Teleconference Quotes, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2012Allstate Sugar Bowl
An Interview With:
COACH BRADY HOKE
THE MODERATOR: We’re going to start off with Coach Brady Hoke from the University of Michigan. Coach, a brief opening statement.
COACH HOKE: I can tell you that Team 132 of Michigan is extremely excited to be given this opportunity to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. It’s the second time that Michigan has been in the Sugar Bowl. And we’ve got an outstanding opponent and a tremendously well‑coached football team we’re going to play in Virginia Tech and what Coach Beamer and his staff does.
We’re very excited about it. And we look forward to it and can’t wait to get down there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Are you familiar at all with Frank Beamer? Do you know him at all? Do you know anything about his coaching style, coaching philosophy?
COACH HOKE: Believe me, I’ve not had the privilege of meeting Coach. But you watch his football teams play and the toughness and the execution they play with, you know, being a football junkie like I think most of us are in this profession, it’s a well‑coached football team, disciplined football team, a team that’s going to give you everything they’ve got for 60 minutes.
Q. Were you nervous at all that you guys wouldn’t get into the top four teams? What was that like for the last 24, 48 hours?
COACH HOKE: We don’t control any of that. So the things that we can’t control we really don’t worry about, because we’ve got enough things as a program and how we want to represent Michigan on a daily basis that we worry about.
Q. When you took over this job about a year ago, in the middle of a lot of controversy and chaos, could you have imagined that your team would have achieved what it has this season? And how rewarding has that been to you?
COACH HOKE: Well, it’s so rewarding for our seniors. I mean, our seniors have done everything with our program and their leadership and how they’ve led this football team and how they’ve worked together.
And I don’t know if we went in with any expectations besides the normal expectations that you have at the University of Michigan. And that’s to win Big Ten championships.
We didn’t do that. And we’ve got to obviously go back to work after this Bowl game.
Q. I want to ask about the spotlight this puts on the program. You talk about the players were excited. What kind of reward is it playing in a BCS Bowl game, and how do you anticipate the spotlight of things going forward with how prestigious a game it is?
COACH HOKE: I think our guys have done a great job of staying pretty steady and being consistent. And it’s a great reward for our players and what they’ve achieved and how they’ve played and how they’ve represented the University of Michigan all year long.
So it’s going to be fun. But like everyone else, you don’t want to lose that last football game that you play. So you want to go out and work hard and do the things as a team that we need to do to prepare to go win a Bowl game.
Q. You’ve talked about being part of the excitement after the Ohio State game and seeing the senior faces and seeing the emotion. What was it like to be around that team tonight and to kind of see kind of the payoff of their hard work and when the announcement was made when you’re going to the Sugar Bowl?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, Jeff, I wasn’t there with the team. I’m in New York City. Coach Carr is being inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame. So I knew the excitement that they were going to have and the feeling that they were going to have as a team. And we were very fortunate that we get this opportunity as a team to play one more time. And we’re going to make the most of it.
Q. How rewarding and satisfying is it for you to see this team improve so much on defense not only from just last year but also as this year has gone on?
COACH HOKE: Well, our defensive coaches have done a tremendous job. Greg Mattison and Curt Mallory and Mark Smith and Jerry Montgomery, and the way our seniors, Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen and Troy Woolfolk and those guys on the defensive side of the ball, how they’ve taken every day at heart and they’ve learned and the fundamentals and how they play together as a team.
Believe me, it’s been fun to watch them. It’s been fun to watch the growth. We’re not obviously where we need to be yet. But we have one more opportunity.
Q. You talked a couple times, mentioned your seniors. Can you talk about when you are coming into a program as a first‑year coach and building a relationship with those seniors, how vital was that to your team’s success?
COACH HOKE: When we met with them the first day a year ago January and the first thing we talked about was our seniors and how important, and they understand the struggles, because of what they’ve been through in any program from the winter conditioning, the spring balls, the summer workouts.
And we’re always going to coach and we’re always going to play for our seniors. And those young guys, they start to understand that hopefully they’re going to have the opportunity to represent Michigan as a senior on a football team and they’re just going to play a little harder and do a little more due diligence in their work.
Q. I know you were probably paying attention to your situation, but when the matchup came up and it was Virginia Tech, were you surprised it was the Hokies, considering they lost yesterday in the SEC championship game?
COACH HOKE: You know, if I try and figure it all out I think I’d get a headache, to be honest with you. And I just know that they’re a terrific program. They have great tradition. Frank Beamer and that staff for a number of years have done a tremendous job.
No matter who we played, it still comes down to it’s about Michigan and how we represent the University of Michigan as a program. So really for me to try and figure it out and worry about who we’re playing and matchups and everything like that, we’re just so grateful to have a great opportunity to play one more game together.
Q. Just want to ask again about your preparation for the Bowl game. Now you know when you’re going to playing, and how you know who you’re playing how do you specifically prepare the team for the Bowl game? Can you talk about what you focus in practice leading up to the game?
COACH HOKE: Well, we’re going to practice this week in two days, and then we’ll take the week off a little bit as far as the end of the school year and finals coming up and then we’ll practice the following weekend and then that next week and send them home for a couple of days and board that charter and go down to New Orleans. But there’s different ways you can do it.
I’ve done it a couple different ways. But the thing that we want to stress is the fundamentals and getting back into the fundamentals and the techniques that we want to play with.
Q. We haven’t talked in a week, is everybody still healthy? Are they all still good?
COACH HOKE: Yeah. We’re fine as a football team. And Brennen Beyer was really the only guy who was out for the last game. And he should be okay by the time the Bowl gets here.
Q. You talked about how you don’t want to lose that last game of the year. Can you tell us what you said to your guys in preparation for this game? Because the whole season they had been building up towards the Big Ten championship towards that Ohio State game. Now you have to shift focus and this one is not for a month and it’s against a top 12 team in the country, and what do you say to the team to prep them for an opponent like Virginia Tech?
COACH HOKE: We’re going to talk about consistency that we’ve approached everything from, from how we prepare and how every day we come in and we have work to do as a team and the accountability that we want to have for each other. And the respect. And so that won’t change much.
I mean, that Ohio game’s long gone. It’s been a while ago. So we get to look forward and we’ve got to work towards our forward of the Bowl game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
An Interview With:
COACH FRANK BEAMER
THE MODERATOR: I’d like to introduce the head coach of Virginia Tech, Coach Frank Beamer. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH BEAMER: Our football team is extremely excited to be coming back to the Allstate Sugar Bowl. We know what a great Bowl it is, what great people they have there. We’ve been there about three times, played the National Championship there in 1999. Beat Texas there in ’95.
So we’ve had some experience there, and we know what a great place it is or great Bowl it is. And as excited as we are, I’m sure so are our fans. And certainly they’re one of the reasons we’re coming there, because we do have great fan support, and they’re serious about Virginia Tech football. And so I know there are going to be a lot of those people down in New Orleans.
And to play such a storied program as Michigan, Brady Hoke has done a tremendous job there this year. And it’s just, I think, a game that certainly our fans, our players, we look forward to, and have an opportunity to play such a fantastic program.
We’re happy to be coming to the Sugar Bowl.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. I’m sure you’ve seen a number of people have said that you guys shouldn’t be selected for this Bowl because of the weak schedule. What do you say to that when you hear that?
COACH BEAMER: Well, I’m proud of our football team and what we’ve been able to do. And I think the people we’ve been able to beat, they didn’t seem weak to me. And we were just proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and looking forward to coming to the Sugar Bowl.
Q. Frank, as you left Charlotte last night, did you have any inkling that an at‑large bid was possible? And if not, then when did you first get word about this?
COACH BEAMER: I was filling out my coach’s poll on the way home. And we got talking about it a little bit and thought it was a possibility. And then I talked with Jim Weaver this morning and found out that it was a possibility.
And so it’s been an exciting day here at Virginia Tech.
Q. Coach, you were talking about the exciting day about it. Your fans have been known to travel well, but the last few years in the Orange Bowl situation, they didn’t do quite as well. Do you believe, was it maybe a change of scenery, your support level will pick up in that area?
COACH BEAMER: Yeah, I don’t think there was any question about it. And I think the fact if you’re playing a program such as Michigan, something that’s, a program that’s so well respected and looked at in such a favorable way, I think that’s it.
And then coming to New Orleans, and they’ve had experiences there before. And it’s just a great city for a Bowl game. And, yeah, I don’t think there’s any question: Our fans will be excited and appreciate the opportunity.
Q. Could you also talk about the relationship between the Sugar Bowl and Virginia Tech, particularly the donation they made after the shooting a few years ago?
COACH BEAMER: Yeah, you know, it was, like I said in the opening, the people there in the Sugar Bowl, we’ve had quite a bit of experiences with them and they’re just first class. They do things right.
It’s just always been a great experience when we’ve been able to come to that Bowl and spend a week in the city there and just first‑class in every way.
Q. Michigan is not a school you cross paths with very much being in the Big Ten. What do you know about that program? Do you know Brady Hoke at all? Have you ever crossed paths with him in the coaching circles?
COACH BEAMER: No, I don’t know him. I know what he’s done this year and followed him through the years, I know his name for the tremendous job he’s done in coaching. And I don’t know a lot about Michigan until recently and didn’t really think us and Michigan would be meeting in a Bowl game.
And so we’re going to pay attention to them now and get to work on them and try to represent the ACC in the best way possible.
Q. I know you guys and the fans are excited about getting this opportunity. Of course, there’s criticism that teams that maybe were higher ranked in the BCS and some of the rankings, Boise and Kansas State, that you guys were picked over them, both you and Michigan. What response to that, teams that at least in the rankings had a better season getting passed over?
COACH BEAMER: Well, I think Virginia Tech over the years has built a name for itself. And we have a chance to win 12 games this year and it’s never been done at Virginia Tech.
And in reality we lost to one team this year. We lost to them twice, but we’ve been on national TV several times here in recent weeks. And we’d won seven straight until last night, and we got the Player of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We’ve been to three BCS Bowls over the last four years.
I think there’s a lot of reasons. We’ve got on our team this year the top two receivers ever in Virginia Tech’s history. We’ve got an All‑American in Jayron Hosley. And I think there’s a lot of reasons why Virginia Tech would be an attractive team to a BCS Bowl.
I think the number of years we’ve won ten straight games, I think that’s another thing. And the only team to do that. So I think again over the years I think the Virginia Tech name has gotten to be a very good name.
Q. Frank, I know you don’t know much about Michigan, but I’m guessing you know at least a little bit about Denard Robinson. The fact you guys have historically had dual threat mobile quarterbacks dating back to Vick, does that help you a little bit?
COACH BEAMER: Well, I think you better have good players on the other side that are fast, looks like to me. The highlights I’ve seen, that guy can go.
And I think us having that type of guy, probably, I think, gives us some experience. But it all gets back to the players and being able to tackle them, the guy, when you get him there.
Q. Since the expansion, the talk or the question has always been when is the ACC going to get an at‑large BCS team. You obviously are the first. Do you take a little bit of pride in that that the conference finally landed in the at‑large bid and you’re that team?
COACH BEAMER: Yeah, I do. And again we want to represent the ACC in the best way possible. We’re proud where we are and proud to be a member of the ACC. But, yeah, to get that second team, I think it speaks well for our conference. And we’re proud to be the team to do it.
Q. You kind of touched on it. Just your impressions, I don’t know how much you’ve seen of Denard Robinson, but obviously the guy can, very exciting running the ball and has shown some improvement passing this year as well.
COACH BEAMER: Yeah, again, what I’ve seen has been on the highlight reels. He’s got plenty of them. So I’ve seen quite a bit of him on TV, to be quite honest with you. You understand pretty quickly what a unique athlete he is, what a talented athlete he is.
Q. I know you said you kind of were going through it last night and thought it was a possibility and Jim Weaver brought it up this morning. But when it actually came down, were you surprised that you guys are in a BCS Bowl after ‑‑ it seems like as of last night no one was really thinking this was a real possibility. Were you genuinely surprised by how this all came about?
COACH BEAMER: Again, we thought it was possible. And we had a tough loss last night against a team that played really well. And we just never got the flow of the game going in the right way.
But, again, I think if you look what our university brings and what the Virginia Tech football program brings and not only this year but I think over the last several years, the name that has built up, I think there’s a lot of reasons why you’d like to have Virginia Tech in your Bowl game.
Q. You mentioned how you had heard Brady Hoke’s name in the coaching circles just for the job he’s done. Can you speak to the job he’s done turning Michigan around this first year and getting them 10‑2 in the Sugar Bowl to play you guys?
COACH BEAMER: There’s no question about it. A team that came in there, and he got them all going in the same direction and going in the same direction at a fast pace.
And the wins that he had and the way that they played and the discipline they played with, certainly he’s ‑‑ where he came from, he won, and won quickly there at Michigan. So I think Michigan’s got a great future in front of it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.