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January 8, 2009
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA
JOHN HUMENIK: Good evening, everyone. Welcome. Only a year after the Orange Bowl Committee was formed following the 1935 college football season, the Heisman Trophy was created by the Downtown Athletic Club to reward the sport's most outstanding player.
From that celebrated group, 17 Heisman Trophy recipients have played in the FedEx Orange Bowl, more than any other Bowl in the country. Before the 2005 FedEx Orange Bowl, a past or future or present Heisman Trophy winner have never played against each other in an Orange Bowl or in any other Bowl game until Oklahoma's Jason White and USC's Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush followed that script.
Of course tonight is now the 16th and 17th time that the Orange Bowl is once again hosting college football's most prestigious award winner, and once again, we have winners competing against each other in Florida's Tim Tebow and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford.
To commemorate the historic 75 years and the host of Heisman Trophy winners, the Orange Bowl Committee is honoring ten members of that sacred fraternity here tonight at the FedEx Orange Bowl. Representatives of the Heisman winners from all six BCS conferences, the ACC, the Big 12, the Big East, the Big 10, the Pac-10, are here tonight on hand, as well as our Heisman Trophy winners from the Mountain West Conference, the Military Academy, Conference USA and a winner representing South Florida.
From your left to right, those that are here tonight representing the ACC, Doug Flutie, Boston College recipient, 1984; from the Big 10, Desmond Howard, University of Michigan, 1991; Conference USA, Andre Ware, Houston, 1989; the Big East, Tony Dorsett, Pitt, 1976; from the Pac-10, Marcus Allen, USC, 1981; from the Mountain West conference Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990; from the Service Academy Joe Bellino, Navy, 1960; from the SEC Danny Wuerffel, Florida, 1986; not here with us right now representing the Big 12, Billy Sims from Oklahoma; and from South Florida, Gino Torretta, Miami, 1992.
What we're going to try to do here is we've got mic holders stationed all around the group. We obviously have a good-sized group, so just raise your hand and we'll get a mic to you, present your question to that particular former Heisman Trophy recipient, and then I'll take one of the mics up here and we'll pass it to that person and get them to answer your question.
Q. Doug, just want to ask you and maybe some of the other winners about the distractions that you might remember that you went through between winning the Heisman and playing in the Bowl game, and how much that might affect tonight's game.
DOUG FLUTIE: For me the Heisman week was very distracting. Obviously it was a week of running around and dinners and lunches and all that. I was kind of frustrated, although I was kind of a quiet, shy kid at the time, and I didn't want much to do with it, and I was like, okay, I have to be here and I have to be there in doing it.
When it came time for the Bowl week, the Bowl week felt the same way to me, so it was very frustrating. I played a very mediocre game in the Cotton Bowl that year. We won. We were a better football team than the team we were playing, and we won pretty easily. But I felt like I didn't play my best football for sure. Whether it had anything to do with that or not, I don't know, but it was kind of a hectic month beforehand.
Q. Any other guys have any outstanding stories about distractions?
DOUG FLUTIE: They all had great games.
MARCUS ALLEN: I, like Doug, didn't have an outstanding game, either, but I do remember just going to several banquets, and although my team was preparing, the attention, the requests for the Heisman Trophy winner were certainly a lot more than any other player.
But I remember not being in the best shape at that particular time. I think we played a game, and how ironic, we played Penn State back in the Fiesta Bowl my final season, and I didn't play particularly well. But I remember just being really fatigued from all the banquets that I attended across the country, the Maxwell Award and a variety of things like that.
That's just part of the territory, if you will, that goes with winning the award. You're expected to be at all these events and you're expected to obviously play at a high level, and unfortunately it hasn't happened to a lot of guys. But that was my experience.
DANNY WUERFFEL: When we played in the '96 season in the Sugar Bowl, for us Coach Spurrier did a really good job of kind of getting us some distance from the media, and we really just -- it was like another Bowl game for us, and there was a lot of the hype obviously from the Heisman. But he kind of helped protect that, so I think he did a great job of giving us a chance to just get ready for the game.
That year, I'm not sure how it was for some of the other guys, the banquets, the Maxwell and all those ended up being after the Bowl game for me, so really it was the Heisman Trophy, then you had a break and you got ready for the Bowl game, so we fortunately had a good night.
MARCUS ALLEN: One other thing I'd like to add is because when you're on the west coast all the major awards are on the east coast, too, so you do a lot more traveling, which makes it a lot more difficult.
Q. Danny, several times this week Tim Tebow has mentioned you specifically as someone he's really looked up to throughout his whole life, your performance on and off the field. Can you talk about your relationship with Tim, and how do you think he's carrying out what he does on and off the field?
DANNY WUERFFEL: I'm so excited to know Tim and that he's a Gator. He's done a phenomenal job on the field and off the field. He carries himself so well, comes from a great family that does a lot of wonderful things all around the world.
One of the quotes he said this week that actually inspired me, I think it put some things into perspective, somebody asked him, "How do you deal with all the pressure? This is as pressured of a game as there can be in college football." He said, "Pressure is an interesting thing. When you don't have enough food to feed your kids, that's pressure," and he started listing some other things that's real pressure. He says sometimes we get a little confused in this.
I just think he's got a great perspective that helps him deal with football. He loves to compete, and I'm excited for him.
Q. Danny, just to follow that up, what do you think Tim should do for his senior year? Do you think he should come back?
DANNY WUERFFEL: Yeah, I think he should come back. I'm a Florida Gator and we definitely want him to come back. He like a lot of guys has got a tough decision to make, and I don't know how tonight will play in or not to that.
But I know a big question a lot of folks ask is do I think or do we think he has a chance to play in the NFL. I think if he gets in the right place with the right coach that can utilize his talents, he can be very effective.
Q. To no one in particular, when you won the Heisman, there's such a long time between that and playing in a major Bowl game. Was there added pressure knowing that you won the Heisman to perform better or at least the public perception of that when you played that Bowl game?
GINO TORRETTA: I don't think there's added pressure to perform better. I think that obviously all our teams had success or we wouldn't have had the opportunity to win the award, and I don't think there's added pressure. I think there might be a little bit more incentive from the team's opponent as they prepare, so who has the edge tonight? Does Tebow winning the Heisman last year give Oklahoma an edge and vice versa with Bradford winning this year? At least myself, I didn't put any more pressure to say I have to play better because I won the Heisman. You want to play the best you can, and hopefully you win the game.
TONY DORSETT: When I won the Heisman back in '76 I was a little skinny kid from Pennsylvania. I really didn't get caught up in it. I was having a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to go to New York and meet a whole lot of celebrities and whatnot, so it was a big deal for me and my family, so it was a good opportunity for us.
It didn't affect me at all going into the game. I actually had a super game at the Sugar Bowl. We played in Georgia for the National Championship, and I rushed over 200 yards in that game. But the deal was that was just a situation that the pressure wasn't there. Coach Majors did a great job in getting us there, and he always talked -- we went to three Bowl games through my career at Pitt, but it was a reward for having an outstanding season. He said that if we handled ourselves like gentlemen off the field, then he'd be able to treat us like young men.
We all had a great time, we enjoyed ourselves, and when it became practice time we focused and did all the right things the way we were supposed to do them.
Fortunately for us when we went out to play the game, we were ready to play.
DESMOND HOWARD: I think I agree with what Gino said. We all had some sort of success as a team and as individuals, so I think any pressure we feel is self-imposed pressure, to go out there and be the best on the field. You know that there's a big target on your back once you win the Heisman. If it's like Tony Dorsett or Marcus Allen, everyone wants to get a shot at the Heisman-winning running back, or if it's Doug Flutie or Andre Ware they want to try to get a shot at the Heisman-winning quarterback. I think you have to deal with that.
For me there wasn't any added pressure. I just wanted to go out there and do what I did the whole season that allowed me to win the award.
MARCUS ALLEN: I think just also to add to that, it's important, Guys, as an individual, there's a lot of pressure, I guess if you will, if that's how you want to define it, projected onto us. Personally we were targets all year long, so this is not really anything new to us, and we wanted to be great every single game, and every time we touched the ball, every time we threw a pass, every time we received the ball we wanted to be great. So this is nothing new. This is the stage we've always wanted to be on, and this is the stage that we always wanted to excel in.
In some cases like Tony, you know, he had a magnificent game and won the National Championship. In other cases it didn't work out. But I don't think it was pressure. I don't think it was -- this is something that I think we experienced all year long, and we knew there was a target, but we've been targeted all year long, too, so we were prepared for that.
Q. For Marcus, as one who watches USC all year long, do you believe you're watching the two best teams in college football?
MARCUS ALLEN: Why do you have to put me on the spot (laughter)?
Q. Do you feel you're watching the two best teams tonight or do feel there should be a playoff? What's your feeling?
MARCUS ALLEN: I went to the University of Southern California; thereby I'm a very smart person. This is not about the University of Southern California tonight. This is about the University of Florida and Oklahoma, and that conversation will be another time. Was that rhetorical, because you already know how I feel? You just wanted to hear me say that (laughing)? I told you I will not engage myself into answering that question tonight. I think you already know how I feel about that.
These guys know how I feel. If you want to ask them, they'll tell you.
DANNY WUERFFEL: I want to add on to that. The reality is I think it just really, really begs the question of what's going to be happening in the years to come. It is what it is this year. This is the BCS Championship game and so forth, but man, the fact that so many teams didn't get a chance to be in it that deserve it, it's really going to be putting more and more pressure on the folks to move towards a playoff, I think.
Q. Given that answer or those answers, and without elaboration, could you just go down the line, current system or different system?
DOUG FLUTIE: Definitely different system. It's not about the kids and how many games they're going to play and all that. It's not about whether they're going to stay academically eligible in the second semester and play after that, past the holidays and everything like that. There's a Bowl out on the West Coast that likes the situation the way it is now and will never be a part of the other situation. So that is the steppingstone. There's 95 percent of the people out there would love to see a playoff of some sort.
ANDRE WARE: This is something that I talk about weekly or almost seems like daily. I think different system, certainly. Not only are you excluding teams that are deserving that are already in BCS conferences like a USC, but a Utah football team where all they did was line up and beat opponents in front of them, and the days of college football where an undefeated team deserves the recognition to be a national champion are just about all but gone if you're not in a BCS conference. Call me crazy, but I think there are 119 schools; I think every one of them should have an opportunity to play for a National Championship.
TONY DORSETT: Ditto, I agree. I think that as Andre just said, you just look at Utah. They're a team that obviously they don't get a lot of visibility, but they're an undefeated team and they took on one of the more highly visible universities in the University of Alabama and you saw what happened. The thing is I just feel that everybody should be given that opportunity.
Now, I don't know how it's going to work out and how they're going to do it, but they have a lot of brilliant people at the head of these universities that should be able to figure it out.
MARCUS ALLEN: I always just find it very difficult for a computer to measure teams, individuals, emotions and so on, and conferences and records. I actually find that impossible. It's mindboggling.
I've always relied more on the coaches, knowing who I think are the better teams in college football, although I do believe a playoff system is probably something that should happen. It's unfortunate, there are, I guess, how many teams, one team that's undefeated, and everyone else is 11-1. I don't know how you come to that determination of who is better than -- what 11-1 team is better than the next. It's really kind of baffling.
TY DETMER: Yeah, different system. Being from the Mountain West, we don't have a chance. The state high school champion team in Texas played 15 games, and those are high school kids. The games aren't a problem. We can still have all the Bowl games, and I think there will be a change here, hopefully pretty quick. But we need to do something.
JOE BELLINO: I'll have to agree with the majority. I think there should be a Bowl system.
DANNY WUERFFEL: Years ago before the BCS there was that question, couldn't you do something to make something different so it would be better, and then everyone said no and then there was enough pressure and then they at least had the BCS. They made a change and it was a step forward, and I think there's enough pressure now where will be a change at some point, and I definitely think there needs to be.
GINO TORRETTA: I mean, obviously we all think there should be some type of playoff. The one thing that disappoints me is even without a playoff and a Bowl system, if one and two are playing each other, why don't three and four play each other, why don't five and six play each other and have the teams that are supposedly ranked in the top eight play each other in this, but it all comes down to who's going to the Orange Bowl, who has this pick or who has the second pick of these wildcard teams of who's going to play in the Bowl game. I think that's the thing.
I mean, it all comes down to the TV and the contracts and that.
Q. This is for Joe Bellino. You're maybe the guy up there that's played the longest time ago, but I think you had a pretty memorable game.
JOE BELLINO: You mean the oldest up here?
Q. And President-Elect Kennedy, I believe, was at the game. What do you remember most about that game and how it's changed or just how --
JOE BELLINO: Well, I guess I should start, you are young enough to know that the Heisman Trophy and the presentation is something that's built up from the first day of the football season, and when I played, it wasn't as big a deal. It was 50 years ago -- approximately 50 years ago that I won the Heisman Trophy, and I can remember it was kind of a hectic period for me during that time preparing for the Orange Bowl game.
But my biggest concern was passing the electrical engineering exam that I had to take a week before the game. Altogether a different time, a different era. Hopefully down the road with some of the good football players the Naval Academy is getting now, we might have another winner in the service academies. But it was a great time. Missouri beat us 21-14, but it was a good game.
Q. This is for no one in particular, but can I have a few of you talk about the uniqueness of tonight's match-up watching two Heisman Trophy winners battling for a National Championship?
GINO TORRETTA: Well, this is only the second time it's happened, and like I said before, does that give an edge? I'm sure the Florida defense is preparing harder because Sam won the Heisman, and I'm sure the Oklahoma defense vice versa is preparing harder because Tim won the Heisman.
But I think it's just a tribute to both these teams, the success that they've had and what they've gone through, you know, Florida losing against Ole Miss and then just hitting a roll and Oklahoma losing to Texas and I think they scored 60 points a week every game since then. It was kind of amazing.
Both these teams, I'm excited to see it. We'll see, I guess, who plays better defense because offense puts them in the seats but defense is going to win the championship out there tonight.
DESMOND HOWARD: Yeah, it is a unique situation, and the thing about it, just kind of bouncing back and forth when we were talking about BCS teams and who should compete for National Championships, and now you have two guys and two Heisman winners that really get to settle it on the field, back-to-back winners. That's what you want. That's how you want to have it happen.
As well, players, when we were talking about the BCS and National Championship, I think sometimes that gets forgotten. Go ask the players how they want it settled. Do you think they want it settled with a poll or whomever votes for it? No, they want the distinguished rights of earning it on the field, so get them together, let them play it out, and that's what's happening tonight with Tim and Sam.
DANNY WUERFFEL: I agree with Gino. It adds a little more incentive for the defenses when you play against a Heisman Trophy winner. It's more fun to talk about, it's more fun to write about and people like to hear about it. It just adds more interest to the game, but it's going to be settled on the field, and that's a good thing.
DOUG FLUTIE: The interest in the game I think is a big point that Danny points out. I think the bottom line is this is the ultimate team game, and they wouldn't be in the position that they are or were for winning Heismans if they didn't play for great football teams.
So the guy that comes out on top tonight, it doesn't mean that Tim Tebow is in a position to show he should have won the Heisman again if they were to knock off Oklahoma. These guys go out and play their hearts out every week. You're the representative of your team that had a great year, and maybe you were the catalyst, you were the leader of that team, and that's why you were in a position to win the Heisman. I think it just creates a great match-up and is fun for all of us to watch.
TY DETMER: I agree. Both guys, we had a chance to spend a little time with them in New York for the announcement. Both just great character guys and I know they're probably looking forward to matching up on the field and just having fun pregame, maybe talking a little bit. But it does just create a little bit more attention for both, and both defenses want to win it for their guy that much more.
JOHN HUMENIK: Thank you all for coming, and thank these gentlemen for their time.
End of FastScripts