In his opening statement during Sunday’s press conference, Gene Chizik decided to lighten the mood for a group of decidedly sleepy reporters.
“Well,” he said. “I guess there really is a game that’s going to be played here soon.”
Clearly, as kickoff finally approaches, the coaches couldn’t be any happier. Yet, to his credit, Chizik still chatted with the media for nearly thirty minutes.
Questions ranged from blatantly obvious (“If you are to win this game, what will you need to do?”) to obscure (“Have you talked to players about celebration penalties?”). Through it all, Chizik responded in a methodical fashion, and one couldn’t help but notice the differences between his press conferences and those of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.
In all, Chizik has been very pleased with the events of the past week, and seems content with his team’s focus.
“All of our preparation is done, and it has been a great week,” Chizik said. “It has been a great week for our coaches, our football team, the weather’s been awesome, the facilities have been great.
“I feel very good about where we’re at, and we’re looking forward to a great game tomorrow.”
At one moment, Chizik did elaborate on specific matters such as in-game substitutions. When asked about a rule that allows defensive teams to stop the game to substitute any time the offense swaps players, Chizik made clear that he would do so.
“The officials meet with us before every game,” Chizik said. “And that will be a very big discussion.”
It is a matter of such interest mainly because of Oregon’s inordinately fast tempo on offense. Yet, when asked the same question, Kelly stated that his offense rarely substitutes during a drive. Thus, Chizik’s concerns were mostly unfounded.
A few minutes later, Chizik was asked whether he thought the BCS was an effective system.
“Usually, if you go back, more times than not the BCS formula has been right on,” Chizik said. “Am I saying that there is a better way out there to do it? I don’t know…I don’t think there’s that one perfect idea yet that everybody can come to a great agreement that this is the way you do it.”
A Southeastern Conference has, in fact, won the last four BCS national championships. Chizik was asked if he felt any added pressure to keep the streak alive.
“I think that obviously the SEC has fared very well in this game,” Chizik said. “Doesn’t add any pressure to me and the way we proceed. We’re going to do what we do for Auburn University. We’re going to do what we do for our players and coaches and fans and administration and alumni.
“That’s important to me.”