FSCC SID: Going into the season, after a great 2008 season and losing 34 players to four year colleges, how concerned were you about this season and what does it take to reload?
Sims: At the beginning in December, it always seems like an impossible task but we have a program in place that sets a plan each year and slow but surely it has come together to put a team on campus that we are proud of as football players and students.
FSCC SID: What does it take for a juco program to have success year in and year out?
Sims: Three things: A solid plan, a campus that is committed to working that plan, and a detailed focus on not wavering or letting little things slide. If any of these three is not in place, you're setting yourself up to fail.
FSCC SID: In three years at FSCC, you have climbed the ladder from being in the lower half of the league to number one in the country. This is a compliment to you and your staff, but what is needed to make this happen?
Sims: A proven plan is what has helped us.. I don't really believe it was any one individual but a collection who bought into a daily work ethic toward three principles, that each day --Sunday, Christmas Day, birthday -- we are going to work to be the best student we can be, the best football player we can be, and put ourselves in the best position to move on to the four-year level. We haven't been able to take days off or focus on other goals. These were goals and we had to stay true to them or we would not have had the opportunity to obtain them.
FSCC SID: Beating Butler was one of the biggest accomplishments in FSCC football history but your team did it twice in the same year. What kind of feeling does this give you after you look back on it over the past couple of weeks?
Sims: Truly, I haven't had a chance to reflect, but I will say this: The first win was fun because I got to see our players achieve. The second win was as much fun because I didn't want them to lose the respect they had earned, so it was more of a fight to keep what they had, in my eyes, rightfully earned this season.
FSCC SID: Being named Coach of the Year in the conference, how did this make you feel and who else should get the credit for this?
Sims: It embarrasses me because football, of all sports, takes so many people to be successful. I believe that we have earned a Staff of the Year Award, but to be called Coach of the Year is embarrassing because I know of how many accomplishments we have obtained this year that I had very little to do with.
Dominique Davis called the play to win the first game against Butler. Special Teams Coach Eddie Brown designed the punt block that blocked the punt in the second Butler game. Offensive Coordinator Curtis Horton has been with me from the day I interviewed at Fort Scott and you can see that commitment in the way the offense plays. Defensive Coordinator James Lott makes all the defensive calls and their play has been outstanding, Bob Marshall hired me when he could have went elsewhere (for a coach). It takes many people to achieve this success.
FSCC SID: Jasmin Hopkins is closed to going over 2,000 yards this season and has already gone over 3,000 for his FSCC career. Is he the best running back you have ever coached, and what makes him so good?
Sims: He is the toughest football player I have ever coached for sure.
FSCC SID: What does it take to be a coach at the juco level compared to any other level?
Sims: An understanding of what motivates people and an ability to develop a program that can meets their individual needs, while meeting the individual needs -- the group succeeds.
FSCC SID: Playing for the National Championship in the college's backyard, so to speak, in Pittsburg will bring a big home crowd. What does that mean to you and your team to have the home crowd behind you?
Sims: It's amazing. I have always been impressed with our crowds when we travel and at our home games. I'm excited for everybody involved.
FSCC SID: Does this give you an advantage over Blinn?
Sims: Two teams who have played 11 games each, with the success we have had know how to win football games -- I don't think it matters where we will play -- but I know they haven't seen a crowd like we have this year, so you never know.
FSCC SID: What did it mean to you to make it to the first Citizens Bank Bowl that FSCC is a major part of?
Sims: I always felt we could make it to the bowl game because I believe in what we do and the people we have . But to make the first game the National Championship really wasn't even in my thought process. It's fantastic.
FSCC SID: What does your team have to do to beat Blinn?
Sims: Create turnovers, minimize our mistakes, tackle well, and take advantage of our scoring opportunities
FSCC SID: What would a National Title mean to you personally? And to the FSCC program?
Sims: I don't know personally. I haven't had time or give myself a chance to think about it -- counting your chickens before they are hatch philosophy. To the FSCC program everything it would prove to the nation what we have been telling our players for three years: If you work the hardest, you will be the best and our players have worked the hardest.
FSCC SID: What will you do differently this week, going into the National Title game, compared to any other week?
Sims: We will try to do very little differently. Only the bowl activities will take us from our normal routine.
FSCC SID: Is this team better than last year's team or have the pieces just fell into place better?
Sims: Football is a team sport and you're judged by wins and losses. So, yes, this team is better than last year's team. But this team owes all its success to the two previous teams as they laid the groundwork to allow these guys to be successful.
FSCC SID: With success comes rumors. Is there any truth to the rumor that you may not be here next year? Do you have plans of leaving?
Sims: That rumor has been around each and every year, I take it as a compliment that people think I'm going to move on to bigger and better things, but as I said when I came here, we are here to have the best junior college football program in the country and as long as we have that opportunity to be the best, I'm going to be here. I like Fort Scott and Eastern Kansas. I've lived all over the country and trust me, we are blessed to live here.
FSCC SID: How do you follow-up a season like this and what will it take for a repeat performance?
Sims: Each season is it's owe season but we will do the same thing we have done each and every day: Work to be the best.