FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After the Arkansas football team accepted an invitation Sunday to the 72nd AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic to face the Missouri Tigers, interim head coach Reggie Herring met with local media to discuss the game and the preparation for the Razorbacks. The following is a partial transcript of the press conference.
On Arkansas’ invitation to play in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic
“I’ve been looking forward to this for the last few weeks and we want to thank the Cotton Bowl for the extended offer. We want to also let the Missouri Tigers know we respect them, we think they’re a tremendous opponent for us and we’re going to do our best to make it a great game.”
On the importance of a unified Razorback nation
“It’s about (the players’) hard work and dedication, along with the fans. Going to Dallas, is probably the greatest bowl situation for this university. All the fans should be able to travel. Everyone should do this together as a family. I think we owe the players the respect and the support and the fans themselves for everything they’ve been through.
“Let’s all come together at once and let’s show the awesome power of the Razorback nation on Jan. 1 in Dallas. Let’s come together. Let’s come together and put your differences aside regardless of the who the head coach is. Whether I’m the head coach or they announce a new head coach tomorrow. Let’s all come together and let’s go to one game where we can be together as one and show the country how powerful and how special the state of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas can be. That’s what I ask and that’s my plea.”
On assistant coaches recruiting for Arkansas
“Tracy Rocker has been out all last week seeing recruits, all of our commitments in Florida and Georgia and he’s on a plane tonight on his way to Alabama. Tim Horton has seen every in-state recruit and commitment last week and he’s in his car right now, as we speak, recruiting for Arkansas to see every in-state commitment again this week. Bobby Allen will be on a plane this Thursday. Last week, Coach Vaughn saw every recruit in Texas. Coach Allen saw his recruit in Louisiana. Coach Allen, now, on Thursday will be on a plane to see every recruit in Texas and Louisiana.
“Therefore, having said that, there’s not one prospect that has committed to Arkansas that will not be seen in the last two weeks and some players that are on the bubble and that are very close to committing to Arkansas are being seen and contacted as well. Having said that, you understand the rules that on Dec. 15 its all dead anyway. Nobody can go out in 15 more days.
“Along with that, I’m going to assume there will be a head coach hired here within the next couple weeks. Therefore, you have missed absolutely nothing in recruiting here at Arkansas and I think that’s more than what you could have bargained for considering that coaches don’t know where they’re going or what they’re doing. We’re holding the fort together. Rest assure, folks, that all these recruits are being seen once a week.
“On top of that, I have asked Jeff (Long), our new AD…he’s going to be writing a personal letter to every commitment that we have. He’s writing a personal letter and will be phoning them at some point in time. I even went the extra mile with assuring that they heard from the university’s new athletic director. We’ve covered all those bases and I just wanted to clarify that.”
On playing Missouri in the Cotton Bowl
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s what makes this Cotton Bowl so exciting to players. It gets the competitive juices flowing. You’re going to play the sixth-ranked team in the country (in the BCS standings). That has the tendency to get the players more motivated, more focused because of the higher of the competition level.
“Having said that, that helps us in our preparation for this bowl game—the magnitude of the opponent. The quarterback that I saw last night and have seen all year in Chase (Daniel), what great competitor. What a combination of a Doug Flutie and a Brett Favre—a powerful arm, great legs, innovator on the run. I’ve seen an incredibly tough competitor. (He has) great tenacity, great spirit and great leadership and is surrounded by players that believe in him.
“(Missouri) runs extremely well on defense. They are very physical. They’ve earned their ranking. I believe we’re ranked 24th (in the coaches’ poll), so we’ll be the underdog. The competitiveness should really rise to the top and that’s what I was hoping and I know that’s what the players are wanting. They want to play the best there is and you wouldn’t want it any other way with the players’ attitude.”
On Darren McFadden and the Heisman Trophy
“I think that any coach that has watched us play throughout the season has to know that when Arkansas…it’s team sport, but when we were at our highest level, so was Darren McFadden. When Darren McFadden is at his highest level, there’s not a defense in this country that can stop him. He needs blockers just like every other great running back, but what he’s done over the past two years, I think, is more than enough to secure a Heisman Trophy. Just by the prerequisite of what’s been in the past, looking at stats and what you’ve done on the field and how important you are to a football team, I think Darren McFadden exemplifies that and then some.”