"Coach January" Comes Through Yet Again

Mack Brown, perhaps the classiest coach in the country, will be the first to deflect singular praise for his program's accomplishments, but he deserves all the accolades coming his way. After being derisively dubbed "Coach February" for years from winning more recruiting titles than on-field ones, the Longhorns' highly successful head coach has earned a new moniker.

After winning his fifth straight bowl game, three of them BCS tilts, it's time to change Mack Brown's nickname to "Coach January." Technically, of course, the non-BCS triumphs are often played in late December. But when you consider Mack's teams have also won seven of their last eight post-season appearances and are now assured of their fifth top six finish (including a national title) since 2001, we can bypass on the nitpicking here.

Surprising Utah has bowl victories in six straight seasons (eight in all, having missed the post-season twice), but under different coaches. When you factor in BCS success and the national championship, no one can match Mack Brown for post-season winning streaks among college coaches.

Go back to the start of this century and recall Mack's second consecutive bowl loss, to Oregon, making him 1-2 in the post-season. Texas was not only still seeking another BCS bowl appearance (the last being four years before), but its first top ten finish in an embarrassing 17 years.

In 2001, though, despite narrowly missing a shot at a national title game, Texas parlayed its Holiday Bowl revenge into a #5 final ranking in both the AP and the Coaches polls.

Inevitably, UT entered the BCS bowl scene again, with Mack's crew winning that 2005 Rose Bowl thriller over Michigan. Enjoying that scene so much, the Vince Young-led Longhorns returned the next year, defeating "the greatest team of all time" in what many consider the best bowl game of all time. The second consecutive January triumph gave Texas its first national championship in 35 years.

Now, "only" cracking the top ten isn't considered a successful season anymore in Austin, as Texas fans—and the nation—expect a top five finish for the Longhorns, for openers. While conference titles still tend to largely elude the program (including for reasons largely beyond its control), Mack Brown's built a model of consistency few can match and none can surpass.

His players have always loved him, but Coach Brown has managed to supplement that desired connection with a "get tough" attitude that has him and his staff on an even higher plane since losing to Texas A&M in 2007. In the process, he's led the ‘Horns to two satisfying bowl wins and 13 victories in 14 tries while greatly exceeding expectations for a program figured to be at least "a year away" from the kind of success it's experienced this fall.

As a result of Mack Brown's leadership, Texas players and fans are part of a program that can take pride in both its overall class and success on the scoreboard almost every time it hits the gridiron.

The late-season frustrations and near misses easily give way to the many successes and smiles this 2008 team has brought. Under "Coach January," 2009 has started off with the same kind of promise.

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