2019 ACADEMY SPORTS + OUTDOORS TEXAS BOWL COACHES CONFERENCE CALL
Oklahoma State University vs. Texas A&M University Conference Call Transcripts
HOUSTON TEXANS AND LONE STAR SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT PRESIDENT JAMEY ROOTES
(TRANSCRIBED BY ASAP SPORTS)
“My name is Jamey Rootes, and I'm president with the Houston Texans. I just want to give you a little bit of background information on our bowl game, the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl. About 14 years ago, we took over Houston's bowl efforts. As an organization, we talk about three things: winning championships, creating memorable experiences, and doing great things for Houston. And most of that is focused on the Houston Texans itself, but the other events we do at NRG Stadium have the same potential.
The Texas Bowl, of course, is a championship for the two teams that participate. The games have been incredibly memorable both on the field and the experience people have, a branded Texas experience, and it absolutely does great things for Houston. This year's game is Friday, December 27, at 5:45pm, nationally televised on ESPN and played here, of course, at NRG Stadium. It's the number one Big 12-SEC matchup in the state of Texas, which is the position that the Cotton Bowl had historically held. So now it's here in Houston. It's been the fifth best attended bowl game in America since we've been Big 12-SEC. So you have the Rose, the Peach, the Cotton, the Sugar, and the Texas. That's pretty good company for Houston to be in.
We have nearly 50,000 seats that have been sold even pre-announce of the teams, which is really very special in the bowl business. So the teams that are coming here, the players and the fans, they know that they'll be playing in front of a very big crowd here at NRG Stadium.
And we've done research on the impact it has on the community. If you take the bowl game and the kickoff game together, they generate 100,000 out of town visitors and over $100 million in economic impact. And since inception in 2006, we raised over $1.6 million for DePelchin Children's Center. So we're proud of the impact the game has had, and it's certainly a point of pride.
This year we have a spectacular matchup. I think it's been rumored and may have even been put out officially, but on the Big 12 side, we have Oklahoma State led by head coach Mike Gundy. This is their first Texas Bowl experience and the first time they've played in Houston since 2013 for the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff. They were 8-4 this year, and they finished the season ranked No. 25 in the college football playoff poll. They had the nation's leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard, who's also a Heisman Trophy candidate, which will be great for the fans to see and this is the 14th consecutive bowl appearance under Coach Gundy.
On the SEC side, they will be represented by Texas A&M, certainly a team that's very familiar to all of us here in Houston, coached by Jimbo Fisher. They return to the Texas Bowl for their third appearance and their first since 2016. They were 7-5 this season, and they're led by quarterback Kellen Mond. This is their 11th consecutive bowl appearance and their second under Coach Fisher.
This is a rivalry that dates back to the '50s, 1950s, that is. This is their 28th meeting. The Aggies have the edge, the 17-10. So this will be the 28th time for the teams to play, and this is the first time they've played since 2011. We have an entire Bowl week of events that begin on December 23 all over the community, culminating, of course, with the game on the 27th, which once again is a Friday at 5:45pm here at NRG Stadium.
So with that, are there any questions that you'd like to ask relative to the bowl game?”
You talk about how spectacular the matchup is, both teams with their fan bases, but how special is it getting Texas A&M? They're like LSU, Texas, as far as the fan bases and the alumni here in the area.
“That's really an important question because any time we can have Texas A&M play here at NRG Stadium and give access to the local fans here, it's remarkable. The incredible tradition that's they bring, the band, everything that A&M does is so rich with tradition, football tradition and tradition broadly. It really is a special experience to be a part of, and we're really looking forward to it.”
In the run-up to the Bowl game, the stuff that happens during the week, what do you think sets you guys apart from other bowls?
“All the bowls have events, but I think one of the most special ones is that we host is called the Rodeo Bowl, which will be on Monday, December 23rd, and it's here at NRG Arena. It's rated by Sports Illustrated as the best bowl week event in the country, and it really is an authentic Texas experience. Now we've got two schools that kind of probably already get it, and maybe they'll be even more competitive when they get out there for the Rodeo Bowl, and they are competitive. Those guys go after it. It's typically not the starters. Everybody gets a chance to participate in something that's authentically Texan.”
CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPTS:
OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY HEAD COACH MIKE GUNDY (Transcribed by ASAP Sports)
If you could talk on your thoughts on going to Houston and a lot of guys going home and playing in the Texas Bowl?
“Well, we're really excited to participate in the Texas Bowl. We've got a number of players on our team, I think it's close to 65 right now that are from the State of Texas. Obviously, all the way down to Houston area. We've got over 25,000 active alumni south of Stillwater, Oklahoma City, all the way through Texas, central Texas, east Texas, all the way down to Houston. It's a great location for us, and as always, we're very, very excited to be in a Bowl game. We enjoy our Bowl games, we take them serious and gives us a chance as a staff and a team to spend three more weeks together. So we're excited about preparation. We're excited about being in the City of Houston for a week, and looking forward to preparation.”
What do you think about playing Texas A&M?
“I think they are the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA in my opinion. They have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they lost to No. 4; and they lost to No. 12. That's their five losses. They are definitely a Top 20 team. I haven't started watching tape on them. I watched them on TV a couple times. I know that they are very athletic. I know that their quarterback, he's a third-rated quarterback in the SEC, only behind the Heisman trophy winner and behind Tua. So it will be a great challenge for us. We'll have to get to work as soon as possible. We'll have to have great preparation and we'll have to play a very good game against a very, very good team.”
Is there a chance that QB Spencer Sanders could play in this game?
I mean, is it a realistic possibility, or do you want to keep that close to the vest?
“Well, it's not close to the vest. I mean, there's nothing to hide. I mean, everybody knows that he's coming off of an injury; that he'll be released in I guess about 10 days. I don't know what day it is -- what is today, the 8th? 7th? 9th? Something like that. He's released, and what would be -- his follow-up is either on the 16th or 17th. So he would miss half of our Bowl prep, but there's a chance that they would release him 100 percent, sometime around the 16th or 17th. We're not for sure.”
You got back to practice on Thursday. What have you been doing the last several days?
“Working all the young guys. The veteran guys are getting individual work. The young guys are getting a lot of team work. Players that were redshirting and didn't get on the game field as much got a lot of quality work the last three days. Obviously we didn't have any Bowl prep because we didn't know who we were playing. Had a pretty good idea we were going to go to the Texas Bowl and play A&M but you never know for sure. So they have finals week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then we'll go back to work Friday night and start getting ready for A&M.”
You talked about kind of the general area down there. What has the Houston area in particular meant to your program over the years, whether it's fans and alumni or going there to recruit? I know you don't have quite as many as you used to from that area, but still, some important guys from there.
“Well, we've had a great tradition down there. We don't have as many as we used to based on A&M's departure to the SEC. That changed recruiting down there a little bit. That drew more SEC teams into that part of Texas. We don't go down there as much, but we still get really quality players from there and when we get to a level of interest from a young man, we jump all over it. But we have a lot of Oklahoma State people in that area due to the oil and gas production. So we've been very fortunate to have a lot of success and Houston's a great city, and we're looking forward to being there for a week.”
I know RB Chuba Hubbard hasn't made any public declarations about his future. Do you expect him to play in this game?
“Yes. I mean, I haven't talked to him about it, but I would expect him to play in this game. Be playing next year, too. How's that?”
Interesting dichotomy here. Do you feel like Jimbo Fisher ought to send you a GA or something to fill you in about the Aggies, because Josh Henson, fresh off being off your staff, missed this season obviously, but he knows Oklahoma State pretty good.
“Well, yeah, he knows all of our players. He can give a pretty detailed description of everybody on the field. So I don't think that's going to change any at all. As I said, we're going to work hard in Bowl prep and then we're going to get lots of reps for young guys and try to continue to develop this organization for next year and then we'll go down there and have fun playing in the game.”
Are there any guys in particular that are right there, maybe the twos, or could be in the twos; that these 15 practices are particularly important for?
“Not for the Bowl game. This is just the young players overall in just the development. For us once we get to this point, we cut back considerably with the veteran players, just based on the amount of wear and tear on their bodies up to this point in the year. So when there's not really anybody that would make strides or do anything that would show up in the Bowl game, it's just the overall development of our organization.”
Darrell Dickey is the offensive coordinator, his dad at K-State for years as a coach and even an assistant, both as Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, did you cross paths with Darrell or Jim over the years? I know that Jim preceded your time at OSU, but do you have any crossover with either of those guys?
“Not really. Not anything other than maybe bumping into them at a coaches' clinic. I don't see those guys -- you know, recruiting has changed so much, because head coaches are not out in the spring and everything is so individualized in the fall because signing day is in December. We don't see other coaches on the road like we used to, so I don't cross paths with those guys at all.”
I know it's obviously fresh and you probably haven't seen any film of them, but have you had any sense of offensively what they are going to throw at you guys with Coach Dickey at the helm?
“Well, they are doing the same thing that Jimbo (Fisher) has always done. He's been multiple. He'll be under the center some. He'll use tight ends and fullbacks and then he'll get into the spread. This quarterback they have, I've watched him on TV some and I know he's active and I know he can run. A lot of play-action pass. They do a lot of play-action stuff. They will run some empty. His system has been the same as it's been even his years at Florida State, just an outsider looking in. I haven't watched any tape, but that's what I saw on TV.
Real quick what do you miss about having A&M in the Big 12?
“What do I miss? Well, when they jumped ship and Missouri left, you know, I thought that -- I thought they were great fit in this league and I thought Missouri was a great fit, just like Nebraska. I'm very tradition, traditional. I liked the old Big 8, but the original Big 12 I thought was pretty cool. I just miss having those teams in the league, but that doesn’t have anything to do with now. But I always thought it was pretty cool when we had the old Big 12.”
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY HEAD COACH JIMBO FISHER (Transcribed by ASAP Sports)
Mike Gundy just had a conference call with the media, and he was asked about playing you, and I'm going to read you his quote. He said, "I think they are the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA in my opinion. They have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they lost to No. 4; and they lost to No. 12. That's their five losses. They are definitely a top 20 team." What do you think about those thoughts coming from Mike?
“Well, I mean, we had a very tough schedule but you are what your record is and we've got to find a way to win those games, but I do think we have a good football team and I appreciate Mike (Gundy) saying that, but at the same time we have to win those and get over those. Like I say, they have a heck of a football team himself. He's built a great reputation there and a great winning tradition. He's won a lot of football games and had a lot of great years and I think one of the top coaches in the country. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge to play them in the game. He does a tremendous job preparing his team for those.”
Are you going to be healthy?
“We're fine. We're fine, relatively. We should expect everybody that is playing here, should be ready to go. There's no injuries that should cause anybody to miss any of the game.”
What do you think about playing in Houston where you get a lot of your recruiting in this area?
“I think it's great. I think it's a great opportunity for our fans, because it's very close. We can hopefully put a lot of Aggies in the stands, which I think would be awesome but also for our players and their families. That's not a hard travel, even some of the guys from Dallas or different parts of Texas. We have so many Texas kids. That's very easy to travel down to Houston and be able to come see their kids play, because sometimes when you play those Bowl games they have to go across the country and that's tough on families having to pay all those travel fees and all the hotels to get to see their children play. But it's a great opportunity for us also to keep building our brand in Houston. It's very important. Houston has become one of the top cities in all of America as far as football players and recruiting and everybody in the world is down there recruiting. It's very important for us to play well and always recruit there and always have a great presence there.”
For people who live a hundred miles from Houston, it's not a very sexy destination, so how did you bring this up with your team to keep them from maybe overlooking it or being disappointed in the destination?
“I don't think they are disappointed at all. I think Houston is one of the top three cities in this country. It's one of the three largest cities, a ton of things to do. A lot of kids have never been to Houston. Got to remember some of our kids are from Houston, but a lot of them aren't. I've been -- just like when we were in Florida. For us to go play in Miami or us to go play in Tampa or us to go play in Jacksonville, always had guys from there, but our kids were excited to play in any Bowl game. And to be able to play it in the City of Houston with so many things to do for them pregame for the game and opportunities for them to enjoy, but also to play in front of their home fans and play in a stadium like NRG and all that right there, I think those are all tremendous opportunities. We are not disappointed one bit. We very excited and encouraged and you'd better be, because you're playing a very good opponent in Oklahoma State.”
You've obviously seen a lot of great individual talent in SEC play, but Chuba Hubbard is one of the leading running backs in the country. What do you make of him and what makes him such a hard guy to go against?
“Well, I think he has all the things. He has great balance, body control, explosive, great pad level, has the ability to make you miss and hit home runs and he can catch a football. He's a complete back and he blocks well, and he's done it the whole time he's been at Oklahoma State. He's going to be a tremendous challenge and they know how to you use him and utilize him and get him in space and do the right things; so it will be a huge challenge for our defense.”
How much of an advantage do you think it will be with Josh Henson on the staff and having been so fresh at Oklahoma State and having such good knowledge of what they have got?
“I think as far as his ability to know players and what they can and cannot do, but players change. I've always found this true, there's always guys in this league that know about your players, because somebody has always crossed over and coached and you had them for a year or two and they know the guys. Sometimes knowing too much is detrimental, too, because guys change and players play and people can do that against you, too. I mean, it is, as far as Josh knowing the players and the people and all those things, I think it will be -- it's another good asset to have but you've got to be careful relying on that too much.”
To follow up on Josh Henson, can you talk about what it was that drew you to him when you had a vacancy to fill and what kind of job he's done this year?
“And I've known him before, I've coached on staffs with him. He's very big picture oriented. Did a great job, coached tight ends, worked with line when I was at LSU when we were together and he worked with tackles and tight ends and things like that. Very knowledgeable himself. He was a lineman himself, has done a tremendous job at Oklahoma State. They have won a lot of games and he's been a big part of that. He was a coordinator at Missouri and they went to two conference championships and so did a really good job and he's a really knowledgeable guy, not only for a line guy, but to understand the big picture of what's going on.”
One of the things Mike Gundy said at the end, he was asked about, I guess being nostalgic and the fact A&M used to be in the Big 12, and he made the comment, he wishes they were still in the Big 12; that they were a good fit in that conference. Obviously you've got a lot of history in the SEC. I'm guessing you feel pretty strong about Texas A&M and the Southeastern Conference?
“Yeah, I do, but I understand where Mike's from because his whole time growing up A&M was there and this was a rivalry for him -- by location and everything here, it is a good fit. But I think getting to the SEC has been beneficial for A&M. It's let us grow and expand and not only expand there, expand recruiting and expand a lot of different avenues which I think for the future and where this organization will go, I think can be really beneficial, but both conferences are great conferences. We love being in the SEC. It’s tremendous challenges. You know our schedule and who we play week-in and week-out just like the Big 12 is a great conference. It's still a good thing for us to be in the SEC.”