STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Oh, we are nowhere near the end of the bowl season. College football's Fiesta Bowl is tonight. And the national championship game is just one of several games expected over the coming days and weeks. They include the International Bowl, the Hula Bowl, and even the Senior Bowl, which is a game for graduating pro-football prospects, not baby boomers hoping for one more shot.
ESPN analyst Bill Curry has been tracking many games so far. Bill, good morning once again.
Mr. BILL CURRY (ESPN): Good morning. How are you, Steve?
INSKEEP: Doing fine. Thanks very much. Hawaii was the nation's only unbeaten team but not anymore after playing Georgia.
Mr. CURRY: No, not at all. It would have been a monumental story if they could have pulled off the upset. But Georgia really, really dominated the game from start to finish. I don't think anybody anticipated that the Hawaii offense would not be able to do anything. But it was a game in which there was such a physical mismatch that Hawaii was never really in it.
INSKEEP: And can I mention in this 41-10 bowl game you have a Georgia team that returns, if I'm not mistaken, about 17 of their starters next year?
Mr. CURRY: Yeah. They had an awful lot of use this year but they have a very steady coach and a coaching staff in Mark Richt and his people. And even when he loses a good coach, they don't seem to miss a beat in their expectation and in their talent level. And that's what you have to be able to do.
INSKEEP: So there's one top team, and let's talk about another one - USC, which just destroyed Illinois in the Rose Bowl, embarrassment for Illinois.
Mr. CURRY: There were some early moments when Illinois had a chance to get into the game. But on two occasions the tackling - this is stuff that coaches teach all the time, and for fans who really watch for little things, the second tackler in, one tackler holds the ball carrier up, the other one punches the ball out. There were two key turnovers that turned that game into a rout. It might have been a fairly good game because Illinois was not as bad as a 49-17 score, but USC is that dominating.
INSKEEP: It's all about training, is it, the technique you just described?
Mr. CURRY: It really is, because if you're the first tackler, you better secure the ball carrier or he'll run away from you. You can't be worried about the football. But when the first tackler makes the hit and holds the ball carrier up and you're there almost simultaneously and you can feel that you're the second man, then you punch the ball out. And it was done as if it were perfectly orchestrated. So the SC defense really turned the tide in the game.
INSKEEP: Now, are you getting excited in all about the national championship game coming up next week?
Mr. CURRY: Well, I get excited about a bunch of young people getting a chance to be on the national level that has evolved because of the BCS and because of all the controversy. I get excited about the fact that the guys get a chance to play where it really means something to a lot of people. I think they come away from these experiences changed people, those of them who see the team value to all of this.
INSKEEP: The team value to it.
Mr. CURRY: Nobody gets to the top of the heap in football unless they understand team. Even though you see a lot of individual displays because we're in that kind of culture, you don't get to play in a good bowl game unless you care about your teammates. Football is the only sport that I know of in which every player needs every teammate on every play just to survive in the game. Most people don't see that. But that's what happens when a team trains this hard and long.
INSKEEP: Okay. Bill, thanks very much.
Mr. CURRY: Thank you, Steve.
INSKEEP: Bill Curry is a football analyst for ESPN. He's becoming a regular guest on this program as well. And he's also a former player in the NFL.
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