Orange Bowl announcement quotes

Jimbo Fisher led the Aggies to a regular season record of 8-1 in his third year at the helm of the program.

No. 5 Texas A&M will face No. 13 North Carolina in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Jan. 2.

Here’s what College Football Playoff selection committee chair Gary Barta, UNC head coach Mack Brown and A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher had to say following the announcement:

CFP Selection Committee Chair Gary Barta

On the committee selecting Notre Dame over A&M:

“This is an area that the committee spent a great deal talking about last night into the early morning and then back again this morning. Those two teams and those two resumes have a lot in common. Their defenses are both terrific. Their offenses are both productive, have quarterbacks that make good decisions.

“The body of work – last night Clemson beat Notre Dame handily and that earlier in the season Alabama beat Texas A&M handily. When you look at the full season, you look at the full body of work, the committee looked to the fact that Notre Dame had two wins over ranked teams, that one of those wins was against Clemson, and that Texas A&M had one win over a ranked team. So there was no single factor. This was something that was discussed at great length within the committee and among the committee members, but when it was all said and done, the committee decided that Notre Dame had earned its way to that fourth spot over a very good Texas A&M team.”

UNC head coach Mack Brown

On A&M missing the playoffs:

“Does A&M deserve to be in? Absolutely. If there were five or six teams they would be in, but who do you take out? I sat there all the time and tried to make those decisions, and you'll sit there and think you know what you're talking about and then somebody will give another side of it and say, yeah, that's true. But the committee does a great job of figuring it all out, and we're just lucky to be in the Orange Bowl playing a great opponent with Jimbo. As far as coming back to Miami, we wouldn't be in this game unless we had beaten Miami, and Miami was the No. 10 team in the country. The guys will enjoy preparation for the game. They've already been there. They know the stadium and we'll have tremendous respect for the opponent, so it'll be fun for us.”

On Jimbo Fisher:

“I think that Jimbo has gotten [A&M] to this point much quicker than I thought he would. To be in that division in the SEC and to be able to compete like he has and put his team in a position that arguably should be in the Final Four today, and half of the people that are arguing would say that they should be in there, I think it's amazing what he's been able to accomplish in such a short time.”

Memories of A&M during his time as Texas’ head coach:

“It's the Bonfire event, the 10 days there. I remember when we lost 12 young people that were working on the Bonfire, and the Bonfire fell in on them. I remember driving to work on a Thursday 10 days or a week before the ballgame. It was the open date before the A&M game on Thanksgiving, and hearing on the radio that 12 young students at A&M had lost their lives working on a traditional Bonfire. As a parent, it just took me back, and I stopped and I really started crying. I heard on the radio that parents call this number to check on your kids, and then they said, the lines are just overloaded, so you're going to have to drive to College Station, and I thought, you're going to have to drive to see if your kids are alive, and then I called Sally and said, ‘What do we do?’ and she said, ‘All we can do is pray for the families that have lost their children; but there's some others hurt; let's start a blood drive.’ So we actually started a blood drive that afternoon and there were Houston and Texas Tech and TCU fans and Baylor fans and A&M fans, and R.C. Slocum to this day is a dear friend of mine and we all tried to pull together and said should we have a game or not, and then we canceled our pep rally and had a memorial with a lot of A&M students. And then it was an unbelievable day at the game because I thought we probably shouldn't play the game and I told R.C. whatever you all want we'll do, and then not only did we play the game but I think we were ahead 16-0 at halftime, they came back and beat us 21-16 right at the end and I thought that's one of the few times in my life that it was probably a really good healing experience for A&M, so I'm not sure that it wasn't best for them to have won that game. But that's a memory that every year at Thanksgiving I think about those families and those kids that were lost.”

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

On Mack Brown:

“Having Mack Brown, who I think is one of the great coaches in college football and probably will end up being a Hall of Fame coach and won National Championships, won 250, 260 games, however many he's won, great guy, great opponent. He's done a tremendous job with North Carolina. To get them in the Orange Bowl and how quick he was there and where that program was when he took over, it's an amazing accomplishment. Again, but it doesn't surprise you. Everywhere Mack goes, he wins. That's going to be a very well-coached football team who's playing great football and had a great win down there against Miami just a few weeks ago to put them in it, and we're going to have our hands full.”

On not making the playoffs:

“It's like having a bad play. You get disappointed for a minute and then you play the next play. You move on. That's life. We've had a great opportunity. We've had a great year. We've done great things, and we put ourselves in a position to be in it, but we weren't, so now it's time to move on. You wanted to be in it, but at the same time we're in the Orange Bowl, man. We can progress, keep going, doing what we're doing. Everybody does that, but our players are moving on. They were excited when they announced that we were able to play in the Orange Bowl. They were very excited, knowing A&M hadn't been there. I couldn't tell them how many years. Now I know it's 77. I know it was pre-World War II or somewhere in that range right in there. So it was pretty good.”

On frustration about missing the playoffs:

“There's no frustration. We're excited to be going to the Orange Bowl. We're in a New Year's Six game against a great opponent, and we're very happy to be there and there's no frustration at all.”

On A&M’s success in his third year:

“I thought we had an opportunity to [be successful]. It was just a matter of how quick we could focus and pay attention to detail and eliminate clutter and play our game. We expect to be good every time we play, and hopefully it could have even been sooner than that, but we have things in position and our guys have done a great job. They've bought in, and our assistant coaches have done a tremendous job, our support staff, everybody here at A&M. The administration has given us things we need to do to be successful, and our players have one heck of a job. This is a tremendous football team with great leadership who has done a great job with our young players, old players and sending the message and selling the message of what we do, especially during this year with so much turmoil going through and so much change in our life and so much up and down. It's remarkable what they've done, but it doesn't surprise me because people are amazing when they want to be. When there's an urgency to do things, it's amazing what people can do. We've had the ability and they're doing it now.”

What it means for the program to finish the regular season at No. 5:

“It shows the trajectory we're on and what we're trying to accomplish, that we are being relevant in the national conversations and where we're going. Our brand is becoming a national brand and things we do, which I think you have to do in today's game. We've got a great state here in Texas that we want to recruit the heck out of, but we also got to brand ourselves nationally across the board, and I think it sends a sign to players out there that, hey, A&M is on the rise, we're doing the things we need to do to have success and this is a tremendous program, and hopefully they'll want to come be a part of it.”

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