Brown, Carroll loose at press conferences
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Texas coach Mack Brown, asked if he had concocted a plan to stop Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, answered fully and completely: "No." After the laughter, however, Brown indicated he is realistic about stopping an offense that averaged 50 points per game.
"They're going to make their plays," Brown said of the Trojans. "When they make them, pat them on the head and say, 'Good job,' and get back up. You have to keep playing because both teams will make their plays during this game. If you let an athletic play discourage you, you're going to have a long game, because nobody has stopped SC all year."
So what is the plan?
"You have to keep playing, knock a ball loose, line up and stop them," Brown said.
Brown talked about the transformation of Vince Young from a shy, insecure quarterback into the dancing, joking leader of the Longhorns.
"He is very quiet," Brown said. "He sits by himself a lot. ... He's a fierce competitor, but he is a little shy."
Brown recalled the 2003 Holiday Bowl, when Young, a freshman, completed 6-of-14 passes for 15 yards in the Horns' 28-20 loss. "He got his feelings hurt and didn't play very well and pouted," Brown said. "He laughs about that now."
Brown compared that with the Young he saw Thursday night when he flipped on the TV.
"Something came on ESPN late and I was so proud of him that he was relaxed. He was complimentary, as we've said, he was very confident, but was very classy with his statements about SC, and at a time like this, to see him when he came in as a freshman and to see right now, that's why you coach college football and you're so proud of all he's become. Insecurity is a disease, in my estimation, and self-confidence is just like a drug that you feel so good about yourself."
Pete Carroll agreed to a contract extension this week, again closing the door to the NFL. Brown said he can relate.
"You're supposed to start in high school, go to college, and then go to the NFL," the Texas coach said, "and you're supposed to play for the national championship, the Super Bowl, and then at some point, you realize what your role is and what you're best at, and I do feel like I'm best with young kids, and we can have more influence on them."
Pete Carroll left 'em laughing at his Rose Bowl news conference in the Beverly Hilton Friday, as usual showing no traces of any tension leading up to the national championship game.
The USC coach's characteristic stream-of-consciousness responses to questions touched on a variety of topics, often in humorous fashion. His best riff Friday was in response to what Carroll good-naturedly termed "a ridiculous question" about what the Texas-USC matchup "means to the BCS."
"What are we talking about, the BCS?" Carroll said. " ... Is it one guy, like the Wizard of Oz kind of thing? Well, thanks for this opportunity to speak to the BCS."
At that point Carroll gripped the microphone close to his mouth and said, "Hello, BCS. It's Pete."
Then he continued: "It's a freakin' system. Somebody came up with a formula. I've never really connected to those that we're talking about in a sense and haven't understood the system, and it's always been confusing to me how things could work out the way they've worked out. ... It's a good time, I guess, for those at that party at the BCS house. Can't you picture them?"
A vague vision of Kevin Weiberg dancing with Jim Delaney does come to mind, with Mike Tranghese working on a hot turntable mix and Mike Slive spitting rhymes. Jeff Sagarin is the guy wearing the lamp shade.
Carroll was asked whether, in the course of his team's epic 34-game winning streak, he's ever prepared remarks he might make should the Trojans ever lose.
"I don't go there," Carroll said.
"In my mind, I'm really always looking for something good that's going to happen the very next thing that I have a chance to confront," he said. "I think, again, it's a discipline of where you want to be and what you want to be like and that you need to hold onto. So I'm pretty disciplined about that.
"Somebody is going to get us someday, that's just the way it goes. That won't be what's important. What will be important is how we respond to that."
The NCAA record for consecutive victories is 47, set by Oklahoma in the 1950s. If USC wins the Rose Bowl and takes its streak into next season, it could tie the Sooners' record in the season finale, at home against Notre Dame.
It's hard to remember now, but Carroll was once a ragingly unpopular hire as coach at USC after a mediocre career as an NFL head coach. That sentiment only intensified when he wobbled off to a 2-5 start before rallying to finish his first season 6-6.
Given that, Carroll was asked whether he has ever felt the desire to gloat about his success.
"Quietly behind closed doors, yes," Carroll said, drawing laughter.
"You know, I really expected to do well," he said. "I really thought that we would have a chance to do well. I didn't know to what level it would be, but I came in here so ready because of the experiences that I just had that I really felt like it could have an impact and we could get things going.
"I was told so many times early on that SC couldn't return to the level that they used to be at, scholarship numbers, the times changed, different teams had taken dominant roles in the conference and nationally and all that. I just received information and said, 'Well, we'll find out what happens.' "
What has happened has been one of the great runs in college football history.