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DALLAS -- Early on in his relationship with his new head coach, Quandre Diggs told Charlie Strong the unvarnished truth about what ailed Texas: Some Texas players were in it for the wrong reasons.
The senior cornerback and three-year starter told reporters the same thing Tuesday at Big 12 media days. Diggs is convinced the reason for the Longhorns' recent woes has everything to do with the buy-in from its players.
"I told Coach Strong that I just feel like we had guys on the team that just didn't love football the way they should. That's something that I've always sensed since I've been here: We had guys that just didn't love football," Diggs said. "If you don't love football, you don't need to be a part of this university or a part of this team. That's just something I feel greatly and strong about.
|"If you don't love football, you don't need to be a part of this university or a part of this team," Longhorns senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said.|
"I'm one of those guys where, you don't need to give me a pep talk to go out and play the game I love. I want to go out there, I want to be tough, I want to be physical with guys. I think when I'm healthy I'm one of the best players in the country, no doubt about it. I have a voice on this team and it means a lot and I say what I want to say around these guys. Those guys look up to me. Guys that don't respect it, I really don't care."
What happened to the guys who didn't love football? Have they all been removed from the picture? Diggs isn't looking to name names, but said simply: "If you don't love football, you're not going to play here."
Diggs has little sympathy for the players who will get singled out by Strong's staff for not buying in and getting their jobs done.
"I want to weed guys out. That's just me," Diggs said. "I'm an up-front person. All my teammates know me. I'm going to tell you how I feel. I'm not going to jab at anything. I'm going to take an uppercut, take the hardest swing I can take, and I'll try to knock you out.
"I don't sugarcoat anything just like [Strong's coaches] don't sugarcoat anything. That's just how I am, how I was born, how I was raised. I love the way they're taking the approach of getting guys out of here that don't belong."
Diggs calls this "New Texas." He said he has nothing but love for Mack Brown and his former assistants. He grew up around them as the brother of NFL defensive back Quentin Jammer. But Diggs welcomes all of the change.
"Heck, if it was up to me and Coach Strong asked me, I'd help him weed guys out," he said.
If teammates don't buy in, if they can't meet the commitment, Diggs says there's nothing he can do for them.
"I feel like the most humbling place you can be is on the bench," he said. "You ought to humble yourself if you're on the bench. You shouldn't get no recognition if you're not playing. You should swing the towel and accept it and be happy they're paying for your school. If you came to the University of Texas, you should be a great football player that wants to go out and compete each and every week. That's how I look at it.
"I came in with a chip on my shoulder. Still have that chip on my shoulder. I'll always have that chip on my shoulder. That's just the way I am. I feel like some guys have had things given to them throughout their life. I've lived a great life, I have a brother that takes care of me, but I don't want to live off my brother. I want to live my own life and be successful."
The cornerback is uniquely qualified to level such complaints about complacency. Diggs has been around the program since he was 5 years old -- the little brother of Jammer who always tagged along -- and that's what makes this topic so personal.
Throughout the transition, with strength coach Pat Moorer and the rest of the staff turning up the expectation for intensity, Diggs admits there's been conflict in the weight room and locker room. He sees this as necessary and healthy, and hopes it offers reason to believe Texas' players can get this program back on track.
"There's 125 alpha males in there and everybody wants to be the man," Diggs said. "If you don't think you're the man, you're weak-minded. That's just the way it is, you're going to have conflict. Heck, I get into conflict every week. I talk a lot of trash. I try to say whatever I can just to get under somebody's skin and make those guys push us even harder."