College football coaches often times tell their teams to not listen to anything the media says. But the Texas coaches had a different approach last weekend.
Prior to heading to the stadium to face Rice Saturday, the Longhorns sat down as a group as the coaches put on a video of all of the criticism the media has been throwing at Texas.
The reaction was what you would expect from competitive athletes.
“I was disgusted. Our pregame video was just bad,” Malik Jefferson said. “It had us freshmen really angry. It was embarrassing. We finally saw it because we don’t normally keep track of what is said or what the media does. It was depressing. You don’t want that so it makes you want to bounce back and do something great.”
“It just makes us all mad. To sit there and look at all of these guys – reporters, analysts, whatever you want to call them – and they’re looking from the outside in saying, ‘This is a horrible team. They just aren’t good. They aren’t recovering. They are a bottom of the barrel team,’” safety Dylan Haines said. “We look at ourselves and know we aren’t the best team in college football or anywhere near what we would like to be. We know what we need to work on. Anything that is said outside of the program isn’t going to affect the way we work, or affect our view of where we can be. They showed us those things and it pisses us off, it pisses me off. It makes us want to go out and prove people wrong.”
There wasn’t one particular comment that “pissed off” Haines, but Jefferson has held onto something a media member in Chicago said following the Longhorns loss to Notre Dame.
“They said a high school team could beat us. That’s so disrespectful. A guy from Chicago said it. I really wish his high school would come play us.”
The video Texas compiled featured comments from members of radio, television and print/internet media. Jefferson’s immediate reaction was to not sit down and take it.
“I was trying not to just get up and yell at everybody. You have a lot of pride when it comes to this place and playing for this program. For people to say the University of Texas could probably be beat by a high school team … (Shakes his head.)”
People will likely criticize the coaches for focusing on what is being said outside of the program. In fact, one person immediately tweeted me saying, “Texas coaches need to spend more time ‘coaching’ …” My guess is others will have a similar opinion. But there’s a method to the coaches’ madness, and it seems like that method was to get the players angry, which worked in their favor.
“It pisses us off that people think we aren’t anywhere in contention. Like we’re in the middle of the pack in the Big 12,” Haines said. “It gives us fire. It motivates us and pisses people off and makes us better. At the end of the day, it’s the players. You can talk about the coaches but it’s the players. When you’re on the field it’s 11-on-11 so it’s on us. We have to be better.”
Whether you agree with this tactic or not, it worked to get the team fired up for the Rice game. It is yet to be determined if it will work moving forward, but for right now, the Longhorns are on a mission to prove the critics wrong.
“You cannot do anything about these people who go on ESPN and are talking bad about you. They don’t know anything that is going on inside the program. It’s all predictions and assumptions,” Haines said. “I don’t pay attention to it because I see how inaccurate they can be, but it gives us more fire to go out and prove people wrong and show what we can do.”