"They were just young and didnt understand," Williams said. "Being a senior leader, I helped those guys understand. They had to know that we have to win, man. Were in the same boat as the Miamis and the Tennessees and the Florida States and the Oklahomas. The top notch."
Last Monday, Williams said there was no need to convene the teams Leadership Council (comprised of select players from each class) because he said the team "didnt have any issues." But after spending the next 24 hours with his peers, he began to detect a nonchalant attitude among some of the younger players regarding the Arkansas loss. As such, the Council was convened following last Tuesdays practice and part of the result was a decision that players would not speak to the media until after the Rice game.
"They did it without asking (coaches)," head coach Mack Brown said. "Their reason was right, but it wasnt a boycott of the media as much as it was, Were tired of talking about Arkansas. Were tired of negatives. Were working on Rice, so why do we keep getting asked questions about why we cant run and all the things we cant do? We need to talk about the things we can do. I think that was just a statement from the guys who were here four and five years."
The heightened fan and media interest surrounding Texas football creates an environment in which folks are "too angry when we lose and too excited when we win," Brown continued. "(Athletes) have got to live in a world thats different from that."
Williams would not disclose the identities of the players whom he believed did not share his high expectations for winning, but said, "Some of them probably came from high schools where they didnt win, so they dont know how to handle it here. Everybody comes from a different background, so sometimes you have to just state the fact and learn from that."
Williams also re-stated what he fully expects to be fact by seasons end.
"I told them that were going to run the table," Williams said, repeating his promise made to sports writers last week.
So convinced is Williams that Texas will win out that he has all but measured his finger for the national championship ring. This, despite Texas dropping a notch to No. 14 in the recent AP Poll. (A writer suggested to Williams that Texas fell because of the players decision not to talk to media last week.)
"We can drop all we want to," Williams said, "but I know that at the end of the year when we still have just one loss sitting there, well be No. 1 in the country."
Brown told his players to act as if they were playing a national championship game every weekend. In effect, Brown is correct. A second loss clearly eliminates Texas from the chase while wins over top-ranked Oklahoma and nationally ranked Nebraska and Kansas State would make Texas one of a half-dozen contenders by mid-November.
"Youve got to match (opponents) energy," Brown told his troops. "Youve got to play great. You cant turn the ball over. Preseason polls are ridiculous. Nobody knows whats going on because coaches dont even know how good their teams are until mid-season."
In addition to Williams self-appointed sessions of reality therapy with younger players, the Arkansas loss was a sobering reality for the majority of the team and, as such, a source of renewed focus (if not, hunger).
"Wed won so many games at home that they didnt think they could (lose)," Brown said. "They thought during the game that they still were going to win. You never want to lose, but sometimes it does get you back to reality. You understand that you win because you played good. You dont win because youre Texas at home. I thought some of that happened (against Arkansas). You cant give up the plays that we gave up. You cant give up three turnovers and win it. If that happens this weekend, were going to be beat again."
Texas next opportunity to put its money where its mouthpiece is comes from an improving 3-1 Tulane team, 6 p.m. (CDT) at DKR (TBS broadcast).
"We all got a lesson in winning football games again," Brown added.
Part of that lesson, of course, came courtesy of Professor Roy Williams.