Tiger Talk

Dec. 6, 2004

Lousiana State University officially accepted its invitation to the 2005 Capital One Bowl yesterday and will now begin preparations for its Jan. 1 date with Coach Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa Hawkeyes in Orlando.

LSU Director of Athletics Skip Bertram and its head coach, Nick Saban, visited with the media yesterday. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

Bertam’s opening statement:

“I think it’s is a great thing for Nick (Saban) and his staff and all of the people associated with the football program, especially the players, to have the opportunity in the past five years to go to the Peach Bowl, two Sugar Bowls and the National Championship, one Cotton (Bowl) and now which is obviously the No. 1 bowl not in the BCS package, the Capital One.

“We have a big time opponent and school we have never played, in Iowa. I think it just caps off the best five years in the history of LSU football. You have to be very, very proud of Nick and his staff. It is also going to be a great bowl. It is also great that almost 25 years exactly, Charlie Mac’s last football team beat Wake Forest, 34-10. For us to be there 25 years later, it is a wonderful thing for all of us at LSU.”

Saban’s opening statement:

“I can’t tell you how pleased and happy we are to have the opportunity to play in the Capital One Bowl. We know from previous experience, the great people that are associated with this bowl game and the support the community gives this bowl game. What a great community Orlando is for our official party, our team, our players and all of our fans who choose to go to this game.

“Iowa, the co-champions of the Big Ten, was probably the team at the end of the season who was playing the best football in their league, relative to how they finished. They are a tremendous opponent and challenge for our football team. I think it is quite fitting for our team that struggled early, after tough losses at Auburn and Georgia, to come to a crossroad and finish with six consecutive wins and put themselves in a position to have this opportunity. I am especially pleased for our fans, our supporters who were certainly positive to help us get to where we are right now. Hopefully, we will all be able to enjoy this great opportunity.”

Saban on the similarities he sees between Iowa and LSU:

“I think their team has some similarities to our team. They struggled a little bit early like we did and came off and finished strong. I know Kirk Ferentz is an outstanding coach. I also have some other ties on this staff.

“Norm Parker is the defensive coordinator. We were five years together at Michigan State when I was the defensive coordinator there and he was the linebacker coach. He’s got a great family, great football coach and has done an outstanding job because they play outstanding defense. Phil Parker is the secondary coach — made All-America at Michigan State when I was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach — and is a fine coach as well.

“They’ve done a very good job. We feel like there’s a lot of people that we have great associations and respect for. I think our team, certainly, will have the proper respect for Iowa, the Big Ten Conference and this may be, in some ways, one of the top teams relative to how they are playing right now that any of the SEC teams are going to play this year in bowl games. I think it’s a great opportunity for us. I think it’s pretty indicative of the personality of Kirk Ferentz as a coach and the perseverance he has to see his team develop and improve throughout the year as they did.”

Saban on being able to face a Big Ten team:

“I have a lot of respect for the Big Ten and the people in it, especially this particular team because of my relationship with their head coach, the kind of tradition that they have, the way their season has gone and the way their players have played to overcome adversity, been resilient to finish strong and get this opportunity.

“I think the Big 10 is a conference that has a lot of tradition. Any time that you can play a co-champion of a conference that has the reputation that the Big Ten has. I think it’s certainly challenging. I’m not sure fun would be the word that I would choose. I think it’s very challenging, and I think this will be a very challenging game for us because Iowa is one of the best teams in what is a very good league.”