Press Conference Quotes: Brant Ringler and Nate Boyer
TIM SIMMONS: To get started, I will introduce Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Brant is in his 13th year with the bowl. This is our 14th annual game. So he missed the first one. I don't know where you were.
BRANT RINGLER: I was on the committee.
TIM SIMMONS: On the committee at that time. And this is the eighth year that he has been the executive director of the bowl game. He was the one, along with Tom Starr, that got us involved with the Armed Forces Bowl.
BRANT RINGLER: Thank you, Tim. And thank you everybody for being here today. We are excited about the 2014 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. We feel like we have a phenomenal matchup. If you look at some of the ESPN ratings, this is rated as probably the number one offensive game that we're going to have during bowl season with LA Tech's high‑flying game, with their aerial attack, and very contrasting styles, as you guys know, with Navy's solid ground game.
So we're looking forward to the great matchup between Navy and LA Tech. It will be a phenomenal day tomorrow.
TIM SIMMONS: How did the matchup come about? Obviously, we were supposed to have a Big 12 school over here. Initially, Navy was slotted into the game provided they got six wins. How did this all come about?
BRANT RINGLER: We actually had an agreement several years ago with Navy to be in this game. And then Navy joined the American Athletic Conference. I really want to give props out to Chet Gladchuk, the A.D. at Navy. He made sure to honor his agreement with us. So it kept Navy in our game. So we really appreciate that.
On the other side, we were scheduled to have a Big 12 team. The Big 12 had six teams qualify. I'm not going to pick on any teams that didn't qualify. But they had six. We were picked seventh. Unfortunately, we didn't have a Big 12 school. It worked out for us, because LA Tech had a great season. They're nearby for us. They can travel over here. And we feel like it's going to be a great matchup.
TIM SIMMONS: What about the future?
BRANT RINGLER: The future is bright. As our 14th year, Lockheed Martin is in their third year as our title sponsor, and they just renewed for another three years. That provides us immediate stability moving forward. Our sponsorship base continues to grow. Our ticket base continues to grow. This year we were able to underwrite over 20,000 tickets for our military members and their immediate families to come and enjoy the game. All 20,000 were signed up for online by those families and distributed. So it's a record for us as well. The game is strong.
TIM SIMMONS: What about the matchup for future years?
BRANT RINGLER: Next year we're scheduled to have Army in our game. So it was very positive to see them qualify for a bowl this year. Our game over in Dallas as well. So we look forward to having them next year against a Big Ten opponent.
TIM SIMMONS: Would you introduce, Mr. Boyar, your luncheon speaker. He's a unique guy to play on the football field and, obviously, serve in the Armed Forces. First time we have ever had that combination.
BRANT RINGLER: No doubt about it. Nate epitomizes what this game is all about. Not only from a football perspective but mainly from an Armed Forces perspective. This gentleman here not only walked on to University of Texas football team but also served his country while in school. So, during the summers, he's over in Afghanistan or Iraq, serving our country, protecting us with our freedoms and also working out to become the number one long snapper for the University of Texas, too. It's a great story. If you ever go online and look it up, you'll see that while he was over there, he was actually practicing to become a long snapper, had never done it before. His grit and his determination to do that is phenomenal. And then, obviously, everything he has done for our country is fantastic.
So I give you Nate Boyer. Look forward to having your speech today.
NATE BOYER: I'm looking forward to giving it.
TIM SIMMONS: He was the first recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association. Nate was at Texas, playing there. I think you were in your second year, third year at Texas but second year competing. So he was our first recipient.
The recipient this year is Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee who played in this game against Navy back in 2013 when Navy was here. He will be awarded the thing at the Football Writers breakfast in Tampa the morning of the national championship game.
Nate, what will you say today at the luncheon?
NATE BOYER: I don't know. I have a few things up my sleeve. I'm excited. I think it's really cool. Obviously, I went to Army‑Navy a couple weeks ago. That's always an amazing experience, if you have never gone to that game. And just seeing everything that goes with that and the traditions and how hard the kids compete and all that stuff.
But, beyond that, I like having the civilian university versus the military university. That's what our country is all about. That's why we serve. That's why we fight. We preserve all these freedoms and privileges that we have here. And to have such a support from a civilian community is why young men and women are willing to go over there and risk their lives and fight for maintaining everything that we have here.
So I think that's really cool. There's, obviously, going to be a mutual respect on the field between the players and all that. Great teams, like you said, competitive‑wise. I guess you were saying we might get a little bit of weather and all that. I'm looking forward to a battle.
BRANT RINGLER: 50% chance of sunshine.
TIM SIMMONS: Last time Nate was here he played at Texas, and I think Texas beat TCU.
NATE BOYER: We did. We got rained out for an hour and a half. We had an extended halftime. It was an hour and a half long halftime. But we did win, of course. Well, not of course.
TIM SIMMONS: You snapped the ball, run down the field, was it a kid from Arkansas or something hit you or something and apologized? Tell them that story.
NATE BOYER: We were playing Kansas State. You were asking me at dinner what that was like. Did they take it easy on me? I was an old man on the field. I think my junior year playing Kansas State, it was on the punt, and I snapped it. As soon as I snapped it, the guy's job was to ‑‑ he was blocking me. And he was trying to take me out of the equation so I couldn't go down and make a tackle. He hit me pretty good. And I lost my balance and running down the field. And he is apologizing the whole time. "Man, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I had to." I don't know if he thought I was going to snap his neck or what the deal was. (Laughter.)
I think he heard my story a little bit, and he was just being a good kid. It was pretty cool.
BRANT RINGLER: Kansas State has a great relationship with Fort Riley. And they do a lot with the men and women there. In fact, we actually have the first infantry division band coming for our game tomorrow. It's their 100th anniversary. We are excited to have them. It's probably a little bit of the respect earned there from Kansas State.
NATE BOYER: It was cool for them to do that.
TIM SIMMONS: Nate, you tried out for the Seahawks a couple of years ago. Obviously, you might have still have aspirations about playing in the NFL. What are you doing nowadays? You are living in L.A.
NATE BOYER: I think the NFL dream is over. I turn 36 in a couple of weeks. And I lost all my football weight and all that. So I think that's done.
Yeah, I'm getting into a lot of different things now. Obviously, in recent news, this stuff that's gone on this year with the anthem and football and all that, I'm just trying to be a part of bringing us all together, I think.
But, beyond that, the reason I'm in Los Angeles is I'm starting to work in the film and television industry a little bit and getting into the production side of things. It's just something that I have always been passionate about. That's what's great about our country. You can go serve it. And then, when you get out, you can go do whatever you want. You can follow whatever dreams you may have and all that. So I got a lot of things that I want to do. And that's sort of what I'm pursuing right now.
TIM SIMMONS: You brought up the anthem. Go through what went on with Collin Kaepernick and all that and your involvement with him this year.
NATE BOYER: It was one of those things where, obviously, it brought about a large reaction from our nation and very polarizing views on the whole thing. At the end of the day, in my opinion, what I fought for was our freedoms and rights to agree or disagree with the way that things are going. And whether it's right or wrong, that's not ‑‑ that wasn't up to me to decide. And I was just trying to listen and be a sounding board and, like I said, be a part of bringing us together and moving us forward in a positive direction.
I hope it's doing that. There's a lot of players out there and teams that are doing ‑‑ demonstrating in various ways. For instance, what the Seahawks are doing ‑‑ I'm a little bit biased ‑‑ they are all standing together and interlocking arms as one and saying, look, we're only going to move forward if we embrace one another and understand that things aren't perfect. But, at the same time, this is a place, this is a country unlike any other where you can have those viewpoints and you can ‑‑ and nobody is going to, for lack of a better word ‑‑ cut your head off. That's a fact. It's not like that everywhere.
And, to stand together, to support the person next to you, whether you agree with them or not and understand, look, you know, your experiences are different than my experiences, that's what makes us unique. That's what makes America great, in my opinion.
TIM SIMMONS: I forgot to ask Brant my last question. Talk a little bit about tomorrow with the venture park and the post‑game. We know we have a football game going on. Just talk a little bit about tomorrow.
BRANT RINGLER: So tomorrow we're going to be starting our tailgate outpost. It will open up about 11:30/noon outside the stadium. It has grown into something special. There's a big giant fan fest area. We will have our pep rallies, but the military branches have phenomenal stuff on display. The Navy has brought down a Navy SEAL display where you feel like you are in a boat going down a river and have the feel of what might be going on, what these guys might be going through. Obviously, it's not the exact same. But it's as close as they can get for the public to really understand some of the stuff that our men and women go through.
We have our Bud Light beer garden. We have food trucks that are actually owned and operated by veterans out there as well. We have our special Veterans Village. We have over 30 organizations that are there to help veterans. We don't know what people's needs are that have served our country, what they might be going through. So, when they're out there, they might come across a booth that helps them. And so that's why we want to have that there.
American Red Cross has R. Lee Ermey from "Full Metal Jacket" doing autographs from 1:00 to 3:00 out there as well. And following the game we have a great post‑game concert with a tribute band, AC/DC tribute band called Back in Black.
Inside the stadium, all the pageantry that goes on every year with our game, great halftime with our great American Patriot Award, we're doing Chris Kyle posthumously. And Taya will be here to receive that award on his behalf.
Obviously, the recruits, over 125 recruits will be inducted into the military as well. We just found out the Secretary of the Navy Mabus will be here as well to add to the fanfare. That's fantastic. Him talking to ESPN and everybody else at home about why our country serves, why the military serves.
We have over 160 purple heart recipients that will be on the field to be recognized. We're still going to give away a home. We're going to give away a car. We will reunite families from overseas. Wide variety of stuff. And then we're going to sprinkle in a great football game, too. So we're excited.
TIM SIMMONS: Flyover?
BRANT RINGLER: We've gone through a number of things this year with the flyover. Originally planned on having an F‑35. There's some complications with the unit. So we've worked our way to our local base here. And Lockheed Martin doesn't make only F‑35s and F‑16s and the fast planes. They make C‑130s and larger planes as well. Our actual jump team plane is ‑‑ let the patriot parachute team will let them out and circle around and do a low flyover with the C‑130s. It's something most people don't ever get to see.
TIM SIMMONS: For the LA Tech folks, talk a little bit about the trophy.
BRANT RINGLER: The trophy you see here in front of you is a very special trophy. There's none other like it in the world. We've actually taken parts from every military branch, decommissioned battlefield parts and melted it down into the trophy. So, like I said, there's no other trophy like it in the world. It's very special. And the champion tomorrow will have a special place on their mantel for sure.
TIM SIMMONS: Coach Ken has already had one, looking for his second.
Q. What did you finally get your punt deep snaps down to?
NATE BOYER: My times? That's a good question. I think the fastest I was closed at was ‑‑
Q. Like a 40 time?
NATE BOYER: .68 or something like that is kind of average.
Snapping was never really the issue. It was more size and blocking those guys, especially at the NFL level. I ate everything in sight to get to 225. And I was still the tiniest one in the league. The guys are just huge up there. The speed of the game to me didn't change that much. It was just the size of the man.
BRANT RINGLER: Do you have a Guinness world record?
NATE BOYER: I do have a Guinness world record. I had the longest long snap. But Guinness has to be there, so I'm sure both kids from the ‑‑ starters from both of these teams could probably snap it as far as I could. But Guinness wasn't there, so it doesn't matter. It was 30 yards. You could probably do it.
TIM SIMMONS: Who is flipping the coin tomorrow?
BRANT RINGLER: We have the executive vice president from Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Rick Edwards, will be flipping the coin.
Q. Brant, what is your assessment of the risk to the bowl culture in light of what happened this week with McCaffrey deciding not to play in the bowl game? Do you see a broader risk at‑large to the bowl culture of that precedent?
BRANT RINGLER: Well, I mean, certainly, we want to see all the top players that have played during their careers in college football to finish out with their teams. But we understand what's at risk for some of these guys. I don't know if it's going to be an ongoing thing. And, hopefully, personally, I hope it's not. I think they should finish out their season with their teammate. and also one last time for their fans to see them play and things. We understand both sides of the situation. We respect their decision if that's what they feel is best for them and their family.
Q. Take that question a step further. What if one of your teams had a situation like in Minnesota and the team decides we're going to boycott a game? What kind of contingencies do you have in place just in case a team says we're not coming?
BRANT RINGLER: I think you probably look at the same contingency that the Holiday Bowl went through. They had to fall back to the next APR team, which was Northern Illinois, to be a replacement. It was pretty close for them probably to have to make that call. I think Minnesota came to their senses, the players, once they realized the bigger picture of everything that's going on. They got their point across what they were trying to do. That's respectable.
But, in the end, I think they did make the right decision in playing. I think it would have been a pretty good black eye for the university if they did not play.