Dec. 8, 2008
Q. Mo, I just wondered, you were around for the 2004 Bowl season, so forth. As far as players’ enthusiasm and so forth, what’s the difference maybe between ’04 and going to that Bowl and going to this Bowl?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think the biggest difference is just it was a completely different situation at that time, with the coaches and all that stuff. So there are a lot of guys kind of, I guess, torn, missing the coach, and guys being their last game. And just the situation was completely different.
Going into this one, I think the guys are really excited to go to a bowl game and have an opportunity to play a quality opponent.
Q. David, it sounded like Notre Dame had some choices about where it could have ended up, what was appealing to the players about Hawaii. I know that sounds obvious, but beyond the obvious, because it did butt up against your exam schedule a little bit, it’s on Christmas Eve, there’s some other things, but just talk about why, other than the obvious, what the attraction to Hawaii was.
David Bruton: Hawaii fits perfectly in our schedule. You go in right from exams and hit the road and you’re right there. And in football, it’s good for our break. There’s no interruption in our break as football players. So we get a chance to finish the game early, be able to get home, some of us will get home on Christmas Day. Others may be a little late. And you have this long break, a lot of us who haven’t experienced that yet.
Q. Dave, a lot of people are looking at this as maybe a springboard to 2009. You guys don’t have a 2009. What kind of statement do you as seniors want to make with this game?
David Grimes: I think it’s just going out on top. Kind of take that bitter taste out of our mouth that we had this last month, and get the seniors something to be happy about.
Q. Mo, Charlie talked about the players and their input about the Bowl game. Talk about that process. I don’t know who came to you guys, said, hey, where do you want to go. But can you talk about that process leading up to yesterday?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think what it was, it was the administration kind of wanted some input from the players. So Coach Weis went to the captains and the leadership guys and asked us from our standpoint what do we think is best for the team, because, again, with options, they all have their pros and cons. So we just kind of wanted to weigh those as a team.
Q. Did you go and talk to other players, though, talk to me about the process?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: It’s pretty much like the leadership committee and the captains, because we’re all so close with the team and guys kind of knew, was kind of aware of the situation, knew there was some options, didn’t really know where we were going to end up.
So just kind of around the locker room, just listening to the guys and taking their input. And we took it upstairs and tried to incorporate everything and make the best decision for the team.
Q. When did you let Coach Weis know that Hawaii was the choice?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Just thinking about it, weighing the options kind of the schedule and how it fits, I mean, obviously Hawaii was very attractive to a lot of the players. But it maximizes our break time and it makes it easier to roll into the football game and not put us at a disadvantage versus going home during Christmas and maybe some guys having, oh, man, I gotta go back. Still giving guys an opportunity to get home on Christmas.
Q. I guess it was on Saturday that you let Coach Weis know you wanted to go to Hawaii, middle of last week? When did you let him know?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Friday we met about it and just kind of, in order of the options, which one we thought was best for the team. And that’s the one we thought was the best.
Q. You said everything has pros and cons. What’s the con of going to Hawaii?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: It’s leaving so fast. And then for the guys who, for like myself, who have to fly from Hawaii to Florida, it’s an extremely long flight. And I’m probably going to have a layover somewhere. So those are some of the cons. But, again, I think for the team it makes the most sense.
Q. Either for David or David, I guess the destination, does it kind of re energize you guys a little bit? I don’t think it would be kind of wrong to say the way the season ends, frustrating, upsetting for you guys; the fact you’re going to Hawaii, does that kind of give you guys some extra juice that maybe a Shreveport or a Houston just wouldn’t?
David Bruton: I believe the fact that we’re going to a Bowl game in general should energize the team. A lot of us are upbeat and peppy about the fact that we’re going to a Bowl game.
And I guess Hawaii probably adds a little more excitement and a little more wind under the sail for a lot of guys because some guys would never imagine going to Hawaii in the first place, let alone to play under the sun and make that long, long trip. It’s more attractive than Houston or something like that.
Q. What do you think, David, about that, gives you guys a little extra energy than just going to another Bowl game would not?
David Grimes: I definitely agree with what David 2 said. (Laughter) Coming off last year, we didn’t make it to a Bowl, and I think there was just a lot of guys happy that we’re actually going to a Bowl.
And I think there’s even more energy, because Hawaii, nice weather, beautiful women.
Q. David, you talked about this a little bit, I’d like to get Mo and David 2 on this, how a win here would kind of finish off your careers the right way. You guys didn’t get the win in Los Angeles. You didn’t get the win on Senior Day. Would winning a Bowl change how you feel leaving here?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Definitely. This truly is my last chance to leave a mark in the program, and also give those guys who are coming back something to build off of, and I really do think that will be a good way just to leave a good taste in my mouth.
David Bruton: Yeah, just agreeing with Mo, it’s the final shot that I have to leave my mark. And I care a lot about the guys, and I want to prepare them and springboard them into a positive start for the next season. So it’s a bit selfish on my end, but also selfless as well.
Q. What do you guys think of when you think of Hawaii?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I’m really looking forward to it. I’m just looking forward to a good time, and I guess having a really, really close team and going out there, I think it adds to it. We’ll be able to do a lot of things together and have a lot of fun, so I’m just looking forward to a lot of fun.
David Bruton: What Little David said (Laughter), just the women, the sun, the atmosphere in general of Hawaii and just basically living a dream or a fantasy just to go out there.
Q. Lastly, it’s been a while since Notre Dame won a Bowl game. How will that feel to put is that streak to an end?
David Bruton: That would be a major accomplishment, especially since mine and David’s class, quote, unquote, the forgotten class or the worst class in Notre Dame history. But it would be great to say we broke that streak along with the fifth year seniors break that streak and start a new streak in itself.
Q. Is it fair to say that this is a fairly unanimous decision, or were there people who wanted to go to Houston or Shreveport?
David Grimes: Being that I’m from Detroit, I voted for the Motor City Bowl. Detroit, we have better weather than Hawaii. (Laughter) That was my vote. It definitely wasn’t unanimous. Coach Weis asked the group of guys to give their judgment personally and how they felt about the team.
Q. Obviously all three of you are not exactly from the West Coast. Your families, did you talk to them about it? Are they even going to try to make the trip because it’s not exactly cost effective?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: It’s just too far. I know my parents aren’t going to go because they’ve got family outings and stuff planned for Christmas already. So it would be tough to try to string that up.
David Bruton: From my family, I was surprised I got a call yesterday, well, last night. And my dad was like look for flights for us, a cheaper one, because it looks like it’s going to cost $4100 for the flight alone for my mom, dad and my younger brother and my son if he’s going to be able to make that long, long trip. I was shocked they’re even thinking about flying all the way to Hawaii.
David Grimes: My mother said she was going to watch the game in a beach chair. (Laughter) and bring some sand in the house. So I said that’s fine.
Q. Was that maybe the biggest con, for you guys, it’s a fairly large contingent of parents, families, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, that weren’t going to go, was that the biggest con to this thing?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think so. I mean, not having your loved ones to share in the moments with you. But, again, we’re a pretty close team. So I think we’ll make do.
David Grimes: I agree with Mo. It’s one thing not having them there, but it’s another thing when it’s Christmas Eve as well. It’s kind of two headed, I guess.
Q. As leaders, how do you guys guard against, okay, we’re going to Hawaii and then trying to keep focus, there is a game, what do you do about that?
David Bruton: I believe the team is well prepared and got the mindset right that it’s not just a vacation. It’s a business trip in itself as well. We gotta take care of business first and the free time that we do get, enjoy it. Soak in the sun. Soak in the memories.
But when it comes game time or when it’s practice, you gotta take it seriously because we’re not coming there just to end up 6-7. We want to be 7-6 and springboard off into the right direction.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think us going out there right at the finals kind of sends that message to guys and just it will help everyone just distinguish between football to let them know this is what we’re here for first and foremost and it’s our jobs as leaders to make sure that message gets preached.
David Grimes: And the party line, since we found out, has been just to win the Bowl game. And I think secondly is to enjoy a place like Hawaii. But definitely our goal is to win a Bowl game.
Q. What do you guys know about Hawaii, the team?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I know there’s a lot of receivers on the field. I’ve seen that much. But, I mean, they did pretty good, was it last night? Saturday night, when they played against Cincinnati, from what I saw, I think they were a pretty good team. And they’re definitely a really good opponent.
David Grimes: We also know they’re a quality opponent and they’re tough to beat at home. I think their record at home is 22 4 in the last 26 games. So they’re definitely a quality opponent.
Q. Does it feel weird to be playing a Bowl game at somebody else’s, basically their home?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, in a way. When we played in the Sugar Bowl it was close to that, too. But Hawaii, that is their home, and they’re really good at home. But I mean for us it’s just like another business trip. We’re going to get on a plane and get ready to go and prepare like we always do and just count on that.
Q. The team had a say, but there are some Notre Dame fans questioning whether Notre Dame should be playing on Christmas Eve, do you have an opinion on that at all?
David Grimes: No opinion.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: No opinion either.
Q. How much does that Bowl losing streak weigh on you guys at this point? Is it something that’s at the top of the list to end, something you guys think about at all? How does that play into this whole preparation time?
David Bruton: For me, personally, I’m 0 2 playing in a Bowl. So I want to end my streak. And the overall Notre Dame record in a Bowl, it does weigh a little bit, but in the grand scheme of things I just want to handle what’s going on now and the fact that I’m 0 2 in a Bowl.
Q. Mo, it seems to me, and maybe you wouldn’t agree, but it seems to me this is a chance to really get a gauge on where the younger guys are as far as support of Charlie Weis and support of the program and whatnot, a lot of different distractions going on and out in Hawaii. What do you want to see from the young guys? What attitude do you want to see them take? What do you hope to see from those guys?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: What I’m looking forward to seeing is just seeing those guys essentially just show what they’re going to do next year. Because those guys are no longer young guys at this point. Most of those guys have become juniors and sophomores with years under their belt and a ton of playing time. So the Bowl games are the kind of games where you start to see the bright spots going into next year.
Q. How important is it? I know there’s obviously the off season and a big gap in between, but can you take some momentum away from this Bowl game? How important is this game in terms of that?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think it’s very important going into next year and next season for those guys just because you can only be judged from your last time out. And for those guys, that’s their last time out. And I really do think that the better they do, the better they’ll do next year.
Q. Since all you guys are seniors, and obviously there are All Star games to be played as well, the fact that it’s on the 24th, does that weigh into it, too, that you guys might get some time off before any All Star games that you may or may not have been invited to/accepted?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, definitely I think so. Just because, I mean, an opportunity to have any kind of time to take a break or to let your body rest, essentially, before you go against really, really good competition I think is very vital and it helps out a lot.
Q. Have you guys been invited to any games yet?
David Bruton: Yeah.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think the East/West game for me.
David Bruton: The Senior Bowl.
David Grimes: Not yet.
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