Mack Brown opening statement
We’ve had 16 great years here. Sally said yesterday “four presidential terms,” so that’s a long time. We have had a blast. When we came, we were asked to pull together a divided fan base that’s a difficult fan base at times and we were able to do that.
I remember some experiences I was thinking about last night. One, Coach Royal told us, I said ‘What do you have to do to be the head football coach at Texas?” and he said “There’s such a diverse group that follows this football team that you’ve got to pull them all together. That’s very difficult to do. When you get them all together, it’s wonderful and it’s a powerful place. But when not, it’s very divided and it’s a very difficult place to manage.” So he said it’s like a box of BBs and the BBs are dropped all over the room and what you’ve got to do is get the BBs back into the box.
And we were able to do that. And we did it a long time until 2010. And then as of late, the BBs have gotten back out of the box.
Just a few experiences have been wonderful for us. Meeting Coach Royal and being around him and getting to know him on a personal basis like an older brother was unbelievable. I miss him today. The first day he walked out on the practice field, I was so proud to be the head coach at Texas, and to have him come out and stand there with his arm around you, talking about his football team, and see those white helmets with the longhorn at the top. I remember the first game in the stadium with New Mexico State and being so proud to look out, and I’m so proud now of the stadium, (it) looks much different now than it did then. But that was a wonderful first experience.
Things have changed since 9-11. When we got here, we used to have the pilot fly by the tower and show the team that they’d won the game from the away games, and go by and see the lit tower from the sky and all the kids would cheer. That was fun. Ricky’s Heisman was a wonderful experience, the national championship and the BCS games were unbelievable and something that I will cherish.
And we’ve also had our tough days too. The A&M bonfire was an experience that I really hate today on Thanksgiving because the fact that those families lost their children. The call that we got about Cole Pittman dying on his way back for spring practices is something that every coach fears that when you get that call, that you’ve lost a child, something that is so special to someone else.
As the season ended with Steve Patterson coming in, as I promised you, we sat down on Friday afternoon and he and I and Bill Powers had a great meeting. We had a good conversation, they expressed their support and they wanted me to stay. I told them that I’d like to talk to Sally and sleep on it. We went through the banquet and got up the next day and all of us met again and mutually decided that it was best for us to move on.
There was still a divided fan base and that’s not fair for Texas, that’s not fair for our players, that’s not fair for our coaches because they continue to be under undue pressure. So it was time for me to move on and let someone else come in and restart the program.
This is a top five program annually, it may be the best job in the country. You should be in the mix every year and it’s time for Texas to get back in the mix like we were from ‘04 to ‘09. And that was a wonderful run, that was a lot of fun and we haven’t lived up to those expectations since 2010.
There are great young players on this team and the future is very bright. We’re leaving it better than we found it, and it’s been a fun ride.
I want to thank all of our current players, our staff and our coaches because they’ve just done an amazing job this year of overcoming so much adversity. And it will really help all of us in our lives to handle tough days and move forward. I’m so proud of them.
I also want to thank all the coaches and staff that we’ve had for the 16 years that we’ve been here, because we’ve had a lot of guys work really hard. A lot of great players. It’s been overwhelming since yesterday’s announcement, the messages that Sally and I’ve gotten from friends and fans, and our ex-players. I apologize to you, there’s way too many to answer so we’re going to have some more free time here pretty soon, so hang on, it will take us a while.
I do want to thank our fans. Our fans have been unbelievable, they have treated us with so much dignity and so much class. Not one time, since I’ve been at Texas, when we’ve been outside has anyone even insinuated anything rude to us. It’s just been unbelievable and I thank you fans.
We’re so blessed to have come to the state of Texas. We’ve got wonderful friendships here that we’ll have for the rest of our lives. Bill Duvall never missed a Thursday practice, he and Baker Montgomery never missed a game. Red McCombs, I talk to at least two times a week. Joe Jamail, we don’t have an agent so Joe’s been our lawyer and I talk to Joe every night, talked to him right before I came over here. Somebody told me, “Ya know, you ought to shut Joe up, he talks too much.” I said, “You know Joe, he’s 88. He’s going to say what he wants, I can’t shut him up.” So Joe’s been a great friend to us and the university and he’ll continue to be. We love him and appreciate him very much.
I want to thank you guys that have been professional in the media. Some of you are good friends and some of you have handled things with integrity and ethics and class. I appreciated that very much because we’re in a time where not everybody is doing that. You all are in a very difficult profession where you’ve got some that are taking shortcuts like they do in sports, and I encourage you that are doing it right, even if you get behind sometimes, to continue to do it right because we need the truth told in America and we’re not getting that all the time. We’re getting rumors that are unsubstantiated and there’s too many people that are trying to get ahead and they’re using false stories to get their name out there. So please with you guys and ladies, as much as I appreciate what you do and what you stand for, you’ve got to tell the story. So we need you to tell the truth and I think that’s very important as we move forward.
In time, I’ll tell my story. It’s very interesting being the head football coach at a major program like Texas. One of these days, I will get with one of you all that has been solid and has integrity and tell the story. Or I may even write a book, because being the head coach at Texas is very interesting.
Also, I would like to thank Don Evans, Tom Hicks, DeLoss Dodds, Peter Flawn and Bill Cunningham for bringing me here 16 years ago. We owe them a whole lot. DeLoss is the best athletic director in the country, he and I have worked very closely together over the last 16 years and he’s just unbelievable what he’s done and been able to accomplish. I look forward to spending some time with him in the future.
I also appreciate Larry Faulkner and Bill Powers. They’ve been great university presidents. They both care about students and kids and both care about education and sports.
Now after the Oregon game, Sally and I will transition to the next phase of our lives. I’ve never done anything but coaching, so that’s something that I’ll have to look at.
By contract, we will be working with a special assistant to the president and we’ll also have some free time for opportunities outside the university. It will be fun to explore those things and see what’s out there for us and move forward.
I did, in talking to Mr. Jamail a few minutes ago, he said some people have called about coaching. I said “bad timing”, I need to back off for a day or two.
Yesterday was tough telling the staff and the recruits and our players and their wives that we would no longer be here. That’s a very difficult thing. We actually went to the recruiting dinner last night to try to make sure that the recruits understand what was going on. We encouraged them to come to Texas, and it was a wonderful place. It’s the best university in the country and we would want them to come here and we would pull for them and for them to hang in there because Steve’s going to hire a tremendous coach. He’ll have choices of the best coaches in the country, and that it’s a fresh start, a new start for them. So the negativity that’s been around the program will be cleared with the new guy and that’s a great time for them.
After that, this morning, the coaches continued to recruit. They’ll be in the building with me this afternoon. We won’t practice today but we’ll be working on our game plans for Oregon. I do promise the Texas fans and our football players that we’ll do everything within our power to make sure that we’re prepared for Oregon. That’s very, very important for us.
Any questions that I can answer for you? I’ll answer a few, but I want to get to Steve and Bill soon.
Do you think coaching is out of your system? What do you think you’ll be doing next fall?
All I know for sure, right now, is I’m going to spend two weeks trying to beat Oregon and I’m going to be working for President Powers. That’s all I know.
This came up yesterday afternoon, we made the decision about 3 or 4 o’clock, walked out on the practice field, had an hour of practice and met the team and recruits. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind here.
Steve Patterson said probably shouldn’t do it last night, you’ll be too tired. Get a good night sleep. That didn’t help very much.
How you been able to think about your legacy?
I really have, and I’ve been spending my time thinking about the players and the recruits, thinking about their futures and our coaches, that their lives have changed drastically with their families since yesterday at 4 of 5 o’clock. I figured I’d be asked that today. I think if you asked me what I wanted to be remembered for, it would be pretty simple. I would want to be remembered for bringing some joy to Texas, getting us back on track so the standard is set much higher now than it was when I was here, and that should help us have to live up to that standard from now on.
I would think the second thing is that I did it with integrity and class. And I think the third thing is that the wonderful young people that have gone through this university under our tutelage that have good lives and are better citizens for it. Those are the three things that I would want to be remembered for I think.
How hard was it for you to come to this decision?
It’s all I’ve ever done so it’s really hard. Sally and I, we’re going to work hard for two weeks, but then we’re on unchartered territory. We’re newlyweds getting ready to be rookies at something. That’s where we’re heading.
How many times this week did you go back-and-forth with this decision?
I was really back and forth all week because I sincerely want what’s best for the University of Texas. There’s just too many distractions, there’s too many negatives out there. The players and the assistant coaches shouldn’t be having to deal with negatives about me, and our university. That’s not healthy for our place. This university is so much bigger than any person that it is definitely better in my mind that Steve and Bill get them a new, exciting coach. Everybody will be pumped, he’s undefeated. I know already, he hasn’t lost a game at Texas. I remember the most successful run I had was the time I took the job 16 years ago until the first game. Then after that it gets tougher because you have to coach.
What role will you have at Texas?
We will do anything that Bill and Steve ask us to do. I have no interest in being involved in the coaching search, because that’s their choice. What we’ll do is what we’ve always done, we’ll do what we’re told. If there’s something we can do to help, then we want to help. We don’t want to sit here and do nothing. I’m sure that will take up a little while for everybody to get on the same page and hiring the new coach is a lot more important than what happens to us. I’m sure that will be the focus and when they get the new coach in here and get him going, and obviously if he wants to ask me questions, I’ll try to help him in any way that I can as well. But I will not be involved in the search.
How did the players react with you told them?
The players are great kids and they were wonderful. I didn’t get to see them much, it kind of stunned them. They all came up and hugged my neck, wanted me to break them down, which I don’t usually do. Then they went on their own, a lot of them came and recruited.
I think I’ll have a much better sense at a team meeting tomorrow where I’ll have a chance (to) sit down and tell them, because they need to know that we’ll still be here for them. We won’t interfere with the new coach but if there’s some relationship that we’ve had with them and they need advice on certain things outside of football, that Sally and I will be here for that.
I’ve got to thank all of the high school coaches in the state. They’ve been unbelievable. I’ve got to thank all these parents because they’ve put up with rumors about me being fired every week for about two years, maybe three. I think I quit two years ago in a basement in Topeka, Kan. I’ve been out of here so many times, it was a shock when I finally did it and somebody said “I think he’s kidding.”
They’ve put up with a lot. The players have been loyal, the parents have been loyal, the coaches had so many opportunities to leave last year and none of them left. They’ve been great. I need to sit down with the players tomorrow and if they’re still looking at the NFL, we’ve got Arthur Johnson and the staff will still be working with them daily. I’m going to work with them through Oregon and then I’ll be in town, so I’ll help them anyway I can. If someone wants to transfer, we need to talk to them about that. I would encourage them to wait and see who the new coach is and go through spring practice.
I told them yesterday that they should not be mad at this university. They chose it, they came. It’s a wonderful place and I made the choice. Let’s move forward. It’s important to beat Oregon and move on from there.
Has this last week changed how you are going to view your tenure at Texas?
Not at all. The reason that’s out there is we used to win 12 and 13 and we won eight. It’s not about integrity, it’s not about class, it’s not about grades, it’s not about any of that stuff. You’ve got to win. And we set a standard at this place, you better win all of them and that’s the expectation. I understand that,. I’m a big boy. I understand that if you don’t win all the games here , people are unhappy.
Other people love eight wins, this place isn’t that way and I agree with them. I do not think that we lived up to the standards that we had set since 2010, and I thought we were going to this year. I really thought we had a chance to make a run and it didn’t happen. And bless their hearts, the coaches and players did everything they could against the perfect storm of everything bad that could happen and they (fell short). I’m proud of them but I love the University of Texas, and I want only the best for it. It’s an unbelievable experience that we got an opportunity to coach here, and it’s changed our lives.
Is there one thing you want people to know about your decision?
I want to make sure that everybody knows that I’ve been treated fairly and it’s a wonderful run here and that I love the University of Texas. I have no regrets at all. And probably stepping away will add 10 years to my life. Maybe 20. I’m really 42, it just looks like I’m a little older.
Coming out of the meeting on Friday and going into the banquet, did you feel like you could have come back if you wanted?
Yes. I’m not going to get into all that because you all have already got opinions and I just don’t want to go there. But I was told I could stay. I felt like could stay. I really didn’t feel like it was best for the university to stay. I thought they needed change.
What advice would you have for your successor?
Whoever takes this job, is going to have a wonderful experience. And like Coach Royal told me, I said “Coach, what do you have to do to win at Texas as the head football coach?” He said you need to get all the BBs in the box, you need to reach out to your lettermen because they’re very, very important here – and they are, and I need to thank them. Our lettermen have been unbelievable. He said you need to reach out to the faculty, he said you’ve got to handle the wonderful media that surrounds you at the University of Texas. And then he said, oh yea, and you need to win all the games.
Does it hurt knowing that the fan base is fractured after all you’ve done to bring it back together?
I have absolutely no anger, no regrets for anything that’s happened. I’m angry with us too. I told the staff and the coaches, you know, you’ve got to win more than eight games at Texas. And that’s not fair, and we’re the ones that screwed it up. Lord, we won nine the first year and got a parade. That’s what’s changed over 16 years and that’s OK. The standard is set really high here and I’m darn proud that we’re a part of that standard.
When did you start to sense that things were being pulled in different directions?
About December, right after the A&M game in (2010). It’s been a fight since then. When you play for a national championship and lose, that’s not good. You need to win and it’s a real negative thing when you do that. You didn’t win 12, you lose one and that one cost everybody a national championship and we ain’t got a bunch of those around here. That was a difficult time but since then, it’s been an absolute fight and we’ve got it back now where we’ve got depth, we’ve got speed, we’ve got good players. And that was part of the decision too, could we win next year? And I thought we could. I thought we could have won this year and you’ve got a lot of things coming back. I really thought, you know what, all I wanted to do was get it back for the next guy.
But I think it’s better now. He’ll have a chance to come in here and get it back. And that’s fun for him and fun for these kids. They just need new energy. A lot of negative energy around and, you know what, life’s too short. We don’t need negative energy, especially around kids.
I was sitting there Friday night at the banquet, and then I met with families on Saturday morning. Sitting there talking to families about coaching their children, their students for the next four years and not being able to, in my mind, honestly tell them I would be able to that for the next four years. It really threw me, because I felt like, you know what, these people need a commitment for four years and I can’t give them that. I just can’t do that.
That bothered me, and I told them that last night. I said a big part of my part of this decision was that I can’t promise you four years. I just can’t. Everybody says “Well, if you won them all next year. If you win 12, if you win 10, it’s fine” and I can’t promise that. The ball bounces funny.
Why didn’t Texas take that next step in 2013?
Injuries. Lose your quarterback, I think we lost eight of our top 10 players. And nobody wants to hear it, but it’s fact. But how do we know it’s not going to happen next year? We’ve had really bad injuries for the last three years, so I think that’s something the new coach has to look at. Why have there been so many injuries for the last three years? I can’t answer that. God, I’ve tried and I can’t. I told them not to get hurt.
Why can’t you promise four more years?
You’ve got to win. And if we didn’t win next year, then we weren’t going to keep coaching. We had subpar seasons – as such for Texas – with eight wins and nine wins, and then this year, hopefully nine, but Oregon’s really good. I’ve watched them and they’re a BCS team heading to the Alamo Bowl.
So again, we’ve got to get it back to top five in the country. We weren’t doing that, and to me, that’s what really bothered me.
You’ve said that you don’t have regrets, but is there one thing that you’d change from your 16 years at Texas?
They’d be two things. I would want Cole Pittman back, and I would want the bonfire not to have happened at A&M. Those are two horrible things in my life that I’ll never forget, and like I said, playing A&M on Thanksgiving, I thought about the families. Because I want to keep my children, and when you lose your children, there is nothing worth that in the world. I think about that every Thanksgiving because there are 12 families that don’t have a good Thanksgiving. That will never go away.
Cole Pittman. I am responsible for the precious things that those parents send you. They’re the most precious things in their lives, their children. And we lost one. And I talked to Marc and Judy Pittman today, and I have the little program from the funeral in my office that I look at very often.
It’s just a memory to me to make sure that when we’re responsible for 125 kids, we’ve got to make sure that they tell us when they’re going home. Make sure they text us when they get home, make sure they text us before they leave home, make sure they text us when they get back. Because we cannot afford to lose someone’s child and that’s very, very important to us.
Mack Brown closing statement
In closing, Bill and Steve are coming up, and I think Steve is wonderful. I think we are so lucky to have him. I got to spend quite a bit of time with him, a little bit in New York and some Friday and a lot yesterday and today, kind of cleaning up things and getting ready to move forward.
As great as DeLoss was, and he had a great run. He was ready to step out. As good as our run’s been, Steve is a breath of fresh air. He’s going to move forward. He was very honest and direct with me through this whole process. One of the things, I’m going to miss is not working with him. I think he’s a star and Bill and his committee did a great job of hiring him. Bill and Steve will get us a great new football coach, and we’ll move forward.
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