Jan. 11, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Coach Chizik, we will ask you to make an opening statement. We will throw it open to questions.
COACH CHIZIK: Well, obviously, you know, it is really hard for me to describe the feeling that I have for the Auburn family. I look down here to my left and I see three guys along with a locker room of 100 more that have just defied all the odds. I'm not sure if 15 weeks ago anyone believed that we could do this except us. And this is the most unbelievable group of young men I have been around. I feel very blessed. God has blessed my life to be around a great administration, a great Auburn family. These guys represent Auburn on the field, off the field, in the community the right way. We said that we wanted to go from good to great. And I can sit here tonight and I can tell you that Auburn -- the Auburn Tigers are the best football team in the United States tonight.
Q. Michael, take us through the 37-yard run there where it looked like you were down. Did you think you were down?
MICHAEL DYER: At the time I wasn't really sure. All I knew was the whistle wasn't blowing and my coach was saying go, and I just continued to get some more yards and keep the play going and keep the ball in the offense's hands.
Q. Coach, what sort of medical evaluation is Cam Newton undergoing?
COACH CHIZIK: I don't have the details to that right now.
Q. On the 37-yard run, was Adams waving you on?
Michael Dyer: He kept saying go, go, I got the block for you." We were just trying to keep the play going and get some more yards.
Q. Gene, you have been pretty even-keeled this whole season about staying the course. I think it probably hasn't set in yet. Can you describe kind of what you're feeling? I mean, how emotional is this for you to come here after two years, everything about your arrival and now being here 14-0?
COACH CHIZIK: You know, it is not about my arrival. That's not how I live my life. I live my life trying to do the right thing and guide 18- to 22-year-olds to do the right thing and to go from good to great. We try to give them everything they can have on the field, off the field, spiritually, in the classroom, as a student. And that's how we live our life. We are going to do it the right way. We always have done it the right way. It is not about how I arrived or how I leave, it is not about Gene Chizik. It is about the Auburn family and it is about those, I don't know, 30- or 40,000 fans that came into that stadium tonight and probably another 10,000 that were outside and probably another 10,000 that wanted to come back home but couldn't get here. Don't get any satisfaction in look at me or "told you so," none of that. This is for these players and this Auburn family and the people that care about Auburn and carry the Auburn flag. It is that simple.
Q. You called Cam the greatest player that you've ever seen. Now that he has sort of finished the job or at least helped you guys finish the job with the national title, fair enough to say he's had arguably one of the greatest seasons ever in college football?
COACH CHIZIK: You know, I mean, you can speculate, you can say what you think and what you want to say. I mean, you know, he is a great football player. He won the Heisman Trophy. He helped us win a national championship. Other than that, you know, I don't know what to tell you. He is a great football player, and he is a great human being. We love him at Auburn and we got his back in everything that he does and everything that he stands for. So everybody in this room knows he is a great player. And he has helped us win a lot of games.
Q. Didn't look like Mike played at all in the first quarter -- Michael Dyer played in the first quarter. What was behind that?
COACH CHIZIK: We've got a way that we substitute and we've got a way that we rotate everybody on our football team. There has been games where Michael has played a ton. There has been some games where Onterio has played a little bit more and there has been back and forth. Don't read anything into it. There is no rhyme or reason for that. One of the reasons that I think Michael was stronger as the game went on is because, you know, number one, that's kind of his forte. That's what he does. But he was fresher probably from the beginning of not playing quite as much in those first few series.
Q. Nick and Cam, what do you think the defense showed America tonight?
NICK FAIRLEY: Man, our defense, we showed America everything we done each and every Saturday out there on the field. Man, we have been doing this, like I said, for 14 weeks. We just went unnoticed throughout the year. Now that we got noticed out here on the big stand, we just showed what we can do.
CAM NEWTON: I think it was one of the things that we accomplished every single week, and that was respond. Coach Chizik always challenged us on each level, you know, not only on the defense side of the ball and the offense side of the ball, offensive line, secondary. Throughout this season, everybody just responded and stepped up to the task. This week everyone knew the odds was on Auburn defense to see how they would respond to Oregon's offense. Not taking anything away from Oregon, because we played an excellent team. But our defense did their homework and, you know, they did the job.
Q. Coach, how does this compare to the Texas experience for you?
COACH CHIZIK: You know, winning a national championship for the Auburn family is really -- if I tried to probably describe it, I would probably cheapen it a lot. I can't even describe it right now, probably hasn't really set in like it will hopefully as we move forward. But for you to be able to sit up at a table with a bunch of young guys that week in and week out did every single thing we asked them to do every week and defied all odds and did all the things that people told them they couldn't do, that's the satisfaction in the moment that I have right now. And the national championship thing will set in, I'm sure. But just to be -- just to be the leader of great men, its it is overwhelming for me.
Q. Nick, LaMichael James described the conversation that you had with him -- or that you guys had together after the game. Can you describe that conversation for us?
NICK FAIRLEY: I just walked up to him, told him he had a great season and don't get his head down. His team played -- like I told him, we played a good team. You know, it was out on the end. We had a good talk after the awards, so we became kind of, you know what I'm saying, distant friends. Out there on the field we were talking mad junk (laughter).
Q. What kind of mad junk?
NICK FAIRLEY: Just some -- in between two players, you know. But, like I said, the conversation went good. I just told him to keep his head up and he was a great player.
Q. How does the outcome of this game affect your decision to turn pro and what is your time line for making that decision?
CAM NEWTON: Honestly, you know, I'm not going to make no decision right now. It is something I have to sit down with Coach Chizik and my family and just get the vibe of so many different people. We will go from there.
COACH CHIZIK: Last one.
Q. Cam, you got slammed pretty hard there late. How are you feeling right now physically?
Cam Newton: I'm okay. It was worth it. (Smiling). I got the better deal out of the whole thing. It wasn't just one hit that made my back go out. But I am a blessed individual. It wouldn't have got done without these guys sitting on the left and right of me. I'm not up here to take up all the time. I don't want nobody to feel sorry for me because throughout this year didn't nobody feel sorry for Auburn. We got the last laugh (laughter).
Q. You see a bunch of yellow jackets around here from hometown here in Phoenix. What kind of stage did the Fiesta Bowl put on for you not only in leading up to it but tonight and the theater and drama that was the Fiesta Bowl and the Tostitos people that put for the BCS championship?
CAM NEWTON: It was very nice. They accounted for so many things. They gave us activities to do, eating lunch together and everything was team-oriented. We got a lot of time to have some fun time, have some free time also and just be around each other. So the layoff for this Bowl game was top-notch and superb. We are a blessed team just to be -- just to have this type of setting. Coach Chizik told us to act professional on this business trip. And, you know, we did. We had fun, but we still had -- we still knew we had a task at hand to accomplish.
COACH CHIZIK: I got two words, class act, all the way around. That's exactly what this whole week was. The people were phenomenal. I have been to a lot of bowl games. And they were a class act. Everybody that was involved with this thing -- and my hat's off to everybody. I want to say thank you to everybody in these yellow coats in this room because I'm -- if you knew me better, you would know I didn't say it if I didn't mean it, but class act all the way. Appreciate it.
Q. Josh, just talk me through that fourth-and-one play on the goal line down there. It looks like you got LaMichael low and kind of stopped him from getting in.
JOSH BYNES: Basically Coach called a good play for us because we knew what kind of an idea of a run they were going to do. We all basically said we will fill our gap perfectly. I was slightly getting cut off and I just ducked enough to get to the running back's legs to try to hold him from getting in the end zone. And when you got guys like Nick Fairley, Michael Blanc, and Zach Clayton, they are holding up the offensive linemen in the middle, you know, you can't go nowhere at all either. I think that fourth-down stop was a definite momentum change in the game.
Q. How do you explain how this game sort of played out defensively? A lot of us thought there would be a lot of points. No score after the first quarter.
COACH CHIZIK: Well, I can start telling you about five weeks ago we challenged our defense, and I think they had about all they wanted to hear about the speed and the tempo. And we made it so fast in practice that I think tonight -- and maybe they can speak differently. But I thought tonight with the way we practiced it was much slower than we practiced. I think that helped. Coach Roof had a phenomenal game plan. He called a phenomenal game. We went into the game with very few things that we wanted to do. We wanted to execute, and if they were better than us on this night, then they were just better than us on this night. But these guys played their rear end off. Our defense was focused for one month. They went out and practiced every day to win a national championship, every day. There was not a day that I can sit there and look at, boy, we were just terrible today. And they came out and they executed on game day. Let me tell you something, they made some huge plays. You talk about the word "respond." They responded today. One of the reasons we will be able to wear that ring is because of how well they played, these guys right here.
Q. Coach Chizik, congratulations on your national championship. Having said that, how do you like the BCS format?
COACH CHIZIK: I like it today. You know, I have said this a lot. I mean, most of the time it's probably the right -- it is the right equation. You know, every so often over the last ten or however many years there might have been one that's off here and there. I was part of a team in 2004 that didn't get a chance to play in this game when we felt like we should have had a chance or could have had a chance. But the formula is what it is. Until somebody comes up with something that makes absolutely 100 percent more sense, we'll keep doing it this way. I think for the most part, it works.
Q. All year Cam has done pretty much everything for this team. Tonight he seemed to be just enough. What did he do tonight and overall what has he meant to this team throughout this whole?
MICHAEL DYER: Cam stepped on Auburn territory. He has been one of the guys we looked up to. Practiced with spirit and shared emotion and practiced hard. He came out and played hard. Throughout the whole season he has been having this team on his back. We were the guys that were trying to make things happen and take the load off his back. We really appreciate Cam throughout the things that he went through the whole season and things that were being said about him. He kept his head up and played great games. He kept us winning. He ran hard tonight. He came out there and he just played Auburn football. He is the Auburn man and we learned a lot. Tonight I kind of picked it up for him because I knew he was in pain and hurt and the frustration. But he still played. He didn't quit. He didn't have any reason. He don't say "my back hurts so I couldn't do this or that." He just said I'm going to suck it up and keep going," and he kept fighting for us. Our whole town and nation, we really appreciate what Cam Newton does for us.
JOSH BYNES: For Cam to come in and just do the things he's done this year has been awesome for this team. It has been helpful. It has been without a doubt the most amazing thing I have seen from a quarterback by far in my life. And, you know, through all the things they said about him and all the things that was going on behind the scenes or whatever they had going on, all the things that was said about him, he came back and played ten times harder, ran the ball ten times harder, threw the ball ten times accurate, powerful. And was just so resilient. He described how this team was his whole year -- as a matter of fact, is this whole year. Because we were resilient each and every game. Without a doubt, when we were down, everything thought we were out, we came back and won games. When he was -- when everybody thought he was down because of all the things that were going on, distractions and things like that, he came back and played harder just like we do. For him, he is like the perfect description of how we played this year. He just definitely is a great person, a great player. Without a doubt, each and every day regardless of what was going on, he came in with the biggest smile on his face and joked around like nothing was going on. And he's like family to us. And he meant a lot to this team.
Q. Michael, can you please talk about the play where it looked like you were down but you got back up and ran a long ways? Can you talk about that play?
MICHAEL DYER: Really, it was going through my mind to get the first down, hold on to the ball and keep the ball in balance and run down and try to get a field goal. And the time being tackled, my knee wasn't down but I wasn't -- I didn't hear a whistle, not yet, so I was kind of looking like what's going on? But then I heard Darvin come on and the team's going let's go. I was trying to run to get some extra yards to keep the ball in balance and get a first down.
Q. What was the mentality when Oregon scored late in the fourth quarter? Did you say anything specific to the sidelines?
COACH CHIZIK: You know, to be honest, no, I did not say anything different to the sideline because it was business as usual. We have been there and done that so many times. And we knew what we would have to do to win the game. We knew we had to manage the clock right, number one. We knew we had to get some first downs. I have lost count of how many times we have done that this year. But the idea was to take the ball down. We knew we could move the ball. And Michael's run obviously was a huge part of that. But we were going to move the ball down methodically and try to get it into position right now to kick the field goal with no time left on the clock. That was the idea. We've done it before. We've done it numerous times. And that was the idea, so we didn't have to say anything. I think our team's been through this so many times that they understood what we had to do.
Q. Josh and Nick, they were the number one scoring offense in the country. Did you sense them frustrated or shocked by the fact that you guys were able to shut them down as well as you were?
Nick Fairley: They never gave up. As you can tell out there on the field when they got their turnover, they went in to score. We played a great offense. Like you said, it was a high-power offense. As a defense, we came out and executed our game plan and we were able to hold them to fewer points than our offense.
JOSH BYNES: I think this defense just knew what was at stake and just like I told the defense before we got on the bus to come here, throughout the whole week of preparation and everything before this game, they hadn't showed not one defensive highlight throughout the whole week. So what that tells us defense? So basically we got to play at another level and show them what kind of defense we are today. We'd probably say we're one of the number one defenses in the country, we was ranked whatever we was ranked, but I say today we are going to be the best defense in the country and we are going to show up and we are going to win this game for us. Offense won't be able to win every game for us. We showed that in the SEC championship when everyone said it would be a 99-89 game and it was a 56-17 game because defensively we stepped up and played like it was our last down. And today we did the same thing. And I think that's what this defense and this team was built off of, was resiliency and going out there and playing to the final whistle.
Q. Nick, I think they felt like they might be able to wear you out in the second half, to tire you down. Looked like you were leaning on them pretty good in the second half. Did you feel that way?
NICK FAIRLEY: What do you mean by "leaning on them"?
Q. Wearing them down.
NICK FAIRLEY: No, they weren't worn down. They ran as many plays as I did. I think Coach Rock did a great job with the D line getting ready for this tempo with the get-offs and the jump ropes we all practiced. We probably did like 2,000 jump ropes the whole time we was off. So I think Coach Rock did a great job. With Coach Rock is getting us ready, too, basically, like I said, they were tired, I was tired. We were just going to see who hit who in the mouth last.
Q. Mike, how fresh did you feel in this football game?
Michael Dyer: At the beginning, Coach Malzahn always calls the plays right. He knows when I had to go in or when to hold me. Throughout the game I was just waiting for them to be called. I was patient. I know my role on our offense, and I'm always pleased with it. Me going in and just trying to make things happen and trying to be a part of the team as we know was my goal tonight.
Q. Coach, Wes Byrum has been clutched since day one. Can you just speak to the confidence you have in him?
COACH CHIZIK: We know without question when the game comes down to the end, wherever we put that ball within reason, he is going to make it. And there was no question in our mind today. And all we had to do was, again, put the ball in the right spot. We didn't know how far we will be able to get it down. But usually if we can get it down somewhere inside 50 yards, we have a lot of confidence that he will kick it through. We don't even bat an eyelash at it. We get it there and he kicks it. He does it in practice with everybody yelling and screaming at him. We have done that every day for the last 4 1/2 weeks where he's got to make the game-winning field goal in practice with everybody giving him every distraction known to man and he does it every day. So there's not even a second thought.