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Rose Bowl Media Conference
Release: 12/28/2000
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Dec. 28, 2000

Rick Neuheisel, Washington Head Coach

"Despite this lingering cold, I am having a great time and so is our team. We are enjoying all the sights and sounds of the Rose Bowl hospitality. Had a great time at Lawry's last night. I want to compliment you on the new design of the watches. I thought the old watches were a classic, but the new one is spectacular. There were lots of ooohs and aaahs from our team. They're enjoying everything. We'll go to the Jay Leno show tonight and after that, I think we'll realize that we're here to play a football game. We've practiced well. Yesterday was the first time we had some lethargy in the effort and only because we've been on our legs. There's plenty of time to get rest and get our legs back and explode on Monday when it's time to play our best."

(On Purdue's similarity to other Pac-10 schools)
"We see a variety of formations. When we break down via computer the different offenses, you notice there haven't been a lot of different formations played against Purdue, meaning that the Big Ten is a little more 21 personnel, meaning two wide receivers, two backs, one tight end. Pro formation, "I" formation, smashmouth football. Purdue is the odd soldier there, with their own idea of how to play offense. We've seen those formations, but do we have an answer how to stop them, I'm not sure, especially when the triggerman is as talented as Drew Brees."

(On fourth quarter play by UW)
"I don't' know if I can put a finger on it. There's an old axiom in coaching that you achieve what you emphasize. When I first arrived (at UW) after the 6-6 season I looked at the different statistics to figure out how to take our program from 6-6 back to a place where we can win a Pac-10 championship. The one stat that was glaring was the lack of success Washington had that year in the fourth quarter. It was a great disparity. My opening comments in spring before the 1999 season, we said we wanted to win the Pac-10 championship, but then you have to say how we're going to do it. I said if we could just turn around what we did in the fourth quarter and just flip those numbers, to get ourselves to score those 100 points and hold our opponents to 30-something, we can win all those close games that got away from us and put ourselves back in the Rose Bowl picture. Last year we had a definite change for the better and this year we were dominant in the fourth quarter."

(On Pac-10 tradition at the Rose Bowl and BCS)
"If we can get Dunkel and Billingsley to start watching some Pac-10 football, we might be in this position again next year. Every year, you line up and try to when the Pac-10 championship. There is great reward in that. Where you go from there obviously for many years has been the Rose Bowl. Next year it doesn't guarantee that, but there will a great reward regardless of which BCS game you get to go to and for one year I don't see that as a major faux pas in the history and tradition of all this. The Rose Bowl to me is the greatest of all the games and for it to be the site of a national championship game, I think the Rose Bowl deserves it."

(On being underdogs)
"We've been underdogs almost since I arrived. We're comfortable in that position. I don't make a big point of it to the team, but I think there are people out there who aren't sure about, one, Pac-10 football and two, the Washington team, how talented are we, did we just get lucky in these fourth quarter comebacks. Until we have the attention of everybody who deals with college football we've got to keep proving ourselves and that's really the case for the teams who are favored. It's all decided on the field so how people perceive the game up to that point is of no consequence."

(On BCS)
"No question that it's arbitrary. I made light of Mr. Dunkel and Mr. Billingsley only because they don't seen to believe that we're even in the top 10. Until we want to do things differently, it's going to be arbitrary. West Coast guys believe there is an East Coast bias, whether it's true or not really makes no difference. I was in the locker room following the Washington State game and I saw how thrilled our players were and that's all you can ask for, to have your team go and play a game with as much tradition as the Rose Bowl, we're right where we want to be."

(On returning to the Rose Bowl as a coach)
"I have not brought up my own personal experience as a player from a game standpoint. I've certainly brought up how much fun you can have. I made lots of comments about what they had to look forward to just so the kids would understand that it's a big, big deal. Everything pales in comparison to running on the field. That is absolutely a magic carpet ride to run out through the tunnels onto the field amidst the 100,000 people watching. It doesn't get better than that."

(On defending Purdue's offense)
"It's a difficult chore. You've got a guy who definitely understands the offense from top to bottom. You see it on film but you also see it in the statistic that he has been sacked only seven times. When you throw that many times in as many formations as they have, it's astounding that he's only tackled seven times behind the line of scrimmage. That means he knows where all the buttons are. He knows how to get off the hook, how to call in for protection, he can see what you are doing. We're thankful we've had a month so we can hopefully keep him a little bit off balance because that's really the only way you can stop him. Three and outs will be precious commodities."

(On his growth as a coach)
"I don't know what I have done differently. Certainly I've learned. At 33 years old and never been a coordinator, certainly there were detractors to the decision (to make him head coach at Colorado). We ended up having a great start, 10-2 and 10-2, and everybody was excited about what the future held. Unfortunately we had that poor season where we went 5-6, but in my own personal growth as a coach it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. You finally realize what this job entails. After that season I made changes and self-analysis that made me understand my role as a head coach a lot more clearly. It doesn't mean I can't have fun, it just means that can't be the focus. It has to be on the team, not me."

(On Curtis Williams)
"Curtis is doing as well as he can possibly do. It's a severe injury, a C-2 injury that obliterated a ligament in his neck that causes paralysis from the neck down. He's been unable to voluntarily move anything from the neck down so you can imagine putting yourself in that position how difficult it must be. Our players think of themselves as 10 feet tall and bulletproof. When you think of Curtis Williams pre-injury, you think of a warrior. He was one of our best players, maybe the most physical players on our team. This is a guy who really loved to play. To see him in this incapacity is a very frightening reality for a lot of our guys. Not from the physical nature of the game, but regarding each and everyone's mortality. You're not quite as invincible as you once perceived. I'm very proud of our team for being optimistic about Curtis. Curtis will make the game. He'll be flown down here and sit in the press box during the game and I think they're gonna try to get him down to the locker room so the players can say hello. It will be an emotional time because this was one of the leaders on the squad."

Joe Tiller, Purdue Head Coach

(On moving from Wyoming to Purdue)
"We had a lot of confidence in our system and I did feel like going into the Big Ten at that time. You certainly don't advertise that up front, but I did feel going to the Big Ten, that we might have a little bit of an edge on the competition in terms of the newness of the offense and the fact that they hadn't seen it. The first couple of years the schedule was very forgiving, not having Ohio State and Michigan on the schedule, I thought this would give us a chance to maybe get to the postseason. Once you get there, you've got a chance to make anything happen to your program because recruits all ask the same question--what bowl are you guys going to this year, coach? If we had a plan, it was to do the same thing we did at Wyoming. Would what we did in Laramie, Wyoming work in West Lafayette, Indiana? We thought it would and certainly it has."

(On the 2002 Rose Bowl being the national championship game)
"I'm a supporter of the BCS. It's the best we can hope...the best possible solution to getting to a national champion without a playoff on the field. As a coach at Purdue, I am concerned that unless it is a big pool, it would end up being the same teams (among the top-rated BCS teams). I guess you can argue it's the same teams right now, but I really don't believe that. Dennis Erickson and his staff have done a great job at Oregon State and getting them to a BCS game. If they hadn't had success last year and gone to a bowl game, who knows where they would be. I like the situation the way it is as long as we're not going to have a playoff on the field--and I don't see us having that and I'm not a supporter of that as a coach at Purdue. As far as a Big Ten team not being able to come to the Rose Bowl (in 2002), if that were Purdue, we would have long faces because this is certainly the epitome of an opportunity to be involved in post-season play. But you have to play by the rules and if the rules prevent a Big Ten team from playing in the Rose Bowl, so be it. We would work extremely hard at making something positive out of wherever we were going, if we have the same success we had this year. We may not like it but we would live with it and make it a good experience."

(On Purdue tight end Tim Stratton)
"He may be a media darling, but he's not my darling. I get along with Tim well, he understands me, he understands that there's a light side and a serious side. When the serious side is up, he better not be light, and vice versa. I like the mix of personalities on our team and as a coach I've never put a gag rule in or closed our locker room after a game. Whether it's a great win or a heartbreaking loss, I think players need to know how to deal with that in life, and quickly after the fact. I've never called a player in to say 'don't say this or don't say that.' I have called a player in to be smart about what you're saying. Try not to be so cute to be silly. I haven't had any discussions with Tim Stratton since 7:57 this morning."

(On attacking Washington's secondary)
"The problem with attacking Washington with the passing game is not necessarily the way you choose to attack their secondary, which is a concern, but providing the protection to let your quarterback get the ball off is a real problem. We haven't faced a player the likes of Larry Tripplett. He's the best defensive lineman we've faced, maybe since we've been at Purdue. I single him out because he's such an exceptional player, but I'm very impressed with Washington's front seven and it's ability to force a negative yardage play. That has been a point of emphasis for us. I don't know if we'll be successful or not, we've already struck upon that theme to keep negative yardage plays to a minimum. They'll get them, because they're too fast, too athletic, they come from different angles and they'll confuse you at times. We're concerned about our protection scheme more than we are about attacking their secondary."

(On defending Washington's offense)
"Our plans are to contain him (Marques Tuiasosopo), not stop him. I don't think you can stop this guy. He's too talented, too good of a runner. He's much to physical of a runner. You have to be cautious about assigning X number of defenders to stop this guy. You try to contain him, he'll gain his yards, he's gonna throw the football some and you guys around guys when they catch it, to disrupt it. He's too good for us to set a goal that we must stop Tuiasosopo. I have not seen a team that has been so good in the fourth quarter. Look at their fourth quarter scoring and forget the rest of it, that tells you a lot about this football team. We want to be in a position in the fourth quarter to win the football game."

(On Purdue CB Chris Clopton)
"We've tried to replace him, to put another guy in there. Clopton is our undersized (5-7, 171) corner--that was pretty well-put--actually I call him a munchkin, he's not much bigger than a hiccup and he's out on the edge by himself all the time. He has very good speed and that helps him and he's experienced. He's one of three players that we recruited in that first class who will finish in four years. The others are (Drew) Brees and (Vinny) Sutherland. Clopton is a smallest guy on our roster and he played his first year. He's so experienced it's hard to fool him, hard to beat him. We've got some talented players behind him, but they can't wrested the job away from him. Rarely is he out of position. You might be able to out-jump him, but the games we struggled in this year, Chris Clopton at corner certainly wasn't the reason. He's played extremely well. Sometimes people go after him and that can prove to be a mistake."

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