AUSTIN, TEXAS - The Texas Longhorns once again find themselves fighting the "soft" label. After starting the 2013 season 2-2, including blowout losses to underdogs BYU and Ole Miss, fans and members of the media are questioing the Longhorns' on-field resolve. But coach Mack Brown insists he is doing everything he can to change the negative perception of his team.
"We're busting our tails out there every day to fix that 'soft' reputation," said Brown. "I've spent countless hours calling up people who think we're soft and begging them to change their minds."
Over the course of Mack Brown's career, his team's toughness has often been called into question. That criticism gained steam after the Longhorns' recent loss to Brigham Young, a game in which the Texas defense allowed 550 rushing yards. The following Sunday morning, after reading media coverage of the loss, coach Brown summoned his staff for an emergency meeting.
"I decided that we have to earn back our program's reputation for toughness on the field," said Brown. "So I called in everyone on our staff who could help. The sports information director, the Longhorn Network anchors, the sports editor at the Daily Texan, [mackbrown-texasfootball.com writer] Bill Little -- they were all there."
During the meeting, coach Brown and his staff rededicated themselves to restoring the Longhorns' former reputation as a hard-nosed, no-nonsense football program. That effort began by harrassing any media member who reported otherwise.
"After the meeting, I went straight to my office and got to work fixing this softness problem," said Brown. "I spent the next twelve hours talking to reporters on the phone, begging, pleading, whining, making demands, hurling bizarre accusations, threatening their jobs, insulting their wives and mothers, and in most cases sobbing uncontrollably until they agreed to stop calling us soft."
But coach Brown's efforts to restore the Longhorns' once-intimidating reputation aren't limited to just contacting the sports media. With the help of his hapless stepson Chris Jessie, Brown is reaching out to fans as well.
"Chris scoured the message boards and blogs, and put together a list of 40,000 fans who questioned the team's toughness," said Brown. "I've been going down the list and scheduling face-to-face meetings with each of them. The fans need to understand that when they call our players 'soft' on the Internet, they're doing permanent damage to the kids' psyches, which are very, very fragile."
"It's not nice to call us 'soft,'" Brown added, fighting back tears. "It really hurts our feelings."
But Brown understands that the Longhorns need to focus on the things that are within their control.
"We can't waste time on stuff that's outside of our control as football coaches and players," said Brown. "We have to go out there every day and work hard on the things we can do to make people say 'Boy, the Texas Longhorns are tough.'"
"You know," added Brown. "Things like calling the media and begging them to say that."