Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops and Colorado Head Coach Gary Barnett met with the media in Houston on Friday for the last time before Saturday's Big 12 Championship game at Reliant Stadium. Below are excerpts from their press conferences.
OKLAHOMA HEAD COACH BOB STOOPS
"On behalf of the University of Oklahoma, our university, and our football program, we're proud to be here representing the South Division in the Big 12 Championship against an excellent Colorado football team. It's exciting to walk out there on the way in and have those same feelings of just two years ago of walking into Kansas City for the Big 12 championship and the atmosphere and the excitement. This has been something that has been on our board the entire year, to earn the trip and earn the right to play in this game and give ourselves the opportunity to win the Big 12 Championship in this great facility. We're proud to be here playing here in Houston. We're really excited about it and our team has come in with a good, solid week of work. We're excited about the opportunity and we're ready to compete tomorrow evening."
On the team's mindset following last weekend's loss to Oklahoma State
"Either way, winning or losing, coming into this game you focus on it. Sometimes regardless of the situation or what you're coming off of, you have to refocus and realize that this game is here right in front of you. That's easy, though. The players have understood that from Monday on, and so regardless of the situation, you focus all your energy and your concentration on this football game, and put together the best plan and practice that you can to win it."
On how the team prepares following the Oklahoma State loss
"It's a combination of things. We've been through all of that. I'd prefer to look at 10 other games and three other seasons (rather than the OSU loss). We've played well enough that I don't think it's unrealistic for us to feel good about what we're able to do and what our opportunities are provided we execute the way we're capable of."
On whether the Big 12 Championship game is bigger than any non-national championship bowl game
"Absolutely. I think the Big 12 Championship and having that trophy is what we're all shooting for. To have as your only goal each year is to win the national championship, you're going to be left short quite often. I don't care who you are, it's not going to happen every single year. To have the opportunity to win the Big 12 Championship each and every year, like we have two of the last three years, it is a great opportunity and it is bigger than any other bowl game."
On Colorado's success at running the game related to the offensive line regardless of which running back is in the game
"They (the Colorado offensive line) are excellent regardless of who's back there. When you're playing against them you sometimes lose track of who's back there. You realize after they get up from the pile and head back to the sidelines that hey, that wasn't Chris Brown. Their offensive line does an excellent job of creating seams with physical blocking, and creating yardage. They still have a lot of quality backs."
On whether this Big 12 Championship Game appearance feels different from 2000, when there was a possibility of playing for the national championship
"It's hard to remember that far back. We've had too many games in between, I guess. It was exciting then. Everyone wanted to say you had so much on the line then. I answer always, 'what do you mean?' We have nothing without this game. We're in the same situation with this game. You have the opportunity to be a champion. I believe that was our feeling then and it's our feeling now."
COLORADO HEAD COACH GARY BARNETT
"First of all, we're just honored to represent the North. I feel like we have a team that has overcome a lot. It's been a real interesting year. I think that we've been able to handle it mostly because the seniors have really kept forward and have really been able to lead our team, not letting any of the things that were out there become issues for us. We've had guys step up and make plays, and we just fought. We're not the prettiest team in the league and we're probably not by any stretch of the imagination, the most talented, but we can play hard. I think that's probably what has gotten us here. Obviously everybody's goal is to get here, but our goal was to get back. I'm not sure how we got here, but here we are and we're just really honored to represent the North because there are some really good football teams there. Kansas State is a heck of a football team, and I know that Bob (Stoops) feels that way about the teams in his division.
On getting another shot at OU
"At that moment we were frustrated with our play that day, so we were saying that we wanted a chance to play better. Since then, our motivation was to get here and play this game. I think the fact that we get to play the only team that beat us is a plus for us. We get a second chance. A mulligan if you will. That's not the important thing. The important thing is that we get to the game."
On not having starting running back Chris Brown
"It was almost as if I expected something. I didn't know what it would be, but I found out pretty soon what is was. It wouldn't have been us if we didn't have something happen."
On what turned CU's season around after two early losses
"I don't think that it happened at the beginning of the year. I think that it happened after the third game. We got trounced by USC. They played well, and we played awful and that's a bad combination to have especially when you're playing at home. The following week we had to go to UCLA and I think that our guys made a decision that we were going to play that game hard and see what happens. Since then, we have been a completely different team. I think that it was a matter of growing up. In the spring we had a number of injuries in our receiver core and our offensive line, and the same injuries in the fall so we really were not able to have any continuity until probably the third or fourth game of the season."
On who will play in place of Brown and Purify
"We'll probably go with the same theory. Whoever is hot will play. We don't have as many options as we've had before. Obviously we were able to go with two or three guys and now we're down to two. Unless we play Brandon Drumm at tailback, but right now we'll stick with one of those two guys."
Stoops says Sooners are focused
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