My Ode to Coach Mack Brown…as He Steps Down at Texas

It’s that time of year again…time to shop haphazardly/desperately, time to really feel the impact of those bad fantasy football decisions, time to start hanging out with your friends that you have consistently blown off since August 30, time to DTR (Define The Relationship) or GTR (Get out of The Relationship) because the holidays are coming, and to that end and finally, time to figure out if it still makes sense.  And with that last one, I’m not referring to romantic relationships, I’m referring to the relationship between the school and its head football coach.

As the world, or at least the Twitterverse, is well aware, Mack Brown stepped down as the head coach of Texas last night.  While he won 158 games at Texas (244 games as a head coach), there was a feeling that he couldn’t win a championship again.  His “only” national championship came in 2005 with Vince Young at the helm. That’s what those who wanted to replace him say, as well as referring to his record against Oklahoma and limited Big 12 Championships.  But what I would say is that since the day Coach Brown arrived on campus, Texas only had one losing season (the year after four-year starter at quarterback, Colt McCoy graduated) and even now, Brown is going out on a 9-3 record in a season where Texas played in a de-facto Big 12 Championship game.

I had the pleasure of meeting Coach Brown several times during my time at ESPN/ABC Sports.  I always was so impressed by how personable he was and how he seemed to find a way to relate to whomever he spoke.  But what struck me most about him, was his recollection of people. The first time I met him was on the set of ABC’s College Football Show in 2004 after Texas went 11-1 and was heading to its first-ever BCS game (the 2005 Rose Bowl).  At that point I mentioned to him that I went to Notre Dame and I would appreciate it if he could beat Michigan for me.  The Longhorns beat the Wolverines in an epic battle, 38-37 (and yes, I’m well aware that was just a coincidence).  The following year, I saw Coach Brown once again.  This time it was on the field during the warm-ups prior to the National Championship Game between Texas and USC, which also turned out to be an epic battle in the Rose Bowl that Texas won 41-38.  Coach Brown was near the ABC Sports set and came over to say hello to some of the broadcasters.  But when he saw me, he came over and gave me a hug and said, “I’m sorry about your Irish” (Notre Dame had just lost the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State).  I was the least important person standing on the field at that moment,  yet he made me feel like I was the Heisman Trophy winner (or perhaps, the Rose Queen).  Even the producer and the guys in the truck who had full observation of everything due to the cameras feeding it into the truck, later made a comment asking how Mack Brown possibly knew me? (And it was later recounted to me that the reaction in the truck was a lot more chaotic/shocked than that…”why is he hugging her!?!?).  I always rooted for Texas because of Coach Brown.  His kindness, his personality, the way he cared about people and the way he remembered them…that is why Coach Brown is one of the winningest coaches in college football history.