"The health is good. We don't have anyone who is not going to play other than David Lose, who got hurt the last football game. We practiced three times before finals, and practice today, tomorrow and Thursday. We'll start on Pittsburgh today. We've been practicing against ourselves until then, and it's been good. We've got to get back into the feel of things, back to the speed of the game, basically. That's why we went against each other, because we wanted to pick the speed of the game up - that's really important at this time."
"Offensively, they're a football team that's pretty balanced. They've got a quarterback by the name of Rod Rutherford that runs the football extremely well. They'll run quarterback sweeps on option and he's a real threat. Their running back (Brandon Miree) gained about 800 yards; between them, I think they gained almost 1,600 yards between the quarterback and the running back. They've really run the football as a basic part of what they've done.
"On the other side of the football, I think they're 11th in the nation in defense. They play the flex defense quite a bit, give you different looks. They're a team we're going to have to spend a lot of time on preparing, because they give you a little different look as far as what they do. As far as the flex is concerned, it's a lot like what Arizona ran at one time. They're a football team that's played great defense against a lot of good offensive football teams. Their middle linebacker, Gerald Hayes, is really the leader of that defense; he makes a lot of plays for them. You'll see them play a lot of man coverage, a lot of three-deep zone."
On bowl preparation in general:
"To start off with, it's about us, there's no question about it, as far as the timing, getting the timing back, and getting the speed of the game - that's the real key, to come back to the speed of the game, which hopefully we can get done tomorrow and the next day. Preparation is the key - prepare for a long period of time as far as what they do, but once you start doing that, that's important. To me, it's probably more important to get ourselves back to where we were at the end of the year."
OSU's success with three bowls in four years - to what do you attribute
that? How much is fundraising?
"The number one thing in being in a bowl three out of four times is, it's a credit to the coaching staff and the players - that's what it's all about. When we first came here, we didn't have a lot of things as far as facilities and so forth is concerned. Because of our success, we've built these things and we'll continue to do that. But I believe successful football programs have to have a heck of a lot to do with the revenue that you have in the athletic department, no question about it. Because of our success, we've been able to build the indoor facility, and we're going to add to our stadium. So being in a bowl game has made a huge difference as far as that aspect is concerned."
On OSU cornerback Dennis Weathersby vs. Pittsburgh flanker Larry Fitzgerald:
"Larry Fitzgerald is an outstanding player. Any time you're 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds ... he's caught balls against everybody they've played against - some of the best teams in the country. The thing we've done all year on defense is, regardless of which side he goes to, whether it's Dennis' side or Terrell (Roberts)'s side, we try to match up. We've faced some awfully good receivers, including Reggie Williams from Washington. Fitzgerald is a great player. We probably play a little more bump-and-run than they're used to seeing, so they're going to have to make that adjustment, but I tell you what - he's an outstanding young player and he's going to make his plays, there's no question about that."
On the blueprint for building a national championship program?
"We feel that here, over a four-year period, we've developed a program that's going to be very competitive in the Pac-10 year-in and year-out. To me, it starts with recruiting; and not necessarily who you beat recruiting, but how you evaluate your players and what fits into what you want to do as far as your offense and defense are concerned, and the type of people you want in your program. That's how it was at Miami. Everybody thinks that when we were at Miami, we had all the great players in the world - that wasn't true. We had some outstanding players there, but it was more recruiting team players that made a difference at Miami, which is what I see them doing now. That's how it's going to be here. We're going to have some outstanding players, there's no question about that, but to me, it's a matter of who you recruit over a period of time, and guys who fit into what you do offensively and defensively, and want to be here, and believe in what you're doing. That's always what we've tried to do at every program I've been involved in."
"It's a little different when you're at Miami because you didn't have to go out of the state of Florida; a lot of times, you didn't have to go out of the city of Miami. That's just how it was - there are a lot of football players there. Here, we expand our recruiting to basically the West Coast and our state, and California's real big for us. It's quite different in that we've got to cover a heck of a lot more territory than we did at Miami, and that's the biggest difference."
OSU's fourth-year seniors will be the first class that's gone all the
way through your program. When they arrived, could you have foreseen the success
they'd have by the time they left?
"I don't know that you ever can look that far ahead and see what's going to happen. But we really felt when we took this program over that there were some good athletes in it, there's no question about it, and that we had an opportunity to be successful. In three and four years? Probably not, to be honest with you. But it's happened, and now it's getting easier because we're able to recruit, and compete against anybody in our league as far as recruiting and playing on the football field is concerned. It's happened awfully quick. I guess the biggest disappointment is, we didn't go to a bowl game last year; it should have been four out of four. But this thing is so solid right now, and we've got so many good young players ... we're going to miss the heck out of these seniors who have been here and developed the whole thing. They've