1/1: Meyer, Black speak after Outback Bowl win

By Adam Silverstein
January 2, 2011

The Florida Gators defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 37-24 at the 2011 Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL on Saturday afternoon. Below are quotes from head coach Urban Meyer and game MVP senior safety Ahmad Black (as well as thoughts from freshman cornerback Cody Riggs and Penn State head coach Joe Paterno), all of whom spoke with the media immediately after the contest.

HEAD COACH URBAN MEYER

On Black winning the MVP: “I think that’s rather appropriate that Ahmad Black, the best safety in college football, won that [MVP] award.”

Opening statement thank yous: “I have a lot of people to thank. Obviously I want to acknowledge Penn State – that was a tough crew. That defensive line, our guys told me, was as tough and physical as anyone we’ve had to go against all year. Obviously Joe Paterno, the finest coach in all of college football history. And the Penn State University, that was a classy game. That was two teams going as hard as they possibly can. Not a bunch of nonsense going on. Just playing hard. It was a honor to coach in that game.”

On his halftime speech and turning the game around: “Our goal was to get to the second level somehow and they were doing a very good job. When you have three weeks to prepare, Penn State did a heck of a job. They made some adjustments on their defense. They did some stuff that they hadn’t shown, but we knew they would do that. I thought Coach [Steve] Addazio did a heck of a job. Jordan Reed is a hell of a player. Jordan Reed did a great job moving that offense. With it up-tempo, I think they wore out a little bit. I think possession time was substantial for the Gators in that second half and you could see them start to give a little bit. Our defense was hanging in there the whole game. We were awful in the first half on offense, but we came back with special teams and in the second half our offense played very good.”

On his letter to Paterno: “I’ve said that’s been the story all week and it’s all true. He will go down as the greatest football coach in the history of the game, and he should. Every young coach, in my opinion, should take a lesson from him, not some of this other stuff going on. If I ever start a coaching school, I am going to make everybody do a book report on Joe Paterno and say that’s the way you should act in coaching. That’s college football. And that’s what players should take away from a guy like him. You just don’t want to lose that man. You don’t want to lose what college football is. That was college football out there today.”

On singing the alma mater and fight song with the crowd: “My wife started crying, so she choked me up a little bit. You could obviously see what she was wearing and all of the kids, they love Florida. We have given six years – six equals about 40 years of your life – to Florida and we couldn’t have dreamed to do it anywhere else because this is our place. We love it. To sing that fight song one last time and to go salute the band – we have the best band in the country – and shake hands with our band director, that was real special.”

On Black: “Ahmad Black is one of my closest friends, and I can call him a friend now because he’s not my player. He’s family. Ahmad Black was not the Ahmad Black when we got him four years ago. Ahmad Black has turned into a grown man, a grown man who is going to pay taxes some day, a grown man who is going to have a family some day. He’s going to be a great father and a great husband because Ahmad Black is a grown man now. He has a great family. His relationship with Chuck Heater, and I made a comment about that, if it’s done right, the player-coach relationship is second only to that of your family. He’s can attest to that. Ahmad Black wasn’t what he is when we got him. Now that he’s leaving here, he’s everything and more. I’m very proud of him.”

Many more thoughts from Meyer, Black and Paterno…after the break!

On Black being injured and returning: “That’s Ahmad Black, though. I knew he wasn’t out. He missed one punt formation and we almost got it blocked so I was really angry with him. I was going to cut him out of the will. But he went back in, so we’re alright.”

On what the deciding factor will be for him to return to coaching: “I’m not worried about that, probably that gal over there to the left of me. I just love college football and I hope to be around it.”

On when it will hit him that Saturday was his last game: “I’m at full peace because I saw a bunch of smiles in that locker room. Locker rooms aren’t very much fun when there’s not smiling and pain in your stomach and your chest and everything else, that was a lot of fun in there. It was great to give the game ball to Ian. It was also great to see the smiles on those seniors as we walked out. That group of seniors, I know this year was not a good year, however those guys will leave here as one of the best group of seniors to ever play at Florida.”

On the most emotionally moving thing about Saturday: “Chuck Heater – this is the fourth job we’ve worked together – Chuck Heater and I. He just told me he loved me and gave me a big hug and said, ‘What a run!’ We’ve been together now seven straight years. He was with me at Utah and then the six years here. Whole bunch of rings together. Just he’s college football. He’s been it forever. He choked me up. And then Steve Addazio, what he’s gone through this year, the disappointments on offense. He’s my best friend. To see him have the opportunity to go run his own program makes it all worthwhile.”

On Black being slow and short but Florida’s best player: “He’s not arguably my best player. He’s the best safety in college football. All I know is Ahmad Black, playing for Florida which is a fairly competitive program in a very fairly competitive conference, is the best safety. Football player number one, intangibles number two and then the measurable number three. I’ve learned that over the years.”

On a 7-5 season but winning the bowl game: “It feels great because Will Muschamp is getting a good group of young men and on a positive note. It’s awful in the offseason. We’ve only had one time where we had to go through an offseason when we lost a bowl game, and it’s terrible. Will Muschamp is getting a football team that is going to have some bright eyes and ready to get to work and get back to where we need to be.”

On his health contributing to his retirement: “I’m not going to do that today.”

On his emotions during/after Black’s game-sealing interception: “I was going to hit him right square in the mouth if he got a 15-yard penalty for holding that ball up as he ran. Was that freshman year you got the penalty or sophomore? In sophomore year he got a celebration penalty when he did the Lakeland sign, and I made it real clear he would never take another snap at Florida if he got a penalty. He said, as he was crossing the line, he was going to spike the ball or throw it in the stands, but he remembered what I said four years ago. That’s good discipline there Ahmad.”

On the punt block: “Oh boy. We used to be known to do that around here. That used to be kind of our signature. Solomon Patton is going to be a great player here. That kid came right off the edge and edged it exactly like D.J. Durkin and those guys put it in. That was awesome. That changed the game for us because we were sputtering around.”

OUTBACK BOWL MVP – SENIOR SAFETY AHMAD BLACK

On what he did after the game: “I just told my team when I walked in the locker room that I appreciate them for everything. Most importantly I thank Coach Meyer for everything – on the field and off the field, without him a lot of this wouldn’t be possible. Just thank you. It feels great to come out on top.”

On Penn State driving for a score and how it felt to stop them: “It was like a relief. We went up six points. Before I got the interception, they was driving down the field and I was thinking, ‘We need a play. We need a play. We need a stop.’ That was similar to the National Championship game. They was running the ball, running it down our throat, getting first down after first down. So we had to come up with some way to get a stop.”

On football coming easier to him now: “A lot. A lot. Now I can just focus on football instead of getting chewed out by coach at the same time. [My problem was] not taking care of myself off the field. Hydration issues. I’m thinking it’s like high school, I can just go to practice every day, and that’s not the case. You got to stay in the ice tanks and take care of your body like a professional athlete. And I wasn’t doing that.”

On if the game resonated more as his last game or Meyer’s: “Coach. Coach was the most important thing today. So I just wanted to go out there and do it for him.”

On being too small and too slow: “I guess I’m too small and too slow, I guess.”

On getting hurt and coming out, returning to the game and getting hurt again: “The first one I just got hit in my thigh wrong, so I had to walk it off a little bit. I came back in and they threw a pass across the middle and I hit one of the bigger receivers and I broke my helmet so it came off. And they’re arguing with me, ‘Keep your helmet strapped up.’ I’m like, ‘Yo, it’s broke.’ [Laughing] It was strapped up – it actually broke. So I busted my mouth and I busted my nose, but I was fine. The back of my helmet is all marked up.”

On that happening because a teammate hit him from behind: “Damn. Which one? He got it coming when I get out of here.”

On what he is going to miss the most about the Gators: “A lot of laughter. A lot of the guys on the sideline told me how much they’re going to miss me and how much we grew together since we been here. I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most – the guys in the locker room. And also the coaches. Just being around the guys. In between meetings, I know camp sucks, but in between practices we’re all just laying out and having a good time.”

On what Muschamp is getting with Florida: “Great, great team. A lot of talented guys. Me and a couple of the older guys instilled in the young guys’ head that it’s going to be a great coach. Mr. [Jeremy] Foley brought in the best guy for the job. I know he wouldn’t bring in somebody that would be bad for them. Keep them positive and keep encouraging them.”

On how he remained positive this season: “I was voted team captain over the summer. I told them I’d lead by example. And that’s one thing I tried to do the whole season – just lead by example. I didn’t want to jump down their throat because they’re not playing hard. I just got to keep fighting, keep playing hard, and I know in the end good things will come.”

FRESHMAN CORNERBACK CODY RIGGS

On the emotional goodbyes: “Yes, definitely. I talked to coach [Teryl Austin and he wished me the best of luck in the future. I really hope that I can cross paths with some of these coaches again down the road because I have built some really good relationships with them.”

On his thoughts about the coaching change: “At first we were sad about it, because we didn’t know who the new head coach would be, and you don’t know if he is going to be anything comparable to coach Meyer. But when we found out it was coach Muschamp, we were excited about that.”

On rallying around Muschamp: “I don’t know. I’ve never been around a new head coach, but I have been around new position coaches and you just listen to what they tell you to do.”

On Black’s final game: “I was really happy for him. I look up to him a lot. After my first game, I was down and he talked to me, inspired me. I was really happy to see him get that pick and touchdown.”

PENN STATE HEAD COACH JOE PATERNO:

Opening statement: “I have to look at the tapes but we turned the ball over too many times obviously. You have to give Florida some credit, their kids made some really big league plays on a couple of balls. We could be a little better, but that’s about the way we’ve played most of the year. We’d have good spots then we’d kind of let up a little bit. I thought our kids really stayed in there for the whole football game. As I said, I give Florida credit. Florida played tough and they are a good football team.”

On not pulling quarterback Matt McGloin: “[Matt] McGloin was doing pretty well. I wouldn’t blame it on the call. I must have spent more time on the kicking game for this ball game than any game we’ve ever played because I was worried about it. I don’t think we made a mistake in playing the other kid.”

On his post-game talk with Meyer: “I said congratulations. I’m not generally sorry to see him leave college coaching. I think he’s done a great job. He’s a great guy. His wife was down there, who is a good friend of Sue’s. It was one of those things that you don’t like to lose, but that’s the way it goes. I not only like him personally and I think he’s a real credit to his family, to the University of Florida and to college football.”

On retiring: “Now I’m the one who can’t hear.”

On the 2011 Penn State team: “I told them “get your heads up” and go home and take it easy for a couple of weeks and then we’ll start thinking about what we want to get done for spring practice. We’re obviously way ahead of where we were at this stage a year ago. We played a lot of young kids today. Some of them got themselves into some situations that they shouldn’t have, but that is all part of experience and playing. I think we learned from this. It was a good experience. It was a bowl game on New Year’s Day against a really fine football team who has been a little up and down as we have. But when they play, they play well.”

4 Comments

  1. SaraGator says:

    Black was my favorite player this year! Will miss his infectious smile.

  2. Ken says:

    “I’m not generally sorry to see him leave college coaching”
    Are you sure that is what he said? that doesn’t sound like JoPa at
    all and is contrary to his comments leading up to the bowl
    game.

  3. GATORNATIONSPRESIDENT says:

    Sad to see Ahmad Black go, great career for a great Gator. An improved Will Hill and Matt Elam at the safety spots next year so help us to not miss a beat though

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