And that’s just how Mack Brown wanted it.
After a disastrous 5-7 season — well, disastrous for a program with two national title appearances in the past six years — that produced a team with zero leadership, poor quarterback play and a fragmented connection between player and coach , Brown wanted to approach 2011 with new life.
He overhauled his coaching staff and closed spring practice to the media.
Now, during Big 12 Media Days, he’s left his quarterback(s) in Austin.
Below is Brown’s reasoning on the decision, courtesy of ESPN’s David Ubben:
“I thought that all of the questions would be what you all know they would be. After doing this a long time. Who’s going to start? How many reps are you getting? Why should you be starting? Why do you have a right from last year? What happened to you, Garrett? Why did you mess up? Why did you have so many turnovers? What about the coach? What about coach Davis? Compare him to coach Harsin. And I didn’t think any of that was helpful at all, very honestly.
“So, what I thought we needed was to get back to work. We needed to make sure that our quarterbacks were focused on one thing, and on one thing only. And that was learning the new offense. Which was going to be complicated. And I didn’t need them to have distractions. I didn’t need Bryan to have to answer every day about who he thought looked better when he didn’t even know their names. He didn’t know anything about them. And I did not want the quarterbacks competing for a job until they learned the offense, because I was worried they’d worry more about starting than learning.
“So, we feel like now all four of them have learned the offense, they all have their reps. Bryan knows all four of them. The players have seen all four of them work with this system in the summer for 7-on-7, and now, what we’ll do is start truly evaluating those guys daily and trying to separate them.
“And then, after we do, you’ll get to talk to them all you want. But I felt like last year was so negative, that I didn’t want them to have to sit around and talk about it all day. And they would have. And that’s your job, and that’s fair. But it’s my job that we do what’s best for our players.”
Brown makes a interesting point about last year’s expectations of his quarterback, Garrett Gilbert. Though Gilbert struggled mightily, his preseason pub was set up for failure by the media and coaches. To have to answer any questions about why he didn’t live up to the hype would be unfair.
A lot of things went wrong for Texas last year, and not all of it was Garrett Gilbert.
And, to Brown’s credit, his job is to put Texas in the best chance to win, not to appease the media; this isn’t the first time Brown has protected his quarterback from media scrutiny, either. Brown and his coaching staff know their players and how they respond to certain situations better than anybody with a recorder or a notepad. If Brown thought it wouldn’t be a deterrent to Gilbert, Case McCoy or any of the other Longhorn quarterbacks to be at Big 12 Media Days, then they would be.
Brown has an incredible amount of leverage, so he can take a summer and place his team into hiding until they emerge new again in 2011.
With all of that said, however, Brown is like a parent to these players, and at some point, he has to let them be adults and answer questions they may not want to answer. Not everything is going to go Texas’ way all the time, and players need to be prepared to answer to that.
Especially with the money and exposure being poured into a certain television network.