Jerry Gray press conference transcript: Jan. 19
Jan. 19, 2011
Opening statement: First of all, thank you for coming and also, thanks to Coach Brown for giving me the chance to come back and coach at the university that I really love. I got a chance to play here and I really probably knew it was a sign last year. I was talking to a couple of people and we were kind of talking about during the season, and this year we opened our season up in preseason with Tennessee and I got to see a defensive back from Texas. Then we had another preseason game at Minnesota, and I got to see another defensive back from Texas. Then we played the [New York] Giants, and there was another defensive back from Texas. Then we happened to finish up in the middle of the season with the Oakland Raiders, and there was another defensive back from Texas. It probably was a sign that nobody really could have predicted at the end of the year, especially with the season that we had. I'm very gracious and humbled to have a chance to come back here and coach.
On what brought him back to coach in college: The University of Texas. Having the chance to come back here and really, hopefully be a part of what Coach Mack has done here. He's been here and had tremendous years, and I just want to be able to be a tutor under him and understand what he's done. I looked at his record, and he has a great track record. You can't argue with that.
On recruiting: Recruiting, to me, is easy. What you do is go out and compete against somebody else. Everything you're doing is always competing, and that's what I've done my whole life. I've competed, not just on the football field, but off the football field. To me, now I have to go compete against some of the top programs in the country and lucky enough [that] I'm at one of the top programs in the country.
On the process of getting hired: Coach Mack and I - when he first got hired here, one of the things that helped me understand who he was is that we do an alumni golf tournament during spring football. I got a chance to meet Coach Mack then, and last year we texted more than any [other year] because it was a tough season. I texted him, "Hey, I'm with you no matter what happens." Again, being an alumni, having a chance to coach Earl Thomas, knowing how close Earl was to the program [was important]. It must have been Sunday after the [playoff] game. I got a chance to talk with Coach Brown and [Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete] Carroll and just having a relationship, it was a natural fit. He talked to Coach Carroll about it and Coach Carroll asked me and I told him, "To me, it's really like a no-brainer. There's no way I can pass up an opportunity to come back to the University of Texas to coach."
On thinking he would have returned to Texas sooner: No. To me, I think God has a place for everything, and this is that time.
On talking to former Longhorn Earl Thomas since being hired: I got a chance to talk to him on Monday. We had our final meeting, so I got a chance to talk to him and of course it was a touchy deal, but Earl is a tough guy. You teach him what you know, and that's what coaching is. You teach guys how to play the game. You teach guys what to do. You teach guys how to study. The NFL is a little different. You've got a lot more time to bring guys in. We've had a lot of individual meetings, Earl and I, and you try to tell them about the game and what the game is really about. The NFL is different. They try to trick you in the NFL. It's not so much athletic ability. When you stop being tricked and everything slows down, you become a good player in the NFL.
On talking to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz: I got a chance to talk with Manny afterwards, and his philosophy is pretty similar. We kind of talked a little bit about him and his background and where he's been and who he's studied under and what he'd done last year. It's kind of like a "tree of aggressive" - going after guys and that's what we do. You plan for guys, and you try to win that down and you try to win enough to win that game. I think that's what Manny's been doing and hopefully I get a chance to get under him and put some ideas together and we win a lot of games here. A lot of third downs, a lot of first downs and you put the game together and you look back and you say, "That was enough."
On working with Manny Diaz: I know when I got my defensive coordinator job in Buffalo I was the youngest guy in the room. I got a chance to talk to Tony Dungy and he told me that when he became a defensive coordinator, he was the youngest guy in Pittsburgh. So, number one, don't be intimated by it. You wanted that job, and that's the same way I feel about this. Manny wanted that job and he got it and my job is to support him, and that's what I'm going to do. We're going to support him and hopefully it's a great marriage, and we're going to make sure it works. To me, with coach Brown and his authority over us, we're going to make sure it works.
On returning to Texas: What's funny is that you look back and the complex is totally different. I know the last time I came here this [room] was turf. I haven't been here in a couple of years because we've been moving around different places. It is funny. It's still like a dream. I got up this morning and worked out and you think, "Man, I'm working out in a University of Texas shirt, and just two or three days ago I was in Seattle." It comes full circle, and it's funny. I talked to my wife and we've been going through a lot of different things as far as moving around and now you get a chance because everybody's back in the state of Texas. We have a son that's at SMU and her family lives in Lubbock, my family is in Lubbock, and now you get everybody in driving distance rather than flight distance and it will save us a lot of money.
On the tradition of Texas defensive backs playing in the NFL: The good thing is I didn't start it, and hopefully it doesn't end with me. I was here and Coach [Alan] Lowry was my first coach and he had coached Johnnie Johnson and Ricky Churchman and all those great guys, and then he got a chance to coach myself. I think Coach [Duane] Akina took it to the same level. Every year there was an All-American coming out of here and that was a defensive back. I understand it because I was sitting in those seats. My thing is getting a chance to talk to the young guys about what that means. You have to go out and work hard in order to be an All-American because they're not going to hand it to you. You have to go out there and compete and want to be the best, and we're going to work that way. Like I said, I was fortunate enough to be up under Coach Lowry and Coach [Dean] Campbell and got a chance to see and talk to Johnnie Johnson and Churchman and all those guys when I came, so I understand what they went though. I just want to make sure I can pass that on. However long it is, it's a long time and I want All-Americans just like coach Akina did. That's really who you are as a coach. You're players kind of validate who you are, and I thought Coach Akina did a fantastic job. Hopefully I can match that and win a lot of games and hopefully win a lot of championships.
On the recent coaching changes: This business is kind of different. I've been in the pros for the last 14 years so I know that coaches move and they go get other jobs. Coaches get fired. They do all types of stuff. Really, that wasn't important. Coach Brown said, "Hey look, I may have an opening." When it happened that was the first thing I wanted to do. Like I said, I always talked to Coach Carroll and I let him know where my heart was and to me it was a natural fit.
On picking Earl Thomas' brain about the Texas football program: Not really. I didn't talk to Earl about that part. I kind of talked to him about how to be the best in the NFL. You look at Earl and he's a rookie. [He] had five interceptions and probably should have got 11 because I think he dropped six. Not going after them, but dropping them. You tell him that those opportunities are going to be there. To me, I put him right up there with [Baltimore Ravens safety] Ed Reed. Ed Reed's a really good safety, and he's not big. I talked to him in those terms of how to be the best in the league, not just be one of the guys in the NFL. You separate yourself by doing certain things in the NFL and hopefully we can find some Earl Thomases here. I know that those guys know Earl. They text and they tweet and they do all those things, but the big thing is that if I need Earl, I'll call Earl and say, "Hey, tell me about so-and-so, tell me about this guy." But I haven't done that yet.
On the difference between coaching young men versus grown men: Well, [coaching] grown men is more like having to be a psychiatrist. Grown men don't tell you a thing. You've got to really pick their brain and have them talk to you. I can remember when I coached at SMU - you've got to be more like a parent to younger guys. They'll tell you just about everything and that's the difference. When guy's get into the pros, it's like there's a wall set up and if you're not digging, you're not going to know who they are. Being in the league 14 years, it gave me a chance to really understand that you've got to reach out to players in the NFL, and that's not going to be any different here. I'm going to invite the guys over when I can within the rules, make sure it's all legal. I want to get to know their mom and their dad. I didn't recruit you, but I just recruited you. Even though you're already here, I want to know that you're part of me.
On being able to evaluate the talent on the current roster: Not yet.
On how many games he has seen Texas play in the past year: I got a chance to watch the national championship game last year against Alabama. I got a chance to see a couple of games. Of course, I watch the OU game. You always watch that game when you get a chance, and there may have been one other game. I did not watch to say, "OK, let me look at the talent and see what's left here." To me, I think whatever is here is going to be good enough.
On if he's started recruiting since he arrived: I have to pass my test first. I'll take my test today.
On what he would say to the incoming defensive back recruits: To me, right now is about having a great senior year - the rest of it. I know that the senior year is not over. If you're playing basketball or running track, do your best there because you'll never get those years back. When you get here, be prepared because we're going to work to be the best. That will be the message that I say to them. But don't look right here now. Finish your senior year and enjoy that because you're not going to have that anymore. When you get here get ready for another level. It will start all over. You will be a freshman all over because you won't really know anything when you get here, and make sure you're a sponge because you're going to have to learn a lot.
On breaking out his film from his playing days to show his players: No, I never do that. What's funny is I wish they'd take the pictures down. What you want the guys to do is to look at you as a coach, not so much as a player. I think they understand the player standpoint, and they know what you did and not try to mimic that. You've got to do your own stuff. That's what I tell every young guy, "Don't be like me because you're different. God made everybody different." You think different. You act different. You walk different. You study different. Like Earl - Earl's a guy that likes one-on-one [teaching] which is great because I like one-on-one. A lot of guys learn in big groups, and you have to learn that [as a coach]. To me, I think it's my job to figure out what each guy is good at and then put my talents to that guy and let him go play football.