Not many schools can ink a deal for their own sports network a year after a 5-7 football season. Then again, not many schools do anything like Texas. Take the Big 12 Media Days for example. While players and coaches from Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M joined the media for lunch inside the Westin Galleria in Dallas, one group of players was absent. The Longhorns’ four player representatives instead ate Chinese takeout far from the crowd a floor above them. An isolated lunch is one thing, but when the Longhorns showed up fifteen minutes late to the player interview sessions, everyone took notice.
“I’ve been around it enough to notice that different guys have different personalities, and if that’s what they want to do, then let them do it,” said Baylor linebacker Elliot Coffey. “You can’t let it bother you. If that’s what they do then hats off to them, but that’s not what we do.”
For years the entire Texas football program has been under fire for what some refer to as a “sense of entitlement.” Whether it is playing on the dates it wants or seemingly getting every call to go their way, some feel the Longhorns receive preferential treatment. On one hand, the Longhorns treatment and subsequent actions could be justified by their prolonged success within the Big 12 Conference. Texas has won three Big 12 titles and brought in millions worth of revenue from participating in numerous BCS bowls. But this feeling that as a team they march to the beat of their own drum has been echoed by many throughout the conference.
Maybe it comes with the territory. Texas is a large school with an extremely successful athletic history, but that doesn’t give its players the right to act like they are better than everyone else. For Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin, the attitude of the Texas program helped in his decision on where to play college football.
“It means more to me to come to a smaller school like OSU and beat those big programs like Texas or Oklahoma rather than the other way around,” Martin said.
The fact that the Texas players regard themselves as better than their Big 12 counterparts is far too obvious to go unmentioned. Mack Brown and company remained under the close watch of the media relations personnel, who even shooed off a would-be reporter that approached Brown in the hallway. One would think that other high profile coaches and players would act the same as Brown and the Longhorns, but even Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops could be seen sharing a casual drink with members of the media Monday. Stoops didn’t even have to be there Monday, but it’s tough to imagine any of the Longhorns showing up for anything that wasn’t mandatory.
With the growth of college football as a whole, smaller schools are starting to bring in the same talent that a large program like Texas has for years. These teams with less resources and access to the nation’s top players are getting better, and it’s partly because of the image Texas is projecting. Young players want to play for a successful program, but they don’t want to be associated with arrogance and complacency.
“How We Play” is the new tagline adopted by the Big 12 for the 2011 season, and perhaps this is just how Texas “plays.” Whatever the case, there won’t be much room for arrogance from Texas if it has another year like 2010. Texas’ confidence has made them one of the most successful college football programs ever, but it takes more than just an attitude to win games. You can count on the other nine teams in the conference proving that on the field.