Mack Brown’s resume looks a lot like that of most football coaches: two years as student coach at alma mater Florida State, three years at Southern Miss, one year at Memphis, three years at Iowa State (the last two as OC), one year at LSU. At each of his assistant coaching stops, the team achieved success, often where none had existed prior to Brown’s arrival.
Then he became a head coach at Appalachian State. For one year and had a winning record (6-5). Was considered for head coaching job at LSU, didn’t get it, moved to Oklahoma as OC for one year. Became head coach again at Tulane for three years, improving each year, culminating in a bowl game (the 5th in 40 years at Tulane). Next stop: North Carolina where he coached for 10 years. He struggled through identical 1–10 records, then began to win, then win bigger, e.g. ranked in the Top 25 four out of five seasons (including two straight top 10 finishes), two 10-win seasons (of only three in UNC’s history). And that is when his resume and the average coach part ways.
Brown then moved to his current, if currently tenuous, position - the University of Texas. Here is what he did, in regards to WINS, in his first dozen years: three with 9, three with 10, three with 11, one with 12 and two with 13 (one of those in the 12th year, losing in the national championship game, the other on the victorious side in the national championship tilt). Following the second 13-win season, Brown, who was making $3 million dollars was given a two million dollar raise. Not a bonus, a raise, meaning it wasn’t a one-time thing, but an every year thing. (Brown’s salary this year is listed as $5,453,750).
Since then, his detractors claim Brown has underachieved. Being the flagship university in a state in which football is a religion, in which as many or more great football players are produced than any other state, in which (unless there is a previous allegiance to another school, i.e. the parents graduated from A&M, Tech or another Big 12 institution) every young boy dreams of playing for the ‘Horns, double-digit win seasons are expectations more than goals. Yet, since “the big raise” four years ago, there hasn’t been one double-digit season.
If you’re thinking the raise bugged some people even more than the subpar records, consider this: After hearing of the $2M raise, the UT faculty council held a special meeting to consider the following resolution:
“We appreciate the contributions of the athletic staff and, especially, the student-athletes, to the community of the University of Texas at Austin. However, at a time when students are facing a deteriorating academic environment in the form of declining class offerings and increasing class sizes, and lecturers, teaching assistants, and staff are facing job terminations, we believe a permanent raise of $2 million (a sum greater than the entire career earnings of a typical university employee) offered to any member of the university community is unseemly and inappropriate.”
Mack Brown and his wife, Sally, have been extremely active in community affairs, serving on boards, helping children with disabilities, raising money, lending his name to events, really showing a sincere concern and love for the city of Austin and state of Texas. Although it might not matter, I’d still like to ask Mack one question: “Wasn’t three million dollars enough to live on in Austin, Texas?” I mean, it’s not like you want to purchase a brownstone in Manhattan (the real one, at the risk of offending KSU folks). Did you need a new lire, a yacht, the Hope diamond? Wouldn’t a bump of half a mil been sufficient?
But like I said, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Even if, say, he had not accepted the raise, going so far as to holding a press conference to turn it down, due to the economic state of all institutions of higher learning that currently existed. maybe it still wouldn’t have mattered. Because winning trumps all.
Realize that every team in the league wants to win. And win big. That’s why year after year, coaches are replaced. Maybe a school gets lucky as A&M did when it hooked Kevin Sumlin (as they were leaving the Big 12 for the SEC - for more money) or Baylor when they landed Art Briles. If not, they fire their coach and pay even more for another. Each one is searching for the Holy Grail.
“I want more; I want the national championship,” Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops has said (prior to this season). “I’m not complaining, but I’m not going to apologize for the success we’ve had here. Now that (winning the Big 12) has become the norm, that isn’t good enough. Just a national championship is good enough…We have a higher standard here.” Guess what? Everybody does. At the end of the year, however, when the conference wins and losses are totaled, there are an equal number of each, i.e. somebody has to lose. Yet everybody refuses to accept that fact.
“A coach told me a long time ago you can be somewhere too long,” said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, a former Big 12 colleague, now in what’s considered a more difficult conference, the SEC. “There comes a time when that can happen.”
I think it was McDonald’s founder, the late Ray Kroc who said:
“If you think you’re ripe, you’re almost rotten.”