"We had a pretty good practice today. Good practice. Chris Rix has been ruled academically ineligible for the bowl. Rob Wilson will be out here with a statement -- that's as far as I will go into it. It's an academic decision. He'll be out here to give y'all a statement in a minute. Of course, Fabian will now move up to first team. We'll start working Henshaw some as a backup -- we'll make him go in there and start working at quarterback -- and we'll get Anquan some reps just in case. I just found out the final word just five minutes ago. That's the way that stands."
When did you first hear?
"Maybe ten minutes before that. I got the final word five minutes ago. I couldn't get the final word before that."
Your reaction is shock, right?
"Yeah. Surprise, surprise, surprise."
Have you gone through anything like this, with A.D. and then Chris?
"About 50 years. I'll talk about it later on, as far as that's concerned. Right now I've got to let that sink in."
Fabian has a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. How has he looked? Has his throwing been OK?
"Oh, yeah. That's just a term. I don't know what that means. Can you explain to me what that means? You can't even explain it where I'd understand it. You would not know he's been hurt, whatever that is. Anyway, I couldn't tell about his throwing."
Will you make any changes in the structure of practice to get Fabian more reps?
"No. He's been getting equal anyway. Now, if A.D. had been here, he wouldn't have been getting half of what he'd been getting. But with A.D. gone, he's been getting reps. Our second-team quarterback always gets the same as the first anyway. He won't be hurting in that regard."
How concerned are you about his lack of experience?
"He doesn't have hardly any. Have we gotten him in?"
This is certainly a daunting task for him, right?
"Oh yeah. No doubt about it. To get your first start in the Sugar Bowl -- that is something different, isn't it."
Are you worried that this is a distraction?
"It's a reality, not a distraction. It's a disappointment -- probably a disappointment for everybody, but it's a reality that's happened. Our kids rallied behind the other thing, and I expect them to rally behind this."
Chris had made some strides of late as a leader -- how much does this set him back?
"I'm naturally disappointed. I know a lot about Chris' background a lot of people do not know. I do know some things -- how frustrating things have been for him. I know a little bit about that edge. But still, he didn't do what he was supposed to have done, so he can't play."
Chris had said he has some personal issues. That is accurate, right?
"He'll have to tell you about those."
This just affects his eligibility for the bowl, right?
"Yes. It's a rule we've got. We might be the only school in the country that has that rule."
Is this the Deion rule?
"I'll let Rob tell you about all that."
Is anybody else ineligible?
"No that I know of, right now. We're still getting some grades in."
Was everybody in practice?
"You know, I think everybody was here. There might have been one guy missing. I just made myself a note to find out why."
How did the players take it?
"I just told them -- I didn't know until just then. So I called them and told them."
What was their reaction?
"They were probably surprised, like I was."
Do you have to change your offense?
"No. Same thing he's been practicing all during spring training and all during the fall, we'll stay with."
Did you tell Fabian that he'd start?
"Nobody's been told. But Chris wasn't at practice today, and Fabian lined up at number one, with no explanation."
So Fabian found out when you told them team?
"Yeah. I didn't know. I was up in that tower all day long -- not knowing the decision. I know the decision, and I doubt they knew anything."
I know you're disappointed in Chris, but how special is this chance for Fabian?
"I would imagine he would cherish it -- cherish an opportunity like this. It's a lot of pressure thrown on him all of a sudden, with no game experience. Still, that's why you play football -- seeking an opportunity. When something unfortunate happens like this, it opens an opportunity for somebody else. Knowing him, he's a pretty gracious, pretty humble kid. He would hate to see it how it happened, but I know that that's why he came here, to play football."
Fabian had a great game in the spring of 2000. He seems like he has a lot of talent. Can you just describe him as a quarterback?
He had an excellent high school career up there in Americus, GA. Then he came here and went through spring training with us that first year and just -- boy, we were really excited."