"This time last year we were sitting here, getting ready for an open date, and by Wednesday our lives had all changed.
Our players, coaches, and our staff want to say that our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost people this time last year because what a tough and emotional week they're going to have.
College football was changed last year in this week and also all of our lives were changed, including our children and our grandchildren. Things are just different now than they were; trying to get on planes and into stadiums, things are different because of this week.
We also want to thank all the people in the military because their lives have changed in what they're doing to protect us, and to let us think about a football game instead of trying to protect our own lives.
This week will have a lot of meaning for a lot of people for a long time, and that's something we've thought a lot about.
On that day, we were sitting (in the athletic offices) watching film because we had the open date when all of a sudden (Assistant Athletics Director for Football Operations) Arthur Johnson came in and said, "Coach, a plane has hit the World Trade Center." My first thought was that someone had a heart attack or that some plane got out of hand and that I hope everybody's okay." Then he walked back in and said, "It's bigger than that."
I asked our staff to get on the phone immediately and tried to think of any kids we had with parents working in the New York City area, specifically Chris Simms to make sure his parents were okay. I knew Phil (Simms) worked downtown.
We called a two o'clock team meeting that afternoon. (Men's Athletics Director) DeLoss (Dodds) had counselors there to talk to the kids and we were able to talk people at the White House to find out what they thought had happened. We knew the kids were going to be scared.
We felt like after our experience with (the death of Longhorn defensive end) Cole Pittman that we needed to give them as much information as we could without scaring them. They had so many questions, so basically we tried to get the kids to sit down to tell them what we knew.
The counselors suggested that we go out and do something to keep them from watching TV for the next three hours, so we took the pads off and practiced for about 90 minutes to get them a little tired and to get them away from the TV until we knew more of what was going on. We met with them again that night to tell them more of what we knew and to make sure everyone was okay. We told them to call their parents immediately, and most of them had already done that. Sally's and my children were calling us, saying ‘We're scared', so we knew it was effecting everybody's lives."
[Editor's note: Click here to read Thoughts on life and loss, originally published here on InsideTexas.com on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001.]