Arizona football coach Jedd Fisch made time from his busy schedule to stop by San Antonio on Thursday for the Valero Alamo Bowl opening press conference. The press conference was held in conjunction with the Security Service Insurance Golf Classic, where all proceeds will benefit the Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship programs.
Fisch was joined by Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables. The two were quick to compliment each other’s programs.
“To play a blue-blood program like Oklahoma, what Coach Venables has done there in a short period of time, we know we have our work cut out for us,” Fisch said. 10-win team in 2023, another team that went up four wins from a year ago till today. We know both of our teams are hopefully on the rise and continuing to build what we want to build, which is something special and sustainable.”
Venables opened his statement by calling Arizona one of the best-performing teams in the last half of the season.
“Six-game win streak. That’s hard to do,” Venables said. “They’ve done it against really quality opponents, a lot of people we’ve got great respect for, whether it’s UCLA, their crosstown rival, or certainly what they were able to do to Utah just a few weeks ago, led by Fifita, redshirt freshman quarterback that was Player of the Year in the conference.”
Our early breakdown of Oklahoma can be found here. Below is what Fisch said at Thursday’s press conference.
On the advantage of playing a bowl game in San Antonio: “In our transition from the Pac-12 to the Big 12, it’s really important for us to start making more of a presence in Texas. If you look at our team, we have five players on our roster from Texas. We know that as the years progress, starting next year when we’ll be playing in the Big 12, we’re going to have to add more players from Texas into our program. We’ll have more of a recruiting opportunity because of the fact that we’ll be playing in the state against TCU and Baylor and Houston and Texas Tech.
It will probably be a kickoff for us into the Big 12, this game, and really being able to see and show our players and let the state of Texas see the type of energy that our players play with, and hopefully the high school coaches in the state will be excited about sending their players to us.”
On whether he has coached at the Alamodome or against Venables: “I have coached in the Alamodome, it was a pre-season game of the Houston Texans versus the Dallas Cowboys I think in 2003. That was the last time I’ve been in the Alamodome.
Have not had an opportunity to coach against Coach Venables, but I’ve certainly admired him from afar and admired the defense that he’s always put out there. You always know you’re going to get an opportunistic defense. They lead the country in interceptions. You’re going to get a defense that is going to be very hard to figure out their blitz patterns and their schemes.
I have a ton of respect for him, for Oklahoma. Oklahoma has won 10 games or more 19 of the last 23 years. We’ve won 10 games three times in a hundred years. So Oklahoma football, something I look up to.
I do know Coach Stoops. He introduced me to my wife in 2000 at the AFCA coaches convention. That’s about the extent of my real experiences with Oklahoma. But I certainly have a ton of respect for them.”
On entering the game on a hot streak and ensuring that players enjoy the bowl experience: “They can have fun on the 29th (laughter). No, I always tell them… That was a Coach Belichick line. Thanksgiving, Christmas, that happens in the spring (laughter).
We’ll do our best to make it an incredible experience. We only have eight players on our roster that have ever played in a bowl game. That’s out of 110 players. All eight of them are transfers. This is a brand-new experience for a majority of our team. It’s a brand new experience for our players.
We want to make sure that our players understand it is a privilege to play in a bowl game. It is a celebration of a job well done. To be able to be at this bowl game, the Valero Alamo Bowl, this is a wonderful opportunity for our guys to experience San Antonio, to experience some of the great joys of being here, the history of the Alamo, to be able to learn a little bit about a new area. We’re going to try to do our best to really show them the culture here the best we can.
In the end, we’re here to play a football game. We’re here to play a football game against a team that has historically won seven national championships. We understand and recognize this great challenge. We’re going to try to balance the challenge of competition with the balance of joy.
During that time, hopefully we can get them both done.”
On his memory of watching a college bowl game as a kid: “I would say it was actually funny, we were talking about it last night at dinner, that the Penn State-Miami bowl game of the Orange Bowl in 1987, or Fiesta Bowl, excuse me, the national championship game.
I remember being at my grandmas and grandpas house in Florida. I was 10 years old. I remember watching that game on TV. They lived in south Florida, so there was a big Miami contingency. That was a bunch of interceptions, Vinny Testaverde. I think it was 14-10, something to that effect. Miami had a chance to win the game all the way at the end. Penn State won the national championship that year.
But I think I fell in love with the game and the idea of one day dreaming to be able to coach in one of those games, I think it was that bowl game right there”