Mack Brown Signing Day press conference: Feb. 2
Feb. 2, 2011
Opening Statement: I'm very excited about adding another great class to Texas. This is our 14th recruiting class since we've been in Austin, and each of them is special. But this one may be as special as our first one, because they were able to hang in there through a bunch of tough times. They hung through a tough season. A lot of media and recruiting services were calling them daily asking if they were going to change their minds. A lot of competition and opposition were calling them asking if they were going to change their minds. I'm really proud of these guys. In fact, I'm not really sure, but I don't believe any of these guys took another visit. That tells you something about their loyalty, their love for the university, and their commitment to us.
Major Applewhite, Bruce Chambers, [and] Oscar Giles did a tremendous job of holding this class together. Marcus Tubbs went on the road. Ken Rucker went on the road, and they also did a good job. Those five guys did the job of nine, and Ken hadn't recruited in a couple years, and Marcus had never been on the road, and those guys worked day and night to make sure we could move forward. I also want to thank the high school coaches. All of these guys are in-state guys except for one, and the high school coaches stood by their commitments. The families stood by their commitments. So the student-athletes should get a lot of credit for this, [and] their families, and also their high school coaches for standing by their word and doing what they decided about this time last year. Because most of these young guys were committed on our two junior days.
We had some issues today that were unique to recruiting. One of them - the ice up in Fort Worth and Dallas - and again, the high school coaches stepped-up. They would go to the young man's house, had he and his parents sign at their house, go back to the school in the ice and the bad weather and make sure they faxed the scholarship to us. And also, this is the first time I can remember an all-star game on signing day. At the USA vs. The World game over at Westlake [High School] tonight, there were about 50 guys there that were signing today, and the electricity went out at their hotel. So they really scrambled. But the coaches over there did a tremendous job getting the families over to the hotel, making sure that everybody was signed and getting those letters out. We appreciate all of those guys in the all-star game as they are getting ready to play tonight. But those things were very unusual.
This class was a class that filled the needs in just about every position. There is a lot of diversity in position in this class. David Ash, Quandre Diggs, M.J. McFarland and Chet Moss are already in school, so we had their mock signing downstairs, and I think a couple of them ran home and signed as well today. But the [current] players always enjoy that, and they get to see the highlight videos as a team. There are 22 guys in this class - 16 have been selected to prominent all-star games, including seven in the U.S. All-American game, three in the Under Armour All-American game, five in the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl and three tonight in the Team USA vs. The World game. Two of the guys were Parade All-Americans, and a lot of the guys - 20 - were currently listed on All-American or All-State teams. And the Texas High School Coaches Association teams have been yet to be announced. We had 23 guys come in for official visits of the 56 visits you can have. Twenty-two signed of those 23 visits. So we're excited about the ones we picked, who liked us and decided to come.
Our guys have junior day coming up on February 13th. Our guys are working really, really hard and trying to figure which junior to have in. It's a little more difficult now because we're just looking at a lot of the guys with the new staff, so we're trying to make those hard decisions. So most of their day today - since the scholarships were in by about 9:20 [a.m.] - most of our day has been spent looking at juniors.
On if he worried about holding this recruiting class together: I didn't, except probably for the night that Will [Muschamp] left. The night that Will left we had, I think, 14 guys in for their recruiting weekend. Anybody that wasn't in the state playoffs. Will told me he was going to Florida at 6 [p.m.], and we had a dinner at 7 [p.m.] with the 14 and their parents. Florida was going to try to announce that Will was leaving at 8 [p.m.] and as you all know now, because of you, nothing ever waits until 8 [p.m.]. So I'm walking, trying to figure out what to say and what to do and I'm excited for Will and what a great honor for him. It's an honor for our program that he gets a head coaching job at Florida, and at the same time I have 14 kids that I have to go over and tell he left after he was at breakfast. He was at breakfast talking about how he was going to coach them and how good we're going to be on defense next year. I'll never forget - I walk in there at 6:45 [p.m.] and I look up and on ESPN the ticker says, "Will Muschamp takes the Florida job," and they're walking in. The only thing I could think is I might as well be honest. So I said, "OK, sudden change. Come here. Everybody come here. Come up and let's get this straight." I just said, "I've got some good news - and some of you won't think it's such good news, you'll think it's bad news - but Will Muschamp's done a great job for us. He got the Florida job so he'll be leaving." Some of our players were there. We didn't even have time to tell our players. We usually try to email them and let them know what's going on. I said, "But good for Will. Some of you will be disappointed." The thing I asked them to do was wait until I hired somebody. You're committed to Texas so if you'll hang on and stay committed until we hire somebody, you're going to like who I hire. But if you don't like who I hire, I'll get on the phone and personally call any school that you want and get you a scholarship with that school. But hang in there until we have a chance to do that, and every one of them did so that was good that those 14 stayed. From 6 [p.m.] to 9 [p.m.] that night, it was a little uncertain because some of them looked at me like, "You've got to be crazy sitting here telling us it's OK."
On what recruit was instrumental in holding this class together: I think [Quandre Diggs] was probably the most. I mean, he was calling everybody. He'd email and he'd call. Major [Applewhite] was recruiting him and of course Major Applewhite was Quentin [Jammer]'s roommate, so that was very unique to have a younger brother that used to hang around them come back to school here. Quandre would email him all the time and say, "Hey, so-and-so is OK. I got him straightened out. He's Ok. We're doing good." I probably heard from him more than anybody else when he would check on guys.
On developing younger players earlier: What I kept doing when I would talk to the people that were helping me look at things, I would say, "Here's so-and-so. He was a great high school football player and now he's not doing well. Here's so-and-so. He's not playing and he should be playing and he's not playing." When you look at that, that's our job. Our job is to take a really good player like this, and all of us want to know how good they're going to be. The evaluation of this class will be four or five years from now, truthfully. We can all be excited today. There's not a coach in America that's going to stand up here and say, "Boy, we signed a bad class. These guys really stink. They're awful. Can you imagine this? We have to put up with this for four years?" But all of them do have a chance or you wouldn't have signed them, and somebody approved all of them and I've seen all of them. So when you get a guy that comes in and you think he's got great potential, it's our job to make sure he improves from here to the end. If he's not improving then that's our fault. I told the guys downstairs a few minutes ago, "I've challenged you. You have a new start. You've got new coaches. You've got a new offense. You've got a new defense. Now if you didn't like your last coach and you thought he was not doing a good job and a new one comes in that's as good as anybody in the country and you don't like him either, than you better look in that mirror." So some of that responsibility goes back to the players as well.
On players whose fathers are coaches like Jaxon Shipley: Usually coaches' kids for us have made the transition early because they're gym rats and they've studied film all the time, and they are obsessed to play. We saw that with Jordan [Shipley]. I tried to get Jordan to quit after all of his injuries, and I didn't want him walking like me at 50-years old. So I thought it was best he consider quitting. He would not consider it. Jaxon's the same way. He just loves to play. The McCoys and the Shipleys did grow up together, so you've got Case [McCoy] here now talking to Jaxon, and it's fun to watch them. Jaxon's got so much potential that it's going to be a lot of fun to watch him. I think like Case, they're different personalities. All of us that have children understand that as we look at our kids they're all different. Those two are really different. Jaxon talks and smiles all the time. Jordan wasn't going to say a whole lot. So I think it's a fun time for him, and he'll start making his own name. I was a little surprised he wanted to wear his brother's number.
On positions where the recruits can make an immediate impact: I think we're going to throw it out there. What we said last year - and I'm not sure we did a very good job of it - we said to the team that the guys go through spring and that they'd have a chance to play, and if they didn't earn that spot in the spring then these freshman would come in and have the first shot in the fall at some of those jobs. For whatever reason, I didn't think the old and the young worked very well together last year, so we've got to try and do the same thing. But we've got to do a better job of molding the team chemistry together because I didn't think it was good at all times last year. The four that are here now, you have to get them integrated back into the group they signed with because that's kind of unique. They bond with this bunch. But we've got to have our senior class do a better job of grabbing the freshman and bringing them on and not having some separation and [having] chemistry there.
On if any recruit can make a difference in the return game: Yes, and we've lost all of our returners on campus that are experienced. With Major handling kickoff return and Jerry [Gray] handling punt return, we've got to do an outstanding job looking for those guys this spring and then add the freshman to it. But that is a place where if a guy can catch a punt and catch a kickoff, he can do it in college as well as he did it in high school. We felt like we were in great shape going into the fall in that position last year, but we didn't do well in that area.
On if a new coaching staff improves the odds of freshman having a chance to play: It's one thing we've sold these kids on. They're 15 days behind when they get here in June. Really, there's very little commitment, promises, ties and relationships built with the other coaches before they get here. I think it's a great time for a freshman to have a chance.
On OL Sedrick Flowers and OL Garrett Greenlea: Greenlea's so big and massive. You want tackles with long arms and he's 6'7", three-[hundred]-something [pounds]. When he hurt his knee he was so down, but he's come back amazingly well. They feel like he'll be able to move forward now and be able to play possibly in the fall, which I didn't think would happen when it first happened. He's just a mauler. He's so big and strong and he can cover up some defensive ends that are rushing. Sedrick can play a lot of places. Garrett will only be a tackle, but Sedrick is so athletic and so flexible he can play either. He's more likely to be a guard/center. He'll probably be able to play any of the three positions inside.
On the success Texas has having guys commit after official visits: We were the winningest program going into this year in the last 10 years in college football. These kids were young when they saw us grow up, so every year they saw the national championship at an impressionable age. They saw us [finish] third. They saw us [finish]second. So their heroes are not even Major Applewhite and Ricky Williams, they're Colt McCoy and maybe Vince Young. Even though that's a little far back for them. We have such a great relationship with the high school coaches, and we were able to pick guys that were talented and wanted to be at Texas. That's why I think the guys didn't waiver. It is astonishing that with what we went through during the season and then afterwards, that only one player that was committed to us changed his mind. It's astonishing. I think it's such a credit to the University of Texas. It's a great place and all of the kids were in-state except one, and the kids in this state, a lot of them, want to come to Texas and we've got to keep that. It's been a very special place to be, and we've got to make sure it continues to be that way.
On the responsibility of the new coaches to reach out to committed players: What we felt like we had to do first, and I thought the guys did this, they tried to get in touch with every current player. You have to kind of re-recruit them and assure them I've hired a good coach, for one thing, and assure them that this guy's going to be a guy they will like. So for instance, Mac McWhorter recruited Stacy Searels, so Mac emailed a bunch of the guys and said, "Hey, he's great. You're going to be so happy with him." So there was a lot of that going on. The next thing is to try and get Stacy to watch film, for instance, on the lineman so he can tell them when he sees them, "I've watched your tape, I know what I'm talking about." And then try to see everybody face-to-face.
On if it was hard for the new coaches to sell Texas to recruits: It is different. Now David Ash was already in school so Bryan [Harsin] didn't go out. He went out a couple of days to shake hands, but he didn't go out and recruit. Stacy's actually recruited northern Louisiana, and at LSU he knew a lot about Texas. He grew up with his football hero being Tommy Nobis and he played against Texas. He played against Jerry Gray, so he had some stories and some communication. Guys on our staff knew Stacy, so it was easy for players and the recruits that trusted our current coaches to talk to Major who had been around him a lot and talk to Arthur Johnson and some of the guys they had relationships with. Bo Davis recruited just about all these guys for Alabama. He recruited East Texas and Houston and was a high school coach in Houston, so that was easy. Jerrry has been an amazingly easy sell because he just won a division playoff as a pro secondary coach. He's been a pro coordinator. The older folks in the state, meaning middle aged and up, all remember him as one of the best players in our history. So when he walks into a school, the teachers, they want a picture of Jerry. It's just amazing to see what impact he's had on the state. Of course all the high school coaches know Jerry, so they're saying, "Hey, you can't believe this." The fact that Stacy Searels had all five of his lineman at LSU go to the NFL gets kid's attention. The fact that he blocked for Bo Jackson. They remember Bo Jackson as one of the great players to ever play. He played in the NFL, so that gets their attention. Darrell Wyatt has recruited all these schools because he's been to most schools in the Big 12 [Conference]. He [being] from Killeen, I don't think there's a coach where we walked into a school that didn't know Darrell. That was one of the major reasons I thought he was a great fit for us as he came in. It wasn't as off-the-norm as you would think because there were some ties.
On RB Malcolm Brown fitting with the Texas offense: I don't think he was recruited in one offense. He was recruited in an offense that said we're going to run the ball better and we're going to be more balanced. That was the commitment I made to him. It was the commitment I made to our team. So any coach that we talk to on offense was going to be committed to being balanced, and Malcolm knew that and that's something he was excited about.
On this recruiting season being different: It was only different in that I had about three jobs instead of one. I was football operations. I was the secretary. I didn't have much help. My bowl season was watching bowl games and running over here and trying to get bios. I learned to pull things up off the internet, bios at every school. For Christmas break everybody's gone so I had to do it all myself, or Sally. Sally was a secretary, too, and our son, Chris, helped some. It was definitely a mom-and-pop shop there for a while while we were trying to hold everything together. From the recruiting standpoint, I've always worked really hard in recruiting. I go see every kid. I try to call the kids. I email every kid. I write every kid. I talk to the coaches constantly. Probably the difference was some of the questions were different. "When are you going to hire somebody? Who are you looking at?" It's hard to tell some young person who you're looking at if you're looking at four guys. If you tell him there are four and maybe he has a favorite and you don't hire that one, it makes it more difficult. I really didn't share who I was talking to with the recruits. I just told them to trust me, and we got a lot of great guys interested. We had a lot more pro guys interested because of the lockout, I think. I think more than anything else, trying to figure out when you're trying to hire Bryan Harsin and you call Chris Petersen and you're trying to get Bryan in the next day - who gets the plane? I mean, [it has to be] me, and I didn't know how to get planes. We've had people to do that. And then who picks him up and who sets up the meal when he's here and what do we show him? So I became everything there for a week or two.
On worrying about what the recruits were hearing: I was really smart. I didn't read anything you all wrote or said. I would hear "They're all panicking out there," and I would say, "Good, I'm glad I'm not reading it. I've got information they don't and I know what we're doing. I've got a plan." What I was doing is telling the guys, "Don't believe what you read. Trust me, we're in good shape. I've got good candidates and I've got a list of good candidates. I'm going to take my time. I'm going to go real slow because I've got to make it all fit." It's not just hiring the best coach, it's hiring the best coach that fits this staff and it's hiring the best coach that fits Texas. In some cases I've been able to know that because it's one guy we're hiring and you would know his history. In this case, if I'm looking at four defensive line coaches that I've never met, I've got to bring them in or talk to them and try and figure out whether I like them or not and whether they fit here. They're all good coaches. Every coach I talked to was an outstanding coach. Now maybe it wasn't the best time for his family to move, and maybe he didn't know that until he got here. It was a very thorough process and a good process, but I thought my job was to make sure that as much as I could keep our current players aware of what was going on that they were aware, [and] making sure that the recruits and their parents and their high school coaches knew that we had a plan and we're going to hire really good guys so hang on and trust me. And making sure that I hired the right guys. That was all I had over Christmas to do. It was a very, very important process for me to go through. I really didn't have time to worry about who liked it or who didn't like it or who thought I was hiring the right guys or the wrong guys, because it didn't matter because I had more information than anybody else.
On telling freshmen they have a shot to play if they come to Texas: I think a couple of times last year, a couple of freshmen misunderstood us and thought we said "You're going to play." And what they have to understand is, you're going to play if you're good enough and ready to play. You're not going to play just because you show up and you have stars next to your name. And I think that is the thing we have to do a better job of. We had some young guys at this point last year where I felt really good about, and they weren't in shape when they got here. And they didn't get in shape over the summer. And I was really disappointed because I sat here excited about some guys, and it wasn't the guy we signed by the time they got here. They got relaxed and enjoyed their spring, and came in out of shape and not ready to play. And it is our job - and it is one of the things we said this morning - it is our job to make sure with the high school coach and that family. You have worked so hard in your offseason program and everything has been so organized in your life for the last three years, it is not going to be this spring. You are going to have to do stuff yourself for the first time in your life. And we've got to keep them involved in the offseason program. Keep them involved in something because if you do nothing from the end of football season to June 1, we can't catch up in two months. And that happened to us last year. And that is something we're talking to all of these guys about in a very strong manner.
On how much he can talk to recruits that are now signed: You can talk to them. You can actually text message them starting tomorrow. I don't know why they sign today, and you can text message them tomorrow. In the recruiting process, you can call an unlimited number of times until Saturday at midnight. Then from Saturday night at midnight to Sunday at midnight, you can only call them once. And then Monday through Wednesday, you can call them unlimited again. So those are some of the things we need to work with the NCAA to get it straightened out. Some of the violations you see are because we forget. We can text message guys tomorrow, but we're recruiting all of these juniors and you can't text message them. So you have all these phones and you're in a hurry, and all of a sudden you realize he's a junior. And I have done this. I've sent a text message that I wanted to get back, and you can't get them back. I wish you could erase it before it hit. But we can see them now when we go to their schools, you couldn't do that at one time. We can text message them starting tomorrow. We can call them. We can send them a weight program now. We couldn't do any of those things until today. So, after they sign, you can do just about anything. You can't work them out. They can't come and work out. They can come and sit in meetings. They can come to practice and watch. They can do all of those things. They can have a great advantage if they really want to play. And that is something you get a pretty good feel based on who shows up and who is around and who is asking to watch video. If kids don't and they come in out of shape, they probably won't play their freshman year.
On WR Jaxon Shipley taking a semester off: You set parameters. If you'd ask me what I'd like in the perfect world - it changes in the game some - you have to do whatever it takes to win. We would have liked Jaxon to come for spring practice, but Jordan [Shipley] is off. He got a shoulder operation, [and] he is going to be here all spring. And Jaxon really wanted to spend time running around with Jordan and hunting with him and being out with him, because he probably won't have that time with his brother again. And he can sit in every meeting. He can come to every practice, so he will do everything except be physically involved with those 15 practices. So it is not that much different for him. And he has been down here so much, he knows the players, he knows everyone else, so when Bob [Shipley] called and Jaxon called and said, "Do we have to do this?" I don't think you ever tell someone they have to do this in their position, because it is their last spring to be free. And what we found is, if we push the spring and they come and aren't happy, they're miserable. They don't get anything done. Their grades are bad. So we want them to do what they want to do at the last point there. But he'll be here all summer. He'll be at every practice. He'll see the installation [of the offense]. I think he'll stay with Jordan at an apartment here in town, so I think he'll get a lot out of this. He'll be one that wants to play this fall.
On this season affecting recruiting next season: No. I think that is obvious this year - these guys would have jumped out if that was a factor. Number one, I think we will be a lot better next year, so I don't think that this will be a discussion again. Like I said, this year, some of them thought they'd have a chance to play, so they liked it better. We went from having to defend that we have too many good players and they wouldn't get to play, to them being excited for people to tell them, "Well they're going to lose so they're bad." So somebody will be on the extreme when the competition starts talking about you. The only thing for next year's recruiting class is we may not have as many spots, because we'll have fewer seniors. The second thing is we may be a little bit slower in our evaluation process because of the new coaches. So we may not have the junior days sewn up as quickly as we have in the past because we've been spending night and day over here getting transcripts. And the ice in the northern part of the state slowed us down with transcripts in the past couple of days, because schools are closed, and trying to watch the videos. And the other thing is Jerry Gray may not see the same things that Duane Akina saw. Stacy Searels may not see the same thing that Mac McWhorter was planning on offering at junior day. So you kind of have to start over. And one thing I learned is that if the assistant coach doesn't like the guy, you shouldn't force him to take him. Because if he is going to coach him and he thinks he is not good enough coming in, he's probably not going to be fair to him. And I've done that in a few cases early in my career, and it just didn't work. So we need for the assistant coach to like the guy, and if that doesn't work the chemistry is not good. That is why we try to offer them after they get here. If the chemistry is not good it just doesn't work.
On what he will do with the remaining scholarship: Because we are actually starting over, and it is funny that our staff meetings are so different - we didn't change a coach for three years. So we could get out of a staff meeting in 15 minutes because everyone knew what we were going to do. Now, we're having to say; the restroom is down on the right, we eat at eleven, we'd like to have you there at eleven - everything. From what time to come to work, office hours, what you wear . . we had to get the staff manual back out and go over everything. So it is so unique, and that relates to next year's recruiting class because we will have to look at the numbers at each position. The guys don't even know what they have. So we'll have each coach evaluate his personnel this spring. And he'll say "Coach, I really need four more offensive linemen, if we can fit that into my group next year. I have got to get four to stay on track. Coach we don't have enough corners. Can I get two corners next year?" And that is obviously an issue. It is a huge discussion in the staff room. Manny [Diaz] will fight for this group of guys that he has to have for defense. Then Bryan [Harsin] and Major [Applewhite] will fight for what they have to have on offense which usually ends up as 40 scholarships. Then I have to come back and say,"Okay, you have eight. You figure out what eight you want but you get eight. And you have to make them fit. Or I'll say, if we have 16 available, offense, you only get six, because this bunch needs ten." And that is a real problem when our guys have not been able to evaluate the personnel already. We've put names on the back of the shirts in the offseason program. We have an offseason group at 6[a.m.], 7:30[a.m.] and at 1[p.m.], and the coaches are required to be at each one of those if they are here, and they have their checklist. So they're actually evaluating their players in the offseason program, because they have their numbers on the back of their t-shirts. So that is how far off we are from getting everybody on the same page. And at the same time, they are trying to figure out as they are looking at their personnel, putting in the offense and defense together. I laughed at them yesterday - they're overloaded. You've got signing day - hold on to all of them. You have junior day coming up - evaluate all of them. Get a transcript in. Talk to the high school coach. Find out where we are and can we offer. How many numbers do we have at each position? How many scholarships do we have available. And oh, by the way, we don't have an offense or defense, so let's put all of that in. The players are so anxious downstairs, saying, "Can I watch some video." None of us know what we are doing, so it is hard for us to teach it until we learn what we are going to do with the offense and defense. So that is kind of where we are. It is a fun time. It is an exciting time, but it is really a demanding time. And I think it has gotten everybody back to work.