Spoke with West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett last week to preview the BCS Championship Game, a game, of course, in which his former team Florida State (13-0) and his father, Rick, will face Auburn (12-1) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Trickett touched on a variety of topics, including that he played with a torn labrum last fall. CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman reported Trickett will meet with Dr. James Andrews in California to determine whether he needs surgery or not.
Take a look at the preview in today's paper, and then scurry back for the Q&A, which covers the bulk of our discussion.
Q: Are you back home in Florida or in West Virginia?
A: I just got into Florida today. I was on a three-day duck-hunting trip in Arkansas. It was pretty, pretty good. It was the hunt of a lifetime. It was a pretty successful hunt.
Q: What are your thoughts as you get ready to head to the BCS Championship Game?
A: I've never been out to California, so I'm looking forward to that. This whole thing is mainly about my dad. He's been coaching 30-some-odd years, and he's never won a national championship. I really, really want him to get one.
Q: I'd imagine your family is all pretty excited about all this.
A: Definitely. This is one of those things that doesn't happen very often. For him to be doing it as long as he has, and he's known as one of the best in the business — if not the best — it's the first time he gets a crack at it. We went undefeated in '93 at Auburn, but they were bowl-ineligible because of an NCAA violation. It was our first year there. I hope they get it done, and I think they will.
Q: The headline there is that Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy, but I don't think you're going to win without a good offensive line. If you wanted to brag for your dad, what can you say about what he's done with that offensive line?
A: Like you said, Jameis isn't much without his offensive line. It's the best offensive line in the country. [laughs] I love my guys, so besides my [West Virginia] guys — I always gotta put my guys first — I'd put Florida State up there. I came in with these guys, I came in with the center, Bryan Storks, I roomed with him. I'm happy for him. There's not a weakness along the offensive line. Every one of them is an NFL body and an NFL player, just depending on when they want to come out. It's kind of freaky, actually, how good they are.
Q: You're in the peculiar situation where just a few short months ago you were with these guys in spring camp. At that point could you have fathomed that this team would play for the national title?
A: This senior class was the class that I came in with — the 2010 class. We always had confidence in ourselves, but Florida State has always had that one game or two games where they always just slip up and don't get the job done. We all wanted to get over that hump. [laughs] It just so happens they did it ... but without me. [Stuff] happens, I guess! I know all the guys, and every one of them are phenomenal guys. They're just like our guys at West Virginia, great players and good people off the field. It's hard not to cheer for those guys, and I've been cheering for them all year.
Q: Did you follow Florida State pretty closely throughout the season?
A: Absolutely. Whenever their games were on and we weren't playing, I'd watch. Whenever my dad and I would talk, we'd never really talk about Florida State. He'd just ask how things are going up here. We didn't really talk about football, in general. Their record speaks for itself. Their game speaks for itself. That's why they're No. 1 right now. They've got the best wide receiver corps in the country — all besides West Virginia, of course. They've got the best running backs. And they've got the Heisman Trophy winner, the best player on any team in the country.
Q: Are you pretty close with a lot of guys on the team still?
A: Absolutely. They've called me pretty much after every game, especially after the Oklahoma State game. All of them calling and congratulating me. I've talked to them after games. I came down my bye week and visited and saw damn near all of them. Since I've been down here [for the holidays] I've seen all of them. I came in there after one of their [bowl] practices, walk into the locker room and it was like a high-school reunion. Everyone was excited. It was a good time.
Q: You saw Jameis first-hand the last two years; did any of this surprise you, or did you know he had this in him?
A: Jameis came in during the fall, and at that time we already had three quarterbacks there when he and Sean Maguire came in. They were pretty much on scout team throughout that year. We saw a glimpse of it with him and Sean. But at that time it was pretty much just me and E.J. taking the reps. We really didn't get to see it then. We saw it a lot during the spring, obviously. We knew about him. He was the No. 1 quarterback coming out. He's a phenomenal player, and he has great guys around him to help him out, too.
Q: Now, you had some hard luck behind backup to so many first rounders there ...
A: I was backup to Christian Ponder, and I was backup to E.J. Manuel — that's two first-rounders. And then I had the Heisman Trophy winner right there in the meeting room with me. I planned on leaving a little while before all that happened, before spring. It's crazy. It just speaks to the talent they recruit there at Florida State.
Q: Jameis's life is pretty different than it was when he arrived on campus last fall. What do you remember about him back then?
A: Jameis came in like all the other freshmen. He was a funny kid; everyone liked him. That freshman class that he came in with was a tight-knit group. Every class down there was pretty tight, and you pretty much hung out with the guys you came in with. I'd just see him in the meeting rooms, but he was a funny kid. He's enjoyable to be around.
Q: Just to get an idea of the dynamic: you said by spring camp you already knew you were out the door. Was it a true battle with Jameis, then, or were you already out of there?
A: "It was awkward. There was moments where I think they [the coaches] kind of knew. Us as a family ... I had my mind made up, and of course family members and people close to you are going to know, too. It was an awkward situation, and I probably should have handled it better and tried to give it everything, but, shoot, everything worked out for everyone. I'm playing at West Virginia, and Florida State is in the national championship.
Q: I imagine part of the awkwardness was that your dad was on staff, so he knew how you were leaning.
A: A little bit. Mainly because we had been close to Jimbo [Fisher], known his family for a while now. Things just weren't working out with us, me and him, and we just decided to part ways.
Q: When you left, did you see this as a team with the capability to win it all?
A: We all had an idea throughout the spring and even last year, when we had a good team. We lost a lot of guys on defense. We weren't too concerned on offense. We did lose E.J., but we knew whoever stepped in was going to have the tools around him. They're the best at each position: tight ends, Nick O'Leary, offensive line, wide receivers, running backs — they're three-deep. All three of those running backs will be playing in the NFL. We weren't too worried about that. The defense was the main concern, and Coach [Tim] Brewster came in and did a hell of a job and allowed those guys to step up, a few guys from my class like Lamarcus Joyner, Terrence Brooks, Christian Jones, they're playing lights out. I'm excited for what the future holds for them.
Q: What's your relationship like with your dad today?
A: [pause] You know what? It seemed like we got closer once I moved away. While we were here, it was just awkward because he didn't want to step over the boundaries of father/coach. He didn't know when he could do what. We're not that type of family, so when we're at work we're going to be talking about work. Once I moved away, it kind of grew us closer together. Both our lives have completely changed from this. I think it worked out for the better. I'm living my dream playing for West Virginia, and hopefully he'll have a big ring on his finger here in a few days.
Q: I'll end on a sour note: The fact that they're playing for a ring while you missed out on a bowl game altogether, does that make the transfer sting a little bit?
A: [laughs] Well, [shoot], I could have stayed at Florida State or I could have transferred to Auburn or West Virginia — two of the three are playing in the national championship, and my ass is sitting at home. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. This was my dream out of high school, through middle school; I always wanted to play for West Virginia. This is my state; this is my team; I bleed blue and gold. Don't regret that at all. Does it suck? Yeah. I want to win some games, too, [shoot]. [laughs] We've got another season to play. I'm going to have a procedure done here on my shoulder soon, and I'll be back and ready to play and get ready for Alabama.
Q: So, you had the ability to transfer to Auburn, too?
A: It was South Florida, Auburn, Michigan and West Virginia — the four that I could have transferred to.