Leach Comments On New Mexico Bowl - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Leach Comments On New Mexico Bowl

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by WSU Athletics Media Relations

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The 2013 Gildan New Mexico Bowl held its annual team announcement luncheon for local media and board members Wednesday at the Canyon Club at Four Hills Country Club. Washington State head coach Mike Leach and Deputy Director of Athletics Mike Marlow represented the Cougars while Colorado State Director of Athletics Jack Graham and head coach Jim McElwain were on hand for the Rams.

Introduced by Gildan New Mexico Bowl Executive Director Jeff Siembieda, both head coaches as well as Marlow and Graham addressed the gathering with statements centering on each team’s season to date, the excitement generated by playing in a bowl game and how well the reception has been not only from the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and residents of Albuquerque, but also fans throughout the country.

Washington State is set to face Colorado State Saturday, Dec. 21 at the 2013 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the first bowl game of the postseason. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. PT and will be televised by ESPN.

Below are comments from Leach and McElwain while they were at the podium this afternoon

Mike Leach

Washington State Cougars Head Coach

(on what it means to return WSU to the post season after so many years)

“We’re excited about it. We are a really young team, predominantly freshmen and sophomores, but what I think is particularly exciting is we have had some seniors who have been through the really rough, dry times and never knew for sure if they’d end up in a bowl but hoped they would. Through their efforts, hard work and perseverance as a part of our team, we are able to go, which we are all excited about and set out to do in the first place. Talking about and doing it are two different things though. The other thing, I was proud of our team the way we emerged as the season went on. We steadily improved. We had the toughest schedule in America and everyone agrees with that if you look at all those things that measure such.”

(on his plan to get to a bowl game)

“Well you want to do it every year. You try to do it every year so that you can continue to reinforce your skills with the young guys and then if there is a date to play a football game, we want to be one of the teams playing, no matter what.”

(on experiences at Washington State compared to other jobs)

“Very similar…Our president, Dr. Floyd and (Director of Athletics) Bill Moos together, everybody makes a great team there. One of the most unique things about Washington State is the vision, direction and total lack of bureaucracy which is real impressive. In college athletics this day and age, it is very rare.”

(on the key to turning the team about heading to the Arizona game)

“We just kept getting better, kept playing. Rather than worrying about big picture stuff, we focused on individual plays and how many you can collectively put together I think was really important. I just focus on the small pieces.”

(on the fast turnaround, playing in the first bowl game of the season)

“I think it’s fine. It is a quick turnaround but the biggest thing is the logistics of getting here. It’s slammed together in a couple days but that’s not all bad because we want to get that portion of it over with to being with. How are you going to do it, where’s it going to go; now we have to figure it out fast? Well that’s good because in a day it’ll be over so that part works out pretty good. We got a couple of extra practices in which has worked out for our young guys. Shortly we will start specific preparation for Colorado State.”

(on the balance of making sure the team enjoys themselves but win a football game)

“I think they are bound to enjoy themselves just being in a different setting, a different location. The things the Gildan New Mexico Bowl has to offer, the hospitality and activities that they are going to experience but in our case it’s not to break focus. Our goal is to go out and play the very best game that we can, just like every game.”

(on what he knows about the Colorado State Rams)

“They are a good, solid team that plays hard. They have some good key players that can do some really good things physically. I think they steadily got better as the year went on too.”

Jim McElwain

Colorado State Rams Head Coach

Opening Statement

“Colorado State University, Fort Collins and the state of Colorado are about the Rams coming down to Albuquerque to participate in this bowl game. It is something that has been long overdue and I know people still talk about the last time and the great time that they had. We are really looking forward to coming down again and experiencing the hospitality and playing one heck of a football team in Washington State out of the Pac-12.”

(on his goal to make a bowl game early in his tenure at Colorado State)

“You know I didn’t put parameters on it because there are so many things that you need to do when you go in to rebuild a program and really change the culture. But obviously one of the accomplishments you want early is to get in a bowl game and be part of that club. There is a certain aura that goes around about being a bowl team and there is a certain club now, you can walk in the back alley and knock on the door and you have the secret code to get in. And I know that is what our university is what it’s all about and we are just really excited to be included in that club.”

(on what he can take from his past experience and use going into his first bowl game as a head coach)

“I’ve been really lucky. I’ve been around some great coaches and had the experience being at some great bowl games and there is no manual that says ‘this is how you do it’ but probably one of the big things is don’t try to get too ready for it too early. Work on your fundamentals, make sure you are working against each other and then put the game plan in as normal. The couple of national championships that I was fortunate enough to be in and win, we didn’t even bother game planning until the Saturday before the game on the following Saturday. I guess we accelerated by one day and we were pretty successful when we did it.”

(what are some of the challenges of having a bowl game so early in the season)

“In our case actually, our kids finals week is next week so our practice schedule is going to be a little different than what we would normally do. We have some guys actually taking some tests down here via some proctors and yet at the same time we’ve been able to get kind of a week of what we would consider our Ram U program, a little kind-of spring ball in prior to when we get into bowl prep.”

(what he knows about his opponent, the Washington State Cougars)

“I know that they throw the heck out of it. I know that he’s not afraid to throw it and he’ll throw it probably coming off the bus. I am familiar kind of with Washington State just from where I grew up and the time I spent down in that area. I know anytime we get an opportunity in the Mountain West Conference to play against a Pac-12 opponent, that is something awful special and we’re not only looking forward to representing Fort Collins and Colorado State but the Mountain West Conference.”

(on his desire to show the fans his team’s excitement over being selected for a bowl game)

“Right now it is about getting your name out there. Our guys have gone through a lot and they’ve totally committed to a new way of doing things, a new way of thinking, a new level of expectation and not allowing themselves to be mediocre. As a coach, the reward and knowing what the bowl season is to a team, I didn’t know they were capturing that (the video on YouTube) but it sent goose bumps up and down my body. When I saw their reaction, it really at that time hit me, the importance for these guys and what it’s all about.”

(on the big picture and what it means taking his team to a bowl game)

“It is obviously huge in recruiting. Being able to associate ourselves with the Pac-12 in a game is real big. We went back and played the University of Alabama and I think there was about 2.8 or 2.9 million households that watched the game. This will be the first game of the bowl season so it’s a 3.5 hour commercial for Colorado State University and that is something that is very important, getting our brand out on a national scale.”

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