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Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Head Coaches News Conference -- Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin (Transcripts)

Opening comments: “First of all, thank you Texas A&M is extremely excited to be here at the AT&T Cotton Bowl. I can’t tell you after the year we have had to come to Dallas the hospitality has been fantastic at the Anatole. I want to thank our practice facility people at SMU and at Highland Park (High School). Coach (Randy) Allen has put up with us the last couple of days. For our fans, the location, the venue, everything that is going on in our time slot Friday night for viewership nationally, it is going to be a great atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium. We are excited to be here and are looking forward to Friday.”

On the recruiting battles between he and Coach Stoops and how that works when they are good friends: “As long as you are not doing unethical, you are friends. It is like playing golf, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You might get upset a little bit, but you come back through it. That is just the way it is.”

On whether teams can use extra time before bowl game to insert new things on offense and defense for the game plan: “The time factor with us playing the (Jan.) 4th, I think has helped us with all the award things going on and gave us some time. That four days past New Year’s (Day) has helped us just because we had so many guys running around all over the place in early December. I think how you manage that becomes important. The players, which is something I learned when I was at Oklahoma, the later the game if you do things too early the players can get bored. You got to keep them interested. Like I said, the way things are done here at the Cotton Bowl outside of football practice allows you to focus on what you are doing because our kids are having a fabulous time and being treated in a first-class manner so that all fits together.”

On whether when he arrived at Texas A&M he realized what he had in quarterback Johnny Manziel or did he have to wait until the fall to realize what he could bring: “Well based on the fact we didn’t name him the starting quarterback until two weeks before the first game, I don’t think in the spring we had any idea. We talked to him in the spring about taking care of the ball. He is obviously very talented, but there were a lot of things he needed to work on from a ball security standpoint. He continued to work through that in the summer and through two-a-days. You never really know, especially with a freshman with so many moving parts going into a game. But the first game, that being a (College) Game day like atmosphere, with everybody there, playing Florida, how he responded early in the game you had to feel like he had a chance to be a good player. As things played out the rest of the year, you never knew that was going to happen. As well as he played, I think he would be the first to tell you that he can improve and work at improving. That is probably his best characteristic that he is honest with himself and he is probably a little harder on himself then we are. He is a great competitor.”

On what he needed to feel as far as the culture of past on the field shortcomings at Texas A&M: “The first thing we did was we didn’t talk about it very much what happened in the past. It seemed to be what everyone wanted to talk about externally, but internally we just didn’t talk about it. I think, any time you have to get over a hump or clear a hurdle, you got to win a game in a certain fashion. The come-from-behind win at Mississippi at Ole Miss I think really helped us. So a lot of those times our seniors guys who had lost a bunch of games like that, to go on the road and win regardless of what you say as a coach, you’ve got to be in that situation to be successful. I think when that happened, a lot of things changed for our team.”

On what you learned from working as an assistant coach with Coach Stoops about day-to-day preparation that has helped you as a head coach: “I think you just heard him (Coach Stoops) talk about it a couple of minutes ago, how you do things day to day, the competitive nature that is in the building, the expectation level, I think I said that two weeks ago when I was talking at the original press conference, you can hear it a couple minutes of go. I think the expectation level of everybody, starting with him, everybody in the building, coaches and players, is a big, big, big factor at Oklahoma. And it starts with the head coach. All that in how you do that with the involvement of your families and your whole lifestyle is a big deal because it is not like that everywhere. To be successful, to have the amount of success he has had and deal with the number of coaches that have come out of the program to become head coaches, the number of families that are still close is a testament to how he does things. Winning game is a big part of that, but the other part of the culture and the relationships that go on there are an even bigger part of really the atmosphere that he created or that he creates now.”

On Coach Stoops’ preference of not playing against teams coached by friends: “I am with him (on that). When it (the Cotton Bowl matchup) was first announced, I told people, Oh boy. You look at the game, and I think Bob (Stoops) said this too, you look at our game as far as matchups go, as far as excitement for the country and for the region, it is probably as good as game is there is out there during bowl season. I think that has been represented by the ticket sales, how quickly that happened and the time slot we have. Eventually those things happen. I go back to the analogy you had earlier, with the first question, you want to play and we don’t make the schedule but that doesn’t stop us from being friends. Once the game starts we are both trying to win it and after that we will go back to life as usual. But I think for our fans and our players, for the first year when we have gone to a different league to have this matchup again this quickly, is a great deal.”

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