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October 6, 2009

Q&A with Texas coach Mack Brown

Texas has started 4-0 and is No. 2 in the national polls. The Longhorns continue Big 12 play Saturday against Colorado.

Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with Rivals.com senior writer Tom Dienhart about the high expectations surrounding his program, the team's coach-in-waiting, former Texas star Vince Young and other topics in this week's Q&A.

You have been at Texas since 1998. Did you once say a head coach loses about 10 percent of his support each year?

"Spike Dykes said that. I asked him why he quit at Texas Tech, and he said that you lose about 10 percent of your support every year. I've been here 12 years, so you do the math. He was joking, but it is harder to stay a long time at certain places. People do like change. They get tired of the same coach, the same stories and all that stuff, and sometimes people do want a new coach. And that's where I have been fortunate. I heard Lou Holtz say once that five years is long enough and seven is too much and 10 is awful, and I'm going on 12."

Is it stressful trying to feed the monster expectations at Texas?

"It is, but it also is better than the other option. If you are bad or mediocre, then it's really bad. So I would rather be at a school where the standards are high, that you have to try to feed it every year, because it's what I want, too."

What do you like about your team after a 4-0 start?

"We are a team that traditionally starts a little slow. And obviously the build-up is for the OU game [Oct. 17]. But I like the fact that the kick-return team has the opportunity to score each time we touch it. We haven't been in that position since we have been here. We already have had two kickoff returns for touchdowns. I like the fact that Colt [McCoy] is Colt and we have really good receivers and our protection is good, so we have a chance to score a lot of points each week. And we are stopping the run on defense and we have more experience in the secondary and are covering better."

What areas still need to be developed?

"We feel like we really haven't been tested against the run yet. Most of the teams we have played are throwing teams. In the next four weeks, we'll play Colorado, who runs it, Oklahoma State, who runs it, and Oklahoma, who will run it. So we feel like we will know more about our team and about our run defense in four weeks. And we also don't feel like we have run the ball as well in the red zone. We are 23 of 23 in the red zone, but we have kicked more field goals [seven] than we would have liked. And we also have thrown for touchdowns more down there [four] than we would have liked."

What makes Colt McCoy special?

"It's a combination of things. He grew up in a coaching family. He's very passionate about film study and learning the game. Therefore, his leadership is very good. He works as hard as anyone on our team. The other players have respect for him to the point where he can lead. Other than his ability to make plays with his feet, it's his accuracy. He's just so accurate."

What has Will Muschamp meant to the defense?

"We have had four coordinators in a six-year period. All of them were good, but it was unsettling because we were changing names and numbers of defensive calls, we are changing schemes to a degree each year. So we felt when Will came in, he's young, he's high-energy, he's really smart. I have to think Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells have done it better than anybody in football when you start looking at defense and being tough. And Will was 'raised' by Nick Saban, who grew up under Bill Belichick. And Will has been a defensive coordinator for the pros, so he brings the credibility that a Greg Robinson brought from the NFL and at the same time has been able to adjust the scheme for college."

What was your involvement on Muschamp becoming Texas' coach-in-waiting?

"I am seeing transitions across the country that are very expensive and leave some really good coaches hanging out, forcing some coaches to keep some people that they'd rather not. If the wrong guy comes in, it just doesn't work. It is hard to have a fit. Bill Powers, our president, DeLoss Dodds, our athletic director, and I thought that Will would be a fit. And the good thing is I'm not ready to quit, but he's young enough that he isn't impatient about being the head coach. We all thought it was the perfect scenario because it wasn't going to happen tomorrow. Will loves being the defensive coordinator. I think when these things don't work, it's because there's jealousy or Will would try to move too fast. But we all are on the same page with this thing, so ours is going to work."

Why do you think the Big 12 North has lagged behind the Big 12 South?

"I do not. I think it's just a trend. When I got here, Colorado, Kansas State and Nebraska were all great. But Oklahoma and Texas were not good. I just think it's college football and it goes back and forth."

Many rivals say that Texas doesn't recruit, it selects. Is that true?

"Well, it isn't true. We work really hard in recruiting, probably as hard as anyone in the country. Where they are factual is that there are 375 Division I-A players each year in the state. We, on average, take 20. So when you look at it, we have to do a great job in the evaluation process. Therefore, our selection process [involves picking] not just who are the best players, but who are the best players that can pass here, that can fit here socially, that can handle this monster of pressure and expectations, that can handle all of the media coverage we get."

How has the sport changed since you were a head coach at Tulane in 1985?

"The Internet. In recruiting, it is harder for people to break rules because there are more people watching and more scrutiny. Secondly, it is more difficult to recruit because there are more things said that aren't true, so you are having to constantly deal with those rumors with kids and parents. As far as the game, there is more money involved. There definitely is more pressure on kids. With the BCS like it is, we say that there's not, but if you lose a game at Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Ohio State, Florida, Alabama -- you lose a game late at places like that and you are out of the national championship picture. It changes the scope of the whole year. So I don't like the pressure that our system puts on players and coaches. Now, at some schools, it isn't a totally satisfying year unless you have won all your games.

"I think the rules have changed. I think we are doing a better job of protecting the kids. The passing game has come so far, and I believe it's because of the change in the blocking rules. And I think the game has changed more for the offense than the defense from a rules standpoint. People like to see points scored."

Why has Vince Young struggled in the NFL?

"It goes back to standards and evaluations. Most young quarterbacks who [start] immediately struggle. Go back and look at Troy Aikman, who I coached at Oklahoma [as an assistant]. I think [the Dallas Cowboys] were 2-14 or something. Peyton Manning was the same way. The older quarterbacks are usually the ones who win. Look at Vince. He took [the Tennessee Titans] to the playoffs and was in the Pro Bowl. He's the only rookie quarterback who played in the Pro Bowl. Dan Marino was chosen but didn't play. I think that the expectations get so high that these young quarterbacks [go through] a bigger change than from high school to college. Very few freshmen quarterbacks come in and take over in college, so I think there is a learning curve for all quarterbacks. Matt Leinart and Vince were the two best quarterbacks at that time. Right now, both are trying to work back into the starting lineup.

"I text him back and forth all the time. We have a great relationship. He has done really well. He's wanting to play, he's wanting to start. But he is being a good team guy and is learning some patience."

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.

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