Former Texas coach Mack Brown was part of ESPN's pre-game coverage on site inside Royal-Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Mack Brown on returning to DKR: ‘I tried to go in the witness protection’

Posted September 4th, 2016

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ESPN hyped Mack Brown’s “return to Austin” all day long Sunday even though the former Texas coach still lives in Austin.

Still, Brown’s appearance on ESPN’s pre-game coverage was the most visible he’s been inside Royal-Memorial Stadium since leaving UT after the 2013 season.

Asked how much he talks to current UT coach Charlie Strong, Brown said, “About the only time I’ve ever called him was on his birthday.”

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“I told coach Strong that when John Mackovic was great with me,” Brown said. “He got out of the way. He just stayed out of the way. I tried to go in the witness protection program. I kind of took the wrong job to do that.”

Brown has been an analyst with ESPN and served as a color commentator on Friday night college football broadcasts. During the last athletic year, Brown earned $500,000 to serve as special assistant to the UT president.

“It’s not easy, but my job is to say what I see, and it’s to be honest and be fair,” Brown said of his role at the network. “That’s one thing when I took the job with ESPN was to make sure that I wasn’t the Texas coach. I was the TV reporter for the University of Texas, and you all (reporters) understand that better than anybody. So I have to be honest, and I have to say exactly what I see.”

How could the Longhorns upset the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish?

“I think the biggest thing Texas has to do is be able to run the ball with those two big backs, and whoever’s at quarterback, help him get started,” Brown said. “The other thing they’ve got to do is stop the Notre Dame running game.”

Brown is still well connected within the coaching profession. He knows that Houston coach Tom Herman is the hottest coach going, especially after the Cougars’ win over Oklahoma on Saturday.

“I’ve talked to Tom and told him, ‘You coach every day at the place you’re coaching and you don’t look beyond that,’” Brown said. “Number one, if you look beyond it, you won’t do as good a job where you are. And you’ve got to be loyal to the University of Houston because they paid you to coach there.

“Tom’s really a focused young person, and he will focus on his job. I texted him last night and the first thing he said was, ‘Thanks coach. Go Coogs.’”

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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