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December 27, 2010

Gary Pinkel


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, again, my name is Tony Alba. It is my honor to introduce the head coach of the Missouri Tigers, Gary Pinkel.
COACH PINKEL: Good morning, everybody. This is a football coach's world and a football team's world. This is Friday for us. So that's pretty much what we try to do is at the University of Missouri in our preparation, is for our players, is just plug into game week. And this is getting very close to game week tomorrow night. So this is a Friday for us, and that's how we'll treat it. We will pretty much do the same things we do Friday afternoon and evening and into Saturday morning for a Saturday night game. And we're excited about playing.
I think we have had a lot of practices, preparation for this Bowl. I think we have got a lot of work done with our young players at the beginning and our veteran players, getting them back to playing their best and practicing their best.
We've had good practices, and we are excited about playing.

Q. Madison's readiness for plan and also this extension talk for you?
COACH PINKEL: First of all, Brad Madison broke a finger on his -- I think it is on his right hand. And he did it I think a week or so ago. They had surgery. They put a cast on it. He doesn't look any different than he did before, so he's -- I think he is 100 percent functional. And he's a very tough, tough kid and very courageous young man. So it is good to know we will have him back full bore.
And there's just been some initial discussion on that. And, you know, I'm going to be at Missouri. There's no question about that. So we'll see what happens there.

Q. When you have taken the time to prepare for Iowa, what stands out the most? What's one, maybe two things you look at when you see the Iowa Hawkeyes, you think this is what we have to stop?
COACH PINKEL: Well, you know, any game you get into a big game, you look at kicking game, turnovers. We all -- that's -- coaches say it all the time because it's true.
That being said, they just got -- they're a very, very well-coached football team. And then you throw great athletes in with that and depth, and that's the University of Iowa. That's why they have had all the success they've had. That's why they are such a great team. So it is going to be a battle. We understand that.
But, you know, they got great players, and they're very, very well coached.

Q. You talked earlier about managing the fun parts about this Bowl and the business parts about this Bowl and getting things done. How do you think -- evaluate how you've made those things work for you at least as you've gone so far.
COACH PINKEL: I think a lot of that's hopefully past experiences, the good and the bad at Bowl games. You learn and you educate your players and the leadership of your team and your coaches.
But I think overall it has been really, really good. I think our practices have been excellent. The meetings prior to have been very high focused. And then I think our players have had a great time. This Bowl has been as good as any I've been around, and the hospitality and the sunshine and the facility we're staying at and the people. It's just -- it has just been a great experience for our players.
But I think they're all -- they're excited. There's -- this is hugely important to us as it is to Iowa. And I think we're in position now to play our best football game.

Q. Can you just describe the difference between what happens in a year when you win a Bowl and when you lose and just how that affects the next month one way or another. Obviously you make the best of whatever happens. I'm just thinking of South Carolina, the difference between that and, say, Navy.
COACH PINKEL: You know, I will give you -- we beat South Carolina and then I think we come back on particularly -- I don't remember what kind of year we had that year. But I take, for example, we lost to Oregon State and then we went back and we win 22 games the next two years. So everybody wants to win because it is a great way to go in momentum-wise into January. Everybody wants to win because you want to finish. We're all singing the same song here as coaches and it is so important, I think, as your program.
The other side of it is -- I just gave you a great example of you're going to deal with it, and last year we lost our Bowl game and we come back and win ten this year. You deal with it the best way you can. But I rather deal with it with a victory.

Q. You challenged your own fans on a couple of occasions to come to this Bowl. What have you seen about that and is that a fine line challenging them and saying thanks for the support?
COACH PINKEL: Well, I just think it is being honest. Our fans are the best and we just -- I want to be a great travel for Bowl games. I think we need to do that. There is no reason on Earth we can't. I just kind of expressed my opinion in a very encouraging and positive way, as I always do.
But our fans have grown so much as we have grown and built our program and very appreciative of that. And we did Tiger Talk last night at our location where our team is staying. It was unbelievable. It was probably like I have never experienced before. I think our fans are learning -- they are doing a lot of good things.
By the way, it was 8 degrees today in Columbia, Missouri. Pretty intelligent decision to be in Phoenix, Arizona.

Q. Just talking to your players this week and recently, kind of get the sense that they are very intense and serious about this matchup, maybe more than yours past at Bowl games. Do you think that's just the investment this team has taken, or is it the matchup with Iowa? Do you sense some of that from your players?
COACH PINKEL: I think it is both. I think -- you can play your best game and lose a game, so you can really play well, you get two teams that are battling and play well. But you just don't win the football game because the other team did a few things better than you did.
But I think that our players recognize, you know, they want to end this the right way and want to give their greatest effort and their greatest preparation. I sense that also.
And I think it also has a lot to do with the respect they have for Iowa. I have said this a number of times. It only takes a few minutes to put that film on. They study personnel since they have been here. They studied personnel and preparation for their games. When you put Iowa on, it doesn't take very long to figure out they have a really, really good football team.
So I think there is a combination of both.

Q. Could you describe the two quarterbacks that will face each other tomorrow.
COACH PINKEL: Well, I think they're both real good players. You know, I think that the -- one of the great things about these quarterbacks, I think they are high-level players, they're players -- I don't want to compare as far as arm and things like that. I would never do that.
But I think that without question that Iowa's quarterback, Ricky, is a player that I think has done an excellent job of executing the offense. 25 touchdowns, or -6, four interceptions. Accuracy, I mean, he just does an absolute outstanding job.
Our quarterback -- we do different things with our quarterback. Our quarterback is more by himself in the back field, we're in shotgun all the time, and so they ask things from their guys as we do for our guy. And they're different in many ways.
But I think you are going to see really two outstanding quarterbacks. I think that's one of the things that makes this a real good matchup also.

Q. It's been a month since both of these teams have played. But your team finished with a three-game win streak. Iowa finished with a three-game losing streak. Does momentum from the month of November carry over to the end of December?
COACH PINKEL: I don't know. If you have the streak, you want it to. If it doesn't, then you are more eager than ever to play to get back on the winning circle. So I think you deal with that as a program.
Kirk's a great coach and been very, very successful in everything he does. And they'll -- they will play their best football game.
You know, people talk about the layover that the Bowl games kind of just -- that just the -- in existence that's how it is. And that's just the way it is. There's no excuses for not playing your best. There's none. I don't care if you have six weeks, four weeks, or two weeks, it doesn't matter. We are all in the same position.
We all had the lay-off the same amount of time. The key is can I get my football team to play their best game regardless of that. And hopefully I can.

Q. I know you always like to focus on yourselves and your own game plan, but how do you go about differently game planning Iowa, especially with the personnel changes that they've had to make?
COACH PINKEL: I think they have really good depth, so I don't think there is a big change there at all. I don't think that's even an equation for us.
We've lost our share of players this year with injuries. We've lost our -- we've had our discipline issues ourselves. Kirk and I were talking about that a little bit. You move them over and then the next guy gets up and has an opportunity. They have great athletes. They recruit well. So I think it is just business as usual for us.

Q. A few years ago you had a team that lit up the scoreboard. This year it has been more defensive minded. Is that a change in philosophy or just the personnel that you're working with right now?
COACH PINKEL: I think one is ahead of the other a little bit. We have 11 starters on offense, ten of them are underclassmen. We have I think four starters on defense. I think our defensive personnel, I think, we're playing -- we've got more players, more depth there than we have had in the past, and I think we are playing better defense. I think that's -- obviously our coaching staff has done a good job.
We have a lot of guys who can run and are playing well and playing consistent and are playing as a unit and a team. So what happens is when that happens, it is just a little bit of a -- adjust a little bit what we do on the offensive side because we are playing a lot better defense.
It's nice. It's nice to have that. And, you know, it affects a little bit how we deal with the fourth quarter in games and things like that. If you have a pretty good punting game, kicking game, just the field position, all those things are a part of the equation. It's been nice to see our defense play at the level they've been playing.

Q. Could you see this season coming with the building blocks that you put into place, say, two or three years before?
COACH PINKEL: That's a good question. You know, I feel like we have -- coming into the season, I felt like we have a lot of good players. We have probably the best -- as good of athletes as we have had in the past as far as total numbers. I know we have real good team speed because I know how fast these guys run.
I think after the '07 season, '08, where we win 12 games, then we win ten games, then last year we drop down to winning eight, I think as we are building our program people say, well, that's just a couple good years, and I was saying the same thing. We want to win at a higher level more consistently.
This year we came back and really got -- played, I think, pretty good football most of the year. We had a couple struggles like most teams do. But I think getting to winning ten games again at this point, 40 in the last four years, that's -- I'm certainly hoping we could do that. I don't think you ever know. There are so many things that happen during the season. We focus so much -- as most coaches say, it is one game at a time.
But I really felt after our Texas A&M game, and I knew Texas A&M was a very good game, it was down at their place, I knew that -- I thought then that this team has a chance to be pretty special. And we were fortunate enough to beat them down there. At that time, I said this team has got a chance to maybe be really, really good.
So I think overall, you know, it ended up being a pretty good year.

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