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December 10, 2008

Bowden, Bielema talk Champs Sports Bowl

Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden

"We're looking forward to being down here and playing in this bowl. I have great memories of Orlando, because (in) my second year at Florida State, the first bowl we went to in years was here in the old Tangerine Bowl. In fact, we stayed down here on International Drive. So it's kind of exciting getting back. It's been 32 years, but it's great to be back. We thank (Florida Citrus Sports) for the invitation. We'll come down on the 22nd, work up until the ball game, and then tee it up and go home."

On what he remembers about his first trip down to Orlando (for the 1977 Tangerine Bowl against Texas Tech, a 40-17 win)

"It was the old Tangerine Bowl, played in the (Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium). I remember people complaining 'cause the stadium rocked, people up high rocked. I remember them talking about that. I remember Steve Sloan, the head coach at Texas Tech, he and I spoke at the First Baptist Church. He gave a testimony, I gave a testimony, I remember that. It was just a great night for us. Of course, it was our first time being in a bowl in quite a while, and that's why it was a lot more meaningful."

On if Drew Weatherford will compete with Christian Ponder for starting quarterback nod in the bowl game due to his extensive playing time in the regular season finale vs. Florida

"I'll let my offensive coordinator call that shot, but I would think he's looking to Ponder. The reason Ponder didn't play more in the last ball game was he missed most of practice that week, and we really (weren't) getting a lot done [offensively], so we went with Drew. I would imagine Jimbo will go back to Ponder and have Drew and D'Vontrey (Richardson) as backups."

On the possibility of offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher leaving for a head coach position at another school despite his current agreement with FSU

"He's under contract to Florida State to stay at Florida State and he's agreed to do that. I've never heard him have any other idea. Ya'll print stuff that he's being considered. Well, anybody can say that. What does he say? He says 'No, I haven't been contacted. I'm not interested.' We're counting on him being at Florida State and taking my place when I leave. You guys are guilty of reading the paper."

On the benefit of playing in-state and potentially having the crowd on their side

"We'd rather have it that way. We'd rather have the crowd on our side. That's the advantage of being in Florida is that you should have more of your people there and it's more convenient for your kids' families to get to the game then it would be if you were playing way off. Now at the same time, I can imagine the exhilaration of Wisconsin getting to come way down here to Florida to play a ball game. When I was at West Virginia and when we'd get to come down to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, it was a great thrill for the kids, because they never got to come down here. It's good for us in the fact that our people can get to the game very quickly."

On playing a team that he's never coached against before

"I like it better that way. The fun thing about bowls is playing somebody that you don't know anything about. They don't know anything about you, you don't know anything about them. Now you study film and you know what they're doing, but their boys don't know your boys, and your boys don't know their boys. That's exciting. What is not exciting is having to play Miami twice or having to play Florida twice. You know, we've caught that three different times. I'd rather play somebody you don't know. It's always good - you know, you get to enjoy your career as you get to play a Southern Cal, and you get to play an Ohio State and you get to play a Michigan, and you get to play a Wisconsin. I don't know how much longer I can coach, but I'd love to play 'em all before I go."

On the BCS National Championship Game matchup of Oklahoma vs. Florida

"I felt like Oklahoma was one of the few schools that could play with Florida. I'm so impressed with Florida, especially their quarterback. I've never seen a quarterback that carried the leadership of a team more than he did. He got up and said 'we're gonna do this' and they did it. Now, I looked at 'who could beat that team?' Alabama had a shot at them and didn't do it. Oklahoma is one team out there who might could outscore them. It ought to be a heck of a ball game."



Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema

"Much like Coach Bowden, we're very excited to be back in Orlando. This is our (second) trip here since I've been the head coach at the University of Wisconsin, and obviously to play Florida State University and to be on the same field with Coach Bowden is a great opportunity for our program - overall, the first meeting between Florida State and Wisconsin. (We) always get first-class treatment while we're here in Orlando and I know our kids, after about six inches of snow [in Madison] yesterday, are very excited to come down to Orlando on the 22nd as well, and have an opportunity to enjoy the week in Orlando in addition to a 4:30 kickoff on Saturday against Florida State."

On what he's seen of Florida State on the field this season

"One of the fortunate things [is that] last week Florida State contacted us and we did a film exchange early last week, so we had an opportunity to watch quite a few games before leaving on the recruiting trails this weekend. (They have) very, very gifted athletes on both sides of the ball. (Their) special teams do a tremendous job of creating some hidden yardage in the field position game. I mentioned to Coach just a minute ago, I have a lot of respect for [left guard Rodney Hudson. He's] a tremendous football player. Their quarterback, whoever they've had in there has had some success. The challenge we'll have is just the match-up issue. Everybody's going to build it up, I'm sure, as a 'big, physical Wisconsin team playing the speed of Florida [State].' We have several players on our roster from South Florida, so I know they're very excited about the opportunity to play in Florida for the fifth straight year. All of our guys, this is our fifth time overall between Orlando and Tampa, and I know they'll be excited about the opportunity to get on the field and compete against some guys that played against each other in high school as well."

On whether FSU's speed is going to be a concern

"It is, and the other matchups we've had down here in Florida have been against the SEC, and Florida State carries those same similarities. But it's one thing to have speed, it's a matter of who's got the ball and who wants to tackle him. It's about who can put a hat on a hat and who can execute. I know our guys will probably play faster in this game this year than they've ever played to this point. The tough part for us is to simulate it during practice. A lot of our first-string guys and those guys can run and do the things we're asking them to do, but for us to get the simulation of Florida State's offense against our defense and then vice versa, their defense against our offense, it's kinda tough to get through."

On whether the bowl appearance is redemption for a possibly disappointing regular season (losing their first four Big Ten games en route to a 3-5 mark in the league)

"The season that we had, when we went on a four-game stretch there to lose our Big Ten opener and the three that followed, puts you in a difficult position as coaches, as players and as a program. The way we responded, the way we were able to come back and win those ball games - we lost a heartbreaker there to Michigan State in the final seconds - I can't speak enough about the character of our players, our coaches. You look around the world of college football and there's times where teams are in those same exact positions and fail to come through, really put a bad ending on a bad season. The way our kids responded, especially those last two games, to come from behind and win will hopefully carry over. You're right, for us as a team that was ranked number eight in the country before our bye week, to fall where we are right now, it would be a great redemption to be able to play a quality program and have a victory.

On the BCS National Championship Game matchup of Oklahoma vs. Florida

"I vote in the (USA Today) Coaches' Poll, and those were my two that I selected at the one and two spots...In the Big Ten, we're always done a week early, and I was sitting at home on a Saturday and watching all those games. I watched the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game...It just reinforced in my mind what a great sport we have. If you just sit back - you know, if you don't care who wins, it's really a pretty fun sport to watch. Even in the Big Ten conference, you're not naturally pulling for whoever is in our conference. The Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game was unbelievable. To watch Florida/Florida State - no knowing that we were going to play them for sure - it was just enjoyable to sit back and watch the world of college football...The part that you really enjoy as a coach is that everybody wants to talk about playoffs, but because of our system, every week is a playoff." "

On coaching against Coach Bowden

"Coach has been around a long time. His first question was asking about a bowl game 32 years ago. I'm only 38, so I don't have a reference point...I grew up in a little town in Illinois. We only had one TV, and whatever dad wanted to watch, we watched. I remember being very, very young and watching Coach Paterno on the sidelines, and to shake his hand and to now have the opportunity to do the same thing with Coach Bowden...We'll treat him better than we did Coach Paterno. Our first game [in 2006, Bielema's first season as head coach], we broke Coach Paterno's leg over there on the sideline..." Someone made reference in our press, I think it was something like 2002, [Virginia head coach] Al Groh was the last coach to play both Coach Bowden and Coach Paterno in the same year. It's something that I don't take light as a head coach."

On the impact of Ohio State's national championship game losses on the national perception of the Big Ten conference

"The media likes to steer things in a certain way. Two years ago, our first game here (in Orlando) was against Arkansas, and we beat them, and that was an SEC-Big Ten matchup. That same year, Penn State beat Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. Last year (in the Capital One Bowl) Florida played Michigan. We had beaten Michigan in the latter part of our season, a very good ball club. Everyone was making reference to (how) Florida could have been in that National Championship Game a year ago if they'd won the LSU game, and Michigan went out and handled them pretty well. You can steer the stats however you want and put them in a certain way. The bottom line is that the best thing we can do in the Big Ten Conference is win. That shuts a lot of people up in a hurry if you go out and do what you're supposed to do and take care of your business, so that's what we have to do."

Quotes provided by Florida Citrus Sports


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