Day 4: Rose Bowl Press Conference Quotes

Jan. 2, 2006

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Q. Are you a mudder? Do you like playing in this stuff.

LENDALE WHITE: I like playing in the snow, I like playing in the hail, whatever it is. It's just different elements of the game kind of makes it hard but a lot more fun.

Q. What does Pete Carroll do as a coach that makes you so much more (Inaudible)?

LENDALE WHITE: The same things he does all year. We still run the same plays, we run the same style practices, the same style everything. Tellthetruth Mondays, competition Tuesday, turnover Wednesday, norepeat Thursday. It's always the same stuff, never switches up. We know our schedule every week. We know what we're going to get, we know the plays we're going to run and that's what makes it effective.

Q. Have you ever sat back and looked at the fact that you're going (Inaudible)?

LENDALE WHITE: The picture that we could our third straight National Championship. At the same time, it is day by day. You can't really win a championship without preparation and you can't win it without working hard and taking it day by day. If you're not getting better at practicing day by day, you won't be at the top when it's time to go for a Bowl.

Q. (Inaudible)? LENDALE WHITE: We might be the end of this generation of Trojans, but I think it will continue with Coach Carroll. It's going to be hard to stop him, to stop him from getting receivers and running backs every year. When you consider we're one of the greatest teams with one of the greatest coaches, it's not hard to get talented players.

I mean, I don't know if this is the end of the Reggie era, that has to be because the years are over, but still.

Q. Obviously things worked out for you and Reggie together, you both had success. But when you came or you heard he was coming, were you concerned at the amount of carries you would get?

LENDALE WHITE: I actually decided first and I knew Reggie was coming already. We committed on the same day actually. San Antonio, it was all over, AllAmerican. I had talked to Pete before that and he said he was going to commit, and I felt like Reggie was one of the best football players that I had seen in a while, and if he was coming to USC I wanted to come and play with the best. What helped me out coming here was I knew he was one of the greatest football players to play with.

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RODRIQUE WRIGHT: Nobody has stopped stop them, and when they get their surge, they go, and nobody has stopped them. That's what we have to do. Whenever they get their surge or whenever the momentum switches their way, we're going to hesitate and we're going to have to say, hey, it's going this way, but we need to keep playing and turn it around.

Q. And you know they're going to score on you, so is shortterm memory going to be crucial on Wednesday night, not thinking about the previous score or the previous play?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: I know they're going to score on us?

Q. You know SC is going to score. You both have highpowered offenses, so you know SC is going to score on offense. Are you going to have to stay focused and not allow that to happen again?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: I don't know that they're going to score. On defense, to say I know something, that's wrong. If they go down there and score, then obviously, yeah, you're going to have to regroup and keep playing. I mean, a touchdown is a touchdown, and go back and regroup.

Q. You say you don't know if they're going to score on you. Do you think maybe Texas could pull a shutout in this game?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: I'm not going to say anything like that. I'll just refer to that comment.

Q. You have a nice streak going that you didn't allow any scoring in the first possession throughout the season. Do you think that's important in this game, to give you some confidence?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: We have confidence already. But obviously as a defense you want to go out there and get it 3 and down and give the ball back to the offense.

Q. A team that has so many weapons like USC has, the coach was saying we want to take away something. Do you go in and say this is what we'd like to take away to slow everything down?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: Obviously you're going to have to focus more on one person than the other, but when you stop one of them, somebody else is going to try and step up. Yeah, that's correct. I think you have to go out there with the mindset of containing the others.

Q. Do you think the weather might help that regard if it slows down a little bit, some of those people?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: I don't know necessarily. I know both teams will be able to play.

Q. The challenges, not only playing for the championship, playing the defending champions, but you're the sixth ranked defense in the country and you're going against the offense that everybody says is the greatest thing ever.

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: It's a huge challenge. I don't mind telling you the defense is marching in there almost like an unranked defense. You wouldn't know that it might shock a lot of people that we are the No.6 defense and we are the No.4 scoring defense. That would probably shock a lot of people. A lot of people probably don't know that.

I think that's a good thing, that we can march in there unknown and go in there like we're just any defense that they face and go in there and take care of business.

Q. Do you look like maybe obviously it's a team game and everybody has to play well, but do you look at it maybe as it's more on the defense because this becomes a shootout and you guys might not be able to keep up?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: It's on the defense. We don't want to outscore anybody. I don't care what offense it is. We have a job to do. Our job is to keep somebody out of the end zone, and the offense's job is to get into the end zone.

Q. Have you struggled at all with the expectations brought on by your fans? Obviously Texas has a great tradition, and yet as good as you guys have been over the past few years, it hasn't been enough, haven't gotten the title game. Do you think that's fair, that all these expectations are on you guys?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: That's what you get when you're at the University of Texas. Obviously when you're a rival, Oklahoma has won a National Championship and has been to two other ones. I mean, you're at the University of Texas, you're going to be like, hey, they're doing it and I know we would lose one game, two games, three games a year, so we were always on the edge of doing it. That's what it takes.

Q. That's the thing, you're always on the edge of doing it, and yet it's not like you guys won this many in the '80s or something. You hadn't won one in a long time anyways; you're still a lot better off than you were. That's why it seems to me that people would think that, that nothing is good enough.

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: It may be a little unfair. We even hold expectations to ourselves. We lost one game in 2004 or 2005, and still, it seems like, hey it's kind of like you take it for granted, winning for granted. But when you have a great program like this, that's going to happen sometimes.

Q. Is the defense really salivating at the opportunity to take on that offense?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: Yeah, definitely. Like everybody has been saying, USC has a great offense, maybe the best of all time. As a defense, we're going in there with nothing to lose. We shut them down, then we have to be a pretty good defense.

Q. People talk about this is their chance to make history. Are you looking at this as your chance to make history?

RODRIQUE WRIGHT: Definitely. I mean, I haven't heard anyone say that. Everyone is talking about this is USC making history. But we win on Wednesday, what do we do? I think there's going to be a lot of stories that are going to have to be rewritten.

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Q. Reggie, your thoughts on the game as you guys get close here, 48 hours away from kickoff?

REGGIE BUSH: Just anticipating a good game, and get the show on the road. It's a big game. Everybody is looking forward to watching it, and we're looking forward to a great game and we're excited.

Q. Are you guys antsy at this point?

REGGIE BUSH: I would say yeah, a little anticipated, excited to get the game on the road. It's been a while. Time to play a football game.

Q. What do you think Texas is feeling right now? You guys are getting all the love from the media. They're not getting much respect. What do you think they're feeling in their corner, or do you care?

REGGIE BUSH: I really don't care, but I mean, at the same time I'm pretty sure they feel like they're underdogs and feel like their backs are in the corner. But I mean, what can you say? You're in Los Angeles.

Q. If it is bad weather for the game, who does that favor?

REGGIE BUSH: The running backs (laughter). I'm looking forward to it. I hope it rains. We'll get to carry the ball a lot.

Q. You're a mudder? You actually like this stuff?

REGGIE BUSH: I like to play in it, I like to practice in it.

Q. What's with this weather?

REGGIE BUSH: I don't know. I think it just kind of came out of nowhere. I don't know.

Q. We came from Texas, it's sunny and 84 there.

REGGIE BUSH: Yeah, it's kind of reverse, role reversal.

Q. Does Texas match you speedwise on defense? Your impressions of their defense.

REGGIE BUSH: I don't know. We'll find out what they do in the game. They look great, look like great defense, great team, great team speed.

But you never really know until you get into that game type of situation and you see what the adjustment is between the two teams.

Q. What did you learn about yourself over the course of this season? What did you learn about yourself?

REGGIE BUSH: Just that I'm a hard worker and I'm a dedicated person to my teammates and I'm a team player. My first goal is always the team first and then myself second. I've always been like that, and I've just learned not as much about myself but how to be a team player and how to be a leader.

Q. Were you disappointed that the 49ers didn't win the Reggie Bush Bowl yesterday and your thoughts about the Texans? And if you did come out early, that will be the team?

REGGIE BUSH: I wasn't disappointed. I didn't get a chance to watch the game, we had a practice. But I wasn't disappointed at all. I was watching the game as any fan would. I was excited Alex got his first touchdown finally, but other than that, there's no disappointment.

Q. What was your initial reaction when you did hear the outcome of that game, though, should you come out, any reaction?

REGGIE BUSH: Nothing. That just means that Texans get the first pick, and that's it. There's no real emotion that played into it. Like I said, I'm not even focused on what's going on with the NFL right now. We need to be worried about what's going on with this game and winning a National Championship.

Q. How does it make you feel to know that you are wanted badly? They may name a street after you.

REGGIE BUSH: It always feels good to be wanted. It feels good to know that I have that many fans out there and to know that there's people I think it's a sign of respect for me.

Q. Has it been a distraction at all?

REGGIE BUSH: No, not at all. I don't let anything get to me. It hasn't distracted me at all.

Q. You realize this could be the last big game you play in for a long time?

REGGIE BUSH: I do realize that. I'm taking this whole experience in and just enjoying being back here, playing for a National Championship in Los Angeles. It isn't getting sweeter than that.

Q. Would it be fitting if you go to Houston, close to NASA? You're kind of a guy from another planet?

REGGIE BUSH: I guess so.

Q. How do you avoid all the distractions? The talk of you being the best offense hasn't distracted you. What's the process? Is there something that coach does, something you do to try and avoid all that?

REGGIE BUSH: I think the key factor is we've been here before. We've played in these types of games before, played in big games. We're playing in the biggest game possible. So for us being here, played in these games before is I think really key for us, the fact that some of the older guys, we can help the younger guys adjust to it and show them how it's done.

Q. (Inaudible)?

REGGIE BUSH: There's been so many celebrities at our games, it's great. It started with how the Lakers used to be, you'd see their games and see celebrities on the sidelines and courtside.

Q. Have you told us media guys yet that you're tired of us trying to make up your mind for you whether you're going to turn pro, and is it hard for you to wait until after this so you can let everybody know?

REGGIE BUSH: Yeah, you guys have already done that. You've already made the decision for me, what I'm going to do. I don't see it as a 'dis' or anything. I'm enjoying the stage too much.

Q. Did you watch the 49ers game yesterday?

REGGIE BUSH: I didn't get a chance to watch it. We had a practice, but I did see the highlights.

Q. Any reaction? Were you rooting for either team?

REGGIE BUSH: No, I wasn't. I was looking forward to Alex having a somewhat decent game, and he did. He had a touchdown and went for 159 yards passing or something like that. Nice for him to be able to end the season like that.

Q. Even though you haven't made an announcement, do you have your mind made up?

REGGIE BUSH: No, it's not. It's definitely not. I'm far from it. I'm far from making up my mind as to what I'm going to do. Just because before I make that decision I want to talk to numerous people, my parents and everybody else.

Q. Does it entice you maybe going for the second Heisman?

REGGIE BUSH: Possibly. It's a lot of work winning that trophy. It's a lot of work. You have to do a whole lot. So I don't know.

Q. Is there any reason for good running backs to come out of SanDiego?

REGGIE BUSH: I don't know, maybe something in the water here that makes Heisman Trophy winner running backs.

Q. Nothing you can think of particularly?

REGGIE BUSH: No, nothing in particular, other than it's great competition that comes out.

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Q. Vince, how about this Chamber of Commerce weather?

VINCE YOUNG: Wow, I'm shocked. Supposed to be Sunshine City. I'm shocked.

Q. Has that affected you guys' preparations or your mental state at all?

VINCE YOUNG: No, not really. We're still having fun. All we've got to do is just focus.

That's all Coach wants us to do and that's what we've been doing.

Q. You personally, how do you deal with pressure? You obviously deal with it well.

VINCE YOUNG: Pressure, probably just sitting at home and getting it out of the way. I know when I step on the field at game time I'll be focused and take care of business.

Q. When the game is coming and you warm up, do you ever get butterflies, that type of stuff?

VINCE YOUNG: I get butterflies when we pull up to the stadium, and then I'm ready to go.

Q. Is it hard to keep waiting for this game to happen because there's talk every day? Is the anticipation hard to handle?

VINCE YOUNG: It's pretty hard. We've been practicing every day. I'm getting pretty tired of looking at these guys and I'm ready to play right now.

Q. What effect does it have on you guys that it seems like Southern Cal is getting all the attention, all the love. Is that a motivation for you guys at all?

VINCE YOUNG: Not really. They can have all that. We're prepared to go out and play. Once with you get on the field we're going to get after them guys.

Q. Are you surprised how people are looking at this as a lopsided contest, the betting lines, national networks are giving USC credit as being one of the greatest teams of all time?

VINCE YOUNG: I don't really care about all that. All I care about is my teammates. We did a lot of hard work to get to this point.

Q. How many roses are tattooed on your arm?

VINCE YOUNG: About five or six.

Q. Who are they for?

VINCE YOUNG: For the women in my life, my mom, my sister, my grandma.

Q. What have they given to you in terms of inner strength, and do you think that's a more important thing than athletic skill?

VINCE YOUNG: They just raised me to be the great man that I am today. They've helped me understand women more (laughter). Just a lot of different things and how much hard work they put in to have everything I wanted when I was little. I want the same thing for them, when I have a little cash in my pocket, take care of them.

Q. People say that is that the feeling that you bring to the field, that people talk about that you've been able to forget mistakes the next play, that nothing rattles you, nothing phases you?

VINCE YOUNG: That's how I am with my teammates and myself and knowing that everybody makes mistakes. A lot of guys make mistakes but they still find a way to win the ballgame, so I try to put it in the past and move on and see what happens. I just go out there and try to make something happen.

Q. Is what those women gave you, what you have inside, is that your greatest attribute?

VINCE YOUNG: Yeah, I believe that people like being around me. My mama has raised me to be a great man. If I wasn't playing football I'd be doing something else, being a role model.

Q. Vince, for everything that you've watched on film and everything that Coach Brown has talked to you about, what would you say is the one thing that may be a surprise to you in watching film of USC?

VINCE YOUNG: Just the takeaways is the big thing. You've got to protect the ball. They're No.1 in the nation in takeaways. As the offense goes into the game, executing our plays, and we don't get the 3rd down and try to force it. I don't need to force it, just take over the ball and the running backs. If we don't get it put away, then our defense will get the ball back for us.

Q. After experiencing last year, how much has that helped in terms of preparation for this year?

VINCE YOUNG: Not just the Rose Bowl. We had a lot of big games that has helped us prepare for this game today. I mean, we're looking forward to it.

Q. Out of the women in your life, who is the biggest football fan?

VINCE YOUNG: My grandma. She's a coach (laughing).

Q. Why?

VINCE YOUNG: She always asks a certain question, why did I do that, why did I do that. She asks the guys, are you okay, how does your body feel. Mom, she'd just be happy.

Q. Does your grandma give you play calls or anything?

VINCE YOUNG: Sometimes she'll tell me to run some more.

Q. Your mom is big on visions. Have you envisioned how Wednesday's game will go?

VINCE YOUNG: I've envisioned that me and my guys, we're going to be pretty excited. We're going to be real pumped. We're going to not only give just USC but the whole world a good game.

Q. What gives you the confidence to be able to break that streak and do what two other national championship teams have not been able to do so far?

VINCE YOUNG: Just a bunch of hard work. From the Rose Bowl, it kind of just took off and carried over. A lot of guys on the team, we knew what it takes and understand what we need to do to play well to get to this point.

Q. Matt said you guys talked a little bit at the Heisman Trophy ceremony about his decision to come out; you kind of asked for his advice. What did he tell you, and will you continue to seek that advice when this game is over?

VINCE YOUNG: It's just a big decision. I don't know, I've got to still sit down with my family members and my team and coaches and see what's the best plan for me to do. Right now the biggest thing is him saying spend time with your family, with my teammates. This is the moment that he wanted to see.

Q. What's the next 48 hours going to be like for Vince Young?

VINCE YOUNG: Just hanging out, kicking it with my family members, teammates, people, relaxing.

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Q. Does it seem like USC is almost like a minipro team with all the stars they have, and you all have a team receptionwise more like a college team. Have you been reading that in the papers?

DAVID THOMAS: They've got so many good players, and they're all so talented and they put out so many guys into the NFL that they kind of have that aura about them.

I think that as a team we really love each other and really bond with each other, and I think that's going to carry us the whole way.

Q. What role does Mack Brown play in that?

DAVID THOMAS: I think he fosters the whole family atmosphere really well. He really wants to see us succeed on the football field and he wants to see us succeed off the field in life, and I think for me that means a lot, knowing that he wants to see us succeed outside of football. I think that he does a real good job of getting guys to get their degree and stay in school.

Q. The five consecutive losses, and now he got over that hump and is in this game, can you tell what it was like for him going through that and what this was like? Do you see the sense of joy and relief with him?

DAVID THOMAS: The thing about Coach Brown is that he gives all the players all the credit for winning, and he takes all the heat whenever we lose. I think that when we lose, it really upsets him because he feels like he didn't get us ready, and it upsets us because we know he feels that way and we feel like we let him down. He just takes losses so hard because he wants us to have fun and enjoy ourselves while we're in college. That's one of the things that makes him such a great coach.

Q. You said he's changed. Have you seen the change in him in terms of the way he approaches the game and the way he deals with you guys on a personal level?

DAVID THOMAS: I think he's more relaxed. I think this year he's had more fun than he's had in the past. When you're winning every game and you're undefeated I think you have fun, and I think coming in you're more relaxed and have a lot more confidence.

Q. I asked him over there, and he said, 'Well, my story is not necessarily a Cinderella story.' He was saying that he had there's a reason he has some gray hair.

DAVID THOMAS: You know, he had his rough times when I first got to Texas.

Q. How rough was it?

DAVID THOMAS: He went through all those losses and that was really hard for us. They're our biggest rival and all that stuff, and then you hear every year, this is the year, it was really disappointing. But to finally get over that hump and to win the Big 12 and now be here, it's been a lot of fun, and we've really enjoyed the ride and hopefully we can hang on for the win.

Q. I find it mildly ironic to hear that at the National Championship game you're talking about Oklahoma. You can't escape them.

DAVID THOMAS: No, we can't get away from them.

Q. You look at your offense, everybody looks at Vince, Vince, Vince, but it's the tight ends, receivers which have improved so much. Can you talk about his supporting cast?

DAVID THOMAS: Vince is the catalyst that gets us all going, but the great thing about our offense is we have so many guys and there's so much depth in our receivers and tight ends that we're all capable of making plays, and that's what makes the offense so consistent and so good.

Q. What is this like being here the second time around?

DAVID THOMAS: Coming here last year really set us up this year because we know what's going on. We know where this facility is at, we know about our hotel and I think it's just helped everything run smoothly. We've had as few distractions as possible.

Q. So a day and a half out, how do you guys feel right now?

DAVID THOMAS: We're just excited to get the chance to play, and to play in the National Championship is a dream come true for us. But at the same time we came here to win, and that's the most important thing for us.

Q. What do you think you can exploit in their defense to give you success?

DAVID THOMAS: Their defense is really talented, and I think that they run the ball really well, so hopefully we can get them to run up some play action.

Q. Did you bring the weather with you?

DAVID THOMAS: Every year we've come to California it's been raining, but we get all our practices in and we've had fun.

Q. You had success when it rained last year.

DAVID THOMAS: It worked last year, hopefully it'll work this year.

Q. You take a look at a guy like Vince who is so complete in so many ways. As you've seen him develop, what makes him so good?

DAVID THOMAS: I think that the thing that makes him so good is he's just one of the guys. He's such a great player and a great athlete, but at the same time he wants to hang out and relax and have fun with us. He's such a good leader because a lot of quarterbacks are sitting in the back and not working that hard, but he's right in the middle of all of us, running with us and lifting weights, and that means a lot to us to know that he's working just as hard as we are and he wants it just as bad as we do.

Q. Would you say there was any one point in the season that was like a defining moment for him that would say this characterizes what Vince is about?

DAVID THOMAS: I think against Oklahoma State, that 80yard run. We came out and I think no, I think that was our first possession in the second half, and it was 3rd and long and we were kind of struggling and we finally just took over, and that 80yard run, we blew it wide open.

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MATT LEINART: I mean, college is more throws, it's playing another year against great competition, seeing different defenses, maybe developing more as a thrower, maybe defenses. I don't know what they do at Texas, but maybe another year to help them do that. Another year helps with everything. You get more physical, bigger, faster, all that stuff.

Q. What's Texas thinking right now because you guys are getting all the love? Is that a negative for you guys?

MATT LEINART: Well, that's not our fault. No, I don't think it's a negative. I think that's how people are treating us or whatever.

But I know they don't care and I know we really don't care. We know they're going to be ready to play and they know we're going to be ready to play. That's the bottom line. Anyone can say everything, but the bottom line is we're going to play Wednesday night, and they're not going to I don't think they're going to have any extra incentive to go out and play harder because of this. They know how good we are and we know how good they are and that's all there is.

Q. Describe your emotions after the UCLA game.

MATT LEINART: It was just the last home game, kind of senior day, family was there. That week of practice, really the last week of the regular season, it was just tough. It was just one of those things where it was coming to an end and officially done almost. That was hard. This game is probably no different, but it is my last college game. I'm at the Rose Bowl, my home away from home. I'm just going to be ready to play. I'm going to enjoy it and soak it up, but I'm going to handle myself better.

Q. What do you think about some of your celebrity friends that the BCS won't allow on the field for this game that they probably want to see you in?

MATT LEINART: I haven't talked to any of them. I text messaged a few of them and said sorry you guys aren't going to be on the field, but that's how it is. I'm going to be doing my thing, they'll be doing their thing. I don't know what it is. I don't know if I agree with all that, but I think people on both sidelines, it doesn't matter. It's a big game and people want to come watch it. It's in LA, but what are you going to do.

Q. Have you and Reggie talked about what yesterday transpired, that now that the NFL season is complete being drafted? Did you spend any time yesterday looking at it?

MATT LEINART: I watched the TexansNiners, but I wasn't really following all that. Obviously once the game is over, I'll look at that and stuff and whatever he decides to do, I'll look at it. In all honesty we're really focusing on this game. We're not trying to think about the NFL and all that stuff.

Q. Do you speak Spanish?


Q. Can you say, 'Hola, soy Matt Leinart, welcome to the Rose Bowl?'

MATT LEINART: I can't do any of that stuff.

Q. (Inaudible).

MATT LEINART: Yeah, I represent SC, but at the same time, that small group of guys, we all represent each other and we represent the team and all that kind of stuff. But it's kind of cool when there's that small group of guys, 70, 71 guys and seven of them are as close as we are. I've talked to every one of those guys and not have really good relationships with all of them, but have had a chance to talk to all of them and are good friends with some of them and know all of them. We have a close group.

Q. (Inaudible).

MATT LEINART: No, not anymore, maybe a little bit. Maybe the Orange Bowl last year. I'm just going to go out there and play, and these types of games they'll come after me and try to pressure me, and they'll come after Reggie. But that football what's what Texas does. They're a great football team and they have a great defense.

Q. How do you expect this weather to affect playing conditions?

MATT LEINART: Hopefully it clears up by game time, but at the same time, we've been practicing the last two days and practicing really well. I mean, this is pretty bad, but it's supposed to clear up and be a nice day on Wednesday night.

We'll see what happens, but at the same time we played in stuff last year that was hail, 30 degrees, fog. We played in a lot of stuff and handled those situations pretty well. This will be no different for rain. So whatever it is, we'll be ready to go.

Q. Can you describe the feeling that this team has? Obviously the winning streak, but the way you've won the games, like against Notre Dame, you've overcome so much. What feeling does that give you?

MATT LEINART: This year battling back from Oregon and Arizona State and Notre Dame and finishing a great game like that, never giving up and staying true to our mottos that you can't win a game in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd quarter, it's all about how you finish. That's all we want to do. Fresno State, that game was one of the toughest games of the year, back and forth. We just found a way to finish that game, and that's all we have to do.

Q. How does Coach Carroll interact with the players he's recruiting? Does he walk in the door and (inaudible)?

MATT LEINART: Obviously winning is a big issue. But at the same time, his personality and the way he communicates with guys, we do have a great relationship with Coach and stuff.

And then the players, you know, we're honest with them. We can see what type of guys fit with us, and if they don't fit with us we're really honest. I think there's a lot of teams out there SC from what I've seen, they're pretty honest with you. We tell you straight up if we're going to play. We play freshmen. I think that's one reason is that guys can come in and play right away and make an impact. Just the fact that it all builds up and people want to go to the best team.

Q. Matt Huff was the Thorpe Award winner. Just your impressions of their secondary?

MATT LEINART: They're good. They're big and those guys play a lot of football. Michael Huff is a great secondary. You see him all over the field make making tackles in the backfield and covering receivers. They're a very talented group back there. Both their corners are very good. They've gotten a lot of hype preseason and they deserve it. It's a great secondary, and they've got great guys up front, too.

Q. Can they match your speed and do you expect a shootout?

MATT LEINART: I don't know what the score is going to be. They do have a lot of speed, and their offense has a lot of speed, too, like we have. They see that every day just like we go up against it every day. I think the matchup is there on both sides of the ball.

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COACH PETE CARROLL: You feel a special connection that separates you and gives you that sense that you know something special is going on. Sometimes you've got a shot to entertain them, whatever it is, there's a whole series of things that you have a chance to do as a team as you go through the process, and I think it can all be beneficial. Anything we do together is good, as long as we take some time to show and we know what happened. Then we take some time to share the stories and the fun and sometimes the harshness, as well.

That's all part of this process of connecting; to throw them off one time with a little crack here or there, it gives us an opportunity to have some fun with it. Things come out of it, there's always something that happened that's kind of funny or crazy that happened that we can share.

Q. You also said last year at the Orange Bowl, you told a story when you were in New England. You said you really didn't get a chance to be yourself in the NFL.

COACH PETE CARROLL: I got a chance to be myself; they fired me. They just didn't like it.

Q. It is a different mindset, though?

COACH PETE CARROLL: Yeah, it's a little bit different. It's not the same. It's different coaching college football. There's a different energy about the whole thing. There's this level of seriousness in the NFL is the best way I can explain it that takes some of the fun away from it. But the other side of it, it's an extraordinary level to compete at, too.

I had a great time coaching there. I don't regret anything that happened at all. It all meant everything to where I am right now. I'm most appreciative.

However, it's different. I think our players are amateurs, and I think that the fans and the following treat them a little differently, and the coaches, as well. There's a different level that doesn't cross over as much. It's more fun. The air about it, the atmosphere, is a little bit more fun.

Q. By the same token, how do the players in the NFL treat the coaches, too?

COACH PETE CARROLL: That's a good point. The difference is you can only have four or five years of experience in college. You get guys with five years in college and six or seven years in the NFL, they start to develop an opinion that they know what's right for them and the league and they all position themselves in their own situations. That's the difference is you get older players have more time and they develop a bigger opinion. So you have to deal with that. They know what they can and can't say and do, most of them. That creates a different kind of exchange and relationship.

Q. Defensively when you look at Texas's offense, what are you trying to exploit as far as the key to stopping them?

COACH PETE CARROLL: You can't exploit anything against these guys. They're too wellbalanced, too wellschooled, too experienced, just too talented. You just have to try and survive the game with them. The Xfactor obviously is Vince can take off and run anything in the running game or the passing game, and that makes a huge element of surprise and a great level of ability that makes it very hard to defend them. We're going to try to position ourselves play after play after play so we're where we're supposed to be.

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COACH MACK BROWN: Well, you have to be able to overcome big plays in crisis situations. We feel like we're more prepared for that because of the Michigan game last year. We were down by ten points with eight minutes left to go in the game or something, and going to Ohio State and being down by eight or ten at the end of the game and coming back and winning. We do feel like this is isn't a game where you might not be behind, so don't watch the scoreboard, just keep playing.

And the other thing about SC, both offenses have the ability to come back because they're so fast and they could score so quickly. If this game goes like people expect, it could be a lastminute game. It's one where if somebody has it 210, you'd better keep playing because the other team could come back very quickly.

Q. Do you expect a high scoring game?

COACH MACK BROWN: I don't expect anything anymore. I have coached long enough to know about the time I expect something, it'll be so far off. That's the great thing about college football. I can't wait to watch the game, I can't wait to coach the game because of the anticipation.

I've really been pleased with the way our kids and coaches have handled the game. You never know because we haven't been here; we've been to the Rose Bowl but we haven't been in the final game but SC has. Our team has prepared for this one just like they did Ohio State, just like they did Oklahoma and just like they did last year's Rose Bowl game. We haven't had a guy come late to curfew, we haven't had anyone without focus at practice. All of our practices have been good. They seem to have handled the media that surrounds this game we well. I'm proud that they came out to win the game and not just be proud to have gotten here.

Q. Have you ever thought about the NFL?

COACH MACK BROWN: I have thought about it, and I've even talked to people at times. I do agree with Pete, that I can't say that it's more fun than the pros because I haven't been there and Pete has. It's hard to beat this week with these two teams and the excitement that surrounds this game and the type of kids that are in this game. I think I've seen Matt and Reggie at awards banquets as much as I've seen our team and coaches here this month, and they're always very gracious, very polite. They handle themselves well. I've always liked Pete and the way he handles himself. He's so positive and so upbeat, and that's what makes this game fun.

Q. To many of the national media, Texas has been an afterthought in the last weeks and Southern Cal has had so much attention. Has that been a motivation?

COACH MACK BROWN: I would not think that anyone would need motivation for the last game of the year. Because of that, I don't think the outside things that are going on are a distraction at all either way because our team does respect 34 wins and they do respect SC and they respect who they are and what they've accomplished. But they're very, very proud of their 19 wins and their Big12 Championship and the year we've had, and we know it'll be a great challenge.

We're playing what some argue is the best team in college football history. That's hard to calculate because this team is very good. Pete and Coach Royal, and here's a guy that had a 30win streak and he's got 34. We give them their due and our guys accept that challenge. They're not angry at what has not been said about them. That's a compliment, that they don't go into this one like they've got a chip on their shoulder. They're going to play a great team the last game of the year.

Q. We talked about Coach Royal. Will you pick his brain at all?

COACH MACK BROWN: I picked his brain for eight years. Coach has been great. This has been 33 years for me, and this coach, it's been eight years. We talked about this game eight years ago, seven years ago, six years ago, and I probably still wouldn't be at Texas if it weren't for Coach Royal. On the bad days he's been able to step up and say, 'I got beat worse than that. Pick your head up and go back to work.' He's been a great influence in my life over the last eight years.

Q. Do you think that winning this game will change the way you have been regarded in college football, the way you have been portrayed in college football?

COACH MACK BROWN: Winning the game will change some people's minds and others move on, and what I've learned about this game because I've watched it very closely is it doesn't change your life personally. And next year at Texas they'll expect us to win another one regardless of whether we win this one or not. And if we're 012 at Texas next year after winning this one, people won't be fired.

I don't think it changes much. I've got a 22year record as a head coach, and some people have made the decision on who that person is, and that's okay.

Q. What about when you were 110 at North Carolina, and I guess Spurrier made fun of you one time. How hurtful was that to you? Can you just talk about that?

COACH MACK BROWN: When you're 110 it's hurtful, period. It's not who makes fun of you because you feel worse about yourself. It's because someone gave you an opportunity to run their program and you aren't running it very well. That's what you're proud of for Texas, that they've asked you to do something and you've gotten it to this point. We're at least making progress.

I said five or six years ago we needed to get in the neighborhood before we could start winning National Championships again. We're in the neighborhood, we've bought a house because we've been in the top four or five the last four or five years and we've been so close to this game. Obviously SC is established in the neighborhood and we're not, so we're trying to get established in this neighborhood. We ended up doing what we felt like we needed to do for North Carolina. It's a better place in football when we left than it was when we got there.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH MACK BROWN: Coach Bowden has had a great influence. He's beaten me seven or eight times, kept us from winning about five championships at North Carolina. I'll never forget the first year we're 0 and 5 or 6 at North Carolina and Coach Bowden called, I was really young, and he says, 'hey, you're doing it right. Go slow, get the standards low and don't get any expectations. Just don't panic.' Next year we're 05 and he called and said, 'I think I'd pick it up a little bit. You only want to keep those standards so low so long if they're going to keep you.' He's been wonderful.

This year it's funny how smart he is and lets you know. He said, 'This is the year you'll play in that last game. You've got a great team, a great football team, and I'll be pulling for you,' and he said that in August, so that was pretty good.

Q. He said you couldn't win big games; now you've won your fair share?

COACH MACK BROWN: It was part of having more fun and enjoying myself more because I quit worrying about the critics. I don't think you're ever quite in a position like that because there's always something to be critical of. As long as I feel like I'm doing the job that I need to be doing a big game to me was in Lafayette this year because had we lost I might not be sitting here.

When you get into what someone thinks of a big game and what someone is not, I think I've matured enough now to understand it. I don't worry about what people say about me anymore because it's really not about me, and that's probably made preparation for this game easier.

Q. What about your program keeps juniors from going to the NFL?

COACH MACK BROWN: Number one, you'd have to ask them, but across the board, we feel like they enjoy Austin, they're winning, they're treated like celebrities in Austin. It's a smaller town than LA, and they're treated like NFL players there. They're very recognized. People are always asking for their autographs when they're out, so they're really appreciated.

Lastly, we've had enough guys go to the NFL that have stayed that they have in most cases told the guys, enjoy the college atmosphere because you won't have it the rest of your life, and the NFL is really difficult. It's not as easy as everybody tells you it is. Basically we've told the guys if it's not about the money, stay. If you need the money, go, because that's a nobrainer.

Q. You do emphasize a college atmosphere there?


Q. It's not like pushing them toward the NFL?

COACH MACK BROWN: No, it's not about the NFL and that's why our guys have not talked much about the possible NFL while they're here because it's about this team, about the National Championship, and what a selfish thing for individuals to talk about what they're going to do after the game. They have plenty of time to talk about that after the game.

The NFL helped us when they gave a deadline of a couple of weeks after the final game so kids do not have to be making that decision the day before a championship game.

Q. I know routine is important to you. The last couple of days with the rain, how have you handled that and your routine?

COACH MACK BROWN: Our routine hasn't changed at all. We've been outside two of the last three days. Today we went indoors and got more of a walkthrough, so we do not feel like the rain has hurt our preparation at all.

Q. How big was that 80yard run by Vince against Oklahoma State?

COACH MACK BROWN: If you go back and look at the plays this year that have gotten this team here it's really fun, someone asked me the other day, which play, and that was one of them. But there's been so many of them, and that's what makes a championship year fun. We won the game January 1 last year, we've won 12 straight now, and that's really, really difficult to do. We start talking about 34 and 19 in winning streaks, nobody else won 12 this year. Nobody else won 13 this year. These kids have accomplished so much.

Q. Watching USC on film, obviously everything you talk about with the stars, but what has surprised you or that you didn't expect to see?

COACH MACK BROWN: Probably the thing that is so impressive to me, I knew Pete could coach, I knew his staff could coach, I knew about the stars, about their athletic ability. Like us, they play two deep, and people do not talk about their depth very much, and like us, they have some role players that are really, really valuable players to them that do not get a lot of credit.

Probably the biggest surprise to me is how good their defense is when they've been beaten up and criticized this year because of injuries and because maybe they didn't have quite the stats of last year's defenses. They played really good offenses. I was disappointed when I saw how good their defense really was. With all the hurt, I thought their defense would be struggling, and it doesn't look like a struggling defense to me.

Q. What do you do in the next 48 hours? Sometimes teams get too loose, too tight, too confident. How does a coaching staff deal with that?

COACH MACK BROWN: What we will do is have this media day. They're with the Children of Hope here for the next hour, and we always talk to our kids about giving back. Here's an opportunity for an hour of time where you're getting all the attention, to give back to kids that are less fortunate. So you be really good for this hour and you make sure in your hearts you give these kids your full attention, and then we will go back to the hotel and we'll have a meeting for an hour or so and just go back over, like we would on Thursday, our normal Thursday special teams game plan, so we'll meet an hour, hour and a half, let them see Ohio StateNotre Dame this afternoon, let them see GeorgiaWest Virginia tonight, and this is a great time for them on Thursday afternoon to visit with their families. Most of their families are getting into town today, so we're trying to get all the other stuff out of the way. Then tomorrow about noon they'll start clocking things down after the luncheon and after their walkthrough at the Rose Bowl.

Most of them were here last year, so they know the routine for game day. The only thing that's changed in the routine is the stakes are higher.

Q. Is it still hard to not let them get too hyped up?

COACH MACK BROWN: It is, and this game seems like it's been here forever, so you kind of keep the lid on it. You've got them boiling you want them to simmer, but you've got to keep the lid on and make sure that you boil at the right time.

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