October 26, 2010
Typically, Mack Brown plays it cool as the comfortable, well-adjusted CEO hovering above a finely-tuned program, keeping watch but letting the day-to-day aggravations and minutiae fall to competent underlings. Part of that trust has been severely ruptured over the last month, punctuated by Saturday's stunning home flop against Iowa State, which has brought out the other side of Mack: The mystified boss who's putting the entire chain of command on notice if the worst slide in his 13-year tenure doesn't get turned around.
Monday, Brown said he had "more motivational things and emotional stuff up in the locker room than I've ever had." The last time he felt this desperate for a spark: 2007, with another talented yet green and "entitled" team with a talented yet green quarterback enduring some inevitable growing pains in back-to-back October losses, one as a double-digit home favorite against Kansas State. By November, was willing to try anything – seriously, anything:
"In 2007, I was miserable every week," he said [during his Monday press conference]. "I didn't trust anybody. I was so worried about our team being flat against Oklahoma State in 2007 – and I've never said this, this really happened, you all don't know half of what happens in our building. So before the game, I'm trying to get this team stirred up. Nothing was working.
"So there was this dance they all loved, the Soulja Boy dance. I remember looking up during the Central Florida game, and they were all doing this dance and not playing worth a rip. I told them, 'We either need to go to a dance contest where we'd be really good or think about starting to play football.'
"So what I do, which is totally out of character, is I get [equipment manager] Chip Robertson to get me a coach's shirt, which is sort of torn down the middle. And I've got a camouflage shirt and pants under it, and I rip the coach's shirt off and – in pre-game – I pull the pants off.
"And I had worked hard for a week – because I can't dance a lick – to do the Soulja Boy dance. And they laughed so hard that they were crying. And I was so embarrassed. And I thought, 'Finally, we're getting some emotion! It's going to work!'
"And we stunk. We stunk."
The Longhorns were down 21-0 barely a minute into the second quarter, and 28-14 in the third when Brown went off during a timeout – "I ripped them all, the coaches and players, ripped them all." Oklahoma State scored on the next play to go up 35-14.
Somewhere in there, Texas got the message: The 'Horns rattled off three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter and kicked the game-winning field goal on the final play. But I wouldn't expect to see Brown attempting to Dougie anytime soon – and if he does, 'Horns, please: Have those cell phone cameras ready just in case.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.