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January 2, 2000

Mike Brown

Eric Crouch

Charlie McBride

Bobby Newcombe

Frank Solich


MODERATOR: Go ahead and ask questions.

Q. Mike, you talked earlier in the week about how you needed a win and finish it off. Talk about your feelings about finishing this way in this game the way it happened.

MIKE BROWN: I really can't put it into words right now. Coming over here on the bus, I was just thinking about winning the game. We did that. Now I can always remember my last game as a W. Right now I kind of have mixed emotions. I'm happy, sad, frustrated, all those things. I'm just frustrated the way our defense played; happy that we won; sad that my career is over. I'm just proud of, you know, all that I've accomplished this four years, all this team has accomplished this year. I mean, that's all I really can say about that.

Q. Can you comment on Coach McBride's decision?

MIKE BROWN: Coach McBride is hanging them up. You guys all know what he's meant to this program, to this defense. He's a tremendous coach. He has so much respect on this team. He's just someone that, you know, puts his heart into what he does. His players try to give their heart right back to him. He's going to be missed. We love him dearly.

Q. What did he tell you after the game?

MIKE BROWN: He was just explaining how this victory was his best victory of his coaching career. You know, he was kind of crying a little bit because it's over for him. He's been doing this for so long. It's over for him now. He's going to move on to a new chapter in his life. He's going to be a guy that I'm going to keep in touch with, be a friend of his for life.

Q. You said you were sad about the defense. Anything in particular?

MIKE BROWN: We just made way too many mental mistakes. It wasn't that we weren't giving great effort. We were playing lights out for four quarters. We made too many mental errors that cost us. We didn't play the type of football that we're capable of playing. I know in my heart that we're still the best defense in the nation, no matter who we play. We're going to compete and be a tough defense to move the ball on. Like I said, I'm very proud of this black shirt group. It's going to be a group I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.

Q. Can you talk about your future as a pro?

MIKE BROWN: I haven't thought about it, to tell you the truth. I was thinking about wining this football game here. Now I'm going to have a chance to sit down and really think about my future.

Q. As a senior, Mike, what do you think about University of Nebraska outside of football?

MIKE BROWN: Oh, it's a great place to go to school. This University, as you know, it's built on football. Football is a huge aspect of the University. I mean, that's what what a lot of people go there for. I know a lot of athletes that got scholarships go for that. What makes this program is the people we have in our support staff care about you as a person and want you to success in life. They want you to graduate. Most of our players do graduate, on time. I think this is a special University in the fact that everyone cares about you as a person, not just a football player.

Q. Eric, did you guys go in saying that you were going to have to put the ball in the air? Had a touchdown pass for the first time in a couple months. Was that the game plan?

ERIC CROUCH: Definitely was in the game plan. I know right away we knew we had to establish the running game, and we did that. We did a pretty good job in the second half. We also knew that coming out we needed to mix it up a little bit, too, kind of catch them off guard. There were some play-action passes that we really connected on. I think those were big parts of our success today. Pretty important plays. Some third down conversions that really helped us out. That play-action pass for a touchdown was very good for us.

Q. Mike, Coach McBride, did he tell you before the game, did you play with that emotion inside you?

MIKE BROWN: Some of us knew before; not many. I talked to the guys before the game because I was probably really one of only like maybe five people that really knew what was going to happen. Coach McBride is the type of guy, it's not his style to tell people that he's retiring so they play for him. That's the type of person that he is. He just went about it quietly, just go and live life now. He's always been hurt in his knees, his back. It's sad to see him leave. But I'm also happy that he's going to be able to enjoy his life finally.

Q. Mike, Tennessee's passing attack got going on that one drive. It could have killed a lot of teams. You guys handled it really well. What can you say about Tee Martin and how did you defuse the offensive attack?

MIKE BROWN: You know, first of all, we took the running game away from them and made them one dimensional. They began passing the ball a lot. They had a good scheme, they were able to complete some passes, make some big plays. But, like I said, we could have stopped some of it, but some of the plays we weren't able to just because of the schemes. We went into halftime and made some adjustments. We were playing hard. We were making some mental mistakes. You can't do that against great teams, they'll make you pay.

Q. Bobby, can you talk about the punt return, what happened?

BOBBY NEWCOMBE: Well, the one thing I remember about that is just our guys doing an excellent job of blocking. I saw a little crease, tried to accelerate through that. Next thing I know, Ralph Brown is making an excellent job on the punt, I have to try to run around him. I ran in the end zone, I'm knocked down, everybody is on top of me.

Q. Coach, Mike talked about this being Coach McBride's last game. Could you comment on that?

COACH SOLICH: Has Charlie visited with you guys or anything of that nature?

Q. Not yet.

COACH SOLICH: I think probably it's best, you know, before I make any kind of comment that maybe you check with Coach McBride.

Q. (Inaudible) were you wearing him down? The two drives, 99 and 94 yarder like, that what did that do for momentum, what did it do for your offense?

ERIC CROUCH: I think definitely that was a turning point in the game. It was definitely motivation for our offense. The first drive that we had was 96 yards. I think it showed a lot of stamina, a lot the heart out of those linemen, runningbacks, pretty much everybody on the field. I think it had to do with a lot of the sidelining motions, too. Everybody was into it, helping one another out. After we scored that touchdown, we just told ourselves, "Hey, we're going to have to do it again, this time it's going to have to be 98, 99 yards." We told ourselves that we could do it. We did it already. We went down and scored each touchdown. It was a great feeling knowing that we could do that. You don't see that a lot. I think it says a lot about the physical play that we brought to the table today.

Q. Is that what you said on the one yard line, "Let's do it again"?

ERIC CROUCH: Definitely. I think a lot of guys felt the same way. Kept telling those linemen. They rallied around that. I think that's, you know, one thing this team has always done this whole year, it's what has put us in this place. Every time we come to play, we come to play together and we're playing for one another.

Q. Coach, all of the seniors that we talked to, I know you're proud of all of them, they were particularly happy for Mike, the night that he had in front of his hometown family and friends. Can you talk about what that means to you?

COACH SOLICH: Sure. You know, we all wanted Mike to end it with a bright note, certainly in front of his home fans, his friends, his relatives. He's had a great career. Everybody felt that, without question, we wanted to see it work well for him in this game. And it did. But, you know, I was really pleased with all the seniors. I wanted all of them to go out in style because they are special in how they operated this year, in a lot of ways, talent-wise, character, leadership. It was delightful for me to see those guys be able to go out on top.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about coming out early and throwing some early passes, then also about how you took Tennessee's running game away?

COACH SOLICH: The plan was to try to get them off balance a little bit early in the game and hopefully be able to come up with some formations that we'd be able to do a few things out of. We wanted to be as multiple as we could early in the game offensively. We did enough running. The types of running plays that we were doing, we had, we felt, a pretty good number of play-action passes to come off of those. So we used some of those early on in the game and were able to make some big plays. We wanted to make sure we got something going early in this ballgame. So that played out pretty well for us. Then, of course, in the second half, I thought it showed great character that our team was able to change the momentum after we got down a little bit there. We were able to come back. Of course, Tennessee probably, in punting it inside the five twice, forced us into running the ball some. Once we started running, found out that maybe we can keep running it. That's what we end up doing. That worked very well. Then, of course, stopping their running game, we've been able to do that really throughout the year. That's always been something that this defense stepped on the field wanting to do regardless of the style of play that the other team is, and that's to stop the run first. We were intent on doing that, despite the fact that their receivers can also hurt you badly in the passing game.

Q. The two big drives, can you talk about those, 95 and 99 yard drive, also the trick play Tennessee ran there, did it catch you guys off guard?

COACH SOLICH: Yeah, the two drives, one we started on the four, the other we started on the one. When you're caught in that kind of situation, you're running our offense, it really limits you because you're a little nervous about running play-action passes, you're a little nervous about the option game so deep in your own territory. So you start off with a little bit of a power game. We were able to bust a couple of those plays very well on the first drive, trying to come out. We got that first down. That was big. Then on the second one, I think when Eric threw to Jon Bowling and we were able to get the first down on that one to keep that drive alive, that was a big, big play. Then, of course, we were able to mix in with nothing but runs really the rest of the time except for the pass on the one drive that scored for us. The other part of the question?

Q. The trick play Tennessee ran to get the first down.

COACH SOLICH: Everybody runs trick plays in bowl games. You hope they work. We had a couple that probably didn't look like trick plays, but to us we call them that. Tennessee's one was really a well-designed play and they executed it perfectly. Give them a chance to get them back in the ballgame is what it did.

Q. Coach, is there anything you learned this season, this game, that you're going to build on with these two tremendous athletes on your left and right?

COACH SOLICH: Well, I think the thing that I think I understand, our coaches understand, probably everybody out there understands is we have two tremendously talented football players in Eric and Bobby. We will try to utilize them as best we can to make big plays because they are that type of athlete. Our offense is pretty multiple. We will design certainly a good share of it around guys, those two guys, hope that we're able to move the ball with some consistency knowing that we'll get some big plays from them.

Q. Coach, your opening drive in the fourth quarter, ten plays, 99 yards, over four minutes knocked off the clock. Earlier in the game you were scoring quickly with big plays. Did that drive symbolize what Nebraska offense, the legend of Nebraska football?

COACH SOLICH: I think if you talk to anybody on our football team, they will tell you that that is the case. That is what Nebraska is known for, what's that Nebraska has been all about over the years. That's what we also want to be known for. We want to be multiple. But we want to be able to run the football and get something done when we do it. Certainly to control the ball like that, I thought was vitally important. I had mentioned before the game that I thought the team that was able to put together those kind of drives would have an edge. Now, we did in the running game; they did in the passing game a little bit. Both teams were able to put those kind of drives together today.

Q. Eric, Tennessee talked a lot this week about how they learned about physical football two years ago in the Orange Bowl. Why is Nebraska still able to beat them physically?

ERIC CROUCH: The best way I can react to that is, you know, I think the way we play football, we're not going to talk about how physical we are. We just know how physical we are. We're going to come out on the field and show it come game day. There was a lot of talk about us not being a very physical team, the style of blocks that we had. There was just a lot of commenting on that. I thought, you know, that probably wasn't appropriate. For the most part, we just came out and we had to play it on the field. We had to be the most physical team. I think it showed. It seemed like every five minutes, someone was laying on the ground, they were a little bit injured, they were laying on the ground for maybe five, ten minutes because they weren't in good enough shape, I don't know what the case was. I think we went out there and proved we were the most physical team today.

COACH SOLICH: Coach McBride would like to make a statement. If you have a moment, we'd like to have him come up.

COACH McBRIDE: Well, I guess it's pretty obvious. Some of the people have already said this. This is my 37th year of coaching. Over the last few years, I've contemplated retirement. I didn't want to take anything away from this football team with that kind of thing. Eventually it kind of got out. I have so many people to thank, especially this one right here, 38 years (referring to his wife). She's a legitimate coach's wife and raised three legitimate great sons. I can go back. I don't want to talk a lot about this, but I do want to say one thing. My first win was when I was coaching at Arizona State with Frank Kush at this stadium, and my last win was here, too. It meant so much to me. If you can only know the players that I had over the years, especially this group, and I've said this is a special group, folks. They're self-motivated, and they can play like hell. I honestly love them. We talk about them. That's a word we're not afraid to use on our football team. I love my family very much. I think it's time for them. So I'm going to pull the plug. I just want to thank everybody. I want to thank Coach Solich. Frankie was great to me. I was my son's coach in high school. He came with us. As you know, he's going to turn into one of the best there is. I want to thank Frank Kush for giving me my first job as nothing but a little graduate assistant up at the University of Colorado. He had faith in me to give me a job to start my career. I can't help loving the man for it. We've stayed in touch. He's a great person. He probably taught me as much in three years about football and about young men as I've ever learned in my life. Coach Osborne and all those people have just been like Saints to me. They've all let me coach. That's really important, I think, for a football coach, that they turn around and let you coach. So thanks to everybody. I'll have more to say, I know, when I get home. I don't want to take away there this football team because they deserve this big win. As far as I'm concerned, they are No. 1. There's no question about it. I don't have any hesitation in my mind. Anybody that wanted to step up against us, we can win. Thank you, very much.

COACH SOLICH: Certainly Coach McBride is known around the country as one of the great and maybe as great a defensive coordinator as there is. I know that we would not trade him for anybody. It's really in a lot of ways a sad moment for Nebraska football. He has been with our program a long, long time, as you know, as a coaching staff. Most of us have been together and been through an awful lot. It's very difficult to see one of us step aside. He has been outstanding. His players have always played very hard for him. There's a reason why Nebraska has had great defensive football teams over the years. Coach McBride is that reason. He talked about love. His players love him, and they play for him. Along with being just an excellent coach in terms of schemes, in terms of calling a game defensively, he has the whole package. He will certainly be missed by our program, by our coaches, by our players. He'll be missed in a lot of ways. Thank you, very much.

End of FastScripts….

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