THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to the kickoff of the 2012 Valero Alamo Bowl. This is our introductory press conference for the head coaches. I'll introduce the dais, then we'll make opening statements.
Derrick Fox is Valero Alamo Bowl president and CEO. Mack Brown, Texas is the visiting team this year, University of Texas head coach. The home team is Oregon State University, closest home to the building. Mike Riley is their head coach. Our title sponsor Valero, executive vice president and chief financial officer Mike Ciskowski.
DERRICK FOX: Members of the media, thanks for joining us today for the Valero Alamo Bowl golf tournament and to welcome the two head coaches to town.
I'd like to welcome Coach Riley from Oregon State and Coach Brown from Texas who will be participating in the 20th anniversary game this December 29th in the Alamodome.
Before I introduce the two coaches, I want to introduce our title sponsor, Mike Ciskowski, who is the CFO from Valero. I got to tell you, without the support of title sponsors like Valero these bowl games aren't possible. We have the best in the business not only in Mike but in Valero.
With that, let me introduce Mike Ciskowski to open it up.
MIKE CISKOWSKI: Valero is proud to be the title sponsor of the Valero Alamo Bowl. Valero and the Alamo Bowl are two San Antonio based institutions that provide support for higher education, drive tourist activities and deliver a strong economic impact for our City of San Antonio.
The Valero Alamo Bowl gives the City of San Antonio a second life during the holiday season by filling the hotels, restaurants and various tourist spots during the Alamo Bowl week.
At this point I'll turn it back to Derrick to introduce our head coaches.
DERRICK FOX: The 20th anniversary Alamo Bowl is excited to bring these two great institutions, top 25 teams and outstanding football coaches to San Antonio.
First up will be our home team, Coach Riley.
Coach Riley is the all time winningest coach in Oregon State history, currently in this 12th year of the program. His No. 13 Beavers finished the season 9-3, 6-3 in the PAC 12, a six win improvement from 2011, which ties the best turnaround in the NCAA FBS this season.
I'd like to turn it over to Coach Riley to make his opening comments.
COACH RILEY: We are excited to bring the Oregon State Beavers to San Antonio. I would like to thank Mike for all that Valero does in this community, sponsorship of this bowl. I would like to thank the Alamo Bowl for selecting the Beavers to come here. It's a great honor.
We're excited to bring our team down here, excited to play the University of Texas.
I have just a ton of respect for Coach Brown. I think he's just a model in our profession for the way it's supposed to be done. To be able to play his team is a great honor for us and we're excited about that opportunity.
I'm also very proud of what our team has done. Derrick mentioned the fact we turned around from 3 9. When you're coming off of 3 9, you'd like to have a lot of optimism heading in, but there's still a lot of mystery involved. So I've been proud of our team and coaches to continue to work, work in the off season, our coaches developing players, developing our team, then competing hard all year.
We won nine games. Seven of them were down to the last minute of the game. Three of our first four games were involved with on side kick recovery to win it. We had to fight hard and win a lot of close games, but that makes it even more satisfying really.
We're excited about our team and about our opportunity coming up and we're very thankful to be here in San Antonio to play in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Thank you.
DERRICK FOX: Coach Brown is in his 15th season at Texas. The Longhorns finished the season 8-4, 5-4 in Big 12 play, and ranked 23 in the final BCS poll. This is the second time the Longhorns will be in San Antonio playing in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The other time was a 26 24 victory over Iowa in 2006 game, which is still one of the top rated, most watched and well attended Valero Alamo Bowls in history.
I'd like to turn it over to Coach Brown for his opening comments.
COACH BROWN: We're excited to be here. Our team and staff can't wait till the 29th to play. Mike, again with Valero, thank you so much. Like Mike, I'm not a local here, but Mike is a local here who has a house on the river since 1990 or 1991.
Valero does so much for this community and the state of Texas. I remember '06 you were involved, but not at this level. Appreciate as Derrick said at a time when the bowl experience is so important to coaches and young people across the country. The economy has been so tight, guys like yourself have really hung in there and made it possible for these wonderful experiences.
Again, thanks for the Selection Committee to bring the Longhorns back. We had such a fun time here in '06. We had just lost to A&M. We were coming off a national championship. We came down and had never been treated better. Our players were treated like kings.
We had a wonderful experience with Iowa throughout the week. I can remember on game day getting ready to come down to the escalators, the hotel was packed, screaming fans. A wonderful experience.
You also have to be lucky to play someone that you have respect for and that you can enjoy. We're lucky this time to play a team that's had a better year than we have and they're ranked higher than we are.
I have the great respect for Coach Riley and his team. I've known Mike for a long time. He is obviously one of the best coaches in our business ever. His balance offensively back from Charger days till now has just been amazing, and being the winningest coach at Oregon State, he's done a lot of the things that Bill Snyder has done at Kansas State.
He took a program who traditionally was not a program that everybody was trying to get to and he's been offered all the great jobs in America, and he stayed and made that one special. You have to give Mike credit for his loyalty to the people in that community. Also to the staff, hanging in there, moving forward after a tough year last year.
Nearly got me fired taking the Rodgers boys. Everybody asked me who they were, where they're from. I said, I don't know (laughter). But he's taken some Texas kids. His current tailback is from Pflugerville. He's just done a tremendous job with them.
Mike is one of the great guys in this business. Their defense is playing as well as anybody in the country. They're giving up 130 yards a game rushing. They have two corners that will lock you down. Their offense is very balanced. It should be a fun challenge for us.
Like you said, you don't like to play friends, but you like to play people you respect, and in this case we've got both.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. We heard you say that Wisconsin was a big kickoff to get this 9 3 season. What could a Valero Alamo Bowl mean to you to next season?
COACH RILEY: I've always thought of bowl games as being a great way to cap off a season, a reward getting to go, an opportunity for that team, this 2012 team, to win again.
Then it's also a great kickoff for the off season and heading into the next football season with the next Beaver football team.
Winning is always good in that regard, whether you're capping the season off or heading into a new one. The excitement of the bowl game, the opportunity to play a new team, a well respected program, that's a big deal. Then it becomes about doing everything you can to prepare and win the game. Putting that all together is our task at hand now.
Q. Mack, you said you were lucky to be playing a team ranked higher. Why are you lucky in that regard?
COACH BROWN: You need to have great motivation for a bowl game. You go back and look at the three losses. One of them is three points to Washington, one of them is three points to Stanford. Both of those teams have had really good years.
Our team will be excited about this challenge. Both of us have young teams. The futures are very important. The futures look very good. So playing the 13th ranked team in the country right now is another challenge for us to play a highly rated team and continue to make progress.
Q. Coach Brown, if you could talk about Malcolm Brown having an opportunity to play in his backyard in a tremendous bowl game.
COACH BROWN: Malcolm is such a great young man. A wonderful family from this area. He'll be so excited.
One of the problems when a guy comes home is having enough tickets. That will be his biggest problem for this game I'm sure.
But he started out the year so well. He had an unbelievable game at Ole Miss where he's from, that's where his family is. Then he sprained his ankle on the third play of the game against Oklahoma State. He played so well at Kansas State the other night. He'll be excited.
Joe Bergeron's shoulder was hurt in the ballgame so we're not sure about his status for the game. It's even more important that Johnathan Gray and Malcolm are both healthy.
Q. Coach Riley, what do you attribute your team's turnaround from 3-9 to 9-3?
COACH RILEY: I think it's a pretty simple formula actually. I think that we had relatively young people that just always played hard, even though not successfully, played hard and kind of stayed with it. Then they went into the off season with good senior leadership. We have a core of seniors, good, hard working guys that didn't like where they were, didn't like 3 9. They kind of led that team.
It was really just a combination of two very simple things, but not easy to accomplish obviously. The fact that we had some good, young, talented players, and they had a very good off season. They stayed together, worked out together, had great intentions. So just development and hard work put together I think were the key elements in getting better.
Q. Looking at the overall picture of the Oregon State Beavers, of all the different elements of players and positions, where was the most improvement found?
COACH RILEY: I think the biggest deal going in, probably a key to some of the success we had offensively was the development of our offensive line. We didn't play well enough a year ago. We added a true freshman center who is a special player, very good right now, will be a great player. Then we had four guys that had played that all got better. They worked harder. They got better at their craft. They developed a real toughness about them that made that whole group get better this year. Probably one of the key ingredients to our team getting better.
Q. Coach Brown, Oregon State, have you seen any tape on them? Remind you of anybody from the Big 12?
COACH BROWN: I really have not seen tape. We got off a plane about 4:00 coming from Manhattan, Kansas, been on the run all week. Have our first staff meeting tomorrow.
I watched them play some throughout the year because I really like Mike, always pull for him. Kind of got everybody's attention when they beat the Big Ten champs going to the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin, 10 7 to start the season. Then you go back and look and they're 7 0, top 10 in the country. I like Mike enough to know that I was excited for him.
So this has been a really good football team throughout the year. Just catching some information this week as we go, it sounds like he's got two of the more special receivers in the country and in their school history. One of them is a captain. We're used to watching good receivers around here, so that shouldn't be new for us. It will be like the Big 12.
They've always been balanced. Always loved this is offense. A lot of things we studied through the years have come from Mike and his team. It seems that one of their greatest improvements is stopping the run and matching up in man to man coverage with their corners.
Because of those things, they're maybe 18th in the country in the turnover ratio. Our last two losses we're 2 7 in the turnover ratio. We didn't protect the ball but had opportunities. We'll see a great team in all of those phases from Oregon State, in my opinion.
I was in New York for the Hall of Fame dinner. Every PAC 12 coach I saw said, Sorry, you got the wrong pick. I said, Great, that's exciting for me. I'm glad for Mike (laughter).
Q. Coach Brown, just wanted to see if you could evaluate Case McCoy's performance against Kansas State, how you see the Longhorns and quarterback situation developing.
COACH BROWN: As we said in pre season, we have two quarterbacks with experience that can play. That helps you. Mike has been able to utilize two this year as well.
I thought for very little experience during the year, Case did a very good job during the game. The obvious things were the two turnovers that led to 14 points. At one time he hit 16, 17 straight completions. I'm sure he nearly broke his brother's record. So I'm sure he's disappointed about that.
He's done a great job as a team leader this year. He's one of our more spirited guys on the sidelines and with the team. I thought under very tough circumstances against one of the best teams in the country he did a very good job.
As far as what we do in the bowl game, again, we haven't even met as a staff. We'll do that tomorrow at noon because all of our guys have been out recruiting. We'll get back and talk about starting over and preparing for this game.
Q. Coach Riley, you've had two quarterbacks who can possibly combine for over four thousand yards passing this year. Talk about your two quarterbacks.
COACH RILEY: Well, they've both been great guys to work with. I think as I listen to Mack talk about his quarterback situation, having two guys that he feels can play, that's where we have arrived. We had a starter going in in Sean Mannion, then Sean got hurt. Cody Vaz, he's a junior. His first start was going to be at BYU against one of the better defenses in the country. He just had a great day. Of course, that was very special for him, but it was also very special for our team.
As we've gone this year, both of those guys have played. In our last game I just decided to let them split the game. I know that's probably not always an ideal thing to do for a quarterback but we did it for that game because they both earned the right to play and we wanted them both to play heading into what we still didn't know what would be our bowl situation.
They both went in and did a very good job. Right now I'm going to quote Mack: We're going to go back and meet as a staff and figure out which direction we should go in the quarterback deal. But we can't make a wrong decision there. Both of these kids have played well and they'll be well prepared.
Q. Mack, Texas fans have lofty expectations for this team. Is it fair for them to have some concern for no BCS bowl for three years in a row for you guys?
COACH BROWN: I think the proud thing about Texas is we're at a point where there's such a high standard that really unless you win all the games there's concern. The process started three years ago, 2010, a very poor year. I thought we coached poorly and played poorly, most of it. There were some changes made at that time.
Last year we really stepped up defensively and did well. I was proud of that. We were inept quite often on offense, but started running the ball better. This year we were much better on offense and were inept on defense. The last five weeks we played much better defense.
I really believe we're headed in the right way, in the right direction. This will be a fun challenge for us with Oregon State coming in. Just about everybody's back. We'll have some older guys on the team for the first time with only three seniors starting right now.
The future looks very, very bright. Football coaches don't look back. You don't want to sit back and talk about all the things that you didn't get accomplished. I'm fortunate to be at a place where the standards are very high and we're going to fight to make sure we get back to those standards.
If you ask me if I'm happy with three years of non BCS games, I would say no. That's for me, much less everybody else.
Q. Coach Riley, probably your first of many chances to talk about Storm Woods coming home and playing. What was it about Storm that led you to recruit him? Talk about the year that he has had for you guys this year.
COACH RILEY: First of all, when the selection was made, you might have heard Storm yelling all the way down here. I know even on our team had to quiet him down a little bit. But he's all fired up to be able to come back to Texas and play.
We've got three or four other guys that are from the state that are excited about it. He'll need tickets. He will need tickets.
One of our coaches, Reggie Davis, spotted Storm through the recruiting. We got a phone call about the guys that Mack mentioned just a little while ago, the Rodgers brothers. It started into our first kind of journey into Texas to recruit a little bit. So we have been back since.
Reggie found Storm and we just went through the recruiting process with him, had him on a visit, of course watched all the film, liked him.
We really feel like he really fits what we do well because he's a good runner. He's a good protector. He can go out of the backfield and catch some balls. We probably didn't even use him enough in the passing game because I think he's a gifted receiver. He's got all those things that are in a back that we like in our system because our back has to be a pretty versatile guy. He has to be a runner, protector, pass receiver. Storm has all those qualities.
DERRICK FOX: Thank you, coaches. We'll see you back bowl week.
COACH RILEY: Thank you.
COACH BROWN: Thank you.