"I've thought about that. I've thought about what I'm going to tell them today. I've thought about what I'm going to tell them Thursday when we are getting ready to to to sleep that night. I've thought about what I'm goin to tell them before we get on the plane. I've thought about what I'm going to say before we go out there. I think about that every day—what I'm going to say to them. It's important that I say the right things. I want to be positive with them. We have an opportunity here—a great opportunity. I think this is a great team we're playing. This is the #1 team. I want to tell them that there's no place that I'd rather be than right here at this time, and I hope they feel the same way."
What do you think it will be like on the field that day?
"It's hard to say. I've never been there. I've watched some games as a kid and watched games as I was older. That's what's neat about the college atmosphere—it's festive. I did color commentary for Temple University one year, and I went downt to see Temple play Florida. A guy by the name of 'Emmit Smith' was playing running back for them at the time. I was watching all these people walking around with pet gators around on leashes That was pretty cool! I don't know what Oklahoma will have out there, but I think it will be exciting for our players. I think it's fun to play in a hostile environment—I really do. I think it's exciting! It's fun to play at home in front of your fans, but it's just as exciting to go out and play in front of a hostile crowd, so I hope it's hostile, and I'm sure it will be."
Does this game remind you at all of the Notre Dame game that you played your senior year?
"I've thought about that—yes I have. We had an opportunity to win that ball game—we lost. We lost 16-0. It was a 9-0 game going into the fourth quarter. Yeah, I've thought about that. It's a little bit like 'David and Goliath' to an extent, but I think the players relish that challenge also. Nobody expects us to win, except for me and the staff and the guys that sit in this room. That's fine. I like that—like that challenge."
Is there anything that could happen out there that could make you think this was a bad decision?
"The only thing that would make me feel bad about the decision to go out there and play would be number one: if we were to somehow stack up a lot of injuries. But I don't think that will happen. I thought about that prior to taking this game on. Number two: if everything that I've been trying to accomplish with this team, for whatever reason, goes down the tubes—they stop playing. I don't know how this game could go. This game of football can get out of hand sometimes. It doesn't happen at the pro level a whole lot, although it does happen. I've seen teams quit at the pro level. I've seen some huge scores—particularly in that conference. The Nebraskas and the Oklahomas run up some big scores on some people. I will be extremely disappointed if that happens, but I'm not worried about that. You're asking for something, and I'm digging."
You've talked about your guys having to learn how to practice and learn how to compete. How far along do you think they are, and do they still have a ways to go in that process?
"They have learned how to practice, and the challenge for this year—this year, not just this game—is to learn how to win. That's a year-long task. That's a year-long process. That's how I see it. It's a 12-round fight."