12/5/97 Ralph Barrera/AA-S; New UT football coach Mach Brown lingers well after his news conference to greet alumni and members of the press. (Sports story)

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

FROM THE ARCHIVES (Dec. 6, 1997): BOHLS: Brown: exuberance and experience

Posted December 8th, 1997

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Halfway through his introductory press conference at the Erwin Center on Friday afternoon, this much was obvious: If Mack Brown coaches half as well as he talks, Texas football fans can count on a national championship by the turn of the century.

But if he doesn’t, that will not be held against him. Contrary to the national public-relations beating the school received after John Mackovic was reassigned one year after beating Nebraska and winning the Big 12, Brown does not have to win a national championship at Texas to be accepted. Or even embraced.

Texas rightfully demands that its football teams at least be good and at worse be competitive. But it hopes for much better. UT fans long for 11-0 and 10-1 seasons but can tolerate 7-4 records and even an occasional losing season as long as it doesn’t include embarrassing blowouts.

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Would a national title be nice after a 27-year drought? Does Bevo have horns?

Does Brown have to win? You betcha. As he said Friday before a packed house of media and fans, “They don’t name stadiums after you unless you win.”

It isn’t his objective to add another name and hyphen to Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium. The 46-year-old Tennesseean didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. But there will be plenty who will jump on his bandwagon. , a national championship is anunreal demand. But I think he could win one.”

One might wonder why Brown would leave a program that has sent 27 players to the NFL and produced eight straight winning seasons, especially considering that he was scheduled to move next week into his new offices as part of $46 million in renovations that included a weight room and luxury boxes.

Brown left North Carolina for Texas because he will have advantages here that he didn’t there, he doesn’t have to beat Florida State here, and he will not operate in the shadow of basketball. In a bit of irony, Brown didn’t realize he was introduced as football coach in Texas’ basketball arena.

“He was attracted by the idea that football is important at Texas,” said college football consultant Chuck Neinas, who recommended one name — Brown — to good friend Dodds. “Mack made football important at North Carolina.”

Neinas had told Brown about a Tufts professor who had written about a Sacred Ten in college football. Texas rightfully was on the list. That’s why Royal told Brown when he was the Tulane head coach that if he ever got the chance to coach at a place with “The” in front of the name, grab it.

Even Brown admitted it was tough at times trying to compete with basketball in Chapel Hill. Football will always be No. 2 there. The basketball arena here is named after a regent. At Chapel Hill, it’s named for a coach. Or the coach.

“When I got there, somebody told me, `Give us something to get excited about in the fall until basketball season starts,”’ Brown related. “I didn’t like that. Now I think there’s excitement in the fall with football there.”

There’ll be greater excitement here next fall, Mack, and expectations to match. But then, that’s why you’re here.

Kirk Bohls writes sports commentary four days per week.

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