JB: The leaders on this team aren't in traditional positions. A good quarterback has a winning attitude and is a leader like Vince, and that easily spills down to the rest of the team. Who are the seniors on this year's team? (SE) Limas Sweed is a young senior in football terms; he's till learning how to play wide receiver. It's hard for him to be a 'rah rah' guy. There are older guys on the D-line and on the linebackers. But I think just the position of quarterback, or safety, or middle linebacker, it's easier to have leadership at those positions. (QB) Colt McCoy is a young guy amongst older players. Sometimes it's hard for the quarterback to step up and have that leadership role in an aggressive program like UT.
Q: You obviously started as a redshirt freshman. At what point in your career did you feel like you could assert yourself as a team leader?
JB: I think when I had to, I failed. That was my senior year (1997). All of my partners left. We had 22 guys leave the year before. We had Ricky (Williams) and Wane (McGarity), so we had a core. But Wane got hurt and Chris Akins got hurt. Well, maybe I didn't fail. I'm too hard on myself. I was just thinking that, during my senior year, I could have been more of a vocal leader. But I was a non-vocal leader. I preferred to lead by my play on the field. I was like, 'Y'all, play like me. Don't listen to me, just do like I do. Let's go.' We weren't winning and things weren't working right. I could have tried to have been more of a leader if I had other people talking to me about being a leader.
Q: Mack Brown has sponsored a resurgence in activity around the football program by former Texas standouts. How do you see yourself participating in this? In what areas do you help the kids currently in the program?
JB: You can only be so active. The rules are so tough. If I take one of the kids out to dinner, for example, he has to pay for himself. It's ridiculous things that you can't even do with normal friends. Because they're athletes, I can't treat them the way I'd like to or be around as much. I wouldn't want to infringe on any of the rules that would get any of those kids in trouble.
But I've been hearing things about Coach Brown wanting some of the older players around to maybe at least talk to the guys about how they're viewed in the city. That's something I'd want to do. I wouldn't mind going up there and talking to them. When I was at the Forty Acres, I thought that I could pretty much do anything. But Austin is a lot bigger than the Forty Acres. Everybody watches those Forty Acres. Those guys can get caught and actually think the rules of the city don't pertain to them. They can get caught into a situation real easily. So, I wouldn't mind talking to them. They sing 'The Eyes of Texas' all the time, but I really didn't know what 'The Eyes of Texas' was until I got out of school. By that I mean, the eyes of Texas are really upon those guys. I'd like to give back to the students because Coach Mack Brown helped me to get my degree. He's been a good friend.
Q: How has the academic side of things changed since you were playing?
JB: It's harder for players to get into college out of high school than in my day. All we had to do was make a 700. We just had to graduate from high school and make a 700 on our SAT to get into college. Now, those requirements are higher. It's based on your GPA in high school. If your GPA is lower, you have to make a high score on your SAT. It's tougher on those guys now.
In terms of academic support, we had a computer lounge and tutors who would help us. Freshmen had to go to Study Lounge every night. If you missed a meeting with your tutor, you had to run. But we had to share our Study Lounge with all the sports: girls, guys, track, volleyball, all in one Study Hall. It could easily turn into a party. It was about the same size that just the football team has now. They have more space and more computers now.
Q: Do you still get revved up at key junctures in the game? Frankly, is Texas still your team?
JB: Oh,yeah. I make sure that I watch the games or, if I can't watch them, I listen to them. I'm definitely a fan.
Q: Any predictions for the Kansas State game?
JB: They have seven starters back on defense so it looks like a fight for our offensive line. If we don't turn the ball over, I do predict that we'll win.
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James Brown (1994-96) guided Texas to three straight conference championships, including the final Southwest Conference and inaugural Big 12 titles. Brown ranks No. 2 all-time at UT in career passing yards (7,638) and third all-time with 58 touchdown passes.