Brown: All On Board For Rose Bowl

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The first thing Texas coach Mack Brown wanted the sports media to know Friday was that all of his Longhorns have qualified academically for the Rose Bowl BCS National Championship Game and, as far as he is concerned, recent off-the-field distractions are a non-issue. Brown also said RB Jamaal Charles is "100 percent" healthy for the first time since the OU game.

"I'm proud that our team did what they had to do academically," Brown said. "You can flip on the TV at night and see so many young people who are not eligible for their bowl games. What an awful thing for a young man to play for a lifetime to get to this point and not be able to play."

Shortly after the Big 12 Championship Game, beat writers privately discussed unpublished reports that had begun to surface of possible academic casualties, specifically among a couple of offensive starters. However, it must be noted that a player may be eligible for bowl competition but not necessarily for spring drills. The UT academic semester begins January 17. But Brown expects a full arsenal at his disposal when Texas and USC meet for the BCS National Championship on January 4.

Brown also believes Charles has returned to early-season football form. The Port Arthur product rushed for 405 yards in just under three games before suffering an ankle injury against the Sooners on October 8.

"Jamaal is 100 percent for the first time since the Oklahoma game," Brown said. "He gave us the 80-yard touchdown run in the Oklahoma game. USC is so fast that we need fast backs to try and match their speed on the field. A slow guy is not going to do well on Wednesday. The slow guys will be on the boundaries there with me."

The league's coaches choice as the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, Charles is fifth on the school's freshman rushing chart with 844 yards on 114 carries. His 7.4 ypc ranks fifth among the nation's top 100 runners. His 11 rushing TDs is tied for second on Texas' freshman list.

As far as the alleged off-the-field incidents brought to light two weeks ago in which RCB Cedric Griffin and RB Ramonce Taylor were mentioned as part of an Austin Police Department investigation, Brown says the team can handle it. No charges were filed following an alleged assault and robbery.

"There's been a lot of attention put on the distractions for this week," Brown said. "These two programs get as much attention, day-to-day, in college football as any in America. If there are any two programs that can handle the kind of attention that some people call 'distractions', it would be these. The kids come to Texas and SC for this kind of week so, really, they embrace it. Our guys, and certainly USC has done it, will play up to expectations more than let there be distractions."

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