So, how has the announcement impacted Alamo bowl preparation for No. 12 Oregon? Those reactions were across the board as well.
“It was definitely shocking,” said offensive lineman Trey Hopkins. “We weren’t expecting it. We don’t read too much into that kind of stuff because we know Mack Brown is the kind of person who would bring it to us first when he made the decision. The rumors were always addressed as just that. They were just rumors. There was nothing that was true until he said something to us. So, it was a shock.”
Adrian Phillips, DB, also said the announcement was “definitely shocking.”
“We didn’t expect it,” Phillips said. “There’s always rumors floating around, but you never real pay attention to them. You wait until something happens. It really upset us when it happened.”
Case McCoy, QB, however, brought a different perspective; it’s one that stems from growing up as a coach’s son. It’s also nearly impossible to insulate yourself from rumors and reports since players are as involved as anyone with social media, McCoy said.
“It’s part of the job, whether you’re a college coach or a high school. That’s how the world turns in that profession. I was probably not as surprised as everyone else because I’ve had the ‘For Sale’ signs in my yard numerous times being a coach’s son. That’s part of the process. You move on and get someone else in here to get this place back on track.”
College football’s winningest program from 2004-09 has stumbled to a 30-20 mark the past four seasons. The program checks in at No. 39, overall, since the January, 2010, BCS National Championship – but the problem hasn’t been with the quality of personnel, McCoy insists.
“I wouldn’t say that the talent isn’t there,” “McCoy said. “It’s a matter of the mindset, and I think these guys are working on that. We were a 10-win, an 11-win (caliber) team this season. We just had some slip-ups in a couple of games. It’s been right there. It’s been right there for several years. If you are an eight- or nine-win team, you’re on the brink of doing something really good. What’s the missing piece? I guess they’re thinking it might be coaching, so their bringing in a new coach. We’ll see if it’s the missing piece.”
Brown informed the team of his resignation just before Saturday’s first practice of the post-season. He explained that neither he, nor any player, came to Texas expecting four-loss seasons, Hopkins said. The Longhorns, of course, have averaged five losses each of the past four years. Brown’s announcement was initially met with an extended silence, players report. But then DE Cedric Reed shouted, ‘We love you, coach.’ An emotional Brown responded by telling players he loved them, too.
And then the hugs started.
Texas practiced for the fourth time this post-season on Thursday and, as far as All-American DE Jackson Jeffcoat can tell, the team has moved beyond the emotional fallout of Brown’s disclosure.
“It was hard to get past, but we still see him,” Jeffcoat said. “It’s not like he’s dead.”
So, is there a concerted effort for Texas to win one for the Gipper and ensure that Brown will ride off into the burnt orange sunset with a victory ride? Again, it depends on who you ask.
“Knowing how much Coach Brown has meant to this program." said Hopkins. "And to his players is going to be a big, driving factor for these practices and for that game.”
Said McCoy: “It can’t change the way we prepare. We have to prepare the same way we’ve prepared most of the year. We have to go execute, and that’s something we haven’t done a couple of times this year. But it can’t change the way we prepare. This is a big bowl game for us. We have a lot to prove because of the way we played a couple of weeks ago (at Baylor). For a lot of us, this will be the last time we play this game…We’ve got a lot to prove but, what it all comes down to, you’ve got to play for yourself and you’ve got to play for your teammates. That’s our mindset right now.”
Said Phillips: “We don’t feel more pressure to win this game, but it’s important to send coach Brown off in the right way. Coach wants us to play our butts off and play with passion, and that’s the most important thing.”
Said Jeffcoat: “We love coach Brown, but you can’t approach (the game) differently. This is my last game. I’m a senior. My approach is that this is my last game, and I’m working my butt off. That’s how everybody else is. The coaches are, too. You can’t worry about the future. You have to worry about the now.”
Said Mason Walters, OL: “Sometimes going back to the same bowl (as the previous year) might not get guys as pumped as they normally would be. But if you don’t get pumped-up and find a reason to go fight or something that brings out the competitor in you, you can really get embarrassed. That’s not something we’re going to let happen.”
Bottom line: players weren’t necessarily on the same page regarding the impact of Brown’s resignation on bowl preparation – but they were all on the same page about going out a winner.