last year and it's back this year. I'm a subscriber myself at home and love it. I think anybody that gets a chance to watch in HD, it's terrific.
On-site, working with Keith and Dan, Todd Harris, Holly Rowe, our pre-game show will have John Saunders, Aaron Taylor, Craig James. We basically have it covered in every way we can.
We have about 30 cameras out there, which is a lot more than we've ever had before. Not a lot, but a considerable amount more than we ever had before. But our main goal is to have those cameras focused on the field and to show this game. There's been all the hype, there's been all the writing about it. The one thing we can do that hasn't been done is show the game. That's our No. 1 goal out there.
Around that, we certainly will tell stories, history of the two teams, all the celebrities that will be there. It should be fun. We have a good piece with Matthew McConaughey and Will Ferrell in the pregame that I think everybody will enjoy. The main focus, as Keith always reminds me, Loomie, there's a game going on so let's keep on eye on it.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: One of the hallmarks of ESPN ABC Sports is using all the multimedia bits to cover the game extensively, and here to talk about that is Len DeLuca.
LEN DeLUCA: The Rose Bowl, with all the millions of impressions that we are deluged with at this time of year and in the sports world and at the end of the year, the Rose Bowl cuts through, and this year it's an exceptional year, so the challenge to ABC Sports and ESPN is to reach the Rose Bowl consumers wherever they consume, and our new phrase is "any pipe, any device," and that's how we're going to be and have brought you the run-up to Texas and USC and will continue to. After all, obviously ABC Sports is the leader and covers the game from start to finish, Loomie and Keith and Dan.
But also, where we will be going with this is a multimedia event, and that is why we're delighted that this is -- while it's the last year of our current relationship with the Rose Bowl, next year marks the beginning of our eight-year extension to the 2004 team and ABC Sports and ESPN together will continue to bring it to you on every pipe and every device.
What do I mean? The ABC studio is here, as Mark mentioned. College GameDay is here, literally here. ESPN International will broadcast us to 150 countries. ESPN Radio is here live and hitting it every 20 minutes with SportsCenter updates on ESPN Radio. ESPN Classic is stunting all the great Rose Bowls which will culminate on the eve of the game with last year's Texas-Michigan.
There's the ESPN.com SportsCenter stunt which Reggie Bush mentioned in the previous panel in which we've been pitting USC against the world and various teams both with on-line voting and the opinions of our people.
ESPN U, our all-college sports channel, will be devoting a lot of attention to the Rose Bowl and a re-air. And in the area of new media, ESPN 360 Broadband, the broadband entity that we opened literally 11 months ago and refurbished, will be offering a condensed version of the Rose Bowl game, and for that matter the other BCS games 24 hours afterwards.
This little monster that I'm holding here is the Mobile ESPN, the ESPN phone which will become totally public to the entire nation after the Super Bowl a month from now, and it's a marvelous device which, again, updates scores, being able to get interviews. Someday down the road we'll be able to watch potentially the Rose Bowl, Monday Night Football or whatever other event that ABC Sports and ESPN have on this phone. But right now, there's an interview which I'll try to let you listen to and show you afterwards if you promise not to steal the film, and it's an interview where Coach Brown was asked about the USC offense.
The video quality on this is as good as any standard definition television you have at home, and this is the wave of the future and we're very excited about it. It's just another thing that ESPN contributes with ABC Sports to take into this incredible event.
We also realize that it's not just a football game, although the Rose Bowl game is great. For the very first time ESPN and ABC have a float, the Magic of Sports In High Definition, and that will be in, knock on wood, tomorrow's Rose Bowl parade, weather permitting. The Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl is an event that cuts through, and ABC Sports and ESPN we think are delighted, and the best place to bring all of our assets to bear to portray it. We're delighted to be here and look forward to an incredible next 72 hours.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: We're all proud of our college football studio show, which is week in and week out the biggest game in college football, and it's College GameDay, and Michael Fountain is the coordinating producer.
MICHAEL FOUNTAIN: Thanks, Josh. On behalf of the GameDay crew, we're very excited to be here. This has been a record setting year for GameDay. It's the most viewed and highest rated GameDay in the 19-year history of the show. Ratings were up 16 percent over last year; approximately 1.4 million households tuned in every week.
Not only are we very proud of the ratings, we're also very proud and pleased with the content of the show and how it's evolved over the past couple of years. Behind the scenes there have been some changes, senior coordinating producer Craig Lazarus, myself, were all fairly new to the show, and I think it's a testament and a lot of credit go to the three guys at the end of the stage here for making sure that the show has really not suffered or had any setbacks during those three years, and in fact the show has thrived and it's better than ever.
This will be our fourth time covering USC this year, the third time covering Texas. We started out with Texas-Ohio State week 2. We also covered Texas Tech at Texas in October. We covered USC at Arizona State. We were also at Notre Dame for the USC-Notre Dame here and here in California for the UCLA-USC game. Our coverage begins today with segments for SportsCenter that we'll tape later this afternoon. The first GameDay is a 90-minute show tomorrow morning, 6:30 local time, 9:30 eastern. On Tuesday evening, Tuesday afternoon, we'll have a 60-minute GameDay leading into the Orange Bowl from 4:00 to 5:00 local time, 7:00 to 8:00 eastern time, and again on Wednesday, another 60-minute GameDay, 4:00 to 5:00 local time, 7:00 to 8:00 eastern leading into the Rose Bowl.
We're going to be joined this week by Desmond Howard, one of our main contributors during the season, as well as Mark May is going to join us some of the bigger features we're doing this week, a look at the unique relationship between Reggie Bush and his stepfather; a conversation with Vince Young, LenDale White and his relationship with Chauncey Billups, in fact, the role that Chauncey has played in helping LenDale. They both grew up without fathers, they're related through blood relationship, and LenDale has -- Chauncey has played quite a role in LenDale's development.
Again, our coverage starts today with SportsCenter tapings, and we're just very excited to be here.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: Thanks, Michael. I'm going to ask each of our commentators a specific question and have them answer and then we'll take some questions. First we'll start with Keith. The obvious question is where does this match-up rank in your career and how does USC's streak stack up with some of the streaks from years past?
KEITH JACKSON: I'm going to wait until they play it, then I'll decide (laughter).
I have the feeling that the defense may surprise you a little bit in this ballgame. Both of them play better defense than advertised, and that is often times the case.
Where it ranks in my career, I have no idea. I'm not smart enough yet to evaluate that. I asked Pete Carroll a question the other day, "Are you aware that you're making history, and are you aware that you're on the verge of doing something really big?" He said, "I'll think about it when it's over." I think that's the way you have to look at something when you want to put it in a high place.
I would also request that you save that pot of coffee back there for me. I'll take it home and pave my street (laughter).
JOSH KRULEWITZ: Thanks, Keith. We have two quarterbacks here on the panel. I'm going to ask each of them to speak about each of the two quarterbacks in the game. First with Dan, the secret to Matt Leinart, both his success and stopping him.
DAN FOUTS: I wish I knew what the secret of his success was. I'd go back in time and copy it.
Obviously he's in a great system that there was no drop-off this year with Norm Chow leaving. It comes back to Matt himself. He's a perfectionist. He may never say that, but all you have to do is watch the way he plays and watch the results, and you'll see that -- and then you take a look at his record and you see that he definitely is a perfectionist. I think he's very competitive.
How do you stop him? I think you stop him like any quarterback; you put him on his back. Few people have been able to do that. I think he's only been sacked 14 times this year. That's a testament to his offensive line, number one, but also to the system and his understanding of how to get rid of the ball and read the defenses and know where his outlet receivers are.
But if you're going to beat him, you're going to have to put him on his back, and Texas has the people to do that.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: Thanks, Dan. For Kirk, how can USC contain Vince Young, and if Vince plays his game to its maximum, will they win the game?
KIRK HERBSTREIT: First I think you have to look at what Vince did this year to improve because I think everybody, even last year in the game against Michigan, you saw his tremendous athletic ability. It's been documented all year and talked about how he improved as a passer, and the numbers speak for themselves leading the nation in passing efficiency.
I think the commitment that he and Greg Davis made in the off season to become a complete quarterback I think has a lot to do with why Texas is here. We've also talked about this all year, but I think he'll be a big factor in this game.
USC has the advantage of being in three straight National Championship games. They know how to deal with the buildup and the hype, and I think for Texas, Vince Young is the key because he has a way that is very genuine in getting his team not to get caught up and not to play tight. If you follow Texas, you know in the past that has been a problem for them. They get to the big stage, they play not to lose, and this Texas team this year plays to win. I think he directly has affected Mack Brown and this entire team in a big way.
I think the intangibles are as big as anything in the way Vince Young affects this team.
How do you stop him? I think it comes down to if you watch Texas play, that zone play that when Vince Young is in the shotgun, he's either going to hand it or he's going to pull it. How do you defend their running game and how often you can get him into 3rd and 6 or 3rd and 8 I think will be the key to the game because if we can run the football out of that zone read with him either keeping it or handing it off, they're virtually impossible to stop because the area that they've changed, and Dan will talk about this throughout the game, is that zone play and then the play action off of it, it keeps the defense just guessing on whether they should attack, should they get back, and you throw in his versatility as a runner and throwing, and it's a great package.
It will be great because Pete Carroll will unveil about 15 new blitzes we haven't seen, so how Vince handles that pressure I think will be the key to the game.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: Lee, if you were a coach preparing these teams for a game of this magnitude, what are the most important things to stress?
LEE CORSO: Thank you, Josh. The first thing that's most important is a general comment on both coaches. I think rest between now and game time; which football coach can get his players rested the best could possibly win this game in the 4th quarter. USC has a tendency to jump and start slow, but I think you've got to change that. Rest is most important, which football team rests their team best.
USC jumps on people. They'd better jump on these people early. The reason I say that, it's like a horse race. They have a tendency to let this horse take off and catch them from behind. They're not going to do that to Texas. If they let Texas get ahead of them, it's going to be a tough ballgame for them because of the fact that Texas might be overwhelmed early. I wouldn't be surprised if Texas didn't play well early with this pressure and then USC jumps on them.
If Texas wins the football game, I think Keith mentioned it, it's going to be defensively. They've got a defensive coordinator in Gene Chizik who's won 27 straight football games. That's impressive. He brought the SEC-type defense to Texas, which is the one thing they lacked, the toughness to win big ball games.
If I were them -- people always talk about down and distance, package personnel, I'd play personnel based on Reggie Bush. When Reggie Bush is in the game, I'd use five or six linebackers, nickel and dime. You've got to get more speed. We've watched the guy play three times. You can't stop the guy, you've got to contain him. You've got to get every guy on the football team that can run on defense when he's playing. And then when LenDale White comes in the game, I'd take those backs out, put three linebackers in and stick him because LenDale White is going to run between tackles and you'd better have some linebackers to stuff him.
The other thing that could be the difference is Texas special teams. Texas special teams could win this game. There's a guy named Aaron Ross who's returned two punt returns. Texas has a good punt return team. USC is the worst, last, 117th team in the nation in punt coverage.
Now, if Texas can get them to punt the ball, which is the problem (laughter), then we might see, as we saw in the Notre Dame game, he outkicks the coverage, and you get yourself a good guy running the football back there, you can beat USC. You might not beat them offensively, you might not be them defensively, but you can beat USC, this great football team, on special teams.
The last thing if I was Mack Brown, I'd make sure they understand this, very important. The last thing I'd say to them in that dressing room is, "You deserve to be here. Play your game." Texas is the most complete football team I've seen in the nation this year. I've seen USC three times, I've seen them twice. Texas is the most complete football team I've seen this year. They have every chance in the world to beat USC, and that's the way I would do it.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: Thanks. Chris Fowler, College GameDay is usually the most hyped game of the week throughout the college football season, and this game obviously is at the top of the mountain. How does the hype compare to games past and how will that hype impact the game.
CHRIS FOWLER: This game needs no hype, but that never slows us down.
I think you've got two heavy weights on a collision course for four months, which is one reason why this game eclipses all the other BCS games. It's got unmatched star power on the field. You have the last two Heisman winners and the runner-up this year. It's hard to open your mouth and talk about this game without superlatives gushing out, and this is the type of event that transcends hard-core college fans in terms of people who will be running to watch our show.
This goes beyond that. Casual sports fans or non-sports fans are interested in a game like this. When you put it in the Rose Bowl, which attracts casual sports fans and non-sports fans on a regular basis, you put the game in this setting, I think you've got one of the biggest games anybody up here can remember, plus we've done our best to hype it for the last two weeks with USC against 95 Nebraska and Oklahoma and I guess we've got 72 hours to put them against the Jedi Council and King Kong and put on headgear and say who would win.
Hype is what we do, and it's not a challenge to hype this game. We invite you to be out there. If you enjoy the show on television, come out and see us in person. It's so much more enlightening when you hear these guys in person as opposed to the screen. You're all invited out bright and early.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: I just want to refer back to something you said and provide a little bit of clarification. The most viewed college BCS game that ABC has had was the Fiesta Bowl as Loren said. Miami-Ohio State, that garnered 18.4 million households. The highest rated is a different game; Florida State-Oklahoma did a 17.8 rating. But the households refer to the translation of the rating involved with the reach. So because games take place later on in time, ABC's reach is increased and therefore the rating will translate into more homes as time progresses. So that's why the discrepancy there.
Just to be clear, the most viewed game ABC has ever had was Fiesta Bowl on ABC Miami-Ohio State with 18.4 million, and that is the third highest rated BCS game.
We'll take a couple questions and then we'll break off into one-on-ones. Any questions?
Q. Keith and Dan, for either one of you, all this hype and all this stuff, are you guys ready to go out and call the game now?
DAN FOUTS: I'm ready. Are you ready?
KEITH JACKSON: Yeah.
DAN FOUTS: You know, that is the tough thing. We've spent so much time with both teams. You get this insight and you think you're an expert, and then you hear an idea over here, and you go, "Well, that makes sense too." You guys ask great questions and that gets your mind rolling. You just want to see the ball in the air and see how they're going to react.
This game has a chance for all these coaches to really put their fingerprints on it, but yet it's going to come down to the most basic thing about football, which is blocking and tackling. It's offensive lines against defensive personnel, and when you've got a Reggie Bush and you've got a Vince Young in space, can you tackle them.
KEITH JACKSON: I think from our point of view, what we do, we let the teams -- I have to be careful not to try to start too fast. Take your time. It's a long afternoon. If the producer is all wound up and he's going to pile all this crap on top of us, we can't get it all done (laughter).
Consciously we made an effort, and so does Dan. Consciously we made an effort to start at a pace that we can maintain rather than start way up here and then sinking the rest of the day. We can't do that. We're ready.
Q. Quick question for Len. The gleaming new phone of the future, can you make and receive actual phone calls on it?
LEN DeLUCA: Call me. I think you'll enjoy the ring Tony put on it. You can almost do anything. And Geraldine, my wife, who I'll embarrass, is here from New York. She's seen me almost do anything with this at any time, including updating football scores during St. Ignatius concerts, during the Christmas season, very quietly taking phone calls and all of that. It's a neat device.
It is the ABC ESPN Monday Night Football theme. But it's a good phone, and it will be available after Super Bowl XL to the general public, and we hope you enjoy it as your next X-Box.
Q. Kirk, I saw you look over at Chris when they were talking about all the different USC match-ups. Your thoughts on that and just maybe the overkill factor on that.
KIRK HERBSTREIT: Big-time overkill. I think if I were a Texas player with nothing to do outside of practice, sitting around SportsCenter re-airs 20 times during the day, you're probably seeing it over and over and over every day, and then you go to events like this and you're asked, "Man, how do you match up? How can you ever stop Reggie Bush?"
It reminds me a lot of Ohio State and Miami in 2002 where Ohio State for 30 days, every interview they asked, "How do you stop Ken Dorsey? You guys don't have a chance; what are you guys going to do?" By the time Ohio State took the field, they were possessed and very determined that night, and I think Texas, I'm sure, will take the field in a very similar manner. I talked with Matt and Reggie just yesterday, and I know they weren't real happy about the timing of ESPN deciding to air these USC against the best teams of all time because it's just adding the fuel to the fire for Texas.
DAN FOUTS: To add a little more fuel, some of you that have covered Texas know what they do in their locker room at home when they have a road game. They've been playing "Fight On" and "Conquest" in their locker room for about a month now. That's all they hear. It's on a loop and it goes round and round and round.
KEITH JACKSON: Art Barker has driven 100,000 people crazy out here.
CHRIS FOWLER: It's like every USC game in the stadium.
KIRK HERBSTREIT: We were in Orlando at that Home Depot awards show and a lot of Texas players were there and won some awards and USC players, and throughout the night you kept hearing people say, "This may be the best offense in the history of college football," and I think one of the USC players, I think it might have been Reggie Bush, Chris was interviewing him, and he said, "Do you feel like this is the best offense in the history of college football?" And I just happened to be looking at Michael Huff and Vince Young, and when he said that, they rolled their eyes almost like okay, okay, like they're tired about hearing the best offense. If you read between the lines, you think I don't know how we're going to stop the best offense in college, we're just going to give it another try.
LEN DeLUCA: All of you have covered the greatest events from NCAA Final Fours to Super Bowls to Yankees-Red Sox Divisional Series or League Championship Series. What you have here is the perfect storm of college football events, not to extend the weather metaphor too far, but the bottom line is you have right now everything that we've been working for in the college football community for 15 years from the Coalition to the Alliance to the BCS, and the fact that it's culminating in the Rose Bowl, which stands apart from all the other Bowls and all the other things and games that we attend, is perfect.
Q. Dan, the idea of a team for the ages storyline, is that one of the things that can distinguish this event from a Super Bowl? Because you rarely get that at the NFL level with the free agency breaking up teams.
DAN FOUTS: And then you factor in the fact that college football has been around forever, longer than pro football, and you have as rich a history, if not more, and I think the thing -- having covered the NFL and covered college, obviously I love the paycheck either way, but it's special. Every week Keith likes to call it a festival, and I love a marching band, and I love the Rose Bowl, I love him. Everything is special about this one, and it is the perfect storm. Let's just hope it doesn't rain on the perfect storm, or at your 6:30 shot tomorrow.
JOSH KRULEWITZ: They're all going to be available. These gentlemen will all stick around, so come up and ask them questions, and my colleague Mike Humes in the back has a gift, so come on up, so feel free to ask whatever you want, and Happy New Year and thanks for coming.
End of FastScripts...