Manny Diaz and Bennie Wylie press conference transcript: Jan. 6
Jan. 6, 2011
Head coach Mack Brown
Obviously, when you have a tough year like we did you need to restart. I think that was evident for all of us. Restart [and] get new energy, and that’s been really easy when you start looking at the coaching search. I’ve asked coaches across the country about the young coaches that are out there and to give me their true opinions of them, and what I found is that there’s some tremendous talent out there and that college football is really in great shape. It’s been a long time since we’ve looked at this many coaches, so it was a very unique situation for us and at the same time hiring is much different than it was in 1998. There are a lot of different facets of it now. There’s more talk about it. There’s more chatter. There’s more agents. There’s more multi-year contracts. There are a lot of things out there that we didn’t deal with that many years ago, and really we’ve only hired one or two people in each of the few years that we’ve hired since that time. The next thing I had to do was look at our recruiting. When you have this much change, obviously people call recruits immediately from other schools - people from the media - and ask them how they feel about the changes. The thing that we ask is we talk to every young man and said you came to Texas because you love Texas, it’s a great place, [there might be] an assistant coach maybe that you had a relationship with [that] is gone, and we’ve had great coaches to replace the coaches that have left here for many years. So the things that I ask them to do is please keep their commitment to our school until at least they saw who we hired and at that point then if they didn’t feel comfortable with it, we would help them at other places. We feel really, really good about the commitments.
When we started the search again it was different because we were looking at a number of different coaches, and you have to make sure that they all fit each other. So you’re looking at the philosophies and the direction you will head with those philosophies. You’re looking at making sure the coaches fit and the chemistry. You have to look and consider - do you hire an assistant at a position coach before you hire a coordinator? Does that work or does that make it more difficult? Again, in 13 years it’s changed a lot. After looking at all of it I was very, very excited about the talent level that’s out there. I was still excited about the University of Texas and the interest that people have in our program. But in this case, I took more time and looked at a lot more people then I have in my past. I didn’t talk to many people because I tried to respect the teams that were in bowl games and their coaches, because I don’t like people disrupting our staff before a ball game. Sometimes it is the case that the coaches would rather you talk to them, but in most cases people would like for you to wait, and that’s why we’ve waited until after the first to really get into the hiring process.
When I started looking at defensive coordinators and offensive coordinators across the country, I would call head coaches that are friends of mine. I would call coordinators on that side of the ball, and everywhere I called Manny Diaz’s name came up. He’s a very bright, young coach. You all better brag on him because he spent two years with ESPN, so he can critique you. He might take your jobs when he comes in. He had a passion for coaching and when he was working with ESPN and the NFL, every time he would go somewhere he kept talking about techniques and strategy and the things that he felt like that this team should be doing. Then he went back to his alma mater, Florida State, started working with Mickey Andrews who is one of the best defensive coaches in our history. He was on the staff as a graduate assistant in 1997 when Florida State beat us 20-3 when we [North Carolina] were [ranked No.] four, and they were [ranked No.] one in Chapel Hill. A lot of people in the North Carolina area knew about Manny because of his time at N.C. State, and he did a tremendous job there. He went as a graduate assistant, then he was moved to a linebacker coach. He’s coached safeties, and then at Middle Tennessee State he ended up being a coordinator. In talking to [Mississippi State head coach] Dan Mullen, when Mississippi State played Middle Tennessee State he was very, very impressed with the defense. He didn’t know anything about Manny, but he hired him right after that because he felt like he put a defense together that it was so multiple that it made it tough to block. When we started looking at this process again and I started calling head coaches that had worked against Manny, all of them said, “I don’t know a lot about him but I know that those kids play really hard, they’re well coached and he’s done a tremendous job at Mississippi State in one year of making it difficult for people to move the ball in the Southeastern Conference.” He will be a great fit to the coaches that we have on campus plus the addition of Bo Davis. With Bo coaching in high school in the state - he recruited this state. He coached Cory Redding. He worked with Major [Applewhite]. He’s worked with Will [Muschamp]. We felt like we got a great defensive line coach to come in and help move us forward in that area. But at this time, I’d like to introduce Manny Diaz to you, the new defensive coordinator at the University of Texas.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz
On the current state of the Texas defense: Coach Muschamp did an unbelievable job here, and I was able to watch a couple of games when I was here this week to get a feel for the personnel. I know that there are some really good football players coming back. The one thing that I'm a big believer in defensively is that we want to lead the nation in wins. That's what we want to do. We want to lead the nation in wins. That's the most important stat that I care about. Everything we do is going to be designed to play winning defense - what it takes to create a winning effort. You ask an offensive coach, “What gets you beat?” The first thing they talk about is turnovers. Well, therefore if you ever get a chance to run a defense, your defense better create turnovers because that's the first thing offensive coaches hate. The second thing they hate is negative plays. They know that negative plays kill drives. So when I got a chance to put a defense together, the first thing our defense was going to do was be designed to hunt negative plays. Were always hunting negative plays, and I know that there are a bunch of guys at this school that don't need a map to get into the backfield. I always like to say that we'll sum it up in two simple terms: we're going to stop the run and we're going to hit the quarterback. If we could do those two things generally speaking, everything else works out for itself. I'm definitely excited to get with the guys that are here. I know that we've got an abundance of defensive talent in this state at the high school level, and we'll try to assure to them that this is absolutely the best place to play football if they want to be part of a play-making defense.
On former Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' influence: I've got obviously the most bizarre path to get here. I started off in utopia. My first year as a [graduate assistant], we played for the national championship and then the second year we won it. I was like, “Man this is easy, this coaching thing. I got this thing down pat.” The great thing is that I was able to learn from a guy like Mickey Andrews. When I came, I was a clean sheet of paper. I think that was part of my strength. I had no pre-conceived notion. No one needed to go into Florida State and tell them how to do anything. They were the industry standard there in the late 90s as a football program and absolutely on defense. So I was able to, as a sponge, absorb everything that coach Andrews, Chuck Amato, who was the linebackers coach at that time, that they … you know it was every fan's dream just to be a fly on the wall in that room and be in some of the games we got to play in and the opportunities that we got to play in. I'll say I didn't get sick and tired of playing in those national championship games. It's bizarre. You do it your first couple of years and then you go on, and I'm pretty hungry to get back to that.
On what he thought when he heard he had an opportunity to be at The University of Texas: You know, we're going to have our coaches convention here at the end of the week and coaches, as they are wont to do, will get around and start talking. Coaches will start shooting the breeze and one thing that will always come up is, “Wel,l what are the best jobs and what's the best place to work.” You could poll everybody that comes to the convention and in somebody's top five is going to be The University of Texas, and it's going to be a bunch of people's number one. So anytime that you hear you have the opportunity to come to a school like that, your ears will always be perked up. Then, like I said, I think there's a unique opportunity here right now. You have a chance to come in and make a difference and right a few wrongs, I'll put it that way, so all of that made it [easy]. You still have to come to check under the hood. You still have to look under the hood and see exactly why it was in the situation it was in. Over the 24 hours that I was here during that, kicking the tires, I just had this overall feeling that I'd have to get my brain checked if I said no to this place. They'd have to put me in the funny farm. So it was a very easy decision to make even though I had a great job at Mississippi State. I can't say enough about what Dan Mullen did for my career. We were plodding along in the Sun Belt trying to play good defense, and I didn't realize that I had a job interview on a football field in October two years ago when we played Mississippi State. Dan brought me to the SEC, which was a great experience and I owe a lot to him.
On if there was any time that he realized he could become a coach like this: I don't think I've ever realized I could become a big-time coach. Anyone that sits around and says, “Hey I'm a big time coach” - I think that's a little strange to me. But I am absolutely humbled by the turns that my career has taken. There are a lot of great football coaches in this country and not all of them get to stand here and wear this shirt. The fact that for whatever reason that I was chosen to do this is something that I don't take very lightly. That's why I am so grateful and honored to be here because there are a lot of people as or more qualified to be here. But the way it's worked out, I’m here, and I'm absolutely excited to get going.
On if taking the job was a hard decision: After seeing it, talking to the people, talking to Coach Brown, you know, understanding his vision going forward - I had a great job. I had an absolutely great job. I loved coaching in the Southeastern Conference. I loved coaching Mississippi State and with all that being said, it was an easy decision.
On switching careers to coaching: I wanted to be sitting where you guys (the media) were sitting. I just wanted a job in sports. I was one of those guys that from the time I was a little wee lad I knew that I wanted a job in sports. I just assumed that your job would be the one that would be the best for me to get. I was plodding along on that course and working at ESPN, and we went and interviewed Bill Parcells at the Super Bowl with the Patriots. It was at that moment. We were in New Orleans and I was sitting in that room and listening to him talk - he's got a great presence of course and great track record of success - and at that moment I didn't want to coach anymore, I had to coach. I had to do it. My wife Stephanie really deserves all the credit. Instead of probably slapping me in the face and telling me I was crazy, she actually took two hands and pushed me in the back and pushed me to do it. We were totally naïve and did not understand the way the [graduate assistant] system worked. We just moved back to Tallahassee and [I] sort of threw myself at the front door at Florida State. If I told you it was a good plan, I'd be lying. It was a crazy plan, but fortunately it has worked out and it's hard to believe it's been 14 years since that point.
On why he is ready for this job: I just trust that when God puts you in a situation, that he knows that you're ready. My career has been bizarre. I started[ with] the national championship game my first year. Chuck Amato was such an important person in my life. My first ever day as a full time coach, my first ever game as a full time coach, I was calling defenses at N.C. State. We had two years where we didn't have a defensive coordinator in 2002 and 2003. So here I am at my first ever game - I'm responsible for coaching linebackers, and myself and another coach were handling play-calling duties. So it's been one of those things my whole life. It's happened all the way where you can ask yourself, “Are you ready?”. Or you say, “You're ready”, because you were put here and that's how you know. The game is still played with 11 men, even here, and offensively they can only do one of two things. They can run it or they can throw it, and hopefully if that doesn't work they can kick it and that's my goal.
On seeing how successful former coaches under Mack Brown have been after leaving Texas: There's no doubt, there's no secret that this is a high profile place. If you have success here then people know that they might be willing to hand higher jobs. But this is very important - I love being a defensive coordinator. What I do, I pinch myself every day. I love every aspect of my job. I love coaching defense. I love coaching linebackers.I love coaching these kids, and all I think about right now is whatever the number on the scoreboard says under Texas is that the other team has one less, and that's all I think about right now.
On what type of defensive scheme he plays: I always think that schemes are overrated. There are people that play 3-of-4 in read and there are people that play 3-4 in attack. Then there are people that play 4-3 in read and 4-3 in attack. So a lot of times people will get all jarred up about what you do front-wise. I think historically if you look at where I've been, the one thing that comes through is that we're going to attack. We're going to attack out of a multiple array of fronts. If I had my druthers, I'd like to play a 5-4-5, which you're not allowed to do, but I want the offense to feel that way. That's all I want. I want them to look at us and feel like we got about 13-14 guys running around. When we got it going the way we want it, we just want to look like we have an unfair advantage.
On what he wants the mindset of his players to be: We're going to play like we're in a bad mood. That's the number one thing about playing defense. Sometimes people think you dodged a scheme question, but if there was a scheme that worked then everyone would do it. That's the one thing I learned from Mickey Andrews. The one thing that I think anybody would always say about his defense is that they played in a really, really ill-tempered mood, and that's what we want to do. It's backwards from what you're taught when you were watching football as a kid. An offense never accomplishes anything; the defense allows them to do it. No one has ever scored in the game of football. The only thing that's happened is that the defense has allowed them to score. When you flip your mentality and flip your brain like that - to that every yard the offense gets is simply something that we let them have, I think it changes your thinking. It's very important to me that we play with a lot of emotion. We have to be the most excited team to play. You know we only get to do this 12 times a year. You're only guaranteed to do this 12 times a year. College football players nowadays work all year round. They work extremely hard. In the class room. In the weight room. In the offseason program and offseason conditioning. It's hard for me to understand how you can do that all year round and not act like your hair is on fire on 12 straight Saturdays in the fall. Those are things that I think because they're non-negotiable.
On recruiting: Well, the calendar says it's January so we'll have to get recruiting. I look forward to meeting the kids that the staff has been doing a great job on recruiting. And hopefully I can meet as many of the coaches in the state that I can get around to meet. One of the things that is special about this place is that in my short career - I think I've been able to do three or four clinics in the state of Texas - you can always tell when you're here because when you get done with your speech, the questions that come from the audience after you give a clinic talk in this state are so much more advanced than the questions that you give at a clinic in any other state. I have respect for what the game of football means at the high school level in this state, and I look [forward] to meeting a lot of those guys here in the next coming weeks.
Head coach Mack Brown
It’s obvious that we still have a few positions, especially on offense, to fill. Since I’m not ready to talk about those today, we will not discuss the process or the other coaches at this time because I don’t want to take away from Manny or the other position that we will talk about here in a few minutes. I do feel like that the guys that have been together so far are really excited about moving forward and they’ve had fun and they’re wanting to get on the road and it’s a shame that next week we have the convention in some ways because our new coaches and the recruits are so excited about meeting each other that this is kind of the way that they can reach out and say hello to them. They will call them. They will talk to them, and we’ll try to get Manny out to see a few of them, but you’ve also got the two all-star games. The way the new rules are, you cannot go to the practice. You cannot go to the game. You cannot even call the prospect anymore while he’s at the all-star game. So that makes it a little more difficult.
In our evaluation process we look very closely at every phase. One thing we felt like is that in our strength and conditioning program we were pulling Jeff [Madden] in a lot of different ways, and we felt like because of that we put so much on him being involved with the entire department that we needed to bring in a head strength and conditioning coach just for football. As we started looking around the country, most people have that. In working with Jeff - who will still have the same duties as he’s always had on a daily basis - he and I got together and started looking across the country to try to find who we felt like would bring new energy, new excitement to our program and take it to another level. I think in a few minutes as you get to meet our new head strength coach for football that you’ll see the excitement that we share. Jeff, if you’ll come up and introduce your new hire.
Assistant Athletics Director for Strength & Conditioning Jeff Madden
Head coach for strength and conditioning for football Bennie Wylie
On when Mack Brown contacted him: I was contacted about three or four days ago through a third party. Everything matched up right with our personalities, with our same coaching philosophies - that we really want to discipline our kids, but we also want to train our kids hard and also want to do the right thing for our team here.
On if his experience with the Dallas Cowboys will help him at Texas: This is basically like a pro team here in Austin. That’s what this is. So I will train those guys just like they are pros because they are here. With that experience you’re taught that every rep, every set, every sprint matters and that part shows up on Saturday. When you train those pro guys, every single detail counts and that energy, that passion, that attention to every detail comes out, so I think that’s what I can bring here. That energy, that attention to detail, and I can demand and push and do things that I think this talent needs.
On the mindset he takes since he works so closely with the players: That really is not going to change very much from what Coach Madden has done. He’s always pushed his guys. He’s always wanted more from them, and that’s why there are a lot of championships here. It’s because of that same mentality, and I’ll just carry that over. I’ll spend a lot of time with them, and I want them to be tough. I want them to be disciplined, I want them to be in condition – fast. All the things that you want. But more importantly, we want these guys to be good men. If you’re a good man, you’re probably going to play pretty good on Saturday.
On his history with Jeff Madden: Just a great friend, a great mentor of mine over the years. He has really set the bar for many strength coaches in the country. It’s not by accident that you get to work at a place like this. He’s been able to help this place rise to where it is now, and those are some big shoes I have to fill, but I take that as a great challenge.
On his impression of the Longhorn athletes when he was at Texas Tech: I did not like them very much [laughing]. They’re big. They’re fast. They’re imposing, dominant [and have a] great mentality. It appeared that they didn’t care about the opponent because they just did what they wanted. That’s what I’m excited to be a part of. They’re not a bully by any means, but when you’re good, you’re good and you know it and you go out and show it. I’m just really excited to be a part of a team that has that much confidence, that much swagger and they work that hard in the offseason and the spring and in the summer - that when you show up on Saturday, that’s only right to expect to win. It’s only right to expect those things when you put in the hours and the time and the sweat and the blood that these guys are going to see here pretty soon. It’s only right that you win games.