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    Bowl Announcement -- News Conference Transcript

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Northwestern faces Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Northwestern faces Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Dec. 2, 2012

    Head coach Pat Fitzgerald

    Opening statement...
    "I had the opportunity to let the guys know a little while ago [about their bowl destination] and it was a little different than five years ago. Five years ago when we announced it to [the team], it was the first time they'd heard it. Now they heard from the Twittersphere, so it was a little different in the room, I'm like the last one to tell them. It's changed a lot in a short amount of time. The guys are fired up, Max Chapman and Hunter Bates get a chance to go home and we've named Hunter the official host for us down there, both guys played at Nease, a great high school program. Especially for Hunter [a senior], to go home and be part of this, even though he won't be able to play, will be really special.

    "I want to thank Rick Catlett, his entire staff for giving us the opportunity to represent the Big Ten in a Jan. 1 bowl game. To have our seniors go out by playing in five straight bowl games and cap their careers by playing on Jan. 1 is just a great opportunity. As I visited with them a little while ago they're very excited. We've already got three practices in and we'll continue with our plan as we move forward throughout the month. But we're really excited about the opportunity and looking forward to getting to work."

    On bowl practice limitations...
    
"There's no limit in your practices, you're just limited to the 20 hours per week until you get into the vacation period. We have two more weeks of school so we're under the 20-hour rule. During the week we'll just lift and do some things cardio-wise. Now that we know who we're playing they'll take time to watch some video. We'll practice on the weekends, with a focus this week on developing fundamentally. There are some areas, as we look back on the season, that we have to fix and correct, and use it for the young guys as spring ball No. 1. Practice will be structured a little bit differently than the typical week that we have. As we get through finals, we'll basically have two weeks to prepare and not over-do it. We'll have fun, we'll have a terrific bowl week here that we have that no one else can have in college football because we're in the backyard of the best sports city in the world. We'll do some fun things, let the guys go home the night of the 20th, stay home through Christmas and reconvene on the 26th."

     

     

    On the influence of Twitter on the bowl selection process...
    "I think it's fun. That's the only reason why I had some fun with it. There's no rules on Twitter, right? The great news is how passionate our fans are, that's what's important to me. I know they're going to support this team. Last time we were down in Florida, I don't think I have to remind you, it was one heck of a football game. Those that were at that game will never forget it. Now, obviously we ended up a yard short. But our guys are hungry. This is an opportunity for 10 wins for this ball club and to potentially be ranked in the top 15 in the country. That's an unbelievable foundation of success that this senior class will have laid. Ten wins makes a good season great. That's what a special opportunity this is for us. We're part of a conference and we got what we earned. The teams selected ahead of us, we did not beat them. In the past, teams that we've beaten head-to-head, we've leapfrogged or been selected before, and this is what we earned. Our guys are excited about it. We're playing on Jan. 1 in Florida, we're pretty fired up."

    On what he knows of Mississippi State...
    "Nothing. If you go up and look at the GA board [in the office], you'll see about 75 predictions -- if you think the Twittersphere was crazy you should see the GA board, because they've been trying to break down in anticipation of who we were going to play. Last week we caught wind there was a good chance we'd be in Florida so that eliminated half the board, then it went down to last night, there were a chance it'd be a number of SEC teams. But Dan [Mullen] and I are very close friends, we've known each other a long time, it goes back to when he was working with Greg Brandon at Bowling Green and we also recruited Houston together as assistant coaches, running around trying to find recruits. We got together two years ago and spent some time, talking football and went down to the Cubs game together. He's one of the guys who's in my small circle of coaches who, if I've got a thought about doing this or that, I'll send Danny a text or give him a call and we've done that for a number of years. I have a ton of request for the way his guys play, we've studied them on tape in the past and we'll get going on that again right now."

    On any changes to his team's bowl prep schedule...
    
"I like our routine but we'll definitely tweak this year's. With the amount of bumps and bruises we had as the season unfolded we're going to give the varsity a rest here until after finals. We're going to use this time to correct things fundamentally, you're not going to see our varsity taking a million reps in practice. We've got a very specific plan to install the gameplan, keep those guys fresh and improve at the things we need to get better at, while getting the guys through spring ball No. 1."

    Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips
    On how the bowl selection process played out...
    
"It's been a fluid landscape when you look at the bowls, it always is. Everybody's watching games yesterday, I think I was up until about 2:30 this morning and then back at it again early today. It really came down to somewhere in Florida, as it played out it was clear that we were going to end up at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, which is a tremendous opportunity. We've never been down to Jacksonville. I got official notice at about 12:45 this afternoon, I was at the Bears game and stepped out and enthusiastically accepted."

    On his awareness of the Big Ten's influence on bowl selections...
    "I was not aware of any of that. At the end of the day, these bowl selections are just that. They're at the discretion of the bowl, so there's no birth order to this thing, there's no "you deserve to be at a certain place." We're part of a conference for 364 days and then for one day we're kind of independent contractors and negotiators. We're excited. I can't tell you how excited we are about Jacksonville."

    On if the Big Ten has previously discussed protecting the Big Ten championship game loser...
    "There hasn't been. In our next cycle of talks with the bowls, we may want to discuss that. We're only in the second year of the Big Ten Championship, so in the last iteration of our bowl discussions we didn't have a conference championship in play. We'll have to take a look at divisions and everything else as we got to the new normal relative to the Big Ten and the structure of it."

    On the importance of being in a bowl game for a fifth straight year...
    
"It's tremendous. I don't know if you can put a value on it as it relates to all the residual that occurs. Yes, you're going to play the football game but it's a chance to bring the Northwestern family together. We all sat in here two months ago unveiling the largest project ever in the history of athletics and recreation so you can rest assured we're going to do a lot of fund raising while we're down there. It's hard to understand the effect that it has, but there's nothing that brings a university together quite like a bowl experience."

    QB Kain Colter
    On whether he was following NU's bowl projections...
    
"I've been taking a nap ever since practice this morning so I woke up, my mom had texted me so she actually was the first one to tell me. A lot of people follow it on Twitter and that's an easy way to find out."

    On taking it easy in practice through finals week...
    "I'm not going to complain. It's been a long season, especially in the Big Ten, so a lot of the guys who play play-in and play-out need some rest for their bodies. I feel like it's going to help us for this bowl game."

    LB David Nwabuisi
    On whether he was following NU's bowl projections...
    "I just heard through the grapevine where we were playing, I wasn't on Twitter. I was playing Mortal Kombat with [Damien] Proby and Chi Chi Ariguzo, so I couldn't have told you where we were going."

    On taking it easy in practice through finals week...
    "At the end of the day, whatever the coaches have planned and ready for us, we're going to do. We've trusted in their plan all season and we've remained relatively healthy. Every Saturday I felt like we've been as fresh and prepared as we could be, so nothing different."

    On what he took away from Saturday's Big Ten championship game...
    
"You never know, on any given day a team may be better, or more prepared or better coached so it's not always who everyone thinks may be the better team that day."

    On what it means to be part of the first class to play in five straight bowl games...
    
"It will mean nothing until we get this win in this bowl game. I don't know anything else but going to bowl games so I can't speak for everyone else, but since I've been here it's been expected that we go to bowl games. It's about taking that next step and getting that win, then pressing on and getting to the Big Ten championship, setting new goals and standards."