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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Auburn's Gene Chizik, Oregon's Chip Kelly talk to media one final time before BCS title game

The game is a day away ... finally. We've run the gamut on new questions at this point, but both head coaches had their final press conference today. Here's a sampling:
  • Auburn head coach Gene Chizik knows he and his team are playing for more than just themselves. "When I say ourselves, I'm talking about the Auburn family. I'm talking about those (past) teams. I'm talking about the people that decided to travel and come out here that don't have a ticket. I'm talking about the people that have followed Auburn football and they up to you and say, 'I haven't missed a game in 55 years.' I'm talking about all the people that pour so much -- our place is full of love and passion and excitement for Auburn. And that's the whole family. And so when I say for us, I don't mean just (us). I mean the Auburn family and everybody that cares to carry the flag. So as I tell our players all the time: this game is not about you. It will be about you 20 years from now. But today, tomorrow, this game is not about you. It is about us and it is about a family and you are playing for more people than yourselves."
  • The ticket demand is high. Chizik said it speaks a lot about how much this game has grown in profile. "How cool is that, that this game has become that big?" he said. "I mean, this is great for college sports. It is awesome for college football. It is great for Auburn University. It is great for Oregon."
  • Oregon coach Chip Kelly was succinct in his opening statement: "Wow. Haven't heard enough? Game is tomorrow night. Let's go play."
  • Football rules say when the offense subs, the officials must allow the defense time to respond with subs. Chizik said that "will be a very big discussion" when he meets with officials before the game.
  • Kelly's response to the rule: "We don't sub, if we're trying to play fast, we don't sub, we understand the rules."
  • Auburn has had eight come-from-behind wins this year, which Chizik said was the mark of a resilient team. "There's a lot of love and a lot of trust in our locker room," Chizik said. "One of the things that's been remarkable about being a part of a team grow for 13 weeks is watching them never panic. And we've been in some situations where arguably you could panic. There's no question about it. ... And through all of that, whatever the circumstances were, we never -- you can look at our sideline. You can see there is just never that element of panic there."
  • Excessive celebration penalties are a hot topic this bowl season, particularly after the way the Pinstripe Bowl ended when a Kansas State player was flagged for a minor celebration (that game feels like eight months ago, doesn't it?). "We talk to our guys about the simplicty of you make a big play, put the ball in the official's hands," Chizik said. "We're not into 'look at me.' ... That's not the Auburn way. That's not acceptable."
  • Auburn has had success with junior college players, most notably quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley. It's not the school's plan, though. "We don't recruit junior colleges as a general rule unless there's a dire need at that position," Chizik said. "You got to get the right guy, not just the right player."
  • Does the BCS work? Chizik gave a long answer that really didn't answer the question. Kelly was more succinct: "I got no idea, seriously. Let me put it this way: I don't agree with the speed limit,but I've got to follow it."
  • Incidentally, I think it's funny when a national media member asks for Chizik's opinion on what he thinks about a certain rule and I know a non-answer is coming. It brightens my day.
  • When it happens, what kind of pro does Chizik think Newton will be? "He's going to bring a lot to the table to somebody," he said.
  • The Ducks played in last year's Rose Bowl but lost to Ohio State. Kelly still thinks it helps. "I think our kids are more mature," he said. "We need to take next step and actually win game.'
  • Chizik is 6-0 as a coach in bowl games. What's the key? "I think it's how you use your time," he said. "You have to have a great balance in there, in my opinion, on the time that you're giving them to be actually be a 18- to 22-year-old away from football."
  • Interesting tidbit from the ESPN briefing. Mike Bellotti, the former Oregon coach, joined the network last year. His first two assignments? Covering Oregon and Auburn's spring games.

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