Mack Brown post-practice press briefing: Sept. 18
Opening statement: The charges against James Henry stem from an incident this summer. Unfortunately the investigation has taken a long time and James (Henry) was not charged until yesterday, and that's when we found out about it. I wish that we had known sooner so we could have dealt with it at that time, but obviously we didn't. James is indefinitely suspended from all team activities. If the incident this summer is true, it's disturbing. It has been a lingering distraction for me and all of the people involved.
I hope and pray that the young men can prove their innocence and get closure in their lives and move forward. If they are guilty, then they should be held accountable. I've spent 33 years of my life coaching young people and trying to be a great role model for young people and prepare them for life after football. It has been very, very important in my life that we have a team with character and that they act responsibly. When someone is accused of trouble or has trouble, it's devastating to me personally. It's something that I feel responsible for because I brought them here and I also feel like I'm an extended family member and I've let the young people down with education and I've let their family members down.
It's not fair to burden our current players because they're doing a tremendous job on this football team of trying to monitor it. It's the best we've had in the classroom and they're playing their hardest on Saturdays. It's also unfair to blame our athletic department because we have the best athletic department in the country. And it's sure unfair to blame our great University because President Powers and our trustees and The University of Texas do everything with class and they stand for integrity. It's really all on me and on me alone. I'm responsible for making all the final decisions on football at The University of Texas, and it's obvious that I need to be more accountable and do a better job.
In the case of Sergio Kindle and Henry Melton, we seem to have taken a negative and turned it into a positive. They returned to practice today with a great attitude. And all of these situations that are outside of our team are life-changing situations. They are circumstances that may change the course of a person's life forever. In this case, at least short-term, it seems to have turned it into a positive, and (Henry Melton and Sergio Kindle) have done everything that we asked them to do and their attitudes have been really, really good. Hopefully this very difficult situation will bring our team closer together.
On what changes he wants to make: I think I've just got to make sure I go back and look at everything I'm doing. Twenty-three years as a head coach, and I've dealt with more in six months than I've dealt with really in almost 23 years and especially more than 10 (years) here. And this incident was one in the past; it happened in the summer it wasn't since I've been back. People have talked about a curfew, but this incident was on a Friday afternoon that the accusations have been made. It wasn't about curfew, so I don't think that is something that we need to do. I just need to go back and look at me, and not point fingers, not make excuses but put it solely on my shoulders. I am responsible for everything that we do, and I want to make sure that The University of Texas is getting what they're paying for, and right now, I've got to do a better job.
On if coaching is still fun: Well, today was fun because I got a text from David Thomas at 6:15 this morning that he and Cassidy had a new baby boy, so what a great way to wake up. Today was fun because Ken Rucker came back to practice for the first time in three weeks (since having surgery), which is just unbelievable. We thought we were going to lose him for the year. This (situation) is something that came up in July and it continues to haunt us and it's not fun. So as head coach, it is my job to deal with the roller coaster that all major colleges across the country experience, and ours is more public than most. Everything we do is public and that's probably good for the kids because we don't have anything (the media) doesn't know and I think that's good.
On how his job has changed throughout the years: Well, I don't think it's any different in the fact that you try to be honest with (the players), you try to be disciplined with them. We don't let them have music in the dressing room that has cussing or is demeaning to anyone. So we try to address all the things that you would try to address with your children.
On if the players have any accountability: I think again the player and I would be the two people accountable for it. I'm responsible for them being here.
On if this situation has been strenuous on the team: I don't think it's strenuous on the team. They would rather not see it or read about it, but we had a great practice today. If you look at the (New England) Patriots, everyone talked about the scandal last week and they probably played the best game that I've seen them play in three years. I think really and truly when you have outside distractions, it makes your team pull closer together.
On how he evaluates character and integrity with recruiting earlier: It's tougher. It is one of the things that we have to really look at and deal with because now you're being asked to look at sophomores and juniors. Character is really important to us in the recruiting process. There is no telling how many people we have turned down because of character. That's what makes this even tougher for us. I do know that part of the thing that I've talked about since I started coaching was the character of our players, being proud of them, and who they are and what they stand for. That makes this even more difficult.
On saying it is his responsibility, but not being able to be around them all summer: I'm responsible for them, whether we like it or not. Coach Royal said one time, `Head coaches have responsibility without control.' We can't even be around them in the summer, we can't meet with them, we can't even visit with them, but I'm responsible for them being here and their education. They have to be accountable to The University, they have to be accountable to their families, they have to be accountable to this football team, and if you're not, then you won't play. I am very proud that we stood strong and stern with immediate disciplinary action when someone doesn't work well. This isn't about winning and losing, this is about what is right.
On the assistant coaches keeping more in touch with the guys: I think they are doing a great job with keeping in touch. They talk to them every day. Most of them meet with them one-on-one every day. They call them every night, they text them. Everyone is really trying.
On if at some point it is the players' responsibility: It's my total responsibility, and it's the young man's short-term responsibility.
On if he's worried about his reputation: No, I don't really care. I have had 33 years of a good one and if six months ruins it, then it wasn't very good anyway in those people's eyes. It's not about me, it's really about young people, their families, it's about the change of direction their lives may take if at any point they're guilty and these things are proven and that's what you hate. You hate it for them more than anything else. I'm going to be fine with my life. It's not about me.
On the set of difficult circumstances to the season so far: We're waiting on our luck to happen. Let's put it that way. We know it's ahead; it hasn't been behind or present. Really and truly these are great life lessons. Life is hard and we all make tough decisions in our life. We are all tested in our lives and this is a great test for our players, our coaches, and me. The way you handle adversity is who you are and we're going to step up and handle this right. Like I said, the large majority of them are. I get tired of preaching to all those 4.0 students. We are talking about the actions of a few that tarnish many and that's a shame for the many, but that's why I'm going to stand strong and take up for the many and make sure that this hits on me and the people responsible for it, not the ones that are doing everything right. I could mention 80 players that you all know are great and today they are part of a group that they didn't have anything to do with. In fact, most of the team didn't even know what I was talking about when I addressed it after practice.
On the offensive line and depth throughout the team: Those offensive linemen are amazing. I didn't even think about Dallas Griffin's knee either, but him and Cedric Dockery playing that many plays with sore knees is just unbelievable. I have asked the coaches to have more trust and the players to work harder and do better so the coaches will trust to put them in. We have got to start developing more depth as we get ready for Big 12 play.
On how Sergio Kindle and Henry Melton look today in practice: They did really well. They're fresh and excited about playing again. It has been a great message I think. I know it's the harshest punishment that I have ever put on anybody for a DUI and I do think it helped. They understand how much they missed it, and hopefully, it will show some of the other kids that without football, it is different.
On if Rice is similar to last year: They are very similar. Chase Clements is a really good player and Dillard is a guy that is as good as a receiver that we'll play. I think he was on the Biletnikoff (Award, as the nation's top receiver last year) and may have even won it. He is really good. They are in transition so we think they are a much better football team now than they were when they started three weeks ago. They are getting use to each other and they played hard against Tech. They had some turnovers and some things happen to them that made the score more lopsided than the game, but we know they will come in and play well.
On Rice head coach David Bailiff: I like David a whole lot. I have gotten to know him very well since he was at Texas State. We visited a lot, he came to us and spent time with me, and they have a lot of TCU about them because he was with Gary Patterson and his defensive coordinator was at Michigan State, but he had been around the TCU system. They play an eight-man structure and blitz quite a bit. Their blitzes are different than TCU, but their structure is very similar.
On how much playing time he expects out of Sergio Kindle and Henry Melton: We haven't decided yet simply because we need to watch them practice full speed, because they have been on the scout team. We let them do drills and we have let them get involved. Right now, we're not planning on any of the three guys starting.
On if there is any one area where depth is more of a concern: The offensive line, with Adam Ulatoski's injury and Charlie Tanner has been nursing a sore ankle, we just don't have much depth there. That has been the place that we really need it the most. Then I guess defensive end, because Brian Orakpo got hurt and Henry Melton wasn't playing. Henry coming back will help us and we hope we will have Brian back soon.
On the response of the team: They are really excited for the three players that are coming back. They understood it was a harsh penalty and disciplinary action for all of those three. When you have a teammate that gets in trouble or one that is suspended, they love their teammates. Sometimes guys make mistakes, they're human, I've made them my whole life and I've been fortunate that I have never been arrested, but again, the team has been really resilient. It is a great group of kids and it's fun to go see kids that are doing right and that are excited about the game on Saturday. Especially the young kids that are getting to play for the first time and that are playing well. I have a responsibility to them, too. I have a responsibility to make sure that I give a young man his due that is doing everything right. Part of the public image of this team has been tarnished by a few.