Bleacher Report Talks Sugar Bowl, Nick Saban and Coaching with Barry Switzer

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Bleacher Report Talks Sugar Bowl, Nick Saban and Coaching with Barry Switzer
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Switzer (center) is one of the greatest coaches to ever walk the sidelines at Norman.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, Barry Switzer will be teaming with Allstate to give away five pairs of tickets to the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide on Jan. 2 (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

The event will take place at Sooner Mall in Norman, Okla. from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. CT. A pair of tickets will be raffled off every hour beginning around 12:45 p.m.

Switzer, the former Oklahoma coach, will be on site to greet fans and help Allstate present the winners with their prize.

Bleacher Report got a chance to speak with one of only two coaches to win a college football national championship and a Super Bowl. 

We spoke with Switzer about everything from the upcoming Sugar Bowl matchup, Nick Saban, the BCS title and more.

 

Bleacher Report: Hey coach, thanks for taking the time to call in and speak with us today.

 

Barry Switzer: Of course, it’s my pleasure.

 

B/R: So I have to start by asking about the Sugar Bowl matchup. Oklahoma will be going up against Alabama—a team many still consider to be the best team in the nation. What were your initial thoughts on the matchup?

 

BS: I won’t lie. It’s definitely one of the toughest draws of any team in the bowl games. I was with Coach Stoops at the dinner the other night and I told him, ‘Boy, you got the worst possible draw!’ and he just looked at me and said, ‘You have to be able to play anybody.’ Alabama is one heck of a football team. And we’re pretty young and inexperienced at key positions and dealing with several injuries. So it’s tough. I don’t know if Oklahoma—or any other team in the nation, for that matter—has three or four guys who could start for Alabama right now. They’re that good.

 

B/R: It’s no surprise that Alabama opened as 15-point favorites. Can Stoops and his staff use that as motivation over the next couple of weeks?

 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

BS: I think it will be used a lot. Last week, nobody gave Oklahoma a shot to beat Oklahoma State. They were 10-point favorites, I believe. That was the ultimate slap in the face. I mean, here’s a team Oklahoma has beaten nine out of the last 10 times, and suddenly they were going to just roll over and lose? As a coach, you use that kind of negativity as motivation and the players thrive from it. 

 

B/R: As far as Stoops goes, what does it say about him that he led Oklahoma to 10 wins and a BCS bowl in a season in which many experts believed they’d be lucky to win eight or nine games?

 

BS: Coach Stoops is one of the best in the business. He’s the (one of the) … winningest coaches in Oklahoma history—passing me. He’s won eight Big 12 titles and had four national championship appearances. The guy knows how to win. He should never be doubted.

 

B/R: As for quarterback, if both are healthy, who would you start in the Sugar Bowl? Trevor Knight or Blake Bell?

 

BS: That’s really not my decision to make. But each benefits the offense in their own way.

 

B/R: What are your thoughts on the Nick Saban-to-Texas rumors? Do you think that it will have a negative effect on Alabama heading into the bowl game?

 

BS: Listen, those kinds of rumors will always be there. When you’ve been as successful as (Saban), it’s only fitting everyone will want to associate themselves with your name. As far as the team goes, whether (Saban) remains coach or not, the players will still play once they get on the field. The minute you run through those tunnels, nothing else matters except sticking it to your opponent.

 

B/R: Let’s say Saban winds up at Texas. How does this affect Oklahoma, in terms of the rivalry and recruiting?

 

BS: Regardless of how much national attention there is, the intensity of the rivalry will always be there. Texas proved that this season. Recruiting-wise, Texas is a huge state. No matter who comes in, there are plenty of players to go around for everyone.

 

B/R: Saban has moved around, even a less-than-successful NFL stint. How were you able to take your success from the college level and make it work in the NFL?

 

 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Switzer (right) took his success with him to the pros.

BS: Quite honestly, a lot of that credit goes to (Jimmy Johnson) for building a great team in Dallas, winning two Super Bowls. I practically inherited a team that already had a winning attitude and knew what it took to win a Super Bowl. It made my life a lot easier. A lot of these other guys didn’t have that. They had to start from scratch. Not to mention, Plan B free agency had just been introduced in the NFL. And that really started to change the game.

 

B/R: Turning to the BCS title game between Auburn and Florida State. Who do you like going into the game?

 

BS: I’m really looking forward to this one. Auburn has been playing really good ball lately. They’ve been pounding it on the ground, and nobody has been able to stop them. But Florida State has been just as good. What impressed me the most when I watched the Florida State-Clemson game was that those guys can really play defense. I didn’t expect Florida State to be that tough defensively. It’s going to be a really good matchup. I think the BCS got it right this time.

 

B/R: Do you prefer how national titles were determined back in your day at Oklahoma or how the BCS does it now?

 

BS: Each format has its pros and cons. We used to play for the mythical national championship where it was based on who you played, how well you played and what bowl you played in. And then the champion was determined from the polls. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Same with the BCS. It’s always tough to get it right. But I think (the College Football Playoffs) is a step in the right direction.

 

B/R: OK, time for some predictions. Auburn or Florida State?



BS: That’s a tough one. I want to say Florida State, but Auburn seems like the team of destiny. They won both those games on impossible last-second plays. It just seems everything is going into their favor. It’s hard to pick against them. It’ll be close.

 

B/R: Oklahoma or Alabama?

 

BS: I really think Alabama is going to win this game. They have all the experience on their side. Oklahoma is still a young, young football team. Still learning how to put it all together. It will definitely be a great learning experience for Oklahoma though.

 

B/R: Thanks for your time, coach.

 

BS: No problem. You have a good one now.

 

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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