Jan. 3, 2010
Transcript provided by BCS National Championship
Jesse Palmer, ESPN, Moderator: I'd like to thank everybody again for joining us here at Disneyland Resort to talk some more football about the BCS National Championship game. Coach Mack Brown is certainly no stranger to the Rose Bowl. It was only four years ago that he led his Longhorns to a huge win over USC in the Rose Bowl. They would win the National Championship in one of the most memorable games in college football history.
Coach Brown has had an outstanding season. He's led his Longhorns to a 13-0 record including the Big-12 Championship. Interesting streak with Mack Brown, he's the only active head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision to have at least nine wins in 14 consecutive seasons. It's an unbelievable streak. He's won his last five bowl games and is going to try to make it six in a row as we get ready for the National Championship Game.
Coach, thank you so much for being with us, and congratulations on an outstanding season. You look at the college football landscape and there's a lot of great programs, but everybody at some point has to dip. You look at USC this year, a little bit down; Oklahoma, a little bit down this year; but you guys have been able to stay at this pinnacle of college football for 14 consecutive seasons with you at the helm. What's been the key?
Brown: I would think first it's the high school football in the state of Texas. We have 20 million people. We've got great high school coaches. We get home-grown athletes each year, and we've been there now for 12 years and we've had a good run, so young guys want to come to Texas. It's kind of the place to be.
And I would think that also, other than the high school coaches, it's the continuity of our staff. Most of our guys have been there at least eight years, so they know the recruits. This is a game about recruiting. It's a game about good players, and then you've got to be able to manage them and they've got to be able to fit your school.
No. 1, great high school football that can drive to our place; and No. 2, continuity with great assistant coaches.
Palmer: Your success has been absolutely remarkable. Again, you were just in this game four years ago. You understand better than anybody the distractions that can lead up in the biggest game of the season. What sort of things did you learn from that experience that you can impart upon your players to get ready to play in the biggest game of the year?
Brown: We felt like the No. 1 thing we learned is you can't continue to talk about the game. You've got to talk about the process, because you've got to do whatever you've done to this point to get here all week and all month because it's a month and two days since we played Nebraska until we'll play on Thursday night. But we feel like that you have to do a great job in preparation, then you have to be able to relax and play, understanding there's so much at stake, but if you think about what's at stake and don't prepare properly, it'll jump up and bite you.
Palmer: I'd like to open it now to the general media.
You've had a coach in waiting in Will Muschamp. At some places that's created friction and hasn't worked out that well. How do you make that work, and how long does he have to wait? I can answer the first question. I can't answer the second one. No. 1, our administration was for it. Everybody was involved in the process. So Bill Powers, our president, our regents, DeLoss Dodd, myself and Will all agreed that Will was young, he was a tremendous football coach, he loves what he's doing on defense right now, so we could make him the highest paid defensive coordinator in the country. And I've got some good years left, so Will is going to continue to do what he does. I'm going to try to help him grow through this process, and then when it's time for me to step away, which I really don't know when that will be, he'll be ready to take over, and hopefully Texas will continue. You see so many drops with change, and you're never sure what the right mix is. We all thought Will was the right guy with our staff to continue and build at Texas.
Coach Saban was in here just a couple hours ago talking about how he doesn't like this part of the job. He calls it clutter. You've always seemed to be one who embraces the journey. Was there ever a point early on in your coaching career where this was tough for you, and did you have to sort of readjust, or has this always been enjoy the journey, what's it's about for you? I've always enjoyed the journey. I didn't enjoy the losing. And if you're losing, then sitting here isn't much fun. I've done it both ways, so that's why we work so hard to try to win.
What we feel is this is a wonderful opportunity for the University of Texas fans to be proud of their football program. What a great thing for our faculty and our administration, our parents. The Texas fans are so proud this week along with the Alabama fans, and we want our players to enjoy it.
So we got up early, we had strong meetings this morning. We had a very physical and tough practice. We went back and watched film. We want them to enjoy Disneyland. It's one of the most wonderful places in the world for entertainment, and this is one of the rewards they get for winning, to be in the last game of the year.
Coach Saban was asked if he was having fun. I think they were asking him about today particularly. Are you having fun today and just overall? It seems like you're just really relaxed and enjoying things: I'm having fun being here. In 2005, we were No. 2 in the country in preseason. We stepped into No. 1 one week of the season. We really didn't deserve it because USC deserved it at that time, and it took care of itself the next week. And we felt like that our team embraced it. They really enjoyed the ride and played well when they got out here.
Same thing with this team, except it was harder to get here. This team felt so much pressure during the season that the goal was to win the Big 12 Championship, the dream was to go to the National Championship and win, and now the dream becomes a goal. So our guys are understanding that a lot of people don't think that we'll win the game on Thursday night.
We understand that. We didn't have great momentum coming out of the season, and Alabama did, so give them credit. What a great game they played against Florida, who's a tremendous team, and showed that last night.
So our guys understand we're up against a great opponent on Thursday night, but we also understand it's for the National Championship, and what a window of opportunity for most teams. You know, it's too hard to get here not to enjoy it, so we're going to enjoy the week, enjoy being here and try to play our best game. We still haven't played our best game yet.
What separated you all a lot this year was your special teams play and returns. I forgot to ask you last night about D.J. Monroe, have you figured where he might play in the game? Well, we're looking at D.J. to see if he's missed too much work on kickoff return. Right now he's very involved along with Marquise Goodwin, and one of them or both of them will return kicks on Thursday night.
Talking about Will Muschamp, what do you feel like you've tried to help him with specifically to get ready to be a head coach? I really haven't tried to help Will unless he's asked. Will is very bright. He was raised in a coaching family, and I feel like what Will sees that he likes that I do, he will adapt. And then he has to have his own personality and be who he needs to be. There will be things that as we go through the process over the next number of years that I can say, here's something you're probably not aware of that you have to do, and you need to figure out how you're going to do it. And we've had some of those discussions.
But very honestly people have asked me how long I'm going to coach, and that's a discussion we haven't had. I haven't talked to Sally about it, haven't talked to DeLoss, haven't talked to Bill Powers, and I sure haven't talked to Will. And to Will's credit, and to answer the other question about why it works, Will says that he wants me to coach as long as I'm happy and as long as it's working for us, and he'll be fine. So every time a job comes open, because he's really good at what he does, everybody says, well, Will Muschamp is up for the job. He runs down the hall to tell me `I'm really not. I hope you know that.' I said, `yeah, Will, I've got it; you don't have to tell me.' It's working great for us and we're glad to have Will at Texas.
You just mentioned yourself about not having a lot of momentum coming into this game. Your kids have heard this now for the better part of four weeks. It's almost like they didn't win the Big 12. How advantageous is that for you, and can you feel that festering with them? I don't know if people telling you every day that you're not good enough is advantageous. What I've got to do is have a balance of saying here's the reason people are saying it: Alabama played in its last game better than you played in your last two as a whole. They played a great football game. And that should not be any different in motivating us than playing for a National Championship.
The fact people will talk about Will Muschamp and Major Applewhite and their involvement with Coach Saban, who's done a tremendous job at Alabama, they'll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of that, they'll talk about the advantages of us not playing as well the last two games as we wanted to as compared to them. Really and truly, on Thursday night when it's kicked off, all of that is thrown out the window. It will not be about the best program. It will not be about the best team. It will be about the team that plays the best for three and a half hours. And when you get to that point, as Coach Royal always said, they start that scoreboard 0-0 for a reason.
Last night Colt McCoy was telling us that you had kind of told the players in terms of motivation, find something to get the motor running for this game, no matter what it is. Find that one little thing. Can you just talk about kind of your approach to motivating guys that way as opposed to maybe just latching onto something and hammering it and letting them find their own individual motivation? Yes. These guys are 18 to 22 years old, and you've got 122 of them. Seventy will play in the game most likely, 60 to 70. To think you can sit and motivate each one with the same speech or the same poster would be a little naïve on our part. They're all so different, even offense and defense. I've always said -- Jesse was in that room where they wanted to be quiet and they wanted to think and watch them. That other bunch is bouncing off the walls in there on defense. It's just different. And then you've got the kicking game, and those kickers, they don't fit in either room. It gets really crazy when you ask those guys.
I just saw a kick missed by East Carolina walking in that made me flinch. They had 15 seconds left and they missed the kick. What we've tried to do is figure out the team that creates the best edge against two really good units in a game with two really good football teams is the one that usually wins. Last year we were very disappointed that we didn't get to play in the conference championship or the National Championship. It was very difficult to create an edge. We were lucky we were playing against a really good Ohio State team that we had respect for in the Fiesta Bowl. Still didn't play great, but we at least turned it enough that we didn't go out there and lay an egg.
In this game you've got to be able to create the edge. The National Championship should be enough, but we've all seen teams that have everything laying out there, and they don't play hard. They don't play with confidence. So we do not take motivation for granted. We feel like we have to sit down with each young man and figure out how to create the edge for each one, and then try to pull it all together by Thursday as a team.