Mack Brown took a mostly conservative approach to the Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday.
If you were looking for Mack Brown, a head coach with his back against the wall, to say something monumental at Big 12 Media Days then you came away disappointed. What you did get was that he is confident in his Texas Longhorns, and especially in David Ash.
Taking the stage in Dallas, Brown was as comfortable as ever in front of the Big 12 media. He answered his questions and displayed confidence in his team with a major 2013 season less than 40 days away.
At the same time, everything Texas' head coach said was not much different than anything we have heard before.
There were the typical comments that we have been hearing for three years, chief among them being the need to achieve run-pass balance and his usual musings regarding the Big 12 being more balanced than the SEC, bolstered by this handy little stat:
Mack Brown said that the top 7 SEC teams beat the bottom 7 teams to a win-loss record of 30-0. He believes the Big 12 is much more balanced.— Will McKay (@WMK74) July 23, 2013
Then came the stuff that Brown has been saying all offseason. He wants the team to run 80 plays per game, that pace will lead to an improved defense and he wants all three tailbacks to have a role in the offense.
In fact, if there is any real takeaway from what Brown had to say today, it was his resounding faith in David Ash. He liked what he saw from the junior signal-caller last season and believes he is ready to take command of the up-tempo scheme, even going as far as to throw out this challenge for his quarterback:
Mack Brown referenced past dominant QB play of Vince Young and Colt McCoy and said, "That's our expectation for David (Ash)."— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) July 23, 2013
Whether that is genuine or simply a motivational ploy, putting Ash in the same sentence as two of the top three quarterbacks in school history is certainly noteworthy.
But that caps Brown's most interesting statements of the day, as his Longhorns eagerly await their chance to do their talking on the field.
OVERALL GRADE: B
As usual, Brown did a good job in front of the media and did so without tipping his hat. His issues with the SEC became a distraction, however.
Lost in what Brown said about the offense was the role of the electric Daje Johnson, who will certainly cut into the touches of the other three running backs, or what role, if any, he would be exploring with Tyrone Swoopes now that the team is down to three quarterbacks.
He was also able to avoid discussing in any detail how the defense would change with the losses of Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor. Instead, he focused on the decision to bring back Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator.
Most importantly, he kept the attention off of his job security and directed it more toward the confidence he has in his entire program.
Three issues prevent Brown from getting a top-notch score, the first being his continued excuse-making for what has happened the past three years.
That's what the comments about the SEC and the "balance" of the Big 12 are really about.
The continued obsession with Alabama and the loss in the 2009 national championship is also becoming a little bizarre. He mentioned the inability to run in that loss when talking about the running backs, and also attributed 'Bama's recent run of success to its staff size right after he just added a third position to his.
Brown's final SEC-like misstep came when he denied that he ever wanted his running game to be, well, SEC-like according to ESPN's David Ubben. Even though those were not his exact words back in 2012, that is what he has done and he has hired four coaches with SEC experience to implement it.
This is not to say that Brown has done wrong by hiring more staff and trying to build a power run game. It is the excuses and the self-contradictions that make him look bad, and a lot of it stems from the animosity between the Big 12 and SEC.
On the whole, Brown represented the school and his players well. Now all they have to do in return is represent him as well or better on the field in September.