Press Release



Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018


BAYLOR UNIVERSITY HEAD COACH MATT RHULE (Transcribed by Hannah Pietsch and Sarah Hoffman)

What does it mean for your players to be able to play in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl?

For a lot of them to go back to their hometown of Houston and play in the Academy Sports + Outdoor Texas Bowl and play their last game in a stadium that they’ve dreamed about being in, in a town that they love. So it was really cool for me to see just how unbelievably excited our players are, especially our older players, about this amazing opportunity.”

What was motivating your team to go from a one-win season to becoming bowl eligible this season?

“Last year was a hard year, but at the end of the day, I could see all the signs of maturity and growth, even as we were going through a one-win season. I made the proclamation in the spring that we would go to a bowl game, so I had to back up what I said and I had to count on the players to do that. And, I said all of that because I really believe in our players. They’re a special group. They worked hard, and they handled adversity the right way. After seeing the way they handled adversity last year, I really wanted to see them manage success this season. And having a chance now to come to the bowl, having a chance to play a great team like Vanderbilt, this really makes it all worth it.”

How does this bowl game really help you in extra practice time for your young guys? And is there any advantage to having the bowl game in Texas for recruiting purposes?

“The first part of your question, yes absolutely, have a chance to get these extra practices with our young players. We have a lot of guys that—even over the last two years—that have played early, so I look at it as one more spring ball, one more chance for guys to get more confident to really learn how to trust themselves a little bit more. When you play a quality team like Vanderbilt, now you know you have to prepare at a high level, and every time that you go through that process of preparing at a high level it makes you better. I’ll just say this, having a chance to stay in Texas, and to play our first bowl game at Baylor as head coach within the state is an absolute home run. The impact it’s going to have for us in recruiting, last week I was out three days in the Houston area recruiting, and the anticipation from high school coaches, high school assistant coaches, Baylor people in the high schools, and recruits, the anticipation of Baylor coming down and spending a week in Houston was palpable. For us to be able to practice there and play there, and just as importantly, go out and do the bowl events and do them at a high level in the community, it’s just an absolute home run for us as we continue to try and build the program.”


VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY HEAD COACH DEREK MASON (Transcribed by Sarah Hoffman, Hannah Pietsch and Stephanie Ramsey)

What are you looking forward to most? 

“We recruit in Texas, and first of all, I’m excited and honored that we have the opportunity to represent Vanderbilt University in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. Our football team is definitely excited. We feel like we finished the season strong, and this football team has been in two bowl games in the last three years and six in the last 10 years. We've got several student athletes from the state of Texas. The Odeyingbo brothers – Dare and Dayo – Dimitri Moore, Braden Kopp, so we’ve got young men from that area, and we recruit in Texas. I also understand the rich tradition of Texas football and really are extremely excited, because we have a huge alumni base there in Houston. It’s going to be a great ball game, obviously going against Baylor and Coach (Matt) Rhule. We faced each other my first year here when he was at the University of Temple, and now when you look at the two coaches in different spots both 6-6 with an opportunity to play each other in an extremely rich environment, so excited about it.” 

Can you give an assessment of where your team is at at this point?

“Yeah, as I take a look at it, this football team it had to really find itself. We lost some tough ball games this season. You can go back and look at Notre Dame, you can look at where we were versus Florida, in that ball game, Kentucky was extremely close, I felt like we had a chance to beat Missouri, at Missouri. Then, this team found itself with its back against the wall knowing that there really was no margin for error. It was win or go home. I thought that what this football team did on the backstretch was just what this team was capable of. We played, not mistake-free football, but complementary football all the way around – offense, defense, special teams, and found ourselves playing our best ball at the right time. We played almost a complete game versus Ole Miss, and found ourselves playing a pretty complete game to fish out another straight victory against Tennessee in three years. So, I think this football team has grown up. It has a lot to do with some of these players, like Kyle Shurmur, Jared Pinkney these guys have grown up before our eyes. For us, we’re excited with this team and to go down and play some football in the State of Texas.”

Can you elaborate on what QB Kyle Shurmur has meant to this team?

“Yeah, Shurmur finds himself in his fourth straight years as a starter, he had to jump in midway through his freshman year and grow up fast in a conference that really doesn’t – or a conference that really isn’t for the faint of heart. He had to learn early, every year he’s put a little more on his resume. He’s learned how to handle the pressure being a quarterback in the SEC. He’s learned how to make the play to his strengths and worry about what he can do. I think along the way he’s become a pretty prolific play caller. Because in this day and age, when you have guys getting most of their play calling and signaling from the sideline, Kyle Shurmur’s been able to do it for the last two years pretty much on his own. He gets play call, but he has opportunity to check at the line of scrimmage. Most of this offense is check with me, with him having the final say so. So, I just believe that he’s grown up, which you’ve seen the last couple weeks, especially the 31 for 35 performance against Tennessee really speaks to exactly what he’s become and what he is capable of.”

Do you have any initial thoughts on Baylor or what you saw from Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule when he was at Temple?

“Got a good football team. I know Coach Rhule well, obviously, a tremendous coach. He’s been able to recruit and find his way in the midst of playing in a bowl game. I think that has a lot to do with his expertise as a ball coach, what he understands and really what he’s been able to put together. When you go through them, and you look at their ball games and what they were able to do, obviously, finishing the season with a big win over Texas Tech really propelled them in to this bowl game. As I had a chance to watch them, the win over Oklahoma State, I was just looking at some film earlier in the day – didn’t know if we’d play them or not, but just went through their games just to see who they had and what it was. I saw the Oklahoma State game and watched that, and I was impressed. When you talk about his team, his team is going to fight. They’re resilient. They’re a program that’s been building. Now he’s falling in to some guys that are juniors and seniors, and when you start to do that, those guys start to understand your culture.”