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January 2, 2006

Mack Brown


COACH MACK BROWN: Well, you have to be able to overcome big plays in crisis situations. We feel like we're more prepared for that because of the Michigan game last year. We were down by ten points with eight minutes left to go in the game or something, and going to Ohio State and being down by eight or ten at the end of the game and coming back and winning. We do feel like this is isn't a game where you might not be behind, so don't watch the scoreboard, just keep playing.
And the other thing about SC, both offenses have the ability to come back because they're so fast and they could score so quickly. If this game goes like people expect, it could be a last-minute game. It's one where if somebody has it 21-0, you'd better keep playing because the other team could come back very quickly.
Q. Do you expect a high scoring game?
COACH MACK BROWN: I don't expect anything anymore. I have coached long enough to know about the time I expect something, it'll be so far off. That's the great thing about college football. I can't wait to watch the game, I can't wait to coach the game because of the anticipation.
I've really been pleased with the way our kids and coaches have handled the game. You never know because we haven't been here; we've been to the Rose Bowl but we haven't been in the final game but SC has. Our team has prepared for this one just like they did Ohio State, just like they did Oklahoma and just like they did last year's Rose Bowl game. We haven't had a guy come late to curfew, we haven't had anyone without focus at practice. All of our practices have been good. They seem to have handled the media that surrounds this game we well. I'm proud that they came out to win the game and not just be proud to have gotten here.
Q. Have you ever thought about the NFL?
COACH MACK BROWN: I have thought about it, and I've even talked to people at times. I do agree with Pete, that I can't say that it's more fun than the pros because I haven't been there and Pete has. It's hard to beat this week with these two teams and the excitement that surrounds this game and the type of kids that are in this game. I think I've seen Matt and Reggie at awards banquets as much as I've seen our team and coaches here this month, and they're always very gracious, very polite. They handle themselves well. I've always liked Pete and the way he handles himself. He's so positive and so upbeat, and that's what makes this game fun.
Q. To many of the national media, Texas has been an afterthought in the last weeks and Southern Cal has had so much attention. Has that been a motivation?
COACH MACK BROWN: I would not think that anyone would need motivation for the last game of the year. Because of that, I don't think the outside things that are going on are a distraction at all either way because our team does respect 34 wins and they do respect SC and they respect who they are and what they've accomplished. But they're very, very proud of their 19 wins and their Big-12 Championship and the year we've had, and we know it'll be a great challenge.
We're playing what some argue is the best team in college football history. That's hard to calculate because this team is very good. Pete and Coach Royal, and here's a guy that had a 30-win streak and he's got 34. We give them their due and our guys accept that challenge. They're not angry at what has not been said about them. That's a compliment, that they don't go into this one like they've got a chip on their shoulder. They're going to play a great team the last game of the year.
Q. We talked about Coach Royal. Will you pick his brain at all?
COACH MACK BROWN: I picked his brain for eight years. Coach has been great. This has been 33 years for me, and this coach, it's been eight years. We talked about this game eight years ago, seven years ago, six years ago, and I probably still wouldn't be at Texas if it weren't for Coach Royal. On the bad days he's been able to step up and say, "I got beat worse than that. Pick your head up and go back to work." He's been a great influence in my life over the last eight years.
Q. Do you think that winning this game will change the way you have been regarded in college football, the way you have been portrayed in college football?
COACH MACK BROWN: Winning the game will change some people's minds and others move on, and what I've learned about this game because I've watched it very closely is it doesn't change your life personally. And next year at Texas they'll expect us to win another one regardless of whether we win this one or not. And if we're 0-12 at Texas next year after winning this one, people won't be fired.
I don't think it changes much. I've got a 22-year record as a head coach, and some people have made the decision on who that person is, and that's okay.
Q. What about when you were 1-10 at North Carolina, and I guess Spurrier made fun of you one time. How hurtful was that to you? Can you just talk about that?
COACH MACK BROWN: When you're 1-10 it's hurtful, period. It's not who makes fun of you because you feel worse about yourself. It's because someone gave you an opportunity to run their program and you aren't running it very well. That's what you're proud of for Texas, that they've asked you to do something and you've gotten it to this point. We're at least making progress.
I said five or six years ago we needed to get in the neighborhood before we could start winning National Championships again. We're in the neighborhood, we've bought a house because we've been in the top four or five the last four or five years and we've been so close to this game. Obviously SC is established in the neighborhood and we're not, so we're trying to get established in this neighborhood. We ended up doing what we felt like we needed to do for North Carolina. It's a better place in football when we left than it was when we got there.
Q. (Inaudible)?
COACH MACK BROWN: Coach Bowden has had a great influence. He's beaten me seven or eight times, kept us from winning about five championships at North Carolina. I'll never forget the first year we're 0 and 5 or 6 at North Carolina and Coach Bowden called, I was really young, and he says, "hey, you're doing it right. Go slow, get the standards low and don't get any expectations. Just don't panic." Next year we're 0-5 and he called and said, "I think I'd pick it up a little bit. You only want to keep those standards so low so long if they're going to keep you." He's been wonderful.
This year -- it's funny how smart he is and lets you know. He said, "This is the year you'll play in that last game. You've got a great team, a great football team, and I'll be pulling for you," and he said that in August, so that was pretty good.
Q. He said you couldn't win big games; now you've won your fair share?
COACH MACK BROWN: It was part of having more fun and enjoying myself more because I quit worrying about the critics. I don't think you're ever quite in a position like that because there's always something to be critical of. As long as I feel like I'm doing the job that I need to be doing -- a big game to me was in Lafayette this year because had we lost I might not be sitting here.
When you get into what someone thinks of a big game and what someone is not, I think I've matured enough now to understand it. I don't worry about what people say about me anymore because it's really not about me, and that's probably made preparation for this game easier.
Q. What about your program keeps juniors from going to the NFL?
COACH MACK BROWN: Number one, you'd have to ask them, but across the board, we feel like they enjoy Austin, they're winning, they're treated like celebrities in Austin. It's a smaller town than LA, and they're treated like NFL players there. They're very recognized. People are always asking for their autographs when they're out, so they're really appreciated.
Lastly, we've had enough guys go to the NFL that have stayed that they have in most cases told the guys, enjoy the college atmosphere because you won't have it the rest of your life, and the NFL is really difficult. It's not as easy as everybody tells you it is. Basically we've told the guys if it's not about the money, stay. If you need the money, go, because that's a no-brainer.
Q. You do emphasize a college atmosphere there?
Q. It's not like pushing them toward the NFL?
COACH MACK BROWN: No, it's not about the NFL and that's why our guys have not talked much about the possible NFL while they're here because it's about this team, about the National Championship, and what a selfish thing for individuals to talk about what they're going to do after the game. They have plenty of time to talk about that after the game.
The NFL helped us when they gave a deadline of a couple of weeks after the final game so kids do not have to be making that decision the day before a championship game.
Q. I know routine is important to you. The last couple of days with the rain, how have you handled that and your routine?
COACH MACK BROWN: Our routine hasn't changed at all. We've been outside two of the last three days. Today we went indoors and got more of a walk-through, so we do not feel like the rain has hurt our preparation at all.
Q. How big was that 80-yard run by Vince against Oklahoma State?
COACH MACK BROWN: If you go back and look at the plays this year that have gotten this team here -- it's really fun, someone asked me the other day, which play, and that was one of them. But there's been so many of them, and that's what makes a championship year fun. We won the game January 1 last year, we've won 12 straight now, and that's really, really difficult to do. We start talking about 34 and 19 in winning streaks, nobody else won 12 this year. Nobody else won 13 this year. These kids have accomplished so much.
Q. Watching USC on film, obviously everything you talk about with the stars, but what has surprised you or that you didn't expect to see?
COACH MACK BROWN: Probably the thing that is so impressive to me, I knew Pete could coach, I knew his staff could coach, I knew about the stars, about their athletic ability. Like us, they play two deep, and people do not talk about their depth very much, and like us, they have some role players that are really, really valuable players to them that do not get a lot of credit.
Probably the biggest surprise to me is how good their defense is when they've been beaten up and criticized this year because of injuries and because maybe they didn't have quite the stats of last year's defenses. They played really good offenses. I was disappointed when I saw how good their defense really was. With all the hurt, I thought their defense would be struggling, and it doesn't look like a struggling defense to me.
Q. What do you do in the next 48 hours? Sometimes teams get too loose, too tight, too confident. How does a coaching staff deal with that?
COACH MACK BROWN: What we will do is have this media day. They're with the Children of Hope here for the next hour, and we always talk to our kids about giving back. Here's an opportunity for an hour of time where you're getting all the attention, to give back to kids that are less fortunate. So you be really good for this hour and you make sure in your hearts you give these kids your full attention, and then we will go back to the hotel and we'll have a meeting for an hour or so and just go back over, like we would on Thursday, our normal Thursday special teams game plan, so we'll meet an hour, hour and a half, let them see Ohio State-Notre Dame this afternoon, let them see Georgia-West Virginia tonight, and this is a great time for them on Thursday afternoon to visit with their families. Most of their families are getting into town today, so we're trying to get all the other stuff out of the way. Then tomorrow about noon they'll start clocking things down after the luncheon and after their walk-through at the Rose Bowl.
Most of them were here last year, so they know the routine for game day. The only thing that's changed in the routine is the stakes are higher.
Q. Is it still hard to not let them get too hyped up?
COACH MACK BROWN: It is, and this game seems like it's been here forever, so you kind of keep the lid on it. You've got them boiling -- you want them to simmer, but you've got to keep the lid on and make sure that you boil at the right time.

End of FastScripts...

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