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December 30, 2010

Bret Bielema


COACH BIELEMA: I want to appreciate and say thank you to everyone that's shown up today, the media. As we get closer to game day, I know our kids are excited about the opportunity, and for that I'll open it up to any easy questions.

Q. Just easy ones?

Q. Coach, talk about your left tackle? People thinking he can play at that next level.
COACH BIELEMA: Question is about Gabe Carimi. Our left tackle position since I've been there, the only two guys that have started have been Joe Thomas and Gabe Carimi. Both won the Outland Trophy and both have done a great job during that time.
Joe was, I believe, the third pick in the draft; and Gabe has done a tremendous job for us all year. He's really along with the other two senior line men have been the back bone of what we're doing. When the NFL scouts came through, one thing they've been impressed with is Gabe was a 335 pound kid that looks like he weighs 280. He moves well and runs extremely well for that size.
The thing I think they get excited about is in the big games he's played extremely well when he's faced with good competition. As far as the Cowboys, I can't comment on those guys.

Q. Can you talk about your offense? You guys like to score a lot, but they don't allow a lot of points.
COACH BIELEMA: It is a classic tale of two opposites. Defensively they're very, very aggressive. The thing that jumped out to me about TCU is how well they tackle. They don't miss many tackles. They're opportunistic. When they have a chance for interception, they make it happen.
We like to do certain things that they haven't seen before. You know, there is a lot of teams that they've played, but no one has played the type of balanced offense that we play, so that will be a key part for us to stay on the field.

Q. What about the Pac 10 teams? Do you see any similarities to Pac 10 teams of the past?
COACH BIELEMA: The Pac 10 has changed a lot just in what we're seeing. As this thing got closer, I was paying attention to the Pac 10 teams in case there was a match-up against us. We're very similar to what Stanford does. I think that TCU, I don't know enough about the Pac 10 teams to compare them in that way. I tell you what TCU does, they do well. It's not by chance that they're undefeated.

Q. You're the underdog?
COACH BIELEMA: You know what, we relish that role. We embrace it. It's something that shows how much respect TCU has across the country, and the respect that they should have gotten because of what they've done the last two years. They've got an impressive record.
Coach Patterson has done a tremendous job. It is another opportunity for us to go out and improve ourselves.

Q. You talk about Wisconsin offense which is TCU defense. TCU has a Top 10 run game. How good is that rushing game?
COACH BIELEMA: It's very good. The key for them is they balance what they look in the run game as well as in the passing game, so it kind of keeps you off balance. It makes guys very aware of the keys and read that's they have to do. Whoever has the ball in their hands, whether it's quarterbacks, running backs, some of their speed receivers, they're very, very efficient. They've obviously done well to produce those numbers.

Q. What is the feeling going up against a team like TCU? The non-automatic qualifiers putting the teams on their backs and going up against them in a Bowl game?
COACH BIELEMA: Well, I think first off, I've tried to impress upon our guys, not only are we representing Wisconsin and the state of Wisconsin, we're representing the Big Ten Conference, and in that we're also representing the BCS schools.
So it's nothing that we take lightly. I'm very much excited about the way the Big 10 has started in two game that's people didn't pick them as the favorites. You know, they've been able to come out on top. Obviously, very, very well to start the season or to start the Big 10 Bowl season.
I think our guys represent the bigger picture than just Wisconsin.

Q. What do you think is the turning point?
COACH BIELEMA: He took to the coaching. I think Coach Chryst has done a tremendous job realizing what his skills are. We're going to have a scheme and a system, but we want to use our players strengths to the fullest.
So we've built a system around Scotty that allows him to make good decisions. He's smart before the snap, after the snap and during the snap. Which I don't think that's common.
To have those three ingredients together is special. His jump from last year to this year, to me the difference was being able to play through bad situations. In the past when things got bad, they stayed bad for a while. Scotty, I think, had a short memory this year and got back on track a few different times.

Q. Coach, we heard earlier from the TCU team and players that they imposed a curfew upon themselves. I wondered how have your players dealt with the excitement and everything going on, being out in L.A. and all of that?
COACH BIELEMA: Well, I think our guys, the thing we stressed back home was we were able to have a season the way we were because of how we handled our business. Not just on game day, but how we handled it during the course of the week.
After we got done playing our last game, they won a championship, and everybody was telling them how great they are, how pretty they are and how good they are. They embraced it and enjoyed it. We stepped back into that Bowl prep, we got back to doing what we were doing.
We don't talk publicly about our rules on curfews and all that jazz. But I assure you this team has a very good, business-like approach.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: As far as that time off and away, I'm very glad we had it. TCU, especially offensively, do a lot of things that you can see on film. When you have just a short turn around time, a week, there are a lot of teams that had busted assignments and missed alignments defensively that gave up big plays and points.
So for us we've been excited to have this time to prepare. We've handled it in the past, and I think we'll do it again.

Q. Health-wise, how are you?
COACH BIELEMA: We're 100% healthy. We've had one guy that's played all year that's potentially a factor, and he's due to practice today. That is Kevin Claxton, he's a back-up linebacker. So all of our starters, other than the guys that are out because of season ending injuries, should be with us.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: Our players and schemes? You know what, one part I've been excited about is really about two weeks out from the game we snapped into TCU preparation. We were working on them but still doing developmental practices.
I think our guys understand what the elements are for us to have success, and one of them is full speed practice. We just had a tackle scrimmage on Tuesday. So I mean our guys have been snapped into playing American football here for a while.

Q. What do you do for practice?
COACH BIELEMA: What do we do?

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: We had to be smart. I thought during the normal week of preparation, Tuesday and Wednesday are our heaviest workdays.
So what we tried to do is we had four different phases of two day practices where we said this is a Tuesday, Wednesday, this is a Tuesday Wednesday, and we basically got in four extra work weeks of preparation on TCU than we normally would.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: You know, if there's one thing that I was disappointed in when I found my schedule was that I wasn't going to be able to go to the luncheon today. Coach Freyee's going to be honored today. Thirty two of my best friends are going to go. I was going to go as a player of his.
So he's probably one of the most influential men in my life. I had a chance to see him a few weeks ago in New York, and he's a very special man in my heart. I wish I could be there because his induction I'm sure will be priceless. He'll have on cowboy boots and probably a hat coming in the door. It will have a true Texan flair to it.

Q. Can you elaborate on how influential he was?
COACH BIELEMA: First off, he's the first man that believed in me in coaching. I walked on and I earned his respect right away. He didn't know my name. He called me 86, that was my jersey. At least he knew my jersey.
But I began to work and he'd see me do things every day. He'd always keep me after practice to do extra pass rush against our players. So I knew I was making an influence on him. Then he gave me a scholarship.
I actually tore my ACL in the first scrimmage of my sophomore year. I had been playing as a red shirt freshman. I played quite a bit. You know, they'd move me to D-line, and I had never played a snap of defensive line in college football, and tore my ACL.
Came back and played a week later and played in a couple of scrimmages. I didn't expect them to do it, but I got a call to go see Coach Freye. Usually it's either really good or really bad.
I had never been called into his office before. He told me he was going to give me a scholarship and was very overwhelming. When I went to work for him, I had never planned on coaching. I got cut by the Seahawks and he called me into his office. He said I'd like you to start coaching for me.
I said, Coach, I have a marketing degree. He said what do you want to go into that for? They have to wear a tie every day. Look at me. He had on a collarless shirt and sports coat. He said you don't want to wear a tie every day. And I laugh now because, as a head coach, I wear a tie 4 out of the 7 days a week.
He's been a guy that I constantly during my coaching career, I've never called him and asked him for a job. I've never had to use him in that way. He always says that means a lot to him, because I've never had that -- I've never asked him to do that for me.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: I'm sure he has them on every day.

Q. We saw a picture (Inaudible).
COACH BIELEMA: He's always got those. I think his story is he got caught in a wind storm in west Texas and it damaged his eyes, but I think he just likes wearing shades.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: You know, it's not even -- I can't even remember what happened back 20 years ago. It was such a different time. I didn't probably appreciate it as much as I should have as a player. That is one thing I've tried to stress to these guys is to really enjoy everything they've gotten to be here and enjoy it while they're here.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, little different timeframe, but yes. Different avenue.

Q. How do you think your guys have dealt with this week the emotional build-up toward game day? Not leaving their emotions on Thursday, Friday, whenever.
COACH BIELEMA: First off, Saturday going out here, it's a different day. It's a holiday. They're not around their families. Coming out we had a nice dinner for them. Sunday's practice was an hour. They were really upbeat.
Monday was a hard workday. I could sense on Monday they were just a little bit sluggish, little off. So as coaches and head coach I decided to back off them on Tuesday. We went light. We scrimmaged our younger players and let them fly around.
I think our players seeing them tackle and get excited energized them. Our practice yesterday was outstanding, as good as I could hope for on a Wednesday. We'll go out there late tore day.
But I can feel the energy. I'm excited with where they're at. We'll take our 70 travel players away from the hotel Friday night and have an opportunity to snap in.
Tonight we meet as a team after all the practice is done, and we really begin to snap in and talk about focus. I think this group will do that.

Q. So many of the players on both teams talk about one of the big keys being staying home leading up to the game. How important does that translate in the first ten minutes of the game of not getting lost in all the things going on?
COACH BIELEMA: Huge. That's why when we came here Saturday I took them right to the stadium to see the stadium empty. It was done up, painted. They got to walk all over and take pictures. Borland was on the top row in 2.5 seconds, looking over the whole stadium. Guys were taking pictures.
We'll go back there tomorrow. There will be media and different things going on. It will be a little more full. Then on Saturday when we see it, hopefully it won't be so overwhelming to them.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: I don't worry about that, but I think people perceive that. I can tell you there is probably nobody more excited than when we got the actual Rose Bowl confirmation than Coach Alvarez. I've been by him at so many events over the last seven years.
We'll see somebody walk up to us with a '94 Rose Bowl or a '99 or 2000 Rose Bowl sweater or hat and it's all beat up. I'll say, hey, we need to get you a new hat, And Alvarez will agree 100%.
He always says when he first came here all he heard about was the prior Rose Bowls but they never won them. That was a statement thing for him. I think he's very excited. I don't look for justification or anything, but I understand that point?

Q. Did you realize when you took this job that winning the Rose Bowl, was that part of the deal?
COACH BIELEMA: It is. I think especially I hadn't thought that way until I came to Wisconsin. I don't think if I had gone to any other Big 10 school there would have been that same emphasis, because it has been such a big deal here and winning the way that they have, you definitely are aware of it.

Q. What do you think about TCU's on offensive that allows them to have success?
COACH BIELEMA: Their offense is obviously a lot different than ours, but yet they're very similar. Good run game, very efficient in what they do. I think conceptually what they do in the passing game and running game works well together. There are a lot of times when you play teams that are so different, their run game versus their passing game, it's easy to defend because you know what they're going to do.
I think TCU has a lot of things that look the same, and that makes it difficult; and they're not stupid with the ball. They're not turning it over or throwing interceptions. When they do, they break down. That's why they don't do it often.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: Jim Hartley and Paul Kujawa. He's from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was my roommate at Iowa because Wisconsin didn't recruit him. And he scored the winning touchdown to beat Michigan that year to put us in the Rose Bowl.

Q. What did you say went up to the top?
COACH BIELEMA: Borland. It's kind of funny, as you get to know Chris, he's into football. He's a gym rat. It's funny most of our kids go to the middle of the field and look at the emblem and take a picture. You had phones out taking pictures. Then they started to gravitate.
Some of the guys started going in the stands. I don't know what made me do it, but I look up and Borland's on the 50-yard line at the top of the stadium taking it in. He's in the sling. He's had his third shoulder surgery. He's got that, and I'm always nervous because he's jacking around and I'm afraid he's going to fall or do something. Didn't surprise me when I looked up and saw him there.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: He's here. It's been good to get him back with us. He can't do a lot physically, but you know like he said to me right away after my first text after rehab. He's like I've been here, done this. That's his approach. My guess is he'll come back faster than ever than they expect.

Q. Do you expect him to be back?
COACH BIELEMA: I do, 100%. He's so mentally strong. Again, he's another guy like Jon Budmayr, those guys came in early. Now you know how much that was worth its weight in gold to get him in and get that extra spring.

Q. What changes or influence, if any, does that Michigan State team a couple years ago have on you?
COACH BIELEMA: You know what, I don't know if it was an overwhelming change. I was frustrated. I was caught up in the heat of the moment and said something. I think it was a great learning experience for the officials as well, because it shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't have been thrown.
But I don't want to put ourselves in that position again. But I think that day overall was one that we can realize you can't beat yourself when the ball's not on the field. We're the least penalized team in college football for a reason. We emphasize that every day and realize how much effect it has on the game.

Q. How are you different today as a head coach than you were, you know?
COACH BIELEMA: I think I handled the game a lot better as far as there are certain things that happen during the course of the game that you have no control of. They're just going to happen. How you handle those situations and he react to it.
I've also tried to believe in being ahead of the game. If it's fourth down, what are we going to do? What is the situation? Being able to sit back. I think because I'm not coordinating any phase of the game, there are a couple of teams on special teams that I still make the decisions on, but for the most part it allows us to take in the bigger picture and play the way we do.

Q. The players have talked about how they've kind of grown up with you?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, with us.

Q. Are you a little more open with the players than maybe you were initially?
COACH BIELEMA: I'm probably less open, to be quite honest. I know them better. It helps me so much now in recruiting to sit in these kids homes. Those kids I was coaching before I knew them from being in the program. I didn't know where they came from or I'd never been in their home. As much as you think you know them, it's not always the truth.
Every one of these kids now, I know every story about them. I know everything before we got them because I made the decision to grab them, and that really does help you. If you've got a kid that's a mama's boy, all right, use that mom if you're having a difficult situation. Help her get him through it, and that does make a difference.

Q. How close was Scott to not coming to Wisconsin?
COACH BIELEMA: Scott, the week of signing day we made a decision to go with it. I always joke when I was at Iowa or at Kansas State and when I was first here at Wisconsin, it seemed every school we had had a great quarterback. Scotty was going to probably end up going to Toledo if we didn't offer him. My guess is he would have had a good career in Toledo. Thankfully, we made a good decision to come here, made an offer, and he's accepted it and worked every day to get to where he is.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: There are certain things that I'm particular about that I will stay, no matter what the situation detailed on it because I believe in it. For instance, the four guys they selected to be in the media I was mad because J.J. was one of them. Because I believe the seniors should be our voice. I understand J.J.'s sexy and all that goes into it. But I was upset. That wasn't my call.
But those are things that I fundamentally believe in, because I think it has an effect on all the guys in the room. So that is stuff that I'll never waiver on. I think it goes back to Tom. He asked me about the Michigan State thing. When you're having adversity or struggles, that's when you really have to believe in what you believe in, and that's what I've done.
A lot of time when's people are in those situations, you get guys. I love every off-season when I hear about a new offensive philosophy that someone's doing or a new defensive or offensive coordinator, a new way of doing things, you're just constantly trying to find yourself. I think you've got to stick to who you are.

Q. Does this season reinforce the things you believe in?
COACH BIELEMA: Huge, huge. I think the way that he is personally defensively, I would never (Inaudible).

Q. Do you think that people have lost interest in programs?
COACH BIELEMA: It's not because of pay. We're not one of the most prominent paying schools. As a head coach, I think I'm like seven, as assistant coaches I think we're like five or six. I know it's not because of that. I think it's because when you're talking and I've talked to a few coaches that are interested in this job.
One thing they keep saying is they believe it's a Top 10 program because of the way we do things. The quality of living, the type of kids we recruit and coach. Because I think people have been places where that's not necessarily a lot of fun.

Q. Will you name your coordinator shortly after?
COACH BIELEMA: I would say yeah, probably will. We'll jump into a recruiting phase literally that week. After our game is live recruiting. If I'm in town, have a press conference or press release, then we go to the coach's convention where I'm going to interview several people for the staff position of my job or job on my staff and kind of move forward.

Q. How important is winning a game like this for your program?
COACH BIELEMA: You don't come here to play in it, you come here to win it. Everybody has an approach. TCU has their mindset on that, and they'll be coached to do that.
But it's about how you execute on Saturday and really stay with it. I think it's great for our conference. I said it earlier, to start off the way we have with Iowa winning and Illinois winning, and seeing the way that they did it. I think it makes everybody excited and it can build up the reputation of our conference.

Q. Do you feel like it's a big step are you guys in the Big 10? The Michigans, and Ohio States?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, I watched Ohio State win here last year against the same team that's playing in the National Championship game. So obviously they had some good players back then too. I know the Big 10 went through a stretch there for a while in big games that didn't go well.
I always get frustrated. When hose games were going on, we were winning against Arkansas in a bowl game in Orlando, and nobody paid much attention because it's the BCS games that people pay attention to.

Q. Do you think you'll get national attention (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, if you can do it one year, it's good. But again, it's the constant approach to things. Ever since I've been there, we've been in a bowl game every year. That makes people take notice and allows people to hear your name repeatedly in the bowl season and postseason. If you're not in a Bowl game after that last game, you're dormant until next year. Nobody hears about you.
Isaac Anderson, there is a commercial with him with a rose in his mouth, I think I've seen that 500 times over the last three weeks. I love Isaac, and I love the rose, but I'm tired of seeing that commercial. But it's good because you see it on a daily basis.

Q. How many starters are on special teams for you?
COACH BIELEMA: How many starters are on special teams? Some starters -- what we basically did if they're a starter and an important element to our success, limit them to just two. Lance Kendricks was on kickoff, kickoff return until he got hurt in the Iowa game. Some starters that play a lot of, on obviously, David Gilreath plays a lot for us at the wide receiver position.
But other than that Lance did a little bit. Of Course linemen don't play. Niles Brinkley and Antonio Fenelus play all the time. They're in all four phases.

Q. (Inaudible) on special teams?
COACH BIELEMA: On special teams?

Q. Yeah.
COACH BIELEMA: You I wouldn't say that. One of the reasons we've had success is our two-deep guys like A.J. Fenton, David Gilbert who is a part-time starter for us, Dezmen Southward, Conor O'Neill, a lot of guys have stepped up in that role.

Q. How big is that?
COACH BIELEMA: Huge. It's one thing for them to play, but to play well is another thing. Our coaches have done a nice job of selling and approaching the way they did about every play matters.
The more you do this, the better chance. The one point we made for us in four games this year, Arizona State we make a game-saving tackle at the end of the game on special teams by Dezmen Southward and Shelton Johnson, two back-up safeties. We win the Arizona State game because of a blocked PAT by Jay Valai, the starter.
Then you look at the big games back-to-back, Ohio State and Iowa. Ohio State the kickoff return to start the game was huge in that game. And Iowa, the fake punt is as good as it gets. In those situations, that was as big a play in our game and our season to get us to where we are today.

Q. Do you feel that the guys are get anxious?
COACH BIELEMA: Without a doubt. It's not so much getting in the game and the length of the break here, it's just to get to the Rose Bowl and start playing. We have a tremendous amount of respect for TCU and the way they do things. They're an undefeated team, so they're excited to do that.
We're the only team with a loss this year that has this opportunity obviously with Oregon and Auburn being undefeated, we've gotten ourselves in a very unique situation.

Q. You'd like to think that no game is too big for your team. Are you concerned at all that maybe this game could be bigger than what some of these guys are prepared for?
COACH BIELEMA: No, I think they've taken the 12-game approach that's been 2nd to none about the way they approach every game and handle their business before, during and after. It's not out of the realm for us to handle.

Q. I (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: I think first off this year because of the way we played certain games, we had to adjust midstream. In the Indiana game, we lost the quarterback first half. We had to change our game plan. Our kids really snap in well to take advantage of the sideline time as well as on the field. Coach, they're doing this, how do we adjust. Plus our guys stay calm and don't overreact to situations.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, mentioned it earlier. The thing that we're appreciative of is to prepare for the TCU offense, it's good to have extra time. The teams that play them, within a week you can see there is a lot of busted alignments and assignments which created a lot of big plays. To have the preparation time we've had has been very, very important.

Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH BIELEMA: Including us? Yeah. Well, J.J., as you see, now is physically as good as you can be. He's 6'5", 6'6", 290-pound guy. But the way he plays, the attitude, the energy, the excitement and he gets stronger as the game goes on. That makes him what he is.

Q. Nude?
COACH BIELEMA: It just got down to numbers and where we were at. Obviously, the J.J. I know now is not the person I saw back then, but he was. I had to realize those things. As a head coach, we've gotten better at realizing those things.

Q. When any kid shows up?
COACH BIELEMA: Huge. I'll take Chris Borland. He's not playing for us this year. He was Big 10 Player of the Year last year as a freshman. He had one offer at Wisconsin, and that's because I felt he had that passion. He's only 5'10", he'll tell you he's 5'11", but he's not. He plays in a certain way. Huge, he was very good at that.

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