When you are building "brick by brick", you have to have the determination, commitment, and foresight to fix it if it is off line, and get it right.
Oct. 14, 2011
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
When it comes to bricks and football, there is likely no greater authority than John Hagy. As one of the leading home builders in Austin, as well as a former Longhorn and NFL star who played in a Super Bowl, he knows a lot about both.
So given the Longhorns' 2011 reconstruction philosophy of "brick by brick," I asked John what you do when something goes wrong after you have played pretty well for four games and start feeling pretty good about yourselves after four successful layers of bricks have been put in place.
"That's exactly how the home building business goes too," he said with a chuckle. "I always joke around and say, `things feel a little too good right now.' Every time I start to think things are going well, and everything's scheduled on time, and things are hitting and firing correctly, you had better put your head on a swivel and see what you are missing, because it's coming."
And when it does, he says, you go back to brick four and build from there.
That's the goal of the Texas Longhorns as they approach Saturday afternoon's game with highly ranked Oklahoma State.
Hagy understands the challenge the UT team faces. In 1987, he was part of a rebuilding effort during his senior season in David McWilliams' first year at Texas. He's pleased with what he sees from the young Longhorns this season, and also understands the challenge they faced against a good Oklahoma team in the Cotton Bowl.
He was a UT team captain and earned all-Southwest Conference honors at safety that season. Before injuries ended his career, he played four years in the NFL, and was a starter at free safety on the Buffalo Bills' 1991 Super Bowl team. For the last 15 years, he has been president of John Hagy Custom Homes, building luxurious houses in the Lake Travis and Hamilton Pool area of far southwest Austin.
So, what's the philosophy when you hit a snag on brick No. 5?
"You take it back down. You gotta pull it apart and you gotta put it back together correctly. It takes time and effort, just like it does in football. You put in the extra work that's necessary. You take it back to brick No. 4, where it has all been done correctly. When five is a little out of level, then it's time to take five down and put things back up together. The scary thing is, you don't want to put five and then get to 25 and realize it has to come down because it doesn't line up right. You want to constantly keep checking so that if it gets to seven or eight and doesn't look right, then you have to fix that."
Hagy understands the challenge to be excellent, both in football and in construction. And that is how the Longhorns and the coaching staff have approached this game Saturday. Last Sunday, Texas reviewed the video of the Oklahoma game, and as defensive coordinator Manny Diaz told the Austin Longhorn Club on Thursday, they looked to learn - studying the good, and not so good, plays in the game.
It has been just a couple of days over eleven months since the Cowboys of Oklahoma State came to Austin early in November of last year and claimed their first win over Texas in the Mack Brown era for the Longhorns. To do it, OSU scored thirty unanswered points (including 23 in the second quarter) in a 33-16 victory.
The explosive 2011 team for OSU has been posting an average of 50 points per game, and has used its "hurry up" up-tempo offense to log almost 90 plays per game. John Hagy, who in a 41-27 victory over Texas Tech in 1987 became the first UT defensive player to score touchdowns on a punt return and an interception return in the same game, would tell you that you counter that up-tempo offense with alert defensive play and patience on offense. And the secret to success comes in attention to detail with an appropriate dose of intensity."
"In football, you have to match the other team's intensity. That has always been the case with the Oklahoma game. That game is always just different. I can remember the 1984 game where we matched each other punch for punch, and it ended in a 15-15 tie," Hagy said. "In building, as in football, you try to do the best you can from start to finish.It is never perfect, it can't be perfect, there are no perfect houses. You strive for it and you try to do the best you can from start to finish. You certainly go through the season and the process of building a house trying to achieve perfection, and that's all you can do, but you always have to know that something could be a little better and you have to go find that and seek it out and work on it."
Hagy, who was the fiery leader of the teams on which he played, loves the potential of what he sees in the 2011 Longhorns.
"We are young and we've got good young players out there. I'm excited to see some of those young guys, and the secret to success will be how they all work together. You are as good as the pieces around you. You have to rely on other people," he said.
But from a man who played the game and now builds homes for people looking for a future, it is not only about today, but about what he sees for tomorrow.
" I hope those young kids come together and in the next couple of years we are striving for a national championship," he said. "I believe that can happen."
In the web description of Hagy's company, it refers to "passion" as one of the key ingredients of its success, but it also adds "attention to every detail and a commitment to excellence."
It is the same as in the game. That's why you build brick by brick, and have the determination, commitment, and foresight to fix it if it is off line, and get it right. The future depends on it.