Tracking Mack: Oct. 27
Oct. 27, 2010
Opening statement: There are two great events during pregame on Saturday night. Twenty minutes before the game, Colt McCoy will be back, and they will have his jersey retirement ceremony on the west side of the stadium. We would love to have everyone in their seats, like we did for Vince Young a few years ago, so they can say thank you to the winningest quarterback in college football history and thanks for all the great Saturdays that he gave us in his time here. This is just a way to go back and thank him for the great career he had.
Also in pregame, we have honorary captains who will be out there in honor of breast cancer awareness. Our players asked last year that we do this, and DeLoss [Dodds] and President Powers allowed them because we usually do not honor things like this at our stadium, but so many of our players have been touched in this area with their families that they thought it was very, very important. Dr. Andrea Pana, our team doctor, will be one of the honorary captains. Mrs. Ralene Gideon, Blake’s mom, will also be out there as an honorary captain, and Mrs. Brenda Davis, who is our academic counselor’s wife, has also been through this. They are all three survivors. They are doing very, very well, and this is something that the players asked [for]. They wanted to honor those three. We felt like it was only fitting. Also, any player on the team who has a family member they have either lost, is currently fighting the disease, or is a survivor, will stand at the hash mark in honor of those who have fought the awful disease as well. The players and the coaches will be wearing a [pink] wrist band. Again, it will be in honor of those who have fought this disease. The disease does touch men and women. I was brought aware of that last year, and because of that, we will have a male and female person who were survivors out at practice tomorrow to talk to the team about all of the things and research they are doing. They will also be on the field during pregame. The players will also wear the sticker on the back of the helmet like they did last year. They will do it just for the one game, and the coaches will have the lapel pin on their shirts. All of those things are things that we feel like are really meaningful. It is a really hurtful disease, and as we sit around and talk about the importance of sports and football, obviously people that are fighting for their lives with cancer have much more difficult times than we do. There will be 12 players and [Special Assistant for Player Relations] Marcus Tubbs [walking out to the hash mark]. Marcus Tubbs lost his mother to cancer the year after he left Texas, so he’ll walk out to the hash mark as well.
Sunday was a tough day for all of us. When you have a tough loss like Saturday, you have to go back to work. It is so much fun in the dressing room and the team meeting on Sunday after you beat Nebraska, like we did. It was so exciting and such a high, and then after you lose to Iowa State, such a low. It is something that you have to handle in this business as a coach. You have to handle it as a player. That is the highs and the lows of the business. The highs are as high as you can get, and the lows are as low as you can possibly get. As the head coach, I am the one who has to set the tempo on Sunday for the entire week, and I walk in there - and they understand that I am not happy like they are not happy - but we have to fix things. You cannot just lay down. You are not going to quit. You are not going to roll over and die. You want to go back to work, and you want to fight. One thing I did with them this week is I took a 20 dollar bill—I did this once before in ’03, I believe—and wadded it up and threw it on the ground. I spit on it, very honestly, and I stepped on it and crushed it. I asked them how much it was worth when I started, and they said 20 bucks, and I said after this how much is it worth and they still said 20 bucks. I stomped on it. How much is it worth? Still 20 bucks. I spit on it. How much is it worth? Still 20 bucks. I wadded it up, stomped on it, spit on it again and asked how much is it worth again, and they still said 20 bucks. I said that you are worth the same as the person you were after the Nebraska game. Your worth did not go down. If we are good enough to beat Nebraska, we are good enough to still go back and have a great season, turn things around, and get things that we know we need to get done, done.
A couple of the national media guys asked me about calling out the staff this week. I always do that. I have always said that the coordinators are the most important staff members that we have. I have said that since day one. Will [Muschamp], Greg [Davis], and Mike Tolleson—you guys don’t see him much—but that is why Will and Greg come to the press conferences every Monday. That has not changed. They are responsible. They need to help us, and they do a great job. That is why they get paid a lot more, and that is why they are responsible. They understand that. We always call them out behind the scenes. I have said that a lot publicly, but I think after a loss people want to make much more awareness of it and try to make it into something that it is not. It hasn’t changed. That is the way that we are every week. After the Nebraska game, you are happy with them. You brag on them. After the Iowa State game, you are not as happy, and you tell them we need to pick it up. That has not changed. That has not changed for any of you that are working for someone. If you have a good day, they brag on you. If you have a tough day, they get on you. That is the same thing for our players as we call them out as well.
Seniors only have five games left in the regular season to get this thing fixed, turned back around, and be the positive thing that we need it to be. I have been really impressed this week that some seniors have stepped up and called some other players out. Also, juniors and top leaders have stepped up. That is something we have been missing, and is something we needed. It is something that pulls a team closer together, and when you have adversity, you either get further apart or you get closer together. I thought that we had pulled together after Nebraska. I missed it. I was wrong. We didn’t, so now we have to go back and fight and pull together again.
Baylor is really a good football team. It is the best team we have played that Baylor has had in our 13 years here. This week right now for us is not about Baylor. We have to get us fixed. We have to go back and start playing the fundamentally sound football that we have played in the past. We have to play with confidence. We have to play with a swagger. We have to play with a toughness that we have had to build this program into the prideful program that it is. It is not just about 10 wins. It is about changing the attitude back to where we were, and if you go back to ’03 - and I’ll explain this to our players on Thursday at our meeting - I remember going to the AFCA [American Football Coaches Association] convention, and I was speaking right after the Washington State Holiday Bowl game that we lost. I got a call from my daughter 15 minutes before I was going to speak. She was crying, and she said, “Dad, I heard you resigned. One of the papers said that you quit.” I said, “Well, maybe someone has quit for me, sweetie, but until DeLoss calls me I still have my job.” Then, she came back and said, “That is not what they are saying. They are saying that some regent and boosters came in and made you fire your staff, and since you refused to, you just quit. You just walked out the door.” And I said, “Sweetie, don’t read that mess. That is just what people do in tough times.” We took that tough time, fixed some things, and made it where we won a Rose Bowl in ’04 and won a national championship in ’05. Now, ’06 wasn’t quite as good. We had a young quarterback and a lot of guys back from the national championship team. They got beat by Ohio State early, but all of a sudden, they started playing better. We go to the end, Colt gets hurt, and we lose the last two games. And then we are awful, and the program is under and we’ll never get back. It is just a sports disaster. I cannot believe this. What has happened to Texas football? We pull together. We beat a good Arizona State team badly, come back, and end up third in the country in ’08 with a chance to play for the national championship and end up second in the country last year playing for the national championship. We are back to ’03. We are back to ’07. We are back to where we have to fix things. We are back to where we need to end in a positive way. These seniors know that we have lost a lot of our goals, but they also know that we have to get this thing turned back in the right direction, so after this season it will lead to something much better next year. That is the attitude that these guys have taken. I am very proud of them this week. This was a pivotal week for us because they could have laid down with all of the negative things around them, and they have chosen to pull together. They have chosen not to point fingers. They have chosen to compete. Whether we are good enough to beat Baylor or not or play good enough or not, I do not know. But I think that we will see a better football on Saturday than we saw last week.
On building team camaraderie: About 30 of them went out one night to eat together for team chemistry and to just say, “Hey, we are going to fix this thing.” Practice on Tuesday was the best we have had all year. They understand that we did not play up to standard. They are not stupid kids. They understand that they need to play better. They also understand that in the UCLA game, we lose five turnovers and gained two. [In the] Iowa State game, we lose four turnovers and gain one. We know that we need to start forcing turnovers as a defense and in the kicking game, and they also know that as an offense we have to take care of the ball. When we take care of the ball, we have had a chance to win or we have won. When we haven’t, we are not as powerful on offense. We are not as consistent as we have been, so we have to be smarter with the ball.
On whether this was a ‘knock them down and bring them back up’ week: Yes. I think so. They got broken down Saturday, and then everything around them is negative, so they get broken down. What we told them is that they can either sit around and feel sorry for themselves, lay down and quit - you can join the group that is knocking you down outside and be part of that, or you learn from this. Learn a real hard lesson and pick yourself up and go back and go forward, and make something out of the next five games. We also told them that if you lay down and quit right now, then you will lay down and quit as a father. You will lay down and quit as a husband when something comes up later in your life. This is a pivotal time for you to learn. You better learn that in tough times people step up. We have more people out there with tough times right now that can’t eat, are unemployed. There are people starving. There are people dying of cancer. There are people that cannot afford medical insurance. Here we are, griping over a football game? Get it fixed. Grow up. Play better. Don’t pout. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Go back and get this thing fixed for the guys that will come in here in the future.
On the juniors and seniors stepping up: There is great young talent. The young ones do not really get into winning and losing that much, but the talent base in the future—the last two recruiting class and the next one are phenomenal—so I am not worried about the future of the program. What happens that is so tough and difficult is, the juniors and seniors that only lost two games the last two years are really going through a tough time and a change because they are not used to this. They are the ones that are being affected the most, and they are the ones that can change it the most. That is what I told them, and that is what they have seemed to have done this week. I have enjoyed being around them. They have had a very business-like attitude. It has been no whining and no pouting. Nobody is sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. They are ready to go back to work.
On having a post national championship ‘hangover’: What I have heard is that there is a hangover after you win or lose a Super Bowl, and there is a hangover after you win or lose a national championship game because of the gratification that you do to get there. I did not think that would be the case. I thought spring practice was good, and I think it is a hard mix with a really great freshman class, too. Everyone has to grow up. Everyone has to find their place, and I can honestly say that I anticipated some of these issues. I did not anticipate losing some of the games that we have lost.
On the influence of mothers on the Texas football program: The mothers, [and] the grandmothers are unbelievable when it comes to our family - the family structure. A lot of the parents and family members come to games after their sons are gone. They all tailgate together before the games. They all travel together, and it becomes a real strong bond. It’s something they don’t have after their sons leave here because they become part of the fabric of Texas football and day-to-day. When you get in situations like this when you lose, I always worry about the parents and especially the mothers. When people are very, very critical of their children they read it, and that’s the most difficult thing. The players quit reading it because it’s hurtful, the coaches don’t ever read it anyways so it’s not an issue to them, but the parents are the ones that really take the hit and hurt. Mrs. Gideon - because Coach Gideon is at Leander and she’s been a coach’s wife her whole life and a counselor at the school - she gets it. She understands that cancer is tough. That’s a devastating thing in your life. When you’re talking about sports, she’s seen the highs and she’s seen the lows and you go back to work and you keep working. The c-word [cancer] is a very difficult one and she’s a great role model for people who are fighting that disease, and that’s why we asked her. But she wanted to walk out there in front of 101,000 on Saturday to be seen to send the message that this can be OK. We can work through this, and you can move forward. I didn’t hear the interview but I heard today that she said, “Mine is so minor compared to others that I’m so lucky.” It’s not. Anytime you get cancer it is very, very devastating. I’ve had it in my family. Sally’s had it. I know it still affects her today as far as mentally. It’s something that all of us need to be aware of and reach out to those who have it, who have had it or have lost people who have had it.
On this team being helped by QB Garrett Gilbert finding his stride: It would really be helpful. It will help everybody and I told the players they need to step up and help Garrett. Give him more time. Catch the balls when he throws them. Break a tackle. Do the things that we can do to help a quarterback. Greg Davis told me that he told you all on Monday that he thought that Garrett played a little more uptight like Colt did against Nebraska last year in the conference championship game and like Vince did against [Texas] A&M his last year. Quarterbacks can be uptight. You see it in the pro level. You see them pressing. You see them trying to do too much because they know that they’re the guy that runs the offense. They know that they’re the key. All the people that criticize that quarterback - and we criticize Colt, the same ones criticized Vince, the same ones are criticizing Garrett - have never stood in that huddle and have never had a ball in their hand back there with everybody depending on them with all the pressure of the world on their shoulders. Vince struggled with it early. Colt struggled with it early. Garrett’s going to struggle with it early, and I believe without any question that Garrett will come out and be like the other two. That day will come. We’re just going through some growing pains right now.
On expecting Gilbert to be further along in his development: If I had a magic wand I’d be doing something more than coaching football. I’d be saving lives. I don’t get into that. I’d thought we’d be 7-0. I thought we’d be doing great, so I don’t get into the wishing and hoping and what-ifs and looking back. I just don’t do that. That’s why I think when you make a decision in my job -and I’ve learned this from much smarter people than me that are CEOs - when you make a decision in my job, you take the information you have available, you study all that information, you research it and then you make a decision that you feel like is best at that time. If six months later it doesn’t look like the best decision, I can’t look back and say it wasn’t because at that time maybe it was the best decision, we just didn’t execute it. I’m not a guy that goes back and plays the “what-if” game. I try to study years and research like we did in  and  and see how we came out of that and what positives [can be found]. It’s amazing that as negative as ‘03 was - and somebody else told me today, “Isn’t it amazing that in Texas football, disastrous years were 10-3 years in ‘03 and ’07.” Those disastrous years where we only won 10 games really led to national championship games. Hopefully some of the things that we’re tightening up now, and some of the pain that we’re going through will actually lead us out of this thing to much greater things in the future.
On having to remind the players how good Baylor is this season: Robert Griffin sends that message. This is a Baylor team that we were ahead of 40-0 at halftime last year, and there’s really only one huge difference. They are better on defense, but Robert Griffin’s a huge difference and he makes everybody else better. You can spend more time on Kendall Wright and [Jay] Finley last year because they weren’t running the ball. They were a drop-back passing team every time. Right now, he is doing for them what [Taylor] Martinez is doing for Nebraska. They have changed completely with that one guy. They are faster on defense. The bigger guys are playing better up front, but they’re all playing with more confidence because they’re winning more games too.
On the differences between Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez and Baylor QB Robert Griffin: They’re very, very similar. At this stage, Robert’s older, therefore more mature and he’s a guy that can throw it at this stage better than Taylor. You could really jump all over Taylor and say you’re going to have to beat us throwing. We were fortunate they didn’t. They had some guys open. It was a windy day, but it didn’t happen. What we thought would happen, what we wanted to happen, happened. Robert’s going to hit those passes. He’s completing 60-something percent of his passes, and I really believe what I said Monday. He should be a guy here at the end of the year, if he keeps playing like he is, should be a consideration for the Heisman [Trophy].
On players taking more of a leadership role on the practice field: Yes. What we tried to do all year and in the spring is find guys to say, “Help us.” Some of the guys have been so honest they’ve said, “You know coach, I haven’t played consistently well myself. It’s hard to lead until I play [well] now.” Everybody sees that film. They know what’s going on. We’ve also said to just play as hard as you can play. If you’re not playing great and you’re fighting your guts out and playing as hard as you can play, you can still lead. They’ll know you’re trying. All we’re trying to do is get the attitude back of trying every play. If you can do it at [Texas] Tech, if you can do it at Nebraska, why can’t you do it at UCLA and why can’t you do it at Iowa State? And that’s the attitude we need to get back. I think part of the huge problem last week and talking to them - we did a survey with them. We’ve talked to them. We’ve asked them what they feel, what they know. I don’t think they had respect for Iowa State. That’s a killer. Mature teams respect the opponent, and I think that was a huge difference. What I hear after listening to them, they didn’t think there was any way they could lose. I’ve always said in sports, about the time you think there’s absolutely no way this thing can happen is when it happens.
On having clear cut leaders on the team: I’m not on the field. [Brian Orakpo], Sergio [Kindle], some of those guys would threaten to whip them. Roy Miller, if they didn’t play hard he’d whip them out in the middle of the field. I always worried about Roy whipping them. I hear all this ruckus in the dressing room before the Ohio State game because I’m worried that we didn’t have an edge. We didn’t have an edge Saturday. You’ve got to have an edge to play this game. I’m worried about it and I hear all this ruckus and I say, “Jeff [Madden], something’s happening out there. Go out there and stop it. See what’s going on. It sounds like a fight.” He walks out there and he walks back in with a grin on his face and he said, “No, coach, it’s just Roy. He’s just getting everybody ready to play.” He was throwing trash cans and screaming.
On if there are any guys like that on this team: Yeah, and I think they really realize right now who they are and they better step up. We’ve had such great leaders like those guys with Colt, with [Orakpo], with Roy, with Jordan [Shipley], with Quan [Cosby], with Sergio. Earl Thomas as a sophomore was a great leader. So all of a sudden when you’ve been turning games around with sudden change, when the defense goes out there excited about stopping them instead of being disappointed in the offense, or you get momentum with the offense instead of having a turnover when you get a turnover, all of those things happened for us for so long. And we’ve got to get guys to have those things happen again. Coaches can’t help that much during the game. You can help with scheme. You can help with adjustments. You can’t help with changing momentum. Players have to do that.
On how he deals with coaches during difficult times: What I do is I’m very direct with them. Terry Donahue told me one time something that really touched my heart. Terry was the long-time coach at UCLA and he retired, and I was coaching in an all-star game with him probably in the mid 90s. I said, “Coach, if you had to do over something, what would you do different?” He said, “There’s one thing that I would definitely do different.” He said, “I fired four guys in my 20 years at UCLA and all four of them came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Why are you firing me, I’m so surprised.’” So you need to make sure that your coaches understand their job descriptions - what you’re expecting of them. If they don’t get that done, you need to try again. And if they don’t get it done then at some point you have to make decisions whether you can help him or change him. That’s what you have to do. The coaches understand it. Everybody in our building is fully aware that we need to fix some things that are going on. We don’t get angry and start yelling at each other and point fingers. If you do that, you’re through. That’s why they don’t split up. The offensive and defensive staffs are very close. They’re meeting right now to try and figure out how we win this game together. What do we have to do? How do we keep from turning the ball over? How do we force more turnovers? They constantly look at that. Then at a time like this, they’re meeting with players all the time and they sit down and show them film of where they’re playing great at Lincoln and, “What happened to that guy? Where did you go last week? Why didn’t you show up for Iowa State?” That’s the guy we want, but we’ve got to have it every week. You can’t just be a sometimes guy. As weird as it sounds, those are the challenging and fun things about being in trouble and struggling, is getting it fixed. When it’s rolling you just got to keep it rolling. You try to guide them a little bit. You help them a little bit. Hug them a little bit. Yell at them a little bit. Now it’s time to step up and fix things, and that’s my job.
On the injuries from last week: Emmanuel [Acho] hurts us when he’s not out there. Emmanuel Acho’s a great leader. He and Keenan Robinson have really stepped up in leading our team. When we lost Emmanuel last week that hurt us, so it’s good to have him back.
On the players bringing up the 10-win streak this week: I did. I said, “Quit worrying about the end. You talked about the end last week. Let’s talk about Saturday.” If you do your job on Saturday, the 10 takes care of itself and it has. They can still win their 10. They still can, but not if they start looking at next week and the next week and what’s going to happen and how we are going to do this. We said last week, you’ve got a bunch of tough games left so don’t start acting like this thing’s over. Again, I don’t think they respected Iowa State. Iowa State found the perfect storm because we allowed them to and that got us beat.
On ever expecting you would be retiring Colt McCoy’s jersey when you recruited him: Probably not. I thought he would be really good because when a guy’s productive, he’s productive. He was productive in school, in his life. He was productive in basketball. He was productive in football, and he went to state championships in both. Garrett’s the same way. Vince was the same way. Those guys that know how to win, they know how to win and they get it worked out. They’ve got confidence and toughness and they fight through the tough days, and he did all of that. He fought through injuries. He fought through criticism. He fought through small town [bias]. He fought through not being highly recruited. He fought through, “you’ll never be tough enough,” because he had a baby face. He looked like he was 12[years-old]. You’ll never be tough enough to win at Texas. To his credit, here he is beating the New Orleans Saints last week - Super Bowl champs in New Orleans. So the thing that I’m so proud of for him is everything that was thrown at him as a road black, he jumped over. He accomplished every goal except the national championship and it is one of those look-back, what-if things, but we all would have liked to see him play just to see what he could have done in that last game. But good for him. He won a conference championship. He won a bunch of games and put us in a chance to win a national championship. You go back and look at it, we hadn’t been in a national championship game, really, for 35 years, and we’ve been in two in five years. So we’re in a great position here, and we need to fight to get back to that. He obviously helped us do that. After Vince, everybody thought we’d never win another game.
On being a Texas Rangers’ fan: I really am. I don’t know anything about the [San Francisco] Giants, so that’s good for me too. My [New York] Yankees, that was little tougher, but I hung in there. I love what Tom Hicks has done because he obviously had a great finish to help this team get where it is today. Tom won’t get credit for that, but he did because he sold them at the end. Nolan Ryan is unbelievable. He seems to me to have a settling confidence about himself that he’s taken the Rangers not only though the playoffs but now to the World Series. I actually left the field the other day looking for a score, and I don’t usually do that for baseball. I’m a huge Tom Hicks fan and a huge Nolan Ryan fan, and I really hope for the Rangers they can win it all. If they don’t, what a wonderful accomplishment to get where they are, but I know they want to win it all.
On being a New York Yankees' fan: Yeah. My dad owned a sporting goods store in Cookeville, Tennessee, and the Wilson plant was right across the street. And all the Yankee’s uniforms were made there, so we had Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris’ uniform hanging up and I had them for years, so I got hooked. I got hooked. I was a Mickey Mantle guy. I’ve got a 61 [home runs commemorative] bat in my office. I wouldn’t say that last week. I’m glad the Rangers won.