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January 3, 2006

Mack Brown


Q. Coach, just a day before the game, could you just give a read on your team, just what your feelings are, reading their body language and whatnot?
COACH MACK BROWN: I'm really proud of our team, proud of their year. They've accomplished so much. You never know how your team will respond to a stage like this because we were at this same venue last year but the stakes are higher. I've been proud of them. They haven't done anything differently this year than they did for Ohio State or Oklahoma or the championship game, and that's what we asked them to do. They've been very respectful of SC I felt, and SC deserves that, and that's a difficult thing when you want to win to badly and people are saying you don't have a very good chance to win, and I'm proud of the class that they've shown throughout the week.
Q. What have you told your players about trying to prepare them for the atmosphere that they'll face come game day?
COACH MACK BROWN: Same atmosphere they had at Ohio State. There were 106,000, and 100,000 of them were against us and there was another 100,000 outside and it was fun. I want them to enjoy this. You work hard to get here. In this environment last year pulling into the Rose Bowl was such an experience for us because as we pulled down the hill, there were so many Texas fans that it was like, "Look at this. I can't even believe this is happening in Los Angeles at the Rose Bowl." We'll have a lot of fans there tomorrow. Ours got a map out and found their way out here.
Q. Apparently this probably is the most hyped game that your players will have played. Do you ever worry about too much hype fogging the focus or causing -- dissipating distraction?
COACH MACK BROWN: No, good teams enjoy the hype, and they have the ability to focus when it's time to focus and enjoy the moment and the attention. Young people come to Texas and go to SC for this game, and it's been a long time for us to get back to this game, and we took a baby step last year in this environment.
I've talked to the kids about it. The only difference between this year and last year is the stakes are bigger, and that's it. They love to play, and it's about the game. These two teams have been talked about for a month, every day, and that's a fun thing, an exciting thing, and now it's time to let the games begin.
Q. Can you talk about the decision to go with Selvin in the backfield and if there are any other lineup changes that you have for the game?
COACH MACK BROWN: It's really not a change. Selvin is older, been around. SC does a really good job with their blitz package. They have a lot of zone blitz and they bring different things for you, and we thought we'd put the older guy out there first. But we've played all three backs and they'll play during the ballgame. He's just out there for the first snap.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the emotional aspect of this day and tomorrow of course in the game as you play the final game with some of these seniors that you've had and then also not necessarily knowing whether this will be the last game with Vince or not?
COACH MACK BROWN: Well, yes. You have a day and a half life with this football team, and that's it. This is arguably one of the best teams in Texas football history, and it's been a fun ride for these kids, starting with the Rose Bowl last year, and then 12 straight wins last year was a fun time for us and got us back into an area that we like in college football. That's why we want the kids to enjoy this week and play well and win tomorrow night, because we want to be back.
After the game it's a bittersweet time. We tell our seniors it's a starting point for them, not a finishing. I also told them I obviously want you to win the game, but I don't want this to be the best thing that ever happens in your life. I want this to be a springboard for other things in your life. We want to be back, it may be the best sporting event for the senior class, but it's not about your wife and your kids. I don't want you to be 54 and people say what's the greatest thing that ever happened? We beat SC in the 2006 Rose Bowl. I want this to be the best sporting event.
This is a neat way for both senior classes to finish, and they'll remember these times and this game for the rest of their lives, and that's fun. We're the only two teams playing out of 119, and they'll remember that the rest of their lives. It's the only two undefeated teams in the country. It's the first time in the history of the BCS that 1 and 2 have finished 1 and 2, so everything says this game will be a good game, and that's a great compliment to both schools. We lost one last year, Pete and his guys didn't lose any, so these two teams have been teams to reckon with over the last couple of years.
Q. During OU we talked about your preparation for the pre-game speech, a routine that you have. Do you follow sort of the same things during a Bowl week and what do you have to say to your team?
COACH MACK BROWN: In a situation like this you're talking more about enjoying the moment and being who you are because so many times teams in this setting try to be someone they're not because they do want to win so badly that they start taking on a personality that they think they have to have that's bigger than who they've been, and our team we feel like is good enough to win if we are just us. If you are yourself and you play the way you want to play and you lose the game, then you're not the best team. All we want to do is be the best team tomorrow night. We don't have to be the best team of all time, just tomorrow night.
Q. You mentioned that not a lot of people seem to be thinking that you're going to win the game. Just from a coaching standpoint, isn't that something a coach often relishes, to have a team as good as yours that has been as good for as long and really isn't expected to win the game?
COACH MACK BROWN: Yeah, I really appreciate you all (laughter). You've been really good. I don't need a pre-game talk. But being the underdog is something that doesn't happen very often at SC or Texas, and I think we are from what I can tell. And rightfully so. I mean, give them their due and I have no problems with people saying SC is a great team; they are. I did introduce Coach Royal to Pete the other night and said, "Pete, this guy had 30 straight wins at Texas in the early '70s, late '60s, and I never thought I'd see it again, so here you are at 34. Meet the guy." They sat and had dinner together and had a great time.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you've got to beat in this game besides the scoreboard? And besides the physical technical tactical preparation for your team for this special game, do you use any psychological preparation?
COACH MACK BROWN: You always use psychological preparation. That's ongoing with your team. You have 130 of them, probably 70 of them play, and then you've got trainers and managers and assistant coaches, and so it is. We've talked about it being a big family, and it is. It's no different than any of you in your biggest moment in your business trying to figure out how to manage it, except you've got a staff and you've got people around you and you've got paper, TV network all trying to work together to make sure that there's no glitches.
This is no different. That's what we're trying to do is everybody be accountable, just do your job, remember what you came here for, and our players have done that all week. We haven't had a young guy late to a meeting, late to practice. Everybody has practiced really well. It's kind of what Pete and I were talking about a few minutes ago is we've done all we can do, so let's go play. Let's shut it up and kick it off and let people enjoy the game, and hopefully both teams will play well enough that the game lives up to the hype, because sometimes they don't. That's something that we would want to do.
Really and truly, it's done. Now you just keep the lid on it until kickoff.
Q. Has Coach Royal given you any tidbits about playing in a championship game?
COACH MACK BROWN: Coach and I have talked about that since the day we came to Texas because that's what we came for. Our job was to get Texas back in the top five and not only play for the National Championship but win the National Championship. It's taken us a while to get here, and we're very proud of the fact that we're here. But we started talking about that in '98 and '99, so it's been ongoing talk about big games in Texas and who we are. Our state is different, there's no question about that, our media is different. Who we are is different. Our fan base in some cases is different, and you have to understand it and embrace it and not try to fight it.
The biggest thing that Coach Royal said is you've earned the right to be here, and I want you to enjoy it, and if they enjoy it and play well, then you'll have a chance to win.
We've always felt like in talking to Coach Royal, I've always felt like that if you do the best you can do and that's not good enough, you're fine. Schedule somebody else or recruit different players or change some things, but just be who you are. I think we'll play really well. I'm excited about watching our kids play. They played well for 12 straight games. I don't see it changing tomorrow night.
Q. Mack, tomorrow night one of these teams' winning streaks is going to come to an end, but as yours kept getting longer late in the season, you said you had talked to Pete and really began to appreciate their streak. Just recount again what that conversation was about.
COACH MACK BROWN: I called Pete after Fresno where they had a tough night but won and said everybody plays their best game, everybody plays so hard, and really it sounds a little facetious now, but really it was to congratulate him on being able to win 34 straight games. I've learned something from Pete out here. Pete says if you keep talking about the streak and you keep thinking about the streak, they're more likely to end, so you'd better keep talking about playing and getting better. He's done a tremendous job of that.
Q. Everyone has been saying, give Pete Carroll a month to prepare and he's going to come up with a new computer or something. What has your staff come up with with a month to prepare?
COACH MACK BROWN: We've been pretty good, but give Pete credit; he's done a great job.
Q. Do you recall a little bit your feelings watching last year's championship game and did you think that anybody could put that kind of whipping on what appeared to be a truly terrific Big 12 champion?
COACH MACK BROWN: I remember I think I was on a home visit and I called my wife during the first quarter and said what do you think, and she said, "It looks like Oklahoma is going to kill them; they just drove it straight down the field and scored." I said, "Hang on, Sweetie, I'll be home at the end of the first quarter." Turnovers usually change games, and SC, again, has done a great job with turnovers, we've done a good job. In that ballgame you look at the two interceptions back to back and the fumbled punt, and all of a sudden things started rolling.
I've been in those games. We had a couple of them with OU where after a turnover kids press, they try to catch up too quickly and it gets worse than it is. Obviously the game last year was not -- I would say it's not what we all thought. It's not what I would have thought. If those teams played ten times the differential wouldn't be 55-19 every time, but in that ballgame it's one that SC got rolling and Oklahoma couldn't stop them.
Q. In the past you've tried to simulate like the practice times to the kickoff times, but this week there's been a lot of morning practices. Any concerns about being sluggish with the 5:20 kickoff?
COACH MACK BROWN: No, not at all, and it's because we did some of that in the early morning at home. We've been getting up, and we felt like it was more important for us to stay in the same routine that we had for the other Bowl games and what we did at home. With our finals we start practicing at 6:00 in the morning. Our guys have been up every morning at 6:00. We do not feel like that the 5:00 o'clock time will be that much different because it's 7:00 o'clock for us at home, and we've played at 7:00 o'clock a lot.
Q. I know you've been asked a lot of versions of this question over the past month, so bear with me if you will. Their offense has been referred to as the greatest in college football history. If I asked you for a word to describe it, what would you say, and just your impression when you've seen it all these weeks? What do you come away with?
COACH MACK BROWN: One word would be explosive. Everybody that they've got that touches the ball can score, and that's why it's such a star-studded offense, and I think that's why people are so enamored by it.
The group that has not gotten the credit from our estimation is the offensive line. They're really athletic, really good, and nobody ever talks about them. You wouldn't score that many points and have all of those guys have time to be open and Reggie make those runs without that offensive line, and they're a really good bunch. Pat Ruel and Mac McWhorter, I think maybe we're seeing two of the best offensive line coaches in this country.
Q. Did you ever think you would see an offense like this in college football?
COACH MACK BROWN: Oh, I'd have to go back and think about it. On the day that we played them and we were getting drilled, I probably thought I've seen some (laughter). You could ask me that question on some afternoons, and I'd say, yeah, they look pretty good to me today. I can't go back to '75. I've said this, but you compare Reggie Bush to Gayle Sayers, and Gayle is older, Reggie would outrun him right now. You compare them to the '88 team, well, the '88 team is a little slow right now and in wheelchairs and whatnot.
Q. When Pete Carroll was asked about a particular match-up for this week's game that he was potentially concerned about, his quote was our ability to tackle the quarterback in the open field, and he particularly mentioned his defensive ends. On the flipside for you, what is your one match-up that you're interested in seeing?
COACH MACK BROWN: That's been a problem, figuring out who you stop. Normally in the fundamental philosophy, you try to stop the running game, and that's LenDale and Reggie, and then Matt is a good runner, he scored nine touchdowns, he's made a lot of plays with these feet, but people do not see him the same way they see Vince Young with a ball in his hands. Matt normally doesn't make the 45-yard run or the 60-yard run. That's not his style. As we look at it, you always try to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback and knock a few balls loose. With them you start talking about the names, I think it's why they're so good is everywhere you look, they have a good match-up with people. That's why I think they've been so good.
Q. No one particular match-up then?
COACH MACK BROWN: Well, all their match-ups are good. Do you let Reggie beat you? Do you let LenDale hammer you? If you do, you'll never see the ball. If you put all the guys up around the line of scrimmage to slow those two down, then Matt and Jarrett -- the tight end is a great player. There's players on that team nobody mentioned. I think LenDale is the best player that doesn't get any publicity of anybody in the country because he's been such a significant player in their run here. That's why the match-ups are hard. If you start taking your secondary and trying to match up somebody with a big guy, it puts you in a tough spot with other guys.
Q. Coach Carroll told us about his first memory of a big game was when he was 12 years old playing in a Pop Warner championship game. What about you? What was your first big game in your football career?
COACH MACK BROWN: I think probably it was our Wake Forest game in 1990 when I was at North Carolina because we were down 24-10. If we lost it I was going to be fired. Those will start coming into your mind as big games (laughter). We won it, obviously. We killed them 31-24 late. Not that I remember, but on a wheel route to Bucky Brooks (laughter). There were a few others that might be significant, but that's the one I remember them telling me before the game, "If you lose, find another job." It was the fourth game of the year, too, by the way. I didn't think they did that in college at that time, but I was trying to set a new trend.
Q. A lot of the players talked about yesterday during media day how much this means to the state of Texas. Obviously Austin, Texas, very important, but the state of Texas, bringing this back to the state means a lot to them. They seemed real adamant about doing that, bringing it back to the state. How do you feel about that?
COACH MACK BROWN: I agree. The Texas fan base is so passionate about football. Our high school coaches, it's amazing how many letters and emails we got from high school coaches saying, "We're proud of you, and go play for the state pride of Texas." Every person in the state of Texas that cares about football will be tuned in. It's really, really important in that state, and there will be some of our competitors that would rather us lose, but most of the people in that state now want the state of Texas to win, and that's what's unique about Texans.
I was not from the state obviously when I got there, and we had a pretty good year the first year and Ricky Williams won the Heisman, and somebody said he's not even from here, and Coach Royal said well, he's been dipped and vaccinated so he's here. That's the way Texans feel. It's hard to get in, but most of our kids are from the state of Texas. There's no doubt when they put that jersey on and have Texas across the front in burnt orange it's really important to them because most of these kids grew up wanting to wear that jersey and that white helmet, and that will make this game even more unique. You've got to feel like it's a special game for Coach Royal, played SC twice and played the O.J.-type team out here in '67 and saw Traveler and Tommy Trojan and the boys run around.
Q. And the correlation between Ohio State, you obviously played a great game with them, do you think coaches looking at that and seeing how you played them, how does that work?
COACH MACK BROWN: I'd like to think so. The more I stay in this, I'm not sure one game leads into another. I really believe it's two great teams tomorrow night, and the one that plays the best will win. It may not be the best team that wins, it'll be the one that plays the best tomorrow night. I don't think it has anything to do with Oregon-Oklahoma, Ohio State-Notre Dame, all the match-ups we talk about, because the intensity and the stakes were different for those ballgames in a lot of cases, and this environment is just different.
I wish it did.
Q. This is a tough ticket for the fans obviously. It's also a tough ticket for ex-players. Which of your five ex-players were lucky enough to get those five sideline passes?
COACH MACK BROWN: I've had a lot of things on my mind this week, who's on that sideline except the ones with helmets haven't been a big issue to me. I let somebody else handle that. There's probably more pressure there than there is for the game. I just hope that I can be one of the five (laughter).
Q. Throughout your career you've had a history of retaining draft-eligible juniors. What's been your secret to that and do you think you can work your magic with Vince?
COACH MACK BROWN: The secret we feel like to kids staying is we feel like we have a good environment for them, that they enjoy playing in and they have fun and they don't want to leave it. Even our seniors, a lot of them say I'd rather not leave that aren't going to the NFL. So they have fun. They enjoy Austin. They're treated like celebrities in Austin and in some cases will be treated differently as celebrities in the NFL, but they'll never be treated the same way they are as a college superstar.
Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, I feel like the guys that have stayed have all been successful, more successful than if they had gone early, and when they got to the NFL they've come back and told our guys, "It's not easy up there. You need to understand. You'd better think long and hard."
Our advice to the guys, if you have to have the money right now, go, and if not, then start looking into the rest of the scenario to see if it's best for you, your family emotionally. Because you can't get your senior year in college back. What Matt Leinart has been able to accomplish this year, and he really didn't need any of it. The Heisman run again, the fun he's had with his team, he'll be one of the best ever regardless of what happens tomorrow night, and how much fun as a kid would he have lost if he had been a first round draft choice last year and been on a team and gotten beaten around and not had much fun. If you look at Matt, his decision was good, as well.
There's also stats that say young guys that come back and finish school have a longer tenure in the NFL and they have more success. So there are a lot of stats that say obviously the more mature you are by the time you get there, the better chance you have to make it. That's the other thing. It's not just the check up front. The guys want to make it.
I remember Roy Williams, who's with Detroit now, saying, "I'm not as good as I need to be yet. I've got to practice better, run better routes. I know I've got more work to do." I think that's probably a factor, as well.
If you're SC kids and the Texas kids right now, they all think they'll have a chance to play in the Fiesta Bowl next year. They want to come back. It's not like we're 4 and 7. I'd like to have a winning season on my way out. It's a different attitude with those teams.
Q. I'm just as guilty of this as a lot of people. You've been asked a lot of questions about Southern Cal's offense, and with the whopping total of nine tenths of a point you actually have scored more than them this year. I ask you the same question; if I asked you to describe your offense in one word, how would you describe it, and what do you think when you see yourselves, offense, on film?
COACH MACK BROWN: Explosive (laughter). And that's what makes this game such a unique match-up tomorrow night. The thing that's amazed me about our offense is the number of one-play drives we've had or the number of four-play drives we've had. We usually -- I've been on teams that lost and lost badly, so I'd rather not beat a team badly. I've looked at some teams and we've been ahead 52-19 at halftime. That's hard to do even if that team doesn't have scholarships, and just about all of them we played had scholarships.

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