FLORIDA COACH URBAN MEYER WITH PLAYERS TIM TEBOW AND JOE HADEN
January 1, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Coach Meyer will make an opening statement, and then we’ll open the floor to questions.
COACH MEYER: A special thanks to the Allstate Sugar Bowl for having us, and I can’t even begin to tell you how gracious your hospitality was and the city of New Orleans. My first visit to the Sugar Bowl, and it was even more than I would expect.
I mentioned earlier that one of the negatives of the current BCS system, which I’m not trying to say what right or wrong is, but when you separate the national championship game from the other ones, that it’s like a letdown. It shouldn’t be. This is one of the great bowls of all time. A great tradition, and our players really bought into. I’m so proud of the fact we actually took time to explain the history of the Sugar Bowl to our players and they obviously bought in and practiced real hard and they wanted to win this game.
I’d also like to take my hat off to the most successful senior class in the history, some would argue, in college football, but most successful senior class in the SEC in this era of obviously the strength of the conference. So the guy sitting next to me, he’s joined by a bunch of great seniors that submitted their legacy as one of the great teams of all time, and I’m proud to be their coach.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Urban, would you talk about the mood in the locker room before the game. Did you kind of feel there was going to be this kind of performance? You’ve had a pretty good feel for the team throughout the year. And did you kind of feel a performance like this coming on?
COACH MEYER: The way to judge a football team is not in the locker room; it’s to judge it on a TuesdayWednesday practice. I had a great feel for this team, even back at home. When we practiced like we did, that’s a hard team to beat. And to come back and get that bad taste out of our mouth after our one loss we had. I saw that on the early earlier this week at practice out some of our coaches and out of our leaders on the team. It wasn’t the locker room; it was the preparation to the game.
Q. Both Coach and Tim. Tim, how much do you feel a game like this validates your ability to play on the next level?
TIM TEBOW: I don’t know. Right now I’m not really even thinking about that. You know, that’s something that will start tomorrow. And I’ll try to get ready for that, that new chapter, new challenge in my life. But right now I’m not really focused on the NFL. I’m trying to enjoy this with a coach I love and a lot of players I adore.
COACH MEYER: I’ll help you answer that question (laughter). 31 of 35, 482 yards, three touchdowns, one of the most efficient quarterbacks ever to play the game. A part of two national championships. He’s a winner, and unless the job description changes at some other level of football, he’s a winner and he’ll win at the next level, too (applause). That’s the way I feel about it.
Q. Urban and Tim, as sweet as this night was and I understand you’re the only BCS team to win 13 games back to back now, two seasons. As sweet as this was tonight for all of you to go out, do you allow yourself to think about what might have been? Because if you played this well 27 days ago, maybe things could have been different. How do you feel about that?
TIM TEBOW: Nice question. Well, yes, we could have played better against Alabama. It was an extremely tough loss. It was something that will always be with you because it was a big win to win the SEC and have a shot at the national championship.
Yeah, we would have liked to win that game, but we lost. You’ve got to move on and bounce back. I think we did. I think we got refocused. We had a lot of adversity. We had a lot of things that weren’t going our way as far as a team that could get rattled or just kind of be selfish or do their own thing.
But you know what? We weren’t. We stuck together. We cared about each other. We came out here and we played hard and we’re going to be excited about this win and go celebrate.
Q. Things changed so quickly last week. I’m just wondering if this result changes anything now, if it’s still indefinite and how long is indefinite. Do you still in your gut feel like you’ll be back in the fall?
COACH MEYER: In my gut I feel like I’ll be back. I just want to make sure my family and health are number one. And I’ve just got to get that right.
Q. Tim, you’ve been a college football player for a pretty long time now. I just wonder if you can kind of reflect on what you’ve accomplished in your time here and Gainesville, I should say, and are you ready for that next chapter in your life?
TIM TEBOW: Well, my time at Florida has been extremely special. And some people might think it’s because of, you know, we’ve been able to win two national championships or I’ve won a few individual awards or we’ve had some success. That really doesn’t have that much to do with it. I mean, I know in a lot of people’s eyes it does. But not in my eyes and not the people I’m around.
It’s the people that I’m with, the players that I’m with, the coaches that I’m with, that’s the reason I chose to come to the University of Florida. That’s the reason my time at the University of Florida was successful, is because I enjoy going to practice every day. I enjoyed the people I was around.
It was like a family away from home, and I loved it. That’s why my time at Florida was successful.
Q. The next chapter?
TIM TEBOW: And I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I feel like I have a lot of things to improve on. I’ll go out there and work extremely hard and give my best. And I just hope I get an opportunity to go do that.
Q. Urban, this team has had to deal with so much stuff all year, not just this past week. Could you talk about how they were able to get through all that and how they were able to kind of just not even let that affect them for the most part?
COACH MEYER: You’d have to go back, and to sit here and worry about all the adversity that we face, we played 14 games and won 13. But we did every week seem to be some kind of something happen. And I think these guys have been trained. I think they’re quality people to begin with, from quality families, which usually is a good correlation how you pull through stuff.
But they’ve been trained to be like a family. And our message in the locker room before the game was I keep hearing this for the past two years that we love each other, care for each other. We fight for each other, we play for each other. Let’s go do it one more time.
And that’s a special group. They came in, I think it was you guys are ’06, right? The ’06 class, and they made a statement. They made a statement as freshmen that we want to go down as one of the best ever and let’s put a little plan together and you guys stick together and follow the plan and let’s see what happens. And they followed the plan.
Q. Tim, I want to say you’ve inspired a lot of people. People follow you, wear the bracelets, that’s inspiring. What kind of message do you have that you want to last for you as your last kind of message going on?
TIM TEBOW: That’s a really good question. Thank you. I think as the last message that I would want to leave is that I love what I did. I loved who I was around. I love the coaches. I loved the players. I always tried my best to encourage them on and off the field, to make their lives better, to be someone that they wanted to be around, and someone that uplifted people’s lives on and off the field, from fans to players on the team.
And I just want my lasting message is when people think of me to think that I’m someone who loved the Lord, I’m someone who loved other people, and I did my best to make other people have better lives.
Q. I know you’re not too big on stats, Tim, 482 passing yards tonight, setting all kinds of BCS and Sugar Bowl records. How special is that for you? Could you have ever seen this coming, especially given some of the criticism that you do face as a passer, you know?
TIM TEBOW: I didn’t see this coming as far as that many yards and everything. I knew we had a good game plan. I knew we were going to try to spread it out a little bit. We felt like that would be successful. And just coming into the game, we just were hitting and clicking so we kept going with it and ended up obviously throwing for a lot of yards.
But it really wasn’t that much of me. It was a lot of receivers who were getting open. Guys just beating them. Guys making people miss and making plays. The offensive line did a great job and receivers stepped up made big plays over and over. I was truly blessed.
Q. Urban, you go home tomorrow, you wake up, Shelley just said you’ve never not coached. Do you have any inkling of what the days, weeks, months are going to be like?
COACH MEYER: No, I don’t. I know I’m anxious to get home. We’ll address I’d rather this be about the players. We’ll address the future when it’s the appropriate time.
TIM TEBOW: Better be looking forward to getting beat at some golf. Throw down. (Laughter).
Q. Joe, being there’s a lot of juniors who are disputing whether or not they’re going to come and go, stay, whatever, if you do leave, awful good way to leave, isn’t it? It would be a great memory for you. For the guys that are leaving, it’s going to be a good memory for you?
JOE HADEN: What’s going to be a good memory for me if I leave? Probably just hanging out with the boys all the time, practice, messing with Tebow, trying to pick off his passes, saying I picked off the best quarterback ever. That’s always a good thing to do. And just hanging out with just the players. The relationships that we’ve built. Nothing really on the field is going to stick with me as much as stuff off the field.
Q. This game in itself?
JOE HADEN: This game especially we felt we needed to give Coach Strong a good goingout party. Alabama game, we didn’t do too good for him, so we just knew that that wasn’t Gator defense. We wanted to come out and show that we just had it was a bump in the road and we still got it.
Q. Urban, when you think about the last four years and how quickly it goes and how special it is, 48 wins in four years, things like that, does it seem like it just could have happened that fast? How do you react after this happens and you start looking, you’re going to be saying goodbye to these guys?
COACH MEYER: I might reflect a little bit. I’ve never had a chance to do that after some of these great wins we’ve had. I remember the two national championship games we played in, school started four days prior to the actual game so we were worried about getting guys back into class and getting going, and then the next thing, the next thing, the next thing.
So I am going to force myself to sit back and reflect on coaching these past five years and certainly these last four years with this group of kids that won so many games.
Q. Tim, did you feel especially dialed in with your throwing tonight? And Urban, I know the game plan is to win, but did you want to give him an opportunity what he could do in terms of throwing the ball tonight?
TIM TEBOW: I did feel good out there just in warmups and playing and throwing around. But it really wasn’t too much different than most of the time. I just feel that our receivers, offensive line did a great job today and they just made me look a lot better than I am.
COACH MEYER: Usually what happens during the course of a game is the first two series you get a feel how they’re going to defend you and how they’re going to defend our formations. And I thought Steve Addazio and Scot Loeffler did a great job, and obviously Tim had a lot of input in every sideline.
Every series basically was scripted, let’s say let’s do this, this, because this is how we’re playing it. We’ve got a good bead on how they’re playing and you say our receivers did a great job. They don’t play a lot of man coverage, but our guys got by them in zone coverage and Tim obviously threw the ball as well as he’s ever thrown.
But it’s more how they play in the first couple of series to get a feel for what you’re going to call.
Q. Urban, why does the devastation of a defeat outweigh the joy of a win?
COACH MEYER: I’m sorry?
Q. Why does the devastation of a defeat outweigh the joy of a win?
COACH MEYER: The devastation of a defeat outweigh the
Q. You guys are 262 over the last two years.
COACH MEYER: That’s a great question. That’s one I’ve got to figure out, I guess (laughter). That’s kind of the way you said it, makes you think.
Q. Also, over the next month, what’s your role going to be as a recruiter?
COACH MEYER: I’m sorry?
Q. Over the next month, what’s your role going to be as a recruiter?
COACH MEYER: I’m going to do everything I can to keep this train going in the right direction. And that all will be discussed in the next few days.
Q. Tim, you said this week the hardest thing about this game might be taking off that jersey for the last time. I don’t think you’re wearing it. I can’t really see. But what was that moment like for you just now?
TIM TEBOW: Well, it was actually rushed a lot. I was trying to get in here to see you all, I was so excited about it (laughter). Actually, needed some help to take it off, too. It was really tight (laughter). But it’s just the ending of the game and how special it was, just everything, just celebrating it with just the families and everybody. That’s what it’s about. That’s what I really meant by that.
Q. Tim, we were excited to see you too. So I’m glad you came. Can you talk a little bit about the emotion of it all, your career ending, this tumultuous week for the program and coming out and culminating in that tonight?
TIM TEBOW: It was a big week for the program and just my time at the University of Florida coming to an end, seemed like a little bit of a roller coaster. But it was special. It was a lot of fun. Just everything that’s happened. The relationships that were built, everything that we’ve done. My time at Florida was special. It was better than a dream.
Honestly, I dreamed of being a Gator since I was six years old and it was better than I could have dreamed. And just the people I was around, and coaches and families and everything, it was amazing.
And this last week was tough, just dealing with everything and just worried about others around you and stuff. But, you know, it still was special. To finish it off like this was special.
Q. Joe, this Cincinnati offense came in with a reputation, so to speak, for scoring points. And you guys set the tone early and really shut them down. Why do you think you were able to do that so well?
JOE HADEN: One thing that we really worked on was getting pressure on the quarterback. The D line did a great job. As far as receivers, me and Janoris and Markice, we just wanted to be real physical with them, throw them off the timing. Because one thing Pike does, he throws a lot of passing routes on timing. So if you get up there and get your hands on him, you throw that off him as the offense.
Q. Coach Meyer, at SEC Media Days somebody asked you what you thought about Tim Tebow and the history of college football. And if he’s the greatest player and where he fits into that whole scheme. You said you’d answer it at the appropriate time. I assume that to mean when his career was over. Now that it is, can you talk about how he fits in with the history of the game?
COACH MEYER: Well, I’m not a historian of the game. I love college football and I have studied it. It would be in poor taste for me to put him just start ranking him above other people I never saw play, because that’s not fair.
I can just give you my personal perspective on him as an athlete, a player, a quarterback, a leader and a winner. And I can’t imagine there’s ever been another one better. I’m not saying he’s better, because, once again, I know 1920s, ’30s, ’40s there’s been some great football players, all the way through the ’80s and ’90s. So it’s not fair to those other great players. However, one’s man opinion is if there’s one better than him, I’d love to shake his hand, because in my opinion he’s the best.
Q. Tim a lot of people have been saying goodbye to you in the last week, but how do you want to say goodbye to all this, the Gator Nation and the whole deal?
TIM TEBOW: Honestly just by saying thank you. Thank you for all the memories. Everything that has happened, just sticking by us, by Coach, by me, by all the players, and just all the memories that I’ll have.
And that just because I’m graduating the University of Florida doesn’t mean I’m still not a Gator. I’ve been a Gator my whole life and always will be a Gator. So it’s not really saying goodbye, it’s just moving on to a new chapter, but I’ll still always be a Gator.
Q. Urban, several times during the game fans were chanting your name. Did you hear them, and if so what did you think? If you didn’t hear them, what do you think about hearing about it now?
COACH MEYER: I did not hear that. And I’m very appreciative of our fans showing support for my family and we’ve got great we’ve got the best fans in college football. And I love them to death. And I did not hear that, but I appreciate that.
Q. Urban and Tim, too, you sent Tim in for one last play. Then brought him off and what goes through your mind when you know he comes off and it’s kind of like it really is over, you know? And, Tim, talk about also follow up with him, how you felt when you got to go out there for that one last play and then come off?
COACH MEYER: Well, we tried to do that. We’ve done that before with seniors. And Riley Cooper, David Nelson, Tim, was that it? The three seniors? We had the three seniors, and I just think that’s one of the great traditions of college football, that when you do your curtain call, when you’ve earned that right, I certainly think Riley Cooper with his performance today. David Nelson with what he’s meant for Florida football, and then the obvious is Tim, to have him go in there and exit the field the right way. A big fan of tradition and a big fan of pageantry, especially when it’s earned.
TIM TEBOW: For me I was a little bummed Gosely (phonetic) didn’t take that to the house. That’s what I was thinking. Looked like he was going to break it. It’s an emotional moment, last play as a Gator and that’s something special. And to give Coach Meyer a hug and just see the rest of the coaches and the guys was extremely special, and it’s something that you’ll always remember.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.