Off The Hook - Texas Longhorns® Vmag

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Return of the Golden Hat

The locker room singing was only a prelude to the on-field high notes that led to a long-awaited victory against arch rival Oklahoma. Look for more insights from the Insider coming up this week and get the whole Red River Shootout experience in Vmag!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Getting in the Right Position...

When I talked to Mack on Monday, his voice was really scratchy. "You okay?" "Sure," he said. “My allergies kick in like this every year in Austin about now. Everybody just thinks it has to do with Oklahoma.”

Everybody thinks everything has to do with the Oklahoma game this week. At least everybody in the states of Texas and Oklahoma and across the college football landscape. But as questionable as Mack’s actual voice sounded, I couldn’t say the same about his confidence. Nothing cocky, just comfortable...assured...knowing.

Texas recruits and those hoping to be will listen for anything and everything in Mack’s voice this week. They’ll listen in the all-pervasive interviews. They’ll listen and watch him on the sidelines in the 4th quarter. Three of the last four years going into the last quarter, 6 points or less separated the two teams. They’ll hope to detect anything that will reinforce that their Longhorns commitments or that their dreams to be one are well placed.

For those lucky fans who get next week’s Vmag, you’ll hear Mack’s locker room comments before the game, at halftime and in the swirl of emotion after the last seconds tick off the clock. Frankly, after what I heard in the Ohio State locker room, I can’t wait.

I can tell you this: Whether it’s Mack talking or Duane Akina and Mac McWhorter teaching their players in the weekly position meetings featured in this week’s Vmag, I hope you’ll hear what I do. It’s hard to describe but it’s there; a real cohesiveness, real belief. They believe in each other and what they can and will do together. They believe in this team.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Celebrity Has It's Challenges...

Imagine hundreds of people writing down every word that comes out of your mouth - intentional and unintentional. They’re all covering Texas football.

Imagine being bone-weary then immediately having to summon focus and clarity of thought for 20 minutes of intense, probing questions.

Imagine just wanting to get the heck out and celebrate but first, your every thought and word will be sliced and diced and served up to millions of adoring fans and rabid critics.

I’m talking about dealing with the media! The hype before the season was intense enough. Now with each win, the media spotlight promises to only get brighter. So the Vmag Insider decided it was time to give fans an inkling of the reality. (Click player above to view video.)

“Embrace the expectations of Texas.” That was Mack’s immediate response when I asked him, “How do you deal with the program’s enormous and ever present media scrutiny?”

Interacting with the media is so fundamental to being a member of the Texas football program that they provide annual media training for its student-athletes. After all, football players turn out to be the most prominent face and voice of the university for millions. And while they’re only talking about football, playing for UT has become the platform to sell themselves, their passions and the program worldwide. As longtime UT football spokesman Bill Little pointed out to me, Mack does more interviews on a given week than anyone in the country (including maybe even the President of the United States).

He says his nature is to cut up but he learned early on in Austin that’s not an option. In fact, his friends now complain, "You don’t smile enough…you don’t cut up as much as you used to.” His response: “I’m representing Texas and if that means giving up some of my individuality, then so be it. Texas is bigger than me.” Mack must have heard Thomas Jefferson's quote, “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself a public property.”

In the latest Vmag issue, Mack candidly talks about how he and the team deal with the media, day in and day out. And you’ll hear directly from the mouths of elite national sports journalists; What do they really expect from Longhorns players and coaches?

According to Mack, fair is unimportant when it comes to how Texas is portrayed in the media. Perception is important because the public’s perception of Texas is very real! Which is why the Longhorns Sports Information professionals are among the very best in the country and are guaranteed to play a vital role at the University of Texas Athletic Department until the last bevo is in the barn.

Check back here next week for the Longhorns’ Vmag Insider vlog (video blog) for a glimpse of what goes on in the defensive backs and offensive line position meetings and the essentials to prepare for the big games ahead.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Inside the Locker Room - Longhorns Style

Longhorn fans strained behind the chain link fence outside the Ohio State visitors’ locker room. It was really late and I’m sure they were wondering what the players were doing. How could it take so long to shower and change? I know that more than once, like any other fan, I sat through half time wondering, what in the world Coach would say to turn things around on the field?

As the Longhorns Vmag Insider, I don’t wonder anymore because Vmag cameras and I are actually inside and frankly, in awe! Every week the Insider goes behind the scenes of the Texas football program…really behind the scenes… and it sure has been an eye opener. After seeing the difference in the mood of the locker room during the first few games, I asked Coach Brown how he did what he did. Does he plan his comments or are they spontaneous? Is it insight or instinct that wins out?

Check out the photos of defensive tackle, Frank Okam and defensive end, Nic Redwine. Can’t you just feel the intensity? Then on the other hand, Vince really has a way of lightening things up at just the right moment. Check out Mack’s comments on locker room talks in this week’s video magazine.

Colin Powell once said, “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible”. Sometimes that’s revving the team and staff up and at other times, calming them down. In the Longhorns’ locker room, the atmosphere and the comments have been remarkably different than what I expected.

I’m convinced that the locker room is a sanctum stamped with the personality of its team; players, coaches and staff. At home, Texas even has a combination lock installed outside the door telling players that they have control over who does and doesn’t enter “their house”. Not a bad house (and what a team)!

Join the Vmag Insider here each week during the season for glimpses of the most current Longhorns Vmag issue and you’ll see what’s really behind the success of Texas Football. Next week, check back here to get a feel for the growing intensity of the media spotlight on Texas and how it plays out for the team.