Monday, September 19, 2011
Mack Brown wants Big 12 survival
By ESPN.com staff
Texas coach Mack Brown admits he's stayed out of most of the realignment fracas this time around, leaving the behind-the-scenes work to "really good bosses that understand conference realignment better than I do," in president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
But Monday, Brown made his thoughts on the future of football in Texas clear.
"I think the University of Texas wants to stay in the Big 12, and I want us to stay in the Big 12," Brown said, "because it’s about our players and our players’ parents have a better chance to see them play if we’re in a regional conference, and our high school coaches have a better chance to see them play."
Brown reiterated those concerns repeatedly on the Big 12 coaches' teleconference on Monday, adding that he was also concerned about problems that might arise for fans with a change in conferences for Texas.
"We’d better go back and make sure we’re taking care of the players, and that the players and high school coaches are always considered in the equation, because if not, we’re not going to have a game," he said. "They’re the ones that are playing. And for parents to travel all the way across the country is going to put a bigger burden on them."
Texas' board of regents was scheduled to meet on Monday and planned to discuss the issue of conference realignment, and though Brown didn't explicitly discuss the prospect of Texas joining the Pac-12, ACC or any other league, he's making it clear which side he's on.
"Right now, with the regional leagues, the parents can go see their kids play. And that’s really important, because these kids are working their guts out year round for us to have a show on Saturday," he said. "The people really enjoy it and college football is as great as it's even been, but we better keep considering what’s in the best interest of the players, or at some point, they’re going to get so frustrated, it won’t be fun for them."
A change in leagues may mean a change in recruiting strategies for programs across the country, though Brown says that won't be the case for Texas.
"We’re a school that a lot of kids want to go to regardless of what conference we’re in," Brown said. "I don’t think it’s about recruiting for our schools in the league. All of the schools that are recruiting well here will continue to recruit well."
He also expressed concern that some of the game's history may be lost, getting nostalgic about his days watching players like O.J. Simpson make history in the Rose Bowl, where Texas beat UCLA 49-20 on Saturday.
"I’m afraid some of the guys growing up won’t have that same feeling about some of the passion that you have right now if we continue to change leagues and continue to change rivals," he said.