|First let me say I’m sorry, I’m overdressed. This is a much more relaxed group than I was told, DeLoss. I’m 56 years old. I’ve been a head football coach for 24 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever been honored to be asked to speak to a group like this of faculty. I’m really excited about it. I was taken back a little bit when President Powers and DeLoss and I were sitting one night and…. Being a head football coach at 31 years old, I was told you do not call faculty--you do not get involved with faculty because of their perception that you may be trying to get a grade. You can invite faculty to your office, you can invite faculty to your practice, you can take faculty on your trip, but you do not have a conversation with faculty when you have students in their classes. So, to a fault, I’m very seldom up on campus. I know very few of you. And when President Powers started saying “Do you know this professor?” I said “No.” “Do you know this professor?” “No.” “Well you need to get out more.” And, I think that’s true. So, again, I’m here because I was asked to be by DeLoss, but I did ask he and President Powers if there would be opportunities for me to get more involved with the faculty, and I look forward to those opportunities if it fits with you. Because I think it’s something, after 10 years, that we can do a better job of in my shop. And, let me assure you, that it has not been on purpose--it has been more because I felt it was the right thing to do. You will never ever have a faculty member talk to you about lack of integrity from myself to the faculty members, and if they say I called them, they’re lying because I never have.
We can move on from there. I just want to tell you a little bit about who we are, and then David, Mary, and I could answer some questions at the end because I’d rather answer your questions than spend a lot of your time talking about things that may not be as important to you. I tried to write down the things that were important about football to me…and the mission. When DeLoss hired me, I said, “Why are you hiring me?” And, he said, “Because from what I hear, the graduation rates at North Carolina for ten years were all above 70% and the experiences of those kids were good and the team was winning.” And, I said, “So what’s the most important thing for you here?” And, I’ll never forget what he said: “The experiences of the kids--I want the experiences of the student athletes on this campus to be really good.” Well, what I learned at Texas, unless you win, you’re not going to be here to share that experience. So, all of that fits in there somewhere together.
One of the most important things is, that without football filling the stands, getting TV and bowl revenue, it’s impossible for our other sports to be able to spend the amount of money they need to spend to be successful. So, there’s no question that I feel pressure as the head football coach each week to make sure that our fans keep coming and that we do live up to a certain standard. And, DeLoss has enough money that he can make sure that all of our other sports are supported so we can hire the best women’s basketball coach in the country and we can hire the best ladies’ golf coach in the country. And, part of that comes back to football because if we don’t sell the seats, then it’s easier to get rid of me than it is, very honestly, to take the hit on the finances. So, that part of our job is truly a business.
Secondly, our chancellor at North Carolina, Michael Hooker, who came from the University of Massachusetts system, said once to me that football, even at the University of North Carolina, is a window that the world sees universities through, whether we like it or not. I asked John Bianco to give me some figures. There will be 50 million people who either watch or listen to our games each fall...50 million that get an impression about our university. Maybe some already were tied into it, and some obviously were not. Some saw my son run out on the field at the bowl game. You know it’s hard to fire your wife’s son--that’s not easy to do, and so we had that discussion. We are very, very visible. And, on days where we’re doing positive things, what a great opportunity to get people interested in our University because many that give to the academic side got attached to students on the athletic side. And, we’ve looked at that for many, many years. So, there’s absolutely no doubt that the two sides work together when it’s positive. When it’s negative, we’ve got 50 million people that see us in a bad light. You can get a student athlete in football, who gets a DUI, and he’s on the front page of USA Today Sports and on ESPN for about three day—or it seems like it when I sit and have to look at it at home, when I get home. We have 10 million visitors on our website—that’s 10 million opportunities for us to try to tell people who we are because the perception is much different in sports, in many cases, than the reality.
What are our goals? To win with nice kids, who are graduating, and get them more prepared for life after football. No question about that. It’s been that way since I’ve been coaching in my 33 years. You start looking at what comes first; that would be the integrity. We will not break rules at The University of Texas. (Hey Patti, How are you? The lawyer walks in when I’m talking about rule violations.) But, we will not break rules at The University of Texas, and if for some reason, we made a poor choice (and Lori does a great job--she and Amy)…. If for some reason we made a poor choice, we’ll go take our punishment and leave immediately. But, we will not knowingly and willingly make decisions to take short cuts to win football game…hasn’t been done at The University of Texas and will not be done in the future. We hired Ken Rucker because we had some young kids get in trouble last summer, which was very, very bothersome to me because I’m responsible for them being here. These are good young men who maybe made poor decisions in their lives, and it’s really a shame for their parents more than anything else. We get bad publicity; the young men will suffer. I’m a parent of four...and, when a parent has his son make a poor decision that changes the direction of his life, what an awful thing! It’s no different than in your classrooms. We have since taken some really strong steps to try to do a better job in that area because it’s not been part of our past. One, DeLoss hired Ken Rucker, an older African American gentleman who is a coach on our staff, to be in high school relations but also to work with player personnel. And, he will actually come in a little bit later because he’ll eat lunch with the students; he’ll also eat dinner with the students and check rooms at night in the dorm. One of our problems is half our team lives off campus. If they’re doing the things they’re supposed to do, they have an opportunity to live off campus. So, we do not have as much control with curfew with the young men that are off campus as we do with those on campus. If they’re not acting right, we move them back where we can have more control of curfew.
We made them clean up all the MySpace, which scares me to death being a father. Two young female students came up to me about three years ago and said “Coach, you’re on MySpace--I’m one of your friends.” I didn’t have any idea what they were talking about, but my wife was with me, and it wasn’t good. I said, “Sally, whoa here now.” They said, “No you talk to us--you email us back and forth.” And, I said, “Ladies, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” So, we took it to Patti immediately, and someone had a Facebook with my name on it. They had 2,000 friends, and I didn’t have any idea what I was saying because I wasn’t involved with it. As of Friday, I think, a young football player at Wake Forest was kicked out of school for having a threat on his MySpace about a bomb on campus. So obviously, MySpace is a new problem for us. Drugs and alcohol--a large majority of our problems stem from drugs and alcohol. As we talk to coaches across the country, it’s no different whether it’s fighting, stealing, cheating on a test, missing class, being lazy, or having issues with females. Because date rape is prevalent in America right now and it’s a line that the young men can’t cross, we’ve tried hard with curfew. We take articles of young student athletes getting in trouble across the country, like the young man at Wake Forest, and we put them on each locker of every football player everyday and put, “The choice is yours--we hope you choose to stay at The University of Texas, and if you do, you are going to go by the rules.” We text message those same messages to every kid, and email it to their parents everyday. We have certain kids that are more at-risk kids that we call every night to make sure they’re in their rooms. We have people go by and sit and visit with them. So, we’re trying, as hard as we can, to make sure that we continue to help young men mature. Because in talking to President Powers, most of our freshman are the ones that get in trouble when they get to campus…it’s the first time they are away from home on our campus across the board. Some of the stories that I hear from our student athletes about parties scare me to death, especially for our grandchildren, because we’re at a point where we’ll have grandchildren here soon. I’m really worried about where we’re going in society with drugs and alcohol, and I think it’s a huge problem and one that we have not gotten control of yet.
The experience of the student athlete--we want that experience to be good. Like I said, he’s got to work. He has to have the experience of being an outstanding student. He has to have the opportunity to study. He needs to have the resources to be able to learn, and, at the same time, he has to practice hard. And, in many of cases, the young men enjoy the athletic part more than the academic part, so we have to tell them that you can’t have one without the other.
Another thing that’s very difficult about our modern day graduation rates is if a young man can make an NFL football team, he will be able to make a minimum of $285,000. That’s if he doesn’t get drafted, if he is on that team, and he participates. Now, if he graduates from The University of Texas, I’m not sure I can get him $285,000 to start out for minimum pay on his job. So, they would rather, in most cases, be ten hours short, go to the NFL, take a shot at making it, and come back, like Vince Young and Michael Griffin and a number of our young men are doing this spring. They would rather come back and try to graduate after the NFL experience is done or during that same time, and DeLoss has been able to give them opportunities.
They do work eight hours a week in the off season; usually for seven of those, they are in conditioning, and for one more, they are in meetings with their coaches. There is a 3-hour a week rule in the fall. We’re one of the few teams, and maybe the only one in the country, that doesn’t use our full 20 hours--usually we’re around 17. We don’t stay out on the field more than two hours. We like to think that our student athletes are smart enough that they can learn in a short period of time. If we’ve got more than that in, we’re probably taking too much time. The voluntary workouts in the summer are exactly what they sound like they are. We can’t take roll. The strength coach or Brian Davis cannot call me and tell me who is there and who is not there. Sometimes the kids call and say. “Coach, we can’t find so and so--he’s away.” I say, “That’s on you all; that’s not us.” At the same time, when you don’t have control in the summer...obviously, when you don’t have control of their athletic workouts, then at the same time you lose some control. If there’s concern about a young man not acting like we would want him to, I can’t even have a team meeting in the summer, and I can’t sit down with a student athlete in the summer because it’s supposed to be their time.
We also have a month of discretionary time. Most will be between the end of spring practice and the start of summer school, where they have thirty days when we cannot have involvement with them. We cannot ask them to be in the weight room. So, there is more free time than you would think. Our guys should not miss class because we do not start football practice until 3:30 or 4:00, and most of their classes finish by 2:00. If they have a night class, they actually leave the field by 5:00. We had two seniors this year, Billy Pittman and Frank Okam, who had classes on Tuesday and missed Tuesday’s practice completely. They were seniors and needed the classes, so they left and went to their classes and didn’t practice on the most important day that we have. We want them to play and we want them to win because their experiences are not as good unless they play. As I said, the minimum salary is $285,000 in the NFL, and we have 33 active guys over ten years in the NFL. A lot of those tell the stories to the current players. That’s good and bad because they say you can make this money, you have to work, but you can make it. So, all of the young men on the Texas football team think they are capable of playing professionally. And, I’ll tell you, most of their moms really like them. It’s amazing that I had a mom tell me once “I don’t care about the other ten kids, but I like mine.” And…I thought that’s probably fair. We want them to learn the life lessons because, like your students, ten years from now, when they send you pictures of their family and show that they’re successful, that’s what you really look back on and feel good about. You like to think that you did make a difference in somebody’s life.
Right now, we’re in the end of our recruiting time. I go to every high school of every young man that we have committed, and they will sign a scholarship next Wednesday. I go back by and see their favorite teachers. I will either walk down with them to their favorite teachers, counselors, secretaries…whoever helped them and changed their lives in the school. I walk up to the teacher and say, “You have changed this young man’s life--you’ve been very instrumental in this young man’s life, and I’m just here to say thank you because its harder for him to say it than me, and he’s standing back here, but he wanted me to do this.” It’s amazing how emotional the teachers get when they know that they’ve changed somebody’s life. That is a good moment for them. We have nine of the young student athletes that are already in school this semester. We’ve gone to those nine schools and made sure that we walked through those classes. We got a list of the people that were important to them in high school and walked through the halls and found those people, usually with the principal, the athletic director, and the coach.
Fundraising--there is absolutely no doubt that Joe Jamail likes football. Joe Jamail has given millions of dollars to this University. He’s probably griped at me more than some of you in your class work. I get a call on Sunday night, critiquing our defense and offense, from Joe. But, the Joe Jamails and the Red McCombses are very important to our University, and they do cross over. They do get very involved in athletics, and they get very involved in the academics. There’s no doubt that when we won the National Championship, we didn’t need help in admissions, but there were more applications. I was on a survey for the state of Mississippi in the 70s that the president asked me, as an assistant football coach, to be on. A lot of the kids chose schools in Mississippi at that time because of the sports programs and the parties thereafter with winning teams. It was sad that was what we found, but people want to be a part of something that is really, really good. A lot of those donors start with athletics, and they work back to the academic side when they get to know you and see what you’re doing in your department.
Sally and I are very involved with the UTeach program. I don’t know if there’s anyone in here involved with that program, but my granddad was a high school coach, a superintendent, and a principal. My dad was a high school coach for one year. He went 0 and 10, so he quickly became the principal, and he became the superintendent. I grew up in a family of teachers, and it’s really, really important that we do have opportunities to give back. It’s really, really important to us that you’re proud of your University. There was discussion earlier about transparency, but we would encourage you to come down for practice anytime you want to. Anything that we’ve got in our building, it’s available for you. Please come if you’re interested in looking. David Fowler has been down and Patti’s been down. We’ve gone over the recruiting board and sometimes we have to cover the names up for confidentiality and their grades. But what we’re looking for, so you will know, is a balance and diversity for a student athlete. He has to be good enough to beat all the teams we need to beat. He has to have athletic ability or we would not go back to that school. We like for each one of our guys to have over a 3.0 in the core. Not all the schools are the same academically. And, when you go to a small school and the guy has a 3.7 and has trouble reading but gets to Texas and really struggles, as Randa was talking about when students come from a very small school to one with 37,000 students, the transition period is very difficult. But, we have found that when we get 3.0 and above in the core, we’ve had a great success rate--over 95%. At the same time, we’ve found…and, Sally and I have looked at every transcript for the 24 years I’ve been a head coach…we’ve found that test scores were not a good evaluator of who made it and who did not make it. It’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s factual. In fact, the biggest flag was the really, really high test score and the really, really low core, because that meant the student was lazy--very bright but lazy. Those kids have had a lot of trouble. Every time we take one, it’s my decision, and I kick myself when he is here and he’s lazy because he sent that message to us coming in. We like for them to come from a good program because, if they acted right, they have had structure, and if they won in high school, there is a better opportunity for them to play early here. Those are the types of things we’re looking for here.
We want family values. We found out that having two parents is not the answer. Probably most of our kids have two parents, but we’ve also found out that enabling parents are sometimes worse than no parents. We’ve got some kids that are absolutely spoiled rotten. I walked by one the other day, and he was on his iPhone ordering clothes, and mom and dad didn’t even know it. Now, he’s one with a really high-test score and a really low core, but he’s smart enough to choose those clothes off that iPhone. But, at the same time that we want strength, we want values in the family. We will not take a young man when we know there is a discipline problem with a coach or we know that there’s a discipline problem with the law. Period. When we have found one of those, we have pulled a scholarship back at that time for those reasons. We have had maybe two opportunities in ten years, or occasions that came up, where a high school coach, a superintendent, and a principal lied to us because they thought that the kid would do well here in our program. So, they didn’t give us all the information, and the recruit was under age so we couldn’t get the accurate information. When it came out later that the student had some previous problems, we asked the superintendent, the principal, and the coach for an explanation, and all three said, “He needed to get out of here, and we thought your program had enough structure that he’d have a chance to make it.” It did not happen that way. You like to have somebody with confidence. You need young men to handle the pressure of your classes when you’ve got the top 10% of all students across the state and some in the country. They need to handle the pressure, the media, and they need to handle the pressure of winning at Texas. They need to be able to speak to the media after games. You need to be proud of them when they do, and that’s really, really important.
So, in closing, we want to win. It’s very important that we win because the experience of the young men is not good if we don’t. I’ve tried it both ways. Mine’s not either, but theirs sure isn’t. In fact, my wife has got an architectural design degree from Berkley, and when she married me, she had never seen a football game. Of course, now she is calling plays, so she’s become a Texas fan, but I will never forget her comment, “I don’t care about whether the kids win or not--I want them to have fun.” After a year where we didn’t do so well, she said it’s obvious they’re not going to have fun unless they win. So, now she wants them to win and that has helped. We want it to be within the rules…with integrity. We want good kids. We want to bring honor to your University. At the same time, we want great exposure for these kids so they can have a better life and be more prepared for life when they get out of here…because that’s an obligation that we have. David and Mary, if you could come up and see if we have any questions. Thank you. I didn’t know until I got over here that I’m the first coach that’s ever done this…so that’s pressure. Questions?