DERRICK FOX, VALERO ALAMO BOWL CEO/PRESIDENT: To say we’re excited is an understatement. This is an outstanding matchup with two fantastic programs, two outstanding coaches. It’s my pleasure to have the honor to introduce these two gentlemen.
First Bill Snyder from Kansas State University. This is Coach Snyder’s 23rd season as the head coach. He’s taken the Wildcats to 16 bowl games, and five straight bowl games since returning to the program in 2009.
His 187 victories are more than four times that of the number two coach on the list. Think about that.
Going back to last season, the Wildcats are 15 4 including this season’s 9 3 record and being ranked No. 11 in the CFP poll.
Coach Snyder, on behalf of the Valero Alamo Bowl, we’re honored to host you and the Wildcats here in San Antonio. I’ll turn it over to you for some opening comments.
COACH SNYDER: Thank you very much. Very appreciate the opportunity to be here. We appreciate Valero. We appreciate the Alamo Bowl. We appreciate the city of San Antonio. We’ve been here before. We were treated extremely well.
I appreciated all aspects of the bowl game and most significantly the people that made such a tremendous investment in us and certainly in college football.
I think San Antonio will greatly appreciate our fan base that travels extremely well, and did at that time when we were here, and will continue to do so.
But thank you very much for the opportunity.
FOX: Coach Mora is the first coach to lead UCLA to at least nine wins in three straight seasons. This year the Bruins are 9 3 and ranked 14th in the CFP poll.
Mora coached for 25 years in the NFL, including four as a head coach. In 2004 Mora was named the NFC Coach of the Year.
While his Bruins have never been to San Antonio, Coach Mora does have a victory in the Alamodome under his belt as he was here as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons to beat the New Orleans Saints 34 31 in October of 2005. He now leads a Bruins team that is averaging 33 points a game.
Welcome back to San Antonio, as well. I’ll turn it over to you for a few comments.
COACH MORA: On behalf of all of us at UCLA, I want to thank Gary and Valero and Derrick and your committee with the Alamo Bowl for inviting us to this prestigious bowl game.
We look at it as an amazing opportunity for us to go against one of the finest coaches in college football, Coach Snyder. When I was looking at his record, I was trying to figure out how many more wins he’s had than I do, and it’s a whole lot.
I have great respect for what they’ve been able to do at Kansas State. I can tell you that our program, our family, our university is extremely excited to come to San Antonio, experience what you have to offer here in this city, and put on a great show for the fans on the evening of January 2nd. So thank you very much for inviting us.
FOX: We’ll take questions for the coaches at this time.
Q. Coach Mora, can you talk about the Butkus Award, and how was Eric Kendricks not all PAC 12?COACH MORA: We’re so excited for Eric Kendricks and winning the Butkus Award, the award awarded annually to the top linebacker in college football. We think he’s very deserving of that.
He’s a selfless player that deflected all credit for his award right onto his teammates and coaches and everyone in the program that’s helped him attain that.
I think he’s a shining example of what is right in college football. He’s a tremendous student. He’s a great athlete. He’s a great leader, a great young man, and a great representative for our program, and we’re very excited for him.
Q. Jim, what is the status of Brent Hundley’s injured finger?
COACH MORA: He’s fine. He knew that’s what I was going to say. That’s why he asked it. He’s laughing because he knew the answer was going to be, He’s fine (laughter).
Q. What do you remember about that 2005 game?
COACH MORA: Well, I did not remember the score until Derrick mentioned it. I did remember that we won.
That was an incredibly emotional time for the city of New Orleans. It was post Katrina, playing against a very good friend of mine, coach of the Saints at the time, Jim Haslett. It was a very unique situation for us as a football team for us to come down here and play that game.
Q. Coach Snyder, have you ever met the Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich? I think you could be friends.
COACH SNYDER: Briefly, the answer is no (laughter).
Q. You said you admire each other. Expand on that a little bit. Do you have any experience with Jim Mora, Sr.?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I greatly appreciate what Jim has done. Most significantly I like the way he has done it. I admire coaches that don’t get caught off in all the things that are taking place in college athletics today, and coaches who genuinely care about young people in their program, about so many things that are investments in their lives outside of athletics, outside of football, as well.
My understanding is that Jim promotes that and is a strong believer in that. Because of that, I admire him a great deal.
COACH MORA: I’m sitting next to a legend as a coach. I think it’s more importantly what he has meant to college football as a mentor to young people that I most admire, someone that I would like to model my career after with regards to having an impact on young people’s lives.
I said this when we talked on Sunday. I wasn’t kidding. I hope that he can make 15 minutes of time for me to talk more about how he’s gone about creating this dynamic legacy that he has at Kansas State, not only on the football field, but the community and the campus, help me with my career that way.
Q. Coach Snyder, what about your handwriting notes to other players, what prompts you to do that and when did you start?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I got to do something. You’re in an office 24 hours a day, so you got to find something to do (laughter).
My son Sean, who is associate head coach, he virtually runs the program, so I get the opportunity to do those other things.
I do, I write a great deal of notes. It’s certainly to players that I believe performed well, to young people that I believe have the right approach, the right attitude about their lives, about college football.
I correspond with a lot of people virtually the same way, with coaches, with people that help us in our travel. As a coach, Jim understands this. We get an enormous amount of correspondence on a regular basis, whether it be in handwritten notes, typed letters, emails, text messages, et cetera.
I’ve always felt the responsibility to respond to all of them. It’s so easy to email things. I prefer not to do that. That’s just part of being a hundred years old, you refer back to some old school things. So I write notes.
We utilize a lot of note cards at Kansas State. That’s where the biggest part of our budget goes (laughter).
Q. A lot of people are saying that the bowl system is too large, too many teams involved. Could you speak to the importance of bowls for football programs, what it does for you to be able to take kids to different parts of the country. Jim, your dad was around college football. When you were growing up, do you remember a trip maybe to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis when he was there?
COACH MORA: I remember virtually all of my bowl experiences growing up. My dad coached at many places. University of Colorado, University of Washington were the two places I remember the most, going to bowls. I was actually a ball boy in the Rose Bowl and played in a Rose Bowl. Now I’m coaching in a Rose Bowl, not ‘the’ Rose Bowl.
But just tremendous memories for myself and my family. I think we’re creating those memories for our student athletes and for our families.
I think it’s a reward for them at the end of a long season to be able to go somewhere different in the region, play a team you don’t typically face, enjoy some camaraderie, fellowship, brotherhood as a team.
I don’t have an opinion on the number of bowls. I just am excited that we get to play in a bowl against a great team like Kansas State in a great city like San Antonio.
COACH SNYDER: I do have an opinion about the number. There is so much talk about, Are there too many bowls? If they had enough to accommodate every football team in the country, that would be great for me.
My concern about the playoff system, as I shared with those that asked anyway, my only concern is how it would impact the bowl system itself.
I speak to that from the experience of what it has done for our program, to the opportunity. I remember the very first bowl we went to was the Copper Bowl, the first one at Kansas State, and what it meant to our players, what it meant to our support base, our fans.
We took in excess of 20,000 fans. Went to that bowl game. Had a pep rally the night before that was standing room only at a little above 5,000 fans. It was so meaningful to them.
We have people in the state of Kansas who are tremendous Kansas State representatives and support people. They work hard and long, save their money. This is their vacation.
They have followed us well. I always claimed we had the three largest crowds in the history of college football to cross state lines to watch their teams play, each in excess of 50,000, a variety of bowl games, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl.
It’s meaningful to them, and consequently it’s meaningful to us, as well. There are other merits certainly, as well, but I appreciate the bowl system.
Q. Coach Snyder, it was not too long ago when you were here playing in the Alamo Bowl. What are your memories of that year and that loss to Purdue?
COACH SNYDER: Well, as I recall correctly, it was just that, it was a loss. What I remember, the very positive things about it, is how well we were received and treated not only by the bowl committee and the people associated with the bowl but by the community itself. People were very gracious to our players. Accommodations were excellent.
The game itself was an exciting ballgame. I think it went down to we had an opportunity to tie the ballgame on one of those Hail Mary passes that Michael Bishop threw. Somehow we didn’t coach it as well as it should have been coached. It was caught on the three yard line, end of ballgame. Tell me how that happens.
Overall it was a very rewarding event and opportunity for the young people in our program.
Q. Obviously it was a huge story here with TCU and Baylor being left out of the Playoffs. What are your thoughts on how the process played out, whether it needs some tweaking?
COACH SNYDER: That remains to be seen. I was asked a question a little bit earlier. Somebody asked me if I thought those two conference teams should play. I can’t answer the question because we haven’t followed nor played the other four.
We get so heavily invested in our schedule, the teams in our conference, that we really are somewhat oblivious to what goes on in the rest of college football.
I do know this. Baylor and TCU, I’d be hard pressed to think there are many finer football teams out there than those two.
But, like I said, we haven’t played nor studied the others. Can’t answer the question.
COACH MORA: I would echo what Coach Snyder says.
Q. Coach Moore, what do you hope to see from Brent Hundley on Friday, January 2nd?
COACH MORA: I’d like him to play to his potential, lead his team, do the things he’s done most of the season, which is play at a high level, a high level of consistency. This will be his last game as a UCLA Bruin. He’ll be entering the NFL Draft. I don’t know that he’s announced it yet, but we all know that is the case. I’d like to see him go out with a successful game.
Q. Coach Snyder, can you talk about Lockett and what he means to your program.
COACH SNYDER: I was yesterday in New York City, as was our sports information director with Tyler. He was a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, which goes to the outstanding student athlete in college football. He didn’t win it, but he finished tied for second in the ballots.
He’s a very, very fine player, obviously. Comes from a background of tremendously talented young people that played in our program, as well: his uncle, brother. A wonderful family.
That truly is it. Above and beyond all, he is a very, very special young person. Quality character, has all the intrinsic values in place. Very caring, quality teammate. Self made player on the field. One of those young guys you look at after a practice, he’s still out there keeping the lights on, catching balls off of those machines that will accommodate that, just doing all the things he can to try to improve himself as a player.
But daily he tries to do things to try to improve himself as a person, too. I have admiration for Tyler.