Not long after Texas whacked Oklahoma two weeks ago, a few Longhorns opened their release valves, and out flowed some of the frustration and rancor that they’d been storing in recent seasons.
Quarterback Case McCoy invited reporters to maintain their supply of motivational material. Bring it on, he said.
Linebacker Peter Jinkens used colorful language via Twitter to suggest that the loyal inhabitants of the Longhorns bandwagon should not make room for late arrivals.
Winners get to do that. They get to tell their critics where to stick their notepads, smartphones and booing.
“If you weren’t there when we were struggling, we don’t need you there now,” safety Adrian Phillips said. “I get that feeling all the time. Of course, that’s how it always happens. The same ones that will praise you after the (Oklahoma) game might be the same ones cursing you next week. When you beat OU, they love you.”
Mack Brown is in the third season of an attempted resurrection after finishing 5-7 in 2010. When the Longhorns lost to BYU and Ole Miss by an average of 20 points on consecutive September Saturdays, fans and media began assembling lists of potential coaching replacements.
Many of Brown’s players also were targets. If that wasn’t enough to inspire anger, there was a three-game losing streak against Oklahoma, the last two by margins of 38 and 42 points.
Though Phillips said the Longhorns deserved some of the criticism, they didn’t need it to motivate them against the Sooners.
“I think losing to OU three years in a row kind of helped that,” Phillips said. “We didn’t need y’all for that.”
Ideally, athletes shouldn’t need incentive from anybody but themselves as a catalyst to strive for their best.
“You want to be self-driven,” said Major Applewhite, the former Longhorns quarterback who is the team’s co-offensive coordinator. “You shouldn’t depend on a coach or a set of circumstances to motivate you. You have to be intrinsically motivated to be the best you can be every day. But it’s hard, because human nature is to be average and survive.”
Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, a former NFL coach, said football players are that way at any level.
“There are times where they need external motivation,” Robinson said.
Of the players who are available to the media, McCoy and defensive back Quandre Diggs are the most willing to reveal their distaste for outside criticism. Each has become engaged in give and take with the media.
Coincidentally or not, both players received an education in the realities faced by high-profile athletes from older brothers who played at Texas — Colt McCoy and Quentin Jammer.
“(Colt) made sure I knew before stepping on this place that you are gonna get too much credit when you win and you are gonna get too much blame when you lose,” McCoy said. “That’s part of this position. And that goes as well for the coaches and everyone.”
Diggs said he noticed before the game against Oklahoma that he had been cited for failing to perform as well at his new position this season, nickel back, than he did at his old one, cornerback.
“I know I was being doubted before the game,” Diggs said. “That motivates me a lot.”
Applewhite is not a trained sports psychologist, but he has theories about McCoy.
“The little brother, or backup quarterback syndrome, whatever you want to call it,” Applewhite said. “He certainly has a chip on his shoulder. It doesn’t just come out in feistiness or words. It comes out in his preparation. I see it every day.”
The Longhorns, despite ending their losing streak to Oklahoma in convincing fashion, are two or three-point underdogs at TCU on Saturday.
Just how Diggs likes it.
“People are always doubting us,” Diggs said. “And if that’s what some players need, then continue to put us as underdogs.”
TEXAS AT TCU
6:30 p.m. Saturday, FS1, 1370, 98.1
HORNS VS. THE SPREAD
Texas, at 4-2 and coming off a big win over Oklahoma, is still a 2-point underdog Saturday against 3-4 TCU. How have the Longhorns fared against the spread this season?
N. Mex. St.;Texas by 42;Texas by 49
BYU;Texas by 7;BYU by 19
Ole Miss;Texas by 2½;Ole Miss by 21
Kansas St.;Texas by 5½;Texas by 10
Iowa St.;Texas by 8½;Texas by 1
OU;OU by 11;Texas by 16