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Talkin' Texas Football: Life After OU, Part 1

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PB: Okay, I'm ready to roll if you are.

How to kill your credibility before you've begun.

Billyzane: Yeah, let's go.

PB: Great. And I just lied. Let me grab a beer. Then I'm ready.

Billyzane: Me too. What are you drinking?

PB: A JW Dundee's Honey Brown - you?

Billyzane: Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale. We're such beer snobs.

PB: We're both tools. Great to know. Let's talk football?

Billyzane: Let's get to it.

PB: Okay, so you're every bit as much of a numbers nerd--maybe more so--as I. Tell me you had trouble telling anyone Texas was going to win on Saturday.

Billyzane: I mean, you read my numbers column on Friday. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. You look at OU's numbers coming into that game and they had no weaknesses outside of the kicking game. None. I would have given us about a 15% chance of winning that game.

And that's with me being a homer.

PB: I rambunctiously called for it on EDSBS LIVE last week, but it was straight homerdom - totally lacking in analysis. But you did touch on one thing that wound up being key -- OU got worn down in the 4th Quarter. You could see our depth start to wear them down and then--whoa--OG is gone for 62 yards.

Billyzane: Absolutely. When I wrote that, I was thinking to myself, "This is such crap. It's OU, they're conditioned just as well as we are." But sometimes you forget that there's no substitute for real game experience. And Texas had been playing 4 quarters every game, while OU had been playing 2 and a half to 3. And it showed in the 4th.

PB: It helped on defense, too, where our ability to send Rak, Melton, Acho, Jones, etc. over and over eventually wore them down. Both Davis and Muschamp wore the Sooners into submission.

Okay, so here's what I want your take on: I wrote that I thought this win was a really important piece missing from Mack's resume, and in some ways completes it. Though his further legacy largely will be determined based on what he does with the win, I don't think it's possible to overstate how important a win this was for him/the program. Thoughts?

Billyzane: I think Mack is a great coach and that he's underrated as a gameday coach. But he's by nature conservative. We all know this. This is not going to change. And we've all thought his conservatism has been his undoing. He relies on the talent of his team to outplay the talent of the other team. And that's why he's phenomenal at beating lesser teams whereas Stoops and Carroll and Meyer consistently lose to lesser teams (see HornBrain's Eyes of Texas article for proof of this), but he can't beat better teams because of this as well. But on Saturday, he beat a team with better athletes. Did he shed his conservatism? Maybe a little bit, but fundamentally, he was the same coach.

So what's changed? I think that for the first time since Vince was doing it for him, Mack and Co. have created a team that truly cares about winning. THey play hard for their coaches and for themselves. We didn't see that before Vince and we certainly didn't see that last year. So I"m not sure how much this cements Mack's legacy. He's still the same coach he always was. But he did something that he had never done before without fundamentally changing who he was. That's a big deal, and perhaps in some ways more telling of how good a coach he is.

Something is decidedly different about Texas football.
PB: I don't know that I quite read it that way. From what I read above, you're not saying much more than, "Mack didn't approach this season/game differently, he just created a team that truly cares about winning." But... that's a hard pill to swallow, insofar as it follows from that argument that prior teams just didn't care much about winning.

No, I think we saw something bigger at work: We saw Mack Brown bottom out last November and we saw him aggressively gun to do what he's been told he can't/won't. And that's manifested itself in numerous ways--from the coaches he hired to the attitude he insists his team develop, to--even--the game plan his offensive coordinator creates. I don't think it's enough to say what you're saying, and insofar as you agree with me, I think the way you phrased it undersells what a big deal it is.

Billyzane: See, I think we're saying the same thing. You perhaps said it better than I did. I think all those things he did after the A&M game last year created an energy that has permeated this team. An energy that previous teams (other than '05 and maybe '04) didn't really have. Could you really look at those '00 to '03 teams and say they had a palpable kinetic energy about them? They were good teams (especially '01), but they seemed to be fine with being good. And Mack's style certainly had something to do with this.

But this team isn't okay with being good, and Mack's style since A&M certainly has something to do with that. He's still a conservative coach, but he's changed the way he runs this team, and I think that's all that needed changing to make this team elite. For that, he earns my undying esteem. Do you think we're saying the same thing?

PB: Okay, I do. I wanted to force you to say the same thing forcefully, because I think Mack deserves for each of us who peer in extra-super-close to ring the bell for him in this case. He's deserved our scrutiny; today, he deserves our full salute.

Part 2 of Talkin' Texas will run later Tuesday.