November 28, 2008

Mack Brown makes his team's case

Because Mack Brown's post-game comments were so widely anticipated heading into the Texas A&M game, we wanted everyone to see what Mack had to say in his own words …

Opening statement …

Proud of our guys. There was a tremendous amount of pressure on our guys tonight because A&M had nothing to lose, and we had everything in the world to lose. I felt like they made the statement they needed to make, starting with Colt.

Things weren't going as easily offensively as they were defensively in the first half, and Colt started making plays to turn that thing around. He made people miss him and got it rolling with some scrambles and throwing the ball downfield. I thought he made a huge statement tonight because I do think he's the best player, the most valuable player on one of the best teams in the country.

I've said it repeatedly, and I'll say it again tonight - we would not be where we are without him. I really, really feel that way. What a great night and what a great statement for him for awards for him here at the end of the year.

The conference has a tough decision. The voters have a tough decision because there's a lot of really good football teams that are out there. Oklahoma's a great team. Texas Tech's a great team, and I do not want to sit up here and take anything away from either one of those. And it would be really classless of me to sit here and say they are not great teams. Missouri is a great team. We played them. Oklahoma State, they're a great football team. This league is just the best its ever been.

I would hope that in the future, we would look at the Southeastern Conference rule in how to separate a tie because they do go head-to-head. And that's the way to determine it. It's the two highest teams that are rated in the BCS and if it's head-to-head, they take the one that won. And I do think if we go to the (Big 12 title game) it will be because we're a great football team and beat Oklahoma on a neutral site. We lost on the last play of the game out at Tech, and we had that very treacherous four-game stretch with Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Tech. Probably the toughest stretch of anyone in the country.

But I do not want to say Oklahoma and Tech aren't deserving, too, because they are really, really good football teams.

This team has been unbelievable this year. Whether we get to play next week or not, I hope we do, I think we'll end up in a BCS game somewhere and hopefully we can continue to play like we did tonight.

Questions …

Q: Can you talk about your decision to take Colt McCoy out of the game at the start of the fourth quarter.

BROWN:
That's what we always do. And I can't sit up here and talk about sportsmanship and throw it every snap at the end. If the difference in 49-9 and 56-9 is going to make the difference in whether we go to Kansas City or not, then the system is even more screwed up than I think it is.

Q: Can you elaborate on the discussion you had with Greg Davis about taking Colt out?

BROWN:
Greg Davis and I discussed it, and Colt wanted to stay in. I'm not sure Greg didn't want him to stay in. To me, this is what we do. This is who we are. And I think it's the best thing to do. And then the second-team scored. I wanted them to get better. We may have to play John (Chiles) in the next two ballgames or the next game. And he's got to continue to get better. He had a couple throws tonight. Cody Johnson needed to play. And I really believe the kids deserve to play. I was really disappointed we gave up the long kick return and quick touchdown because that would killed some more clock. But if it takes 56 points to get someone to vote for you, then folks we've got a bad system. We sit here and talk all the time about sportsmanship. The NCAA sends out messages about sportsmanship, and then we throw it right out the window when you need to get to a game, and I just don't think you do that.

Q: What did you think of all the "45-35" signs the fans had in the stadium?

BROWN:
There were a lot of them. I agree with them. It cost me a lot of money to make all those signs. I think that's the deal. We won head-to-head. I don't want to make a big to-do out of it. But Alabama and Florida get to play theirs off. The Big 12 South isn't going to get to play it off, and if that's the case, the two highest ones (in the South) have already played it off, and that's why I think we deserve to go (to next week's Big 12 title game against Missouri).

Q: The defense held A&M to minus-24 yards rushing.

BROWN:
It was unbelievable. The only play they made in the first half was the 54-yard screen pass. Our defense played great. And I was proud of our offense for scoring right before the half. I do think it's really important to score and take some momentum in at the half.

Q: Talk about your 200th victory.

BROWN:
It means we've been doing this for a long time. I can remember being at Tulane and being 18-24, so it's a long way from that. I've been lucky to have really, really good jobs at North Carolina and here, lot of great young people who played for us and a lot great coaches. When coaches get fired, they usually blame the kids and the coaches who coach for him. So when a coach wins 200 games, he would have to give all the credit to assistants and kids because there's a lot of them.

Q: You had more than 500 yards of offense, you stopped them from running the ball, almost no penalties, 14 of 17 on third downs, is the best you could probably play on national television?

BROWN:
It is. We gave up the 54-yard flare and missed a field goal, and that's all I thought we did wrong in the first half. Very honestly, we were nine of 11 on third downs in the first half. At halftime, I just told them, 'Keep doing what you're doing.' And then the long kickoff return and the deep pass in the second half. But again, if that's not good enough, the system is really messed up.


Q: You said you were going to make changes going into the A&M game, were there any things that weren't noticeable?

BROWN:
I could look back at two years ago and say I probably shouldn't have played Colt and Jevan (Snead) was thinking about leaving. So that was a mistake on our part. It was my decision. It was a poor decision. Because Colt is so competitive, he talked me into it. Last year, we just didn't start well and didn't play well and was very, very disappointing in a game that means so much to the fans and is really important to this school. We felt like the players had lost respect for A&M because it wall about playing Oklahoma for the Big 12 South. A&M got lost in that mix because we had beaten them six straight times, and everybody talked about how bad they were. And I do think the fact our players talked to their players last year the 10 days leading up to the game had an effect. I coached against my brother twice and had no interest in talking to him the week of a game. The other thing we felt is we had gotten so much into family and Thanksgiving and all the parents coming in the day before the game. It had gotten so big that I thought we ended up having a distraction because we didn't know what the kids were eating with their parents and that meeting is very emotional. So we'd have a good week of practice and then for whatever reason we didn't play well. And we didn't talk any about A&M last week, and before we had. So I thought we were getting ready to play too early, and then by the time we got to the game we were tired and kind of washed out emotionally. We really didn't start talking about the game until Sunday. And they didn't get any turkey today, they got the same meal they've had the previous 11 games. We told them, 'You win your game, you can have all the Thanksgiving you want.' Everything we have done for 11 other games, we did for this game.

Q: You've controlled everything you can control, so how do you deal with not being able to control your fate now?

BROWN:
Those kids have done everything they can do. To me, they should go (to the Big 12 title game). And if we don't go, we're going to go play somewhere else. I'm not going to sit around pout about it and worry about it. If there are three teams that could go from the Big 12 South, I really think we need to look at the system. Because if we go, Oklahoma gets left out and they're a really good football team. I don't want to make it sound like the BCS is horrible. I think there's a lot of good points to it. It's better than what we had. I've been there when AP had a national champion. UPI had one. The guys down the street had a national champion, and someone else had a buddy that they gave a trophy to. What we've got is good, but I don't think we should send conference champions to the BCS unless they deserve to go. And then we at least have the eight best teams playing in the BCS. That would be a good place to start. Then, if you have a horrible conference one year and three really good teams from the Big 12 South, it's not fair to the three teams in the Big 12 South. Right now, it's not about the best teams, it's about the conference champions. But I'd like to see it be about the best teams, and then Oklahoma doesn't suffer, Tech doesn't suffer because you get rewarded for a great year.

Q: Other than losing one game on the road in the final seconds, has this team done everything you've asked?

BROWN:
They really have. They've been so much fun. They've worked hard. They were one play away from being No. 1 in the country and undefeated. Last play of the game on the road. That game didn't start well, and they fought their guts out to come back and go ahead. So I really think this team is special.

Q: Do you feel like Colt (McCoy) exorcised some demons by beating A&M after going 0-2 against them as a starter?

BROWN:
That's not who Colt is. He played so well against Oklahoma and against Tech, so it was important for him to win this game because he's beaten everyone else. He's 2-1 against Tech., 2-1 against Oklahoma. So now he's got a chance to even it out against A&M next year. But I'm excited about the way he played tonight. He played tough, he played hard, he played competitive.

Q: Will you talk to voters over the next few days to lobby your cause?

BROWN:
No. Everybody saw the game. If they can't see the game and decide what's best, then it doesn't do any good for me to call. I really think it's demeaning for me to have to call after they sat there and watched it. So they will make their decision based on the body of work.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Mack hit a home run with his post-game comments. He knew the fans were doing most of the talking for him with the 45-35 campaign. He couldn't have orchestrated the TV coverage any better if he tried. He had the founding member of the "45-35" campaign getting serious air time on ESPN in a blowout second half.

Brown obviously told his players not to talk down about OU or Tech or anyone else, because none of them did. To a man, they all said, "We have controlled what we can control." Mack went out of his way to compliment OU and Tech. He got his subtle mentions of the head-to-head victory over the Sooners in without being obnoxious, which is always the danger.

If any coach or voter is going to be swayed by Mack Brown's comments, it will be his decision to pull Colt McCoy. Brown has been consistent about pulling his starters after the third period of blowouts, and he did it again Thursday night. That was a powerful message because a lot of fans and people watching probably thought, "Wow, what is he doing? Colt's got the Heisman on the line, and Texas has the post-season on the line." Not Mack. He stayed true to who he is, and that's why he and the Longhorns should be seen as the refreshing breeze they've been all year in college football. That's why they should be rewarded with a trip to Kansas City next week. That, and the most decisive argument of all - a HEAD-TO-HEAD victory over Oklahoma in October.


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