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December 20, 2012

The TicketCity Locker Room

Q: (Golfpr3145) - Do you feel like Mack's micro managing has really been a sore spot with the coaching staff? I can see it in the play of both sides of the ball, and now I'm getting word that he won't even let Wylie control his own part of the team by what he can and can't do as punishment for the kids not adhering to standards. Is Mack so narrow minded that he doesn't trust anyone to do their job?

A: I don't think there's a coaching staff in America at any level that doesn't get frustrated with the big boss man, but I think there's an interesting element to this discussion that is rich in irony. When things ran off the rails in 2010, part of the reason for that was the disengaged way that Mack led the program, essentially allowing his assistants to rule the roost while he spent more time away from the grind. As he tries to save this thing before it's too late, we're now in a position where the concern is that he's too engaged? I don't mean to laugh, but he is absolutely damned if he does and damned if he doesn't at this point.

I think the thing that Mack does behind the scenes that probably irritates his coaching staff the most is his ability to get distracted by trivial things … like the Internet. I've had former UT coaches tell me that they used to meet as a staff first thing every morning and the discussion always began with what was on Orangebloods.com that day, whether it was recruiting related or some "insiders" post that he was told about. That's clutter. That type of stuff wears on a coaching staff more than the type of micro-managing that I think some are most concerned about.

Do I think Mack has his hands involved with the offense and defense? Yes. Do I think that's a problem at times? Absolutely. Is he any more involved in those areas than most head coaches? Not at all. The truth of the matter is that major college programs across the country have hands-on head coaches, but it is perceived differently at a problem at Texas because Mack doesn't have a lot of street cred in 2012 as an Xs and Os guy, along with the fact that the program has been/is struggling.

Here's the way I see it … the program is still lagging behind in some key areas and I don't believe the assistants are without some blame, including Bennie Wylie, but the guy who is ultimately responsible for everything is Mack … period. I don't believe Mack was the reason the linebackers were not taught how to tackle better. Same with the defensive backs. I don't blame Mack because David Ash has struggled to read defenses in a way that would allow him to more easily make progressions. Micro-managing didn't cause those issues. That being said, this is Mack's program and every decision along the way that stalls progress is ultimately on him.

Q: (Saw22286) - What is your opinion of the offensive line over the past two years? Is there consistent (although slow) improvement from the start of last season to now and can we expect things to continue to improve into next season? It looks to me like Stacy Searels came in with the cupboard empty and has had to develop a lot of young talent from scratch. But have Searels and Bennie done enough through year two of the rebuild in your opinion?

A: The offensive line play has been average at best and Stacy Searels knows it better than anyone. I'm sure Searels thought the cupboard would be more loaded, but the truth of the matter is that his ideology is so different than the old approach under Mac McWhorter that it's taken more time than he probably thought it would to get where he knows things need to be. Searels wants guys that can mash people and cover up big bodies and he just hasn't had enough of those bodies to build the kind of line he desires. It's one of the reasons why the Longhorns continue to look at the JUCO scene and anywhere else they can locate line prospects. When the Longhorns head into next season, they will have a lot of returning experience, but only one true plus-player in Trey Hopkins. Everyone else that returns ranged from ok to pretty good for most of the year, which means I don't think anyone's job is safe … Searels' options are just limited.

Q: (Bevo61) - I know that we fans think that Mack could easily step down as coach and immediately/seamlessly take over as Athletic Director. On the surface it actually looks like THE job he is most suited for and probably should have been in since 2005. But truthfully, in your opinion, is he suited, does he want to and will it happen (why or why not)?

I know that some or even most on the board are not fans of the SEC style (run oriented) offense or basically NOT the spread. Many make a good point that Texas High school football is the hot bed for the spread offenses, but I am old school and more favor the ground and pound offense combined with a strong defense. The point to me, I don't see the spread offenses consistently win on a national stage. Invariably, the big defenses stop them and/or they are plagued with having NO defense of their own (i.e. Texas Tech forever, Baylor now, etc.). What is your take on the type of offense that Texas should run?

I have seen enough of David Ash to know that he is as capable of running a team as A.J. McCarron. I believe him to be as talented. I think when Texas gets better in the offensive line play we won't be required to rely on him as much (which is the point of that offense). Do you believe that David Ash is capable of being the bus driver type QB and that he will?

A: First, I can't imagine why Mack would want to work another day in his life when he's done. Being the AD means a lot of grinding work and I don't think Mack is going to want to grind when he's done with coaching in Austin.

Second, I believe the spread offense has been quite successful in the last decade and you're going to continue to see more and more teams go with advanced variations in future years, as you are currently seeing in the NFL. There are basically three teams in America right now that compete at a national level with traditional attacks (Alabama, LSU and Stanford), although those schools also run spread elements within their offense. Trust me, if Johnny Manziel wanted to transfer to Alabama, Nick Saban would change his offense for him. The bottom line for me is that the Longhorns currently pull talent from a state that has become spread-happy at the high school level. There are 23 quarterbacks in the NFL right now from the state of Texas and only one of them played at Texas. There's no reason to make this rocket science.

Finally, David Ash has a lot of tools, but he needs to advance from Algebra to Trig at a very quick pace. This sky really is the limit for him, but there are no assurances or promises because the next step he must take is the hardest.

Q: (cruelbutfair) - When Mack Brown leaves after next season with a final season record of 10-2 or 9-3 (before the bowl game) will he be vilified or still respected by the "average" UT fan (not OB members).

A: Somewhere in the middle, definitely.

Q: (brianut) - True or False … The recent emphasis on junior college recruits, including two QBs, is indicators Mack is "all in" for next year, which will be his final season at UT.

A: True. I'm on record now as saying that 2013 will be his last season. The last three years have been so trying on him that it's hard to imagine him going 24 more months when the last 36 have been agonizing. Getting to 10 wins would allow him to feel like he left the program in the kind of shape he needs it to be in before he can let go. Of course, this is just my reading of the tea leaves.

Q: (colliepd) - I agree with you that 2013 is Mack's last year, good or bad. I know how I feel about Mack and his legacy, but I wanted to know what your feelings towards his legacy will be in the three scenarios listed below.

1.) Mack returns for 2013 and wins the Big 12 and plays in a major BCS bowl game.

2.) Mack returns for 2013 and Texas fails to win the Big 12 and plays in a second tier bowl game

3.) Mack hangs it up after our bowl game this year, win or lose.

I guess what I'm asking in a roundabout way is … in your opinion, if Mack returns, how big is next year in terms of defining his legacy?

Off topic, why do all fantasy football threads receive the dreaded 1 star? Is there a history there that I'm unaware of?

A: I think Mack's legacy is set, regardless of what happens next year. He's a Hall of Fame college coach, who will go down as one of the best program builders and recruiters of his era. He will be remembered for saving the UT program from the lull it was in, but he'll also be remembered as a guy that never quite maximized his talent and potential. By the time we get to 2032 or so, he'll be remembered more for the good and sometimes great than the current depressing three-year run.

As far as the unpopular one-star ranking for fantasy football discussions, just know that we have a member of the site that currently leads the pack on the site with 24,597 star votes on his record with an average rating of 1.21 per vote. You pretty much have to dislike everything to have that many votes.

Q: (dtarver) - Any chance of doing a "Dan Rather" type of interview with DeLoss Dodds concerning state of UT athletics?

A: What is your definition of a "Dan Rather" type of interview? His reporting means a lot of things to a lot of people, although I've always been a fan, despite the end of his run with CBS News.

Q: (streettopeschel) - For the longest time, I was an unequivocal 'In Deloss I trust' guy. Watching realignment play out (ND to ACC, ag success in SEC, rumored targets like LOU going elsewhere, doubts about FSU having any interest in Big12 just to name a few), my trust is wavering. I know the final chapter is yet to be written, but which is more likely A) Deloss has an ace up his sleeve or B) he got played?

A: Why can't it be both? Seriously, I think the Longhorns have been winners and losers at the same time in this stretch of history that has changed the state of college football, but we need to see this story unfold a little more before we know the real final score.

Q: (hurtya) - It seems that Ash's problem is being unable to bounce back after a bad start to a game. With the coaches recruiting JUCO quarterbacks again, does that show that Harsin and Mack have a lack of confidence in their ability to coach Ash to fix the problem? Is that not a simple coaching issue that football coaches at the University of Texas should be able to fix?

A: I believe Ash to be the one player on campus at the position in which the coaches do have confidence, but he's still a work in progress and isn't quite championship-quality. His biggest issue is developing his skill set beyond one-read options, but there is a lot to work with and he's done a lot of good things.

Q: (cgarcia) - 1. Now that Major has the reigns and is QB coach, will he have the impact on the QB position as far as recruiting goes as he has had with the RB position?

2. Who will be RB coach? There is a lot of push by fans in the DFW area for Claude Mathis who I am all for IF he can recruit. Mack needs to reconnect with Texas coaches and bringing in one of their own I think would go a long way. Plus the man can flat out coach. If it's not him, who are your top three likely candidates for that spot?

3. IF Diaz leaves for whatever reason, does Bo move up to DC or does Mack call up Gene Chizik and ask for another dance? You top three candidates for this spot if it comes available?

4. Ribs: wet or dry?

A: Yes, I believe Major has a relationship with Mack that will allow him to control more things than Bryan Harsin might have been able to. One of the things I really admire from Major is the way he has positioned himself away from the kid's table and into a seat at the head of the big boy table. There's not a more Machiavellian coach on that staff than Major and I mean that in the very best way possible … he'll make sure he gets what he wants in a lot of situations.

Personally, I want Mathis to get the job, but that will probably spook Mack, so I'll just say that it needs to be someone with SEC experience because that's a well Mack likes to drink from. So…. SEC, SEC and SEC.

Third, it looks like Manny Diaz will be in Austin in 2013, so it's a moot point, but Mack would have had to have hired a guy with legit experience and skins on the wall because next season cannot be about breaking in a new guy ... it's just not the time for that. Hell, with two new coordinators you could make a case that Mack would need two years on which to base any more conclusions, and does anyone really want to go 24 months at this point?

Finally, I don't need them sopping wet, but a flat dry rub doesn't always make me happy, so there has to be a little sauce.

Q: (SyberLAN) - If our S&C lagged behind other programs 2-3 years ago, how long would you say it would take to become dominant is this regard? For instance, if we have a Sr. with two ineffective years of S&C, followed by two good years, wouldn't he still be behind seniors from other programs who have four years solid work? Can our S&C coach be fairly evaluated until he has the same access to his players as other S&C guys?

Can you rate the first five DTs from 1-5, one being the best in regard to run stop, then pass rusher?

Would you rather have a great offensive line and an average QB, or average OL and great QB. I had this discussion recently, and someone pointed out a dominant OL can give an average QB time to see the field and make decisions, and move the chains with a solid ground game. An average OL turns a great QB into a magician on every play. Your thoughts?

UT has played more true freshmen the past two years than any other program. Do you think some recruits this year see juniors next year with 2 years, and sophomores with a season of solid PT ahead of them? Do you think it may partially explain the slow recruiting progress this year? If we continue to play the majority of our true freshmen every season, eventually we'll have a pretty salty team. Would it not follow that soon the true frosh will have a tough time seeing the field their first season?

Finally, if you make a wrong turn, do you turn around in someone's driveway, or make the block?

A: As it relates to the first set of questions … all I care about is winning from a strength and conditioning standpoint. The bottom line is the bottom line. It shouldn't take a presidential term to make an impact.

Second, I'd rate the defensive tackles like this …

Against the run: Malcom Brown, Brandon Moore, Ashton Dorsey, Desmond Jackson and Chris Whaley
As a pass-rusher: Malcom Brown, Desmond Jackson, Brandon Moore, Ashton Dorsey and Chris Whaley

Third, give me a great quarterback every time (See Colt McCoy in 2008).

Finally, I went driving to look at lights this week with the wife and turned around in three different drive-ways.

Texas NEWS


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