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December 18, 2013

Highlights from Chick-fil-a Bowl press conference

Here are some comments from Wednesday's Chick-fil-a Bowl press conference, held in College Station:

Chick-fil-a Bowl President/CEO Gary Stokan:

* Mentioned the total payout for the bowl will be $7.5 million this year

* Noted that the bowl game, which is played without any other bowl competition New Year's Eve, is normally one of the most-watched games on ESPN all year. He expects the presence of Texas A&M, the nation's second-most watched team, to continue that trend.

* Said Chick-fil-a had endowed a $100,000 scholarship at A&M as part of the bowl's charitable endeavors

* Mentioned the bowl game will become one of the six rotating semi-final bowl games for the college football playoff system next year.

* "The team who wins this game should end up in the top 15, which is a good way to end up."

Athletic Director Eric Hyman:

* On the bowl: "It's a chance for the A&M brand to go east ... The hospitality, the service for the fans, the teams and the student-athletes is second to none. It's an extraordinary experience, and Gary does an excellent job."

* "Duke is playing at a high level. Don't fool yourself, they're a very good football team."

* "It's a great time, there's no (TV) competition -- we're ready to get into the heart of the SEC and this is a precursor for us being in Atlanta in the future."

* On Coach Kevin Sumlin's new contract: "You look at the excitement and enthusiasm that the program has generated under him ... the future is in good shape. This was a long-term commitment to Coach Sumlin; there's no doubt about it. His primary focus is on student-athletes."

Sumlin:

* On what he likes about the bowl game: "The chance to expand our brand east, to be somewhere we haven't been -- the chance to be in Atlanta, which is where they host our conference championship, hopefully we can gain some experience in coming back here."

* "We're excited to be there and play a team like Duke. They've won a lot of football games and are playing with a lot of confidence. David Cutcliffe has done an excellent job, they're playing with a lot of confidence and we've got to match that."

* On the practice schedule "We have the developmental phase for the younger players, which we were in today. After the season we had, we gave them a couple weeks off and put them in the S&C program and maybe didn't practice as much as we have in the past because of the long season. We try to have two game with, with one on campus and one when we get to Atlanta. Tomorrow is a Monday ... the guys will be able to spend Christmas with their families, then one with the team Christmas night (when they meet up in Atlanta)."

* On expanding into Georgia: "We want to have a really good recruiting presence. We haven't been over there that much (but) we have some guys on the staff that have recruited that area. The Atlanta area has a lot of talented student-athletes. Being in Georgia and being in the Atlanta and being in the unopposed time spot is good for our program."

* On his new contract: "I couldn't be more appreciative. It speaks to the university's commitment to us and the program ... and us to the university. We've got a ways to go, but we're on the right track, not just from a contractual standpoint, but looking all around you. It shows the commitment to all our programs, but especially to football. It shows a tremendous amount of commitment to where the program is headed."

* On the chance this is Johnny Manziel's last game:
"I'm not going to reflect on that until it IS his last game. All I can say is what he's meant to the university to this point. His numbers really speak for themselves. He is probably the most exciting football player in America."

* "I like our energy level right now. Guys are coming back healthy, there's a little more bounce in their step. We were worn down a little bit in the end, mentally and physically."

* Said the team was generally healthy, but would provide another update closer to the bowl game.

* "This could be the first time for this program to win three bowl games in a row. That's never been done before, and there have been a lot of guys who have come through here. That could be something that could really propel us."



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