The final pre-game press conference with TCU head coach Gary Patterson and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema took place today in Los Angeles. This is the first of two parts featuring select quotes from Bret Bielema. Questions were posed by a variety of sportswriters in attendance.

You talked a little about your own personal experience in losing the Rose Bowl that you came out here for. For this team and how it will define the season, what is the difference between winning and losing the Rose Bowl game?

“Well, it’s a lot of memories that come with this week, but those memories will never be the same if it doesn’t have a win behind it. Coach Alvarez set the standard for the University of Wisconsin coming out here three times, winning three times in the same decade has never been done before in our conference.

So for him to do that, when I took over the job, I knew that record and what it all meant.

We’ve hopefully done things right along the way. He’s been a great mentor. We’ve done a lot of things similar to what he did, but on the same¬†account, it’s kind of a different day and different age with the BCS and requirements and all that this game brings. But I think just to cap it off the way we need to, it defines the season.”

Just what were your impressions of what TCU has done over the past few years coming from where they’ve come from with a chip on their shoulder getting to the point they are now as a non-AQ, and being here now and your thoughts on what they’ve accomplished?

“Unbelievable. I know how hard it is in this profession to win football games. I don’t know a lot about the leagues they’ve come from. I spent some time in the Big 12 conference at Kansas State. That’s where I first met Coach Patterson.

But it’s not easy to win. For them to do it the way they have consecutively year in and year out is unprecedented and something that has a lot of respect from my guys.”

What does that trophy to the right of you mean to you?

“Well, it would look good in Madison, I know that. But it’s something that Coach Lasorda came out the other day and told a story about a sailor that was a thousand yards out from shore and it was foggy out and his boat capsized and he knew the only thing he needed to do was start swimming.

So he swam 197 yards. At that point it was still foggy and he couldn’t see shore, he gave up and drowned. He was three yards from shore. Why did you swim the 197 yards? This is the Kap to the season. It is an opportunity for us. We did what we needed to do to get here. We went through a road bump at Michigan State, but battled back and played extremely well down the stretch. The reward was the opportunity to come here, and how we capitalize on it will be determined on Saturday.”

You talked about the Big 10 representing the Big 10. How much do you play that up with the players and how important will your performance be in terms of shaping the league’s National perception?

“I think it’s a very important thing, that’s why I’ve stressed it all along from our guys. Hopefully, they were able to relay that to you along the way. We’re part of a conference that maybe took some body blows over the last couple of years. I always used to get¬†frustrated. I remember my first year five years ago we played Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl, and Arkansas is in the SEC Conference. Everybody was telling us how bad we were going to get beat. We went out there and put a whooping on them, and nobody said anything about that.

Well, because a couple days later, the Big 10 was in a couple BCS games and didn’t fare very well. So I realized the BCS is where everybody looks and everybody talks about. So this is the opportunity for us. Obviously us and Ohio State. And I know Coach Tressel and that football team, so my guess is they’re going to have the same approach and hopefully we can make our conference stand tall.”

You mentioned before your message to the team after the Michigan State loss, and you hang your hat on that 1-0 mentality. Tomorrow being the ultimate 1-0, what will your message be to the team in the locker room before they head out to the game?

“First, they have to not get consumed by the moment. It’s so breathtaking to walk into that stadium. Because of all of this, all the media — right when we landed on Saturday first thing I did is take them to the stadium. I wanted them to see it empty.

I wanted them to see the field painted. Then we’ll come back today, and take a picture. There will be a lot of media around and things going on. But when you walk in there on Saturday, if you let it, it can consume you and you can be taken back by it.

So I want them to focus on the game, and I really think they will. We got to this point. We take great pride saying we’re the least penalized team in college football. We don’t give the ball away. We’re one of the nation’s best in that regard. And that’s, to me, that’s playing as a headsy football team.

At Wisconsin we have a great school. For us kids to achieve academically what they do, they’ve got to be smart, and they are. I need us to play that way.

We’ve got to be smart with the football and stick to what got us here. Coach Fry, just to quote him, he always said if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We found a recipe to have success, so we’re not going to tweak it.”

TCU has talked a lot about having a chip on their shoulder and playing for the non-AQ schools and all of that. What do you have to match that level of intensity or motivation, I guess?

“First off, I think we have to put our priorities in order with what we’re trying to get accomplished. I think from going back before the season started to where we are today, one thing that we’ve talked about is playing our best football.

I do believe we’re the underdog, at least in some people’s eyes, and we should be. They’re an undefeated football team. They’ve done something we haven’t.

I can’t really respond to what TCU’s motivation is. But I know this: Our kids really believe that this is a culmination to something special. There is a difference in that ring if it says Rose Bowl champions or just says a Rose Bowl that you played in. So that’s a big deal for our guys.”

A decade ago, Barry was standing up there with sweat running under his nose and not giving the media anything. How are you having so much fun 24 hours before arguably the biggest game of your career?

“Embrace the moment. If you interview our guys, whatever the situation is, you have to embrace it. If you don’t, you’re just in denial. So when we went to Iowa, I told the kids, hey, it’s going to be loud. They’re going to be yelling obscenities. I graduated from there, and they’re going to be yelling stuff at me you shouldn’t repeat.

But you’re here, why don’t you have fun with it. One of the first things I say when I come into the locker room before the game a lot of times everybody will tell you, let’s have some fun today. First time they played the game on my coaching staff or my locker room, it wasn’t because there were 90,000 people or on National TV.

It was because your dad, your uncle, your brother, your mother, your sister rolled the ball on the field and said, hey, let’s play. I think we’ve kind of kept that going forward.

Growing up as a kid, my brothers and I had these two neighbors down the road, and we had a big yard. When we got bigger, it wasn’t big enough, so we started playing football on our knees in the grass.

In the middle of our big lawn there was a 20-yard patch that was dirt. There wasn’t any grass because we had worn it out on our knees playing football. I go back to those days quite a bit.”

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