Brown, who upon taking the Texas job in late 1997 was called by Ohio State coach John Cooper "the Number 1 program-builder in college football," will be deservedly hailed if the Longhorns reach the title game. He will be sainted by Texas fans if he delivers a championship. And in so doing Brown, who is 81-19 at Texas, will shed a quirky, Mickelsonian burden, for it will be his first championship as a coach at any level.
"Mack has worked hard, created a good atmosphere for players and hired a strong staff," says Congressman Tom Osborne (R., Neb.), who in his previous life won 255 games and three national titles at Nebraska. "You knew this could happen at Texas, with the talent and the tradition, and Mack has brought together all the pieces."
One piece is relatively new. It's the one that compels Brown to face his players and tell them not just to win football games but also to be careful. It's the piece that's formed when a man has been touched by death enough times that he steps back from an all-or-nothing philosophy and finds joy simply in the pursuit of victory. The death of his grandfather. His grandmother. His father. Eleven Texas A&M students and an alumnus. One of his own players. An old and dear high school teammate. All in a five-year span. "There's no doubt it's changed me," says Brown.
The complete article is available in Sports Illustrated, which will be on newsstands later this week.