Recruiting: What's Love Got To Do With It?

All is fair in love and football, and sometimes the two go hand-in-hand. Case-in-point: head coach <B>Mack Brown</b>'s approach to recruiting. Brown insists that high school athletes -- once they verbally commit to the Longhorn program -- must maintain the same fidelity to that promise as would a betrothed bride in the weeks preceding the nuptials.

Although a handful of honeys (Jarvis Moss, Geoffrey Price) left Brown at the recruiting altar earlier this month, rare is the time when the head coach fails to consummate the… uh…seal the deal. Recruiting, you see, is like dating. So if a stud athlete wants to play on Brown's field, he doesn't get to play the field when other suitors come calling.

"If you're engaged, and your girlfriend asks if she can date, are you going to stay engaged?" Brown said. "To me, if you're committed, it means you're no longer looking around."

Added Brown, "If I back out as a coach, I'm a lying thug because I'm an adult. But if a young guy backs out, he's confused and following his dream. What you do is that you honestly tell the person that if he's not committed to us, I can't stay committed to him. If someone wants that scholarship before you decide to come back and get it, then I'm gonna give it to him. So, what's fair is fair. If you're going to look, I'm going to look. Because you're telling me you may not be coming specifically because you're looking. That's why we usually don't have guys back out late, because the ones that are committed to us stay committed."

Submitted for your approval is 6-0, 180-pound defensive back Michael Griffin. The Austin Bowie product gave Brown his word, and never even flirted with another school even though recruiters were, apparently, dropping handkerchiefs up until signing day.

"Michael had a lot of (schools) calling him during the recruiting process," Brown said. "Michael's mother called me once and said, ‘I don't know what you told him, but he will not visit. They're all trying to pull him.' I said. ‘Good for Michael.'"

True, Brown was jilted a few more times during the 2003 courtship, offering 25 scholarships and signing 18. But if a kid doesn't want to come to Texas, Brown said the honeymoon probably would not have lasted long, anyway.

Brown did make an exception last year when one of freshman DT Larry Dibbles' family members wanted him to visit Notre Dame after Tyrone Willingham was named head coach and after Dibbles had given Brown his word. That particularly was different…sorta.

"Things specifically changed (at Notre Dame)," Brown said, "so Larry and I discussed it. He assured me he had no interest (in Notre Dame), but someone in his family wanted him to visit because of the coaching change. I said, ‘You call me Sunday night when you get home. But if you're confused, I'm out of here.' He called me Saturday. But it worked out good.'"

Brown, meanwhile, loves his new bunch. This year's versatile crew (tilted toward skilled athletes, wide receivers and defensive backs) blended with last year's ‘big on beef' top-rated class combines for the best two-years of recruiting in Brown's two decades as a head coach, he said.

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