No Comment: Horns Not Talking 'Til After Rice Game

They say it's nothing personal, but the Longhorns are giving you the silent treatment -- until after the Rice game. An impromptu gathering of the Leadership Council (consisting of player representatives from each class) following Tuesday's practice resulted in a four-day, self-imposed gag order prohibiting football players from talking to the media. The intent, head coach <B>Mack Brown </B>said, is to focus on Rice and to get the season back on track following the Sept. 13 home loss to Arkansas.

"The Leadership Committee and the seniors decided they wanted to focus on the game and not have any distractions this week," Brown said. "They needed to get to the job at hand and that’s playing well against Rice."

Added Brown, "We’ve got good leaders. What we need to do is look at Saturday night and see how we play. That’s the important thing."

The last time players decided not to speak to media was in 1986 during Fred Akers last season as head coach. Then, several players were upset about the media reports about players selling football tickets plus other alleged disciplinary problems on the team. But this decision has more to do with focusing on football, Brown said.

"In talking to Roy (Williams) and the seniors," Brown reported, "they just said they didn’t want any distractions this week and that it was important that we got back on track and they wanted to make sure they watched films and study Rice and practice really hard and didn’t talk about the game but played well in the game."

The decision comes as a surprise, given the reaction (or, lack thereof) of several players during Monday’s press luncheon. Yesterday, several athletes said there had been no team meetings among players; nor was any planned. There would be no called session of the Leadership Council because, "I don’t think we have any issues right now," senior SE Roy Williams said Monday.

Some underclassmen said they were not aware of older players privately exhorting, or encouraging, younger athletes following the loss.

Senior DT Marcus Tubbs said Monday that coaches handled the Arkansas loss "just like any other game" and that the post-game meetings amounted to "a positive day overall."

"We did lose but there were some good things in the game," Tubbs said. "Obviously, there were some bad things in the games. But they praised us on the good things that we did but they also emphasized on the negatives that we did and how we need to fix them."

Sophomore DT Rodrique Wright said Monday, "It was just really, really quiet. Everyone was still kind of disappointed."

Wright said coaches attributed the loss to Arkansas’ heightened level of intensity and to a handful of Longhorn breakdowns at inopportune times.

Players do not divulge who is on the Leadership Council (but we know Roy Williams is on it). While it was also not revealed who called the session Tuesday, only seniors can convene it (according to what QB Chance Mock said Monday).

"We’ve got a group of seniors that are trying to get back on track and make everybody focus and make everybody understand that football is really important here and that we need to win," Brown said. "So, I think that’s what their decision was."

It’s still puzzling that Williams would say on Monday that there is no need to convene the Council. It makes you wonder if Brown, a-hem, suggested that the Council convene. And it would not be a stretch to say that Brown was not happy with way the media reported the loss to Arkansas. But he also said Tuesday that was "not at all" a coaches’ decision and that he had just found out about it.

"That’s their decision," Brown said. "That’s something they wanted to do."

Bottom line: if the players’ decision is not simply a matter of symbolism over substance, then this is a good thing. If that is the case, then they know it should not be business as usual this week at the Forty Acres. It means they are determined not to let anything like the Arkansas game happen again.

But if the gag order was something Brown suggested because he was mad at the media, then this is a misdirected distraction that the players do not need as they attempt to right the ship.

Let us hope that it is the former.

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