Moderator: Thank you all for being here to cover the 2010 BCS Championship Game presented by Citi. No players will be made available in today's opening session. Coach Brown and Coach Saban will each make an opening statement and then we'll take questions. (As the moderator talks, Nick Saban passes a note to Mack Brown: "Don't even think I'm gonna let you play the underdog card." Brown pulls out a pen and scribbles a note back: "Watch and learn...")
We ask that you wait for the microphone before asking your question. Okay, Coach Brown, whenever you're ready.
Mack Brown: Thank you, Tom. Thanks to your wife, Cindy, as well, for those delicious brownies. Chris, they're almost as good as Jen's. [Winks at Chris Fowler. Fowler beams with pride.]
On behalf of the University of Texas, we want to thank the Rose Bowl for their wonderful hospitality and we're very excited to be in Pasadena again. Obviously, we wish we were here with a better chance to win the game, and who knows, maybe if God smiles on us just right things might go our way, but we're mostly just humbled to have the chance to play in this great venue. Certainly, when you find yourself in a game like this, you'd rather not be playing one of the greatest teams of all time, but it's a great opportunity to represent the state of Texas and we'll do our best to compete and keep things interesting for as long as we can.
I think it's probably more important that we hear from Coach Saban about this great Alabama team, so I'll just leave it at that and hand things off to him.
Nick Saban: Well, goodness. They say everything's bigger in Texas, and I guess that includes grandiose introductions. Thank you, Coach Brown, for those kind words. It's an honor just to be sitting next to someone who's accomplished so much in this amazing stadium. You clearly know your way around here and have been here before and it's all a little intimidating for us Alabama folks. We appreciate you doing what you can to make us feel comfortable. It feels a little bit like getting an invitation to the White House, and it's nice of the President here [nodding towards Brown] to make us feel so welcome.
Moderator: Okay, we're going to open things up for --
Mack Brown: Tom, if you don't mind. Real quick here. I just want to thank Coach Saban for those kind words and to follow up on something he just said: though I appreciate that kind of praise I just want to be sure to note to Coach Saban that with Alabama so likely to win this football game I'm sure the real trip to the White House in February will be the real treat.
[Saban passes Brown another note: "Oh, it's on, you slick bastard."]
Moderator: Okay... Um, thank you Coach Brown. So, we will now --
Nick Saban: Actually, Tom, if I could just add something to that. I want to again thank Coach Brown for being so gracious and certainly, we're gonna bust our tails to try to give our fans a chance to see us in the White House. You know, I've had the chance to visit the White House before but it was back in... [pauses, looking up at the ceiling as though to concentrate on finding a lost memory] Gosh, I've forgotten what it's like it's been so long. College football has changed so much since I was last there and I know I speak for most every coach when I say that we're all sort of trying to do what Mack Brown has done at Texas. So it's a great honor to have him encourage us and remind us what it is we're all trying to achieve.
Moderator: [hesitantly] Well, then, I think... [pausing to make sure the coaches are done] I think we're ready to take questions.
Bruce Feldman: Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com. Coach Brown, you guys really had some trouble offensively against Nebraska and Oklahoma, probably the two best defenses you faced. Can you talk a little bit about what you need to do differently against this Alabama defense?
Mack Brown: I'm glad you asked that, Bruce, I really am. The thing about this match up that's so difficult for us is... [pauses, reconsidering] Well let me put it this way. It's like on page 39 of Cane Mutiny when you're laying out just how big and powerful a machine Miami was up against and you wrote -- let me see if I can remember it... [closes eyes, concentrating] "Miami didn't just have to beat the team on the opposite side of the field. They had to beat every team that had ever played the game before them."
It's a little bit like that for us, Bruce. You saw the SEC Championship Game. We all did. We're not a very good football team right now, and we're facing one of the finest defenses the college football world has ever seen. I'm not sure there's much we can do. We'll try, but it's a real challenge for us.
[The room falls silent, jaws agape.]
Moderator: [breaking the silence] Okay... next question?
Tony Barnhart: Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal Constitution. Coach Saban, could you talk to us a little bit about what it's like coaching against one of your proteges in Will Muschamp?
Nick Saban: Tony, it feels like... it feels like I'm King Laius.... [forlornly] except I already know how this story ends. Look, I have the utmost respect and love for Will and no one -- least of all me -- wants to see him marry my dear love Terry and then gouge out his own eyes, but this match up is tragic for us. It's tragic for me. It's tragic for all of us, Tony.
Moderator: [looking out at the stunned press corps] Anyone else? [after a long pause, a hand goes up] Yes, there in the back.
Thayer Evans: Hi, yes, thank you. Thayer Evans, New York Times. I was wondering if --
Brown: [interrupting] You mean M. Scott Templeton, don't you boy?
Saban: [snickering] Wait, wait. Scott. Hold on, let me try to guess your question... [closes eyes, clasps hands together, mimicking a clairvoyant] You want to ask... [winces eyes together even more tightly, as though to concentrate more deeply] You want to ask about the Candyman.
Brown: [hoots in laughter]
Evans: [nervous and flustered] The Candyman?
Saban: No, wait! No, no! [closing eyes again] I see it now. I see it clearly. Not the Candyman. The Ginger Bread Man! Yes, the Ginger Bread Man! Ask us, Scott. Ask us about the Ginger Bread Man!
Brown: [howling now, doubled over in laughter] No, Nick -- it's the Tooth Fairy. [straightens up and closes his own eyes] Don't you see it? It's the Tooth Fairy, and she's dressed in crimson and cream.
Evans: [understanding what's going on] Okay, okay, yeah. I get it. Ha ha, guys. But seriously, I want to ask --
Saban: [angrily] Speak when spoken to, boy!
Brown: [scowling as well] Get him out of here. Security. Get this fraud out of here. Go kill a homeless man, Scotty.
Saban: [As Evans is escorted from the room by a uniformed police officer] A homeless woman! A homeless woman, Scotty! And pretend she's a booster of a football program! [Brown and Saban high five, laughing uncontrollably]
Moderator: [terrified] So... um... yes. Moving on. Who would like to ask the next question? [When no one says anything, Tom points at the closest reporter in the front row] You. Ask something.
Tim Cowlishaw: Um... yes. Okay. Hi. Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News. Coach Brown, the last time you were here it was Vince Young who felt slighted by not winning the Heisman Trophy, losing the award to the star player of his Rose Bowl opponent. Any similar feelings for Colt McCoy?
Brown: Tim, all I can tell you is that Colt McCoy and I feel very much the same way about this: Mark Ingram is the best player in the country on the best team in the country. The bottom line is that I could tell you that my guy is better, but the Heisman Trophy voters have spoken and they're rarely wrong. There are good reasons that we're 10 point underdogs in this game and --
Saban: [interrupting] Five points. The line is five points in the game.
Brown: [continuing] There are good reasons we're seven point underdogs in this game, Tim, and one of those reasons is that they have Mark Ingram and we don't.
Saban: [fake chuckling] That's a very nice thing for Coach Brown to say, but Tim, I just want to interject here -- and this is probably the right time to acknowledge the 800-pound gorilla in the room -- these so-called "Vegas lines" make for easy copy and all, but you know, and I know, and everyone in the country knows that we're favored because the Longhorns are the biggest, richest program in the country, and they've got billionaire boosters who load up on the other team just for good luck.
Hey, look -- I'm not judging them. If I were that rich, I'd do it too. I'm a superstitious guy myself, and I understand the desire to get the mojo in your favor, but let's not pretend that Alabama is favored for any other reason.
Brown: Now, now Coach. That's awful gracious of you to try to defer like that, but you know as well as I do that we raise and spend all that money because of feelings of inadequacy. We're nouveau riche, and everyone knows it.
Saban: Typical old money grace, right there, folks. Texas is the king and we feel graced to be in its presence.
Brown: In a world without Alabama, you might be right. Lord knows we wish we could be so fine a state. But hell, our legislature only meets once every two years!
Saban: Our schools barely teach kids to read!
Brown: Houston's the most polluted city in the country!
Saban: You could fit our entire state in the city of Houston!
Brown: [The press begins to file out of the room] We have delusions of being an independent country!
Saban: [The room is almost empty now] We have delusions of 12 national titles!
Brown: [Looks around, realizes the room is empty.] You're good, Nick. Damn, damn good. That was as fierce an underdog battle as I've ever experienced.
Saban: You were better. My God, Mack. You memorized Bruce Feldman's book?
Brown: King Lairus?? Are you kidding me? I thought --
Saban: Laius. King Laius.
Brown: King Saban, for all I care. That was some good sh*t. Never seen anything like that before.
Saban: I have to say, I wasn't sure I could come back with anything after that nouveau riche line. That was unbelievable.
Brown: You're being kind. My favorite was when you said that...