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July 26, 2012
Part 1 of Mack Brown's thoughts at B12 Media Days
Mack Brown covered a ton of ground at Big 12 Football Media Days. Here are a bunch of the highlights of the questions he faced with his unedited answers:
Mack was asked why he made the comment at the football banquet in December that he felt like Texas was on pace to win a national title in the next two to three years?
Because it's true. I didn't think it was any big thing. But I wanted the players to hear it and the parents to hear it. They look at me for answers. And if I don't think we're doing well, then they're not going to think we're doing well. If I'm not confident in them and our future, then they are not going to be confident.
Our entire staff was there. Our wives were there. Our entire administration was there. Our players and recruits. And I wanted them to know they better grab and hold on because this thing is getting fixed, and it's getting fixed fast.
I didn't think it was bold. I thought it was fact. Two years ago we were in the national championship game. Last year, we were much better and could have won 10 or 11 just as easily as we won 8. The year before, it didn't work. The pieces are working again. I can feel it, and I can see it.
In the early years, when we were winning 9, we're as good right now as we were in some of those early years. So we're getting it back in the right direction, and that breeds other kids who want to come.
Talking to the kids here (at media days), they think this freshman class is really, really good. So we've got back to back classes of really good players who are competing and having fun with each other, and that will get back to the way we had it again.
I asked Mack if he'd ever do the coach-in-waiting again?
No. I wouldn't. And it's not the fault of Will (Muschamp). It worked for two years and didn't work for one. The coach-in-waiting wasn't the reason we lost in 2010.
But what it does is put too much pressure on everybody, because (the media) starts talking more about when I'm going to quit and when the next guy is going to take over than about the team, and that's not right. That's not fair to anybody.
It should be about the players and the team, and I wasn't planning on quitting. Will knew that. He and I understood that. No one else did. But it got to be too much conversation.
Do you want to have a quarterback named by the last scrimmage?
I don't know. I think it has to happen. You can't force it to happen. If you force it to happen, and you pick the wrong one, and the team doesn't believe in him, then you've really screwed up.
So you'd rather it happen, and we thought it would happen in the spring and it didn't, very honestly. In talking to the kids last night, I asked all three kids who would be the starting quarterback, and they all said, 'We've got us a battle, because both guys have had a great summer.'
You looking for a playmaker or game manager at quarterback?
Yes. You're looking for a game manager first, and if you can manage the games and make plays, it's a huge plus. We need to make more explosive plays. We have to throw the ball better. I think we are going to run it better, and that should help the throwing game.
After last year, was there a drawback to not having one quarterback?
The only drawback to having one really good guy is you've got one really good guy and the other is probably inexperienced and doesn't get in the game a lot. And if he has to get put into a ballgame like Garrett (Gilbert) was at Alabama, it's a very difficult situation.
The negative about having two is that it can get confusing from a leadership standpoint. It could get confusing for chemistry, because if the players start choosing one over the other. The positive of playing two is if one is struggling, the other can come off the bench with experience and play. And if one gets hurt, you can bring in an experienced guy and not have much dropoff.
I think right now we have to play to the strengths of the two quarterback system and see where it goes from here.
Without a bunch of seniors, is the team mature enough to handle having two quarterbacks?
I think so because the players really like and respect both kids. And they are similar kids. They're both nice, smart and good friends. The Texas players just want to win. They could care less about choosing sides. And I think they'll trust us enough and respect our decision enough to let us make that decision.
Are there plans to have the quarterbacks talk to the media during fall camp? (Last year, the QBs were not allowed to talk to the media during fall camp.)
I haven't talked to John (Bianco) or Bill Little or Bryan Harsin or Major (Applewhite) about it. That will be something we talk about at our retreat this weekend. Last year was different because there were four and there really wasn't a guy with a chance to just step up and take it over. And I felt like the questions wouldn't be about our team it would be about the other quarterbacks to those quarterbacks.
Right now, I'm very confident with both quarterbacks. You won't be able to talk to the freshmen because that's our rule. But I'll talk to John and Bill and Bryan about it.
Is there a sense right now about how to incorporate all your running backs into the offense, such as who would run the Wild Formation?
That's one of the real questions we have to get answered. Johnathan Gray could be a factor. Daje Johnson could be a factor. But we haven't seen them. We'll have to look at that early in the process because that was a big formation for us last year.
We will want to know which one of those guys can do it for us. When Bryan Harsin says Fozzy Whittaker was the best he'd ever had in that role, we've got to make sure we have the right guy who can do it well enough to be a force for us. Or maybe we won't use it as much.
Have you talked about how you will split carries at running back?
In the spring, I challenged the guys to stay healthy. We're all talking about sharing carries, and they played in half the games. I'm more worried about healthy running backs than I am about carries. At the Missouri game, Joe Bergeron doesn't play; Malcolm Brown doesn't play, and Fozzy gets hurt.
After 10 days or three weeks into camp, you're going to have a pretty good feel of whether Johnathan Gray can handle some third-down stuff. Will he be able to handle the protection stuff? How durable are Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron after being under Bennie (Wylie) for a year?
How do you get Daje Johnson in a game? How do you get D.J. Monroe in a game? We've got a lot of things to talk about. Where do the receivers fit? Can Greg Daniels help us at tight end? There's a lot of unanswered questions.
What's your sense of the progress being made on the offensive line?
I think we are going to be so much better on the offensive line, not only because Stacy has had them for a year. Bennie has had them for a full year. They're getting older. They were so young last year. But remember Stacy just had 6 or 7 offensive linemen his first spring here. He didn't even really have a chance to coach a guy like Dominic Espinosa until August of last year.
I think Donald Hawkins will help. But I'm not worried about the first five. We've got to get depth.
In terms of getting the Texas swagger back, how important is it to win in the Cotton Bowl in October?
You better be good enough to win by then. You've got a lot of really tough games before then, and if you just take one game out of the middle and you're not good enough, you're not going to win. Our team is excited about getting better and winning. Last year, we wanted to get better and thought we had a chance to get 10-plus wins. It didn't work out that way. But they ended the year positive and are expecting to go out there and have a chance to win every game.
Mack is excited about the team hiring a full-time nutritionist.
We've been working on it for the past three or four years and just hadn't gotten it done. It's pretty much a factor at every major school. The people who have the money to afford are getting one.
When you take, especially your big guys, and you can only feed them one time per day and you have to give them money for the other two times, and young people who maybe didn't have great eating habits before coming to school, get worse when they get money in their hands and don't want to spend a lot. They eat the cheapest and greasiest food and suddenly they are in horrible shape.
We thought it was a great investment to teach the kids what to eat and how to eat it. Hopefully they will start liking that better and using her much more. I'm trying to get with her and look like Bennie. They say to wear smaller T-shirts.
Troy Aikman once told me that Mack Brown was a terror as Aikman's offensive coordinator his freshman year at Oklahoma in 1984. So I asked Mack when he stopped cussing as a head coach.
I never was a cusser. I probably could have said a cuss word or two. But it was probably Troy's fault. He probably drove me to it. Coaching a freshman quarterback will drive you to that. I have said cuss words in my life. I still do some. But I'm not proud of them. I don't like them, and I try not to.
I have always tried not to. I have always felt like if you have a filthy mouth, it's a lack of vocabulary, and it's a lack of class. And I'm supposed to teach the young guys on our team how to act. And if I'm standing around cussing all the time, and they leave here cussing and lose a job, it's my fault. So I'd like for them to make their own decisions when they get out. But I do think, short term, we are all better off if we use clean language.
And mine is pretty clean. I will say a bad word every now and then. Usually it's on headsets during a ballgame. Those have been my worst. But I don't like it, and I don't think in my position I should use it. I might say damn. But I'm not going to use the Lord's name in vain, and I've asked our players not to do that either.
I walked in once last year and some guys were cussing some. And I threw out a string of them just to let them hear me, and they were going, 'Oh my God.' And I said, 'Yeah, that's you, that's the way you sound. So when you get to be my age, if you're going to use that filthy mouth, you better start trying to change things now.'
They don't realize how rude it is to people who might be hiring them when they get out. But I was really hard on Troy Aikman. I don't think it was the cussing. But I was hard on him.
I asked Mack to give an NFL-style scouting report on Kenny Vaccaro.
The scouting report would be: driven, athletic, tough, smart. He's got everything. He's played a little bit all over the place at nickel, safety and corner. It will be a great year for him to have a great year with his technique at safety.
Mack was asked if he had to explain to an NFL team the Sixth Street episode in which Kenny Vaccaro, Alex Okafor and Barrett Matthews had misdemeanor "failure to obey a lawful order" charges dropped - what would he say?
I would say they shouldn't have eaten their pizza. They probably should have left. What I thought the message was from me to those three guys is that whether they are right or wrong, the police are the authority figures, and they have difficult jobs.
So even if you didn't do anything wrong, if they ask you to leave, you leave. That was the point to me. It was about respect of authority. They didn't do anything wrong, other than they didn't show proper respect to authority when the police asked them to leave.
I asked Alex Okafor about it and he said, 'Coach, I was hungry and wanted to wait for my pizza to be done before I left.' I said, 'What would you do differently now?' And he said, 'Leave that pizza behind.' So that's it. I thought they just needed to take a summer to have some disciplinary action. They didn't do anything wrong.
I just thought it was a life's lesson they needed to learn. That's why they are not here (at media days). As soon as we report, they'll back involved in a leadership role with our team again.
Mack was asked if the NCAA was too harsh on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
I think the tragic things that have up there are so much bigger than football that I really can't focus on whether a team should go to a bowl or not. I've got daughters. I've grandchildren. I've got two sons and two daughters. I've got three grandkids and one on the way. I can't imagine abuse and changing someone's life that way.
So to me, I haven't even been able to focus on the penalties. Penn State football will be fine over time. Those kids may not.
It's tragic for the Paternos. It's tragic for everyone involved. It's not just the victims. They have it the worst. But it's tragic for the president, athletic director, the students and the young men trying to decide if they should stay or go at an unsettling time in their lives anyway.
To me, if this situation can help heal all of us through some tragedies in our own lives and get us focused on the right things that need to be done. I don't know if there's enough awareness in some areas about abuse. We've got to take care of our children, and I'm not sure everyone gets it.
And as much as this is on TV, people are going to get it. And maybe some victims will come public and maybe save some other kids from a horrible situation like this. I get emotional about stuff like this.
Penn State has been a proud place for so long, and it's really a sad place right now. I hate that for all of them and hope all of us can learn from it. Sometimes we get hung up on things that aren't important. This is important. What happened in Colorado was important.
It's important for our children, our grandchildren and our lives. And I think that's much bigger than a football game.
Mack was asked how he would handle any players at Penn State who might want to transfer to Texas.
I think you'd have to look at if the player contacted you, had legitimate interest in you and if the player fit.
Then, Mack was asked if he had any ethical problems with schools trying to contact Penn State players to re-recruit them.
The NCAA allowed it and said they want to give the kids the right to look around and look around immediately. The timing is very difficult for the kids and everyone else. Can you get them in school? What are the transferrable hours? It's a difficult situation for Penn State, but I don't think it's unethical situation because the NCAA allowed it.