Mack Brown is entering his 15th season as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. With a mark at Texas of 141-39 (.783), the 2008 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and the 2009 Big 12 Coach of the Year has elevated the Longhorns program to new heights.
The 2005 Paul W. “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year award winner, and coach of the 2005 BCS National Champions, he is one of a handful of coaches in the history of college football to lead two separate programs to a Top Five national finish.
A member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor, Brown’s 227 career victories rank 13th on the NCAA all-time list, and he is one of just two active coaches to have reached the 200-victory plateau. He is also one of only two coaches nationally to direct his teams to 19 bowls in the last 20 seasons and 21 winning seasons in the last 22 years, along with being one of only five active coaches at FBS schools to have won 100 games at their current school. His 141 wins at Texas are the third-most in the nation in the last 14 years, and his 161 wins overall in the last 16 years are the most nationally, as are his 208 victories since 1990.
Those streaks are a reflection of the continuing success Brown has brought to a program that managed at least 10 wins just twice in the 14 years prior to his arrival in 1998, but has done so nine times in his 14 seasons, including a streak of nine consecutive that is tied for the second-longest in NCAA history. Brown has also led the Longhorns to six seasons of at least 11 wins.
Under Brown, Texas has won eight of its last 10 bowl games and has a 9-4 record overall, including a UT record streak of 12 consecutive bowl appearances. In the 14 years prior to Brown’s arrival, Texas went to seven bowls and was 2-5. The nine bowl wins give Brown the most in Texas history, passing Darrell Royal’s eight. In addition, the streak includes a BCS National Championship, another BCS National Championship Game appearance and three BCS Bowl wins.
Since Brown came to Austin, the Horns have finished the year ranked in the Top 15 in 10 of the last 12 years, which includes a string of 10 straight. They also have seven Top 10 finishes and five Top Five rankings. Prior to Brown’s arrival in 1998, the last time Texas had finished the year in the Top 10 was 1983. In addition, Texas leads the nation in all time appearances in the BCS rankings with 93, which is eight more than Florida and Virginia Tech.
However excellence and consistency are nothing new to the coaching veteran of 39 years, including 28 as a head coach. Establishing stability has been a trademark of Brown’s career, highlighted by his success at North Carolina and Texas. He rebuilt UNC after a series of disappointing seasons and turned it into a nationally-elite program.
Fresh off a season that saw North Carolina finish 11-1 and fourth nationally (USA Today/CNN), Brown was hired as the 28th head coach in the storied history of Texas football on Dec. 4, 1997. He immediately developed a plan of attack, hiring a staff of veteran coaches who had familiarity with the Southwest. Brown has worked to keep the foundation of that group intact and linked tradition with winning, education and entertainment. From his first season, he steadily has restored pride in one of college football’s most historic programs and put the swagger back in being a Longhorn.
Brown has brought enthusiasm back to the UT program while wowing everyone from recruits to supporters and alumni. His down-home wit and wisdom are clearly energetic, thoughtful, engaging and enthusiastic. That passion has helped the Longhorns sign some of the nation’s finest recruiting classes year in and year out, while raising the enthusiasm and support for Texas football to an all-time high.
Beginning with an eight-city speaking tour of Texas in 1998 – which turned into a revival as thousands of fans poured into crowded rooms to hear him speak – Brown rapidly invigorated the mood and spirit of the UT faithful and hasn’t missed a beat since.
Brown reunited the Longhorns lettermen, welcoming any and all to practices and began a lettermen’s reunion and golf tournament that has grown immensely each spring. Thousands of former lettermen and their families return to campus for the annual UT Spring Jamboree that Brown has turned into a weekend event in Austin. The Jamboree features a lettermen’s golf outing and reunion to go along with pregame festivities and the Orange-White scrimmage. The weekend has set attendance records each year, topping out at 45,000 in 2011. Brown also has added a Fan Appreciation Day in the fall.
“Mack has helped bring back the pride in Texas Football,” former Longhorns All-American and NFL great Tommy Nobis said. “Tradition is what makes the college game so exciting, and Mack is doing a great job getting everyone excited about wearing the burnt orange and white and being a Longhorn again.”
Brown also quickly built two other important bridges — one with legendary former head coach Darrell Royal and the other with the important constituency of Texas high school coaches.
“Mack has done everything right from the first day he hit town,” Royal said. “He has established strong ties with the high school coaches, built a tremendous bond with the lettermen and gained unbelievable support.
“With all of the great things he has done in public relations, what people have learned is that he can coach, too. He is a dedicated football man and has assembled an outstanding staff. Together, they organize all the facets of the job. Talk about `not leaving a stone unturned’ … he turned over every rock as fast as he could. A major state official in North Carolina told one of our top people Mack could be elected governor, and he wasn’t kidding. Mack is that strong with people.”
The union with Royal, whom Brown idolized as a young player in high school, has been a meaningful relationship for both men. Royal regularly participates in team events and has access to an office Brown had built for him in the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletics Complex.
“Mack’s like the Darrell Royal of the 21st century,” UT All-American and 2002 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Sisemore said. “He’s hard-working and has a great concern for his athletes. The coaches and players work hard and support one another and that’s exactly how Coach Royal ran things. Mack’s the real deal and it’s been fun to watch him build the program.”
An enthusiastic supporter of tradition, Brown is just as passionate in his appreciation of high school coaches, a group he treats with the utmost respect. The gregarious coach has engaged the proud Texas high school coaching community. Brown invites every high school staff to visit UT practices and rapidly built powerful bonds in that community. UT’s high school coaches clinic has gone from a couple hundred coaches prior to his arrival to more than a thousand and become one of the state’s most popular spring events.
“I have never seen anyone make friends better or quicker with the high school coaching community,” said Eddie Joseph, former executive VP of the Texas High School Coaches Association. “Mack is amazing. He has the ability to make everyone feel at ease around him and makes the coaches from junior high on up feel comfortable. I think the thing that makes him so great for the coaches to work with is that he has a passion for high school coaches. He has a great deal of respect for the coaches.”
With his team, the message was clear from the first meeting on the evening of Dec. 4, 1997. He did not believe in rebuilding. He believed in winning. The standard was simple. He expected that, together, he and the team would have fun. He expected that, together, he and the team would do things the right way. He expected that, together, he and the team would win. Each year, Brown has built on that foundation while accomplishing feats not seen in Austin in decades.
Brown’s 12 consecutive seasons of at least nine wins are a UT first, as are his three back-to-back 11-win campaigns (2001-02, 2004-05, 2008-09), nine 10-victory seasons in a row, and three 12-win seasons (2005, `08, `09). Texas also set a school record with a streak of 12 straight bowl berths in Brown’s time, bettering the nine straight bowl games from 1977-85. UT produced a streak of Top 25 finishes for 12 years in a row, a first since the Horns earned eight final Top 25 rankings in a row from 1968-75. The Longhorns also created a streak of 10 straight Top 13 finishes, which is a UT record. The Horns have claimed or shared the Big 12 South Division title in six of the last 14 years, including four conference championship game berths and two Big 12 titles.
In 14 seasons, Brown’s Longhorns squads have featured a Heisman Trophy winner, two runners-up and a third-place finisher, three Maxwell Award winners, three WCFF Player of the Year Award winners, two Doak Walker Award winners, two Thorpe Award winners, two Nagurski Trophy winners, two O’Brien Award winners a Butkus Award winner, a Lombardi Award winner, two Manning Award winners, a Hendricks Award winner, two Draddy/Campbell Trophy winners, 52 All-Americans, 69 first-team All-Big 12 selections, five Big 12 Offensive Players of the Year, five Big 12 Defensive Players of the Year and 12 Big 12 Freshman of the Year honorees.
During that time, UT has established one of the nation’s premier offensive attacks, while rejuvenating a once struggling Longhorns’ defense into one of the nation’s best.
Defensively, Brown has transformed a unit that ranked 85th nationally in total defense in 1997 into a group that led the nation in total defense (236.2 ypg) and led the Big 12 in rushing (89.5 ypg), passing (146.7 ypg) and scoring (13.7 ppg) defense in 2001. That came on the heels of a pair of seasons that saw UT rank sixth nationally in total defense (286.7 ypg) in 1999 and seventh (278.3 ypg) in 2000. The 2008 defense also led the Big 12 in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense (third NCAA), while the 2009 unit led the nation in rushing defense (72.4 ypg) and was third in total defense (251.9/first Big 12). In 2011, Texas again led the Big 12 almost every major statistical category including total defense (306.1 ypg)/11th NCAA), rushing defense (96.2 ypg/sixth NCAA), pass efficiency defense (111.0/10th NCAA) and pass defense (209.9 ypg), while finishing second in scoring defense by just .15 points per game. Texas has led the Big 12 in scoring defense three times, in total defense seven times and four straight years and rushing defense seven times and five of the last six seasons. The aggressive defensive style of the Brown era has seen the Horns significantly increase their production in sacks, tackles for loss and turnovers forced in the last 14 seasons. In 2008, Texas led the nation in sacks and then tied for second in 2009, a year it also led the nation in turnovers gained and interceptions.
On offense, the Longhorns have set 137 school records and featured the school’s only 3,000-yard passers (Colt McCoy, 2007, 08, 09/Vince Young, 2005/Chris Simms, 2002/Major Applewhite, 1999), 2,000-yard rusher (Ricky Williams, 1998), 1,000-yard receivers (Quan Cosby, 2008/Jordan Shipley, 2008, 09/Roy Williams, 2002, 03/Kwame Cavil, 1999/ Wane McGarity, 1998) and 1,000-yard passer/rusher (Vince Young, 2004 and 05) in a season. In 2008, Cosby and Shipley combined to become the first duo in school history and just the 11th in NCAA history to each have 85-plus catches and 1,000-plus receiving yards in the same season. UT became just the second team in NCAA Division I-A history to boast a 2,000-yard rusher and passer as well as a 1,000-yard receiver in 1998. In his career at Texas alone, Brown became one of just three head coaches in NCAA Division I-A history to lead a player to a 3,000-yard passing season, a 2,000-yard rushing season and a 1,000-yard receiving season.
Texas also has re-established its home field advantage and, as a result, dominance under Brown. In his 14 seasons, the Longhorns have increased their season ticket sales by nearly 45,000, up to a school-best 84,071 in 2010, and set school attendance records while playing in front of sellout crowds in 69 of the last 72 home games and have attracted the top 10 crowds in UT history. With a full house on hand the past 14 seasons, UT has gone 72-13 in games at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, including a 41-9 mark in Big 12 home games. At one point, UT had a streak of 21 consecutive victories (third-longest in UT history) and the longest for UT since it won 42 straight from 1968-76 (No. 6 in NCAA history). The Longhorns also set the marks for the Big 12’s longest intraconference winning streak (21 games) and the longest intraconference road winning streak (13).
Texas has lost only 12 road games in Mack Brown’s 14-year tenure with two of them coming in his first three games at UT. The Longhorns have won 47 of their last 54 true road games. The only losses during that stretch were a 42-38 shootout at Texas Tech in 2002, a 45-42 defeat at Kansas State in 2006, a 38-30 loss at Texas A&M in 2007, a 39-33 loss with one second remaining at No. 7 Texas Tech in 2008, a 39-14 loss to KSU in 2010, a 17-5 defeat at Missouri in 2011 and a 48-24 setback at Baylor to end the 2011 regular season. The Horns set a UT-record streak with 17 consecutive road wins before falling to Kansas State in 2006. UT also won 12 consecutive road games from 2000-02. Texas is 52-12 (.813) overall on the road and 44-7 (.863) versus unranked road foes during the Mack Brown era. In fact, UT is currently riding a school-record non-conference road winning streak of 12, which betters the previous mark of seven from 1956-63. Texas has won 35 of its last 42 Big 12 Conference road games, including a league-record 13 consecutive conference road wins from 2002-06. The Horns are 39-9 (.813) in league road contests under Mack Brown.
With all of the success on the field, the primary emphasis has remained the same with Brown’s squads — maintaining a high level of achievement in the classroom and in the community. Eighty percent of his players at North Carolina received their degrees and he has increased the pace at Texas, while more than a third of his players at Texas have regularly earned 3.0 grade point averages and achieved spots on the Big 12 Commissioner’s and Athletics Director’s honor rolls.
Over the last six years, the success in the classroom has reached an all-time high. The Longhorns have led the Big 12 in academic all-conference selections in five of the last six seasons, and in three of those have had equal or more first-team selections than all but two Big 12 schools have had total selections.
In 2010, DE Sam Acho became Texas’ second winner of the Campbell Trophy, which has been likened to an “academic Heisman.” Acho also became the seventh Longhorns to be named two-time first-team Academic All-America. Texas registered two first-team academic All-America honorees in Acho and OT Adam Ulatoski in 2009, after having also done so in 2007 with C Dallas Griffin and DT Derek Lokey. Griffin went on to earn UT’s first Campbell Trophy, which at the time was named the Draddy Trophy. QB Colt McCoy was a finalist for that award in 2009 and recognized as a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, as were Griffin and Acho. In 2008, RB Chris Ogbonnaya also earned second-team academic All-America honors.
Alongside academics, Brown’s life skills program features numerous seminars to prepare student-athletes for life after football, while Longhorns players make countless visits to area children’s hospitals and serve as tutors and mentors at schools across Austin. Never has that been as evident as the last two years with Acho, who was named the 2010 Wuerffel Trophy winner for all-around excellence, and the 2010 ARA Sportsmanship Award winner, along with being selected as a member of the AFCA Good Works Team. Emmanuel Acho then joined his brother as back-to-back honores on the Good Works Team, giving Texas four in the last six years along with Vince Young and Colt McCoy.
On the field, Brown has led the Longhorns to one of the best records in the nation during his tenure, posting a 141-39 mark (.783) over 14 seasons. Despite an offense filled mostly with freshmen and sophomore starters, Brown took the 2011 team to an 8-5 record, capped by a win in the Holiday Bowl. The defense led the Big 12 in total defense, pass defense and rush defense, while DE Alex Okafor earned All-America honors from the AFCA, CB Quandre Diggs was the Coaches’ Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year and a CBSSports.com Freshman All-American, RB Malcolm Brown was selected the Associated Press Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and RB/KR Fozzy Whittaker was named CFPA Kick Returer of the Year.
Despite a difficult 5-7 season in 2010, Texas still ranked sixth in the nation in total defense (300.2 ypg) and pass defense (161.6 ypg), while Acho, in addition to winning the Campbell Trophy, Wuerffel Trophy and ARA Sportsmanship Award, was also named second-team All-America by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and third-team All-America by the Associated Press. He was also named CFPA Defensive Lineman of the Year, was a finalist for the Lott Trophy, a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award and was a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection. In addition to Acho, junior LB Keenan Robinson was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award.
Brown guided the 2009 Longhorns to Texas’ second National Championship Game appearance in five years and also matched the school record of 13 wins. The lone loss came in the title game to No. 1 Alabama after QB Colt McCoy was injured on the first series and did not return. Despite the loss of the national player of the year, Texas was within three points with the ball with just over three minutes remaining, and following the game, the polls kept the Longhorns ranked No. 2 – their fourth Top Five ranking in six years. They also completed their ninth-consecutive 10-win season, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history.
The Texas offense ranked third in scoring (39.3 ppg) and 22nd in passing offense (273.6 ypg), while the defense led the nation in rushing defense (72.4 ypg), was third in total defense (251.9 ypg) and 12th in scoring defense (16.7 ppg), along with leading the nation in turnovers gained and interceptions, and ranking in the top 10 in sacks, TFL and pass efficiency defense. McCoy became UT’s 20th unanimous All-American and won the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Football Foundation National Player of the Year Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award and Unitas Golden Arm Award. He also became a two-time finalist for the Heisman Trophy. WR Jordan Shipley was a consensus All-America honoree and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, while S Earl Thomas also earned consensus All-America honors and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award. Meanwhile, DE/LB Sergio Kindle became the first player in college football history to be named a finalist for both the Butkus Award and Hendricks Award, and also was named first-team All-America, along with C Chris Hall who was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy. In addition, K Hunter Lawrence was a semifinalist for the Groza Award and DE Sam Acho was a semifinalist for the Lott Trophy.
Texas entered the 2008 season with less media acclaim than previous seasons, but by mid-season, a 45-35 win over No. 1 Oklahoma propelled the team to its own No. 1 ranking. It marked the first regular-season No. 1 ranking for the program since Oct. 8, 1984, and began the toughest four-game stretch in the history of college football where the Longhorns would face a team ranked in the Top 11 in every game. The team finished within one second of completing the gauntlet before falling at No. 7 Texas Tech on the last play from scrimmage.
Despite the difficult loss, the team rebounded to win all of its remaining games, capped by a thrilling 24-21 win over No. 10 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, providing Texas a school-record fifth-consecutive bowl win, including three BCS bowls. The Longhorns finished the season ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
On offense, Texas averaged 42.4 points per game (fifth NCAA), 475.8 total yards (ninth NCAA) and 308.3 passing yards (seventh NCAA), led by McCoy, who set the NCAA single-season record for completion percentage (77.6). McCoy earned first-team All-America honors and was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. On defense, Texas led the nation in sacks and led the Big 12 in scoring defense (18.8 ppg), total defense (342.9 ypg) and rushing defense (83.5 ypg/third NCAA). DE Brian Orakpo became UT’s 19th unanimous All-American and won the Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award and Hendricks Award. Shipley also earned third-team All-America honors, while WR Quan Cosby was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award.
In 2007, the Longhorns capped their seventh consecutive 10-win season with a 52-34 Holiday Bowl victory over No. 12 Arizona State, while also securing their fourth bowl win in consecutive years, a UT first.
The Longhorns finished the season with a No. 10 national ranking in both polls, marking the fifth time in seven seasons they had finished in the Top 10.
Along with Dallas Griffin winning the Draddy Trophy and the two academic All-Americans, OT Tony Hills earned first-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, RB Jamaal Charles was named a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, S Marcus Griffin earned All-America honors from ESPN.com and DT Frank Okam was named third-team All-America by The Associated Press. Texas finished in the top 20 in both rushing defense (6th/93.4 ypg) and rushing offense (17th/207.5 ypg), while also finishing in the top 20 in total offense (13th/462.9 ypg) and scoring offense (14th/37.2 ppg).
The 2006 Longhorn season continued the validation of a premier football program that had achieved back-to-back Rose Bowl victories, including the BCS National Championship.
Ranked No. 2 in the country as defending National Champions, Texas lost to No. 1 Ohio State in the second game of the year, but fought their way back to a No. 4 national ranking before an injury to McCoy helped lead to narrow losses in the final two games of the regular season.
Still, they bounced back with a come-from-behind victory over Iowa in the Alamo Bowl to earn a 10-3 record. The season included victories over both Oklahoma and Nebraska, the two teams that played for the Big 12 championship, after the Longhorns’ late season losses.
Cornerback Aaron Ross won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, and offensive lineman Justin Blalock was a finalist for both the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. Ross and Blalock earned first-team All-America honors, while Hendricks Award finalist Tim Crowder and Lott Trophy semifinalist Michael Griffin were recognized as second-team All-Americans. McCoy, a redshirt freshman, earned National Freshman of the Year honors as he tied an NCAA record with 29 touchdown passes.
Brown had the most successful season of his career in 2005, leading Texas to its first National Championship since 1970. Texas made a return trip to the Rose Bowl for its first appearance in the BCS National Championship game, where the Longhorns ended USC’s 34-game winning streak and extended their own winning streak to 20 with a 41-38 victory. The team was led by Maxwell Award winner Vince Young. Young, who was also the Heisman runner-up and Davey O’Brien and Manning Award winner, finished his career as Texas’ all-time winningest quarterback with a 30-2 record. Texas’ offense set UT records in points scored (652) and total yards (6,657), while ranking first in the nation in scoring (50.2 ppg), second in rushing (274.9 ypg) and third in total offense (512.1 ypg). Texas was also highly ranked on defense. Led by UT’s first-ever Thorpe Award winner Michael Huff, the Longhorns finished sixth in scoring defense (16.4 ppg) and 10th in total defense (302.9 ypg).
In 2004, the Longhorns managed their fourth consecutive 10-win season, while defeating six teams ranked in either the AP Poll or ESPN/USA Today Poll. It was also their third 11-win season in four years and was capped with Texas’ first BCS selection and a 38-37 Rose Bowl Championship over No. 13 Michigan.
UT was led by All-Americans on both sides of the ball in senior running back and Doak Walker Award winner Cedric Benson and senior linebacker, Nagurski Trophy winner and Butkus Award winner Derrick Johnson. Behind Benson, the offense ranked second nationally in rushing offense (299.2 ypg), seventh in total offense (464.4 ypg) and 12th in scoring offense (35.3 ppg). The Longhorns rushed for over 300 yards six times, the most since 1977, and put up at least 400 yards in nine of their 12 games.
With Johnson taking the lead, the defense ranked 18th nationally in scoring defense (17.9 ppg), 16th in rushing defense (107.4) and 32nd in turnover margin (+5). They held teams to 14 points or less on six different occasions.
Under his guidance in 2003, Texas rallied from a 4-2 start to post six straight victories and finished with a 10-3 record and No. 12 national ranking. The Longhorns were led by a balanced offense and defense that was one of only four programs nationally that ranked among the NCAA’s top 25 in total offense and total defense. Texas averaged 232.5 rushing yards per game (8th NCAA) and produced its most yards on the ground (3,023) since 1977. It also averaged 206.6 passing yards per game to mark just the third time in school history that the Horns averaged 200 yards rushing and passing in the same season. Led by its first-ever Butkus Award finalist and consensus first-team All-American, LB Derrick Johnson, UT’s defense ranked 25th nationally allowing 329.9 yards per game.
Brown’s 2002 squad found itself once-again mentioned among the national title contenders until late in the season. With an 11-2 record and a No. 6 final ranking, the Horns posted back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in school history and consecutive Top 10 finishes for the first time since 1977-78. Texas capped the year with a 35-20 victory over LSU in the Cotton Bowl. The Longhorns also won or shared the Big 12 South title for the third time in the last four seasons.
Led by first-team All-American and Lombardi Trophy finalist DE Cory Redding and first-team All-Big 12 performers LB Derrick Johnson and CB Rod Babers, the Longhorns defense finished the year ranked among the nation’s top 16 for the fourth straight year.
On offense, QB Chris Simms and WR Roy Williams had record-setting years and RB Cedric Benson posted a second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. Williams and consensus first-team All-American OL Derrick Dockery both earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as the Horns averaged 33.8 points per game (16th NCAA).
In 2001, Brown saw his efforts in rebuilding the UT program into a national power reach new heights and provide promising hope for the future. The Longhorns came within three points of a possible berth in the National Championship game for the first time in decades. Texas opened the season with its first preseason Top Five ranking since 1983 and with wins in its final six games, claimed the Big 12 South title for the second time. The Horns were ranked among the nation’s Top 10 in 16 of the 17 polls in 2001 and only a narrow 39-37 defeat at the hands of No. 9 Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game prevented Brown’s team from likely playing for the national title. With a 47-43 victory against No. 21 Washington in the Holiday Bowl, Texas posted a school record-tying 11 victories (11-2) for the first time since `83 and just the fifth time in school history. The win also secured the program’s first Top 10 finish since that year.
Led by unanimous first-team All-American and UT’s first-ever Thorpe Award finalist CB Quentin Jammer and All-Americans LB D.D. Lewis and Redding, the Longhorns topped the nation in total defense (236.2 ypg). Jammer, the first Longhorns’ defender since Jerry Gray in 1984 to earn unanimous first-team All-America honors, and Lewis shared team MVP honors. The Longhorns were one of only two teams nationally that ranked among the NCAA’s top 10 in all five major statistical categories. True freshman LB Derrick Johnson was tabbed The Sporting News’ Freshman of the Year and named the Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP.
Offensively, Texas’ balanced attack was led by a passing game that posted, at the time, the fourth-most yards (3,003) on UT record and a scoring attack that ranked first in the Big 12 and sixth nationally (39.2 ppg). OT Mike Williams earned first-team All-America honors and was joined by WR Roy Williams as first-team All-Big 12. True freshman RB Cedric Benson set freshman records for rushing yards (1,053) and rushing TDs (12) en route to Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors.
In 2000, Brown’s youthful Longhorns overcame a pair of tough losses as well as injuries that sidelined its first, second and third-string tight ends and slowed its All-America candidate at defensive tackle — Shaun Rogers. Despite starting as many as five true freshmen and featuring a 44-man depth chart that included 36 underclassmen, UT rallied from a 3-2 start to run off six consecutive victories. UT lost a shootout with No. 8 Oregon in the Holiday Bowl and closed out the year with a 9-3 record (7-1, Big 12) and a final No. 12 national ranking, its best finish in the polls since 1983.
Texas’ explosive offense ranked 14th nationally in total offense (439.0 ypg) and eighth in scoring (38.6 ppg.). RB Hodges Mitchell, a first-team All-Big 12 choice for a second consecutive year, led the way. Mitchell rushed for 1,118 yards, and for the second year in a row, he established himself as the only player in UT history to gain 1,000 rushing and 300 receiving yards in a season. His path was paved by consensus first-team All-American and Outland Trophy finalist OT Leonard Davis. With the loss of nearly every pass catcher from 1999, the greatest challenge Brown and his offensive staff faced in 2000 was honing the skills of a stable of young wide receivers. That project was a success as true freshmen B.J. Johnson and Roy Williams rewrote the Longhorns record books while each earned second-team Freshman All-America honors.
Texas’ revitalized defense was led by two-time first-team All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year DT Casey Hampton. An Outland Trophy semifinalist and first-team All-America in 1999, Hampton became the first lineman in UT history to lead the team in tackles in back-to-back seasons and finished his career then ranked second on UT’s all-time tackles for loss list (54). He was joined by Jammer on the first-team All-Big 12 unit, as Texas led the nation in pass efficiency defense (88.3 rating) and ranked seventh in total defense (278.3 ypg).
Despite the loss of Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, All-Big 12 wide receiver Wane McGarity and four starters from a veteran offensive line, Brown’s 1999 squad registered a 9-5 record and claimed the Big 12 South Division Championship. The offense set a school record with 3,580 passing yards and registered the second-most total yards in school annals (5,336). Defensively, UT began its climb back among the nation’s best, ranking sixth in total defense (286.7 ypg).
WR Kwame Cavil set UT and Big 12 records with 100 receptions for 1,188 yards en route to second-team All-America and first-team All-Big 12 honors that year. Sophomore quarterback Major Applewhite set UT marks with 3,357 passing yards and 21 TDs while earning co-Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year recognition. Mitchell became the first back in UT history to rush for 1,000 yards and record 300 receiving yards en route to first-team All-Big 12 honors and earned a spot among the Dr Pepper Doak Walker Award semifinalists. OG Roger Roesler earned first-team All-Big 12 recognition and third-team All-America honors.
DE Aaron Humphrey, who posted 20 sacks in his two years under Brown and finished his career then ranked third on UT’s all-time TFLs list (50.5), also ranked eighth on the Longhorns all-time sack chart (24.5) and earned Longhorns MVP honors in 1999. DE Cedric Woodard, a 2000 NFL Draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens, had 19 TFLs in 1999 and 40 for his career (No. 8 on UT’s all-time list at the time).
In 1998, running back Ricky Williams ran away with virtually every major college football award. Williams claimed the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp and Associated Press Player of the Year honors and the Dr Pepper Doak Walker Award as Texas rebounded from a 4-7 season to finish 9-3 and ranked 15th nationally. After starting the year with a 1-2 record, the Longhorns won six consecutive games and eight of their final nine contests, including snapping No. 7 Nebraska’s 47-game home winning streak with a 20-16 victory. Brown’s first UT team capped the year with a 38-11 victory against No. 25 Mississippi State in the Cotton Bowl, the Longhorns’ first New Year’s Day bowl victory since 1981.
Williams led the nation in rushing with a school-best 2,124 yards and set a school record with 28 rushing TDs. The Longhorns tallied the fourth-most yards of offense in school history (5,177) at the time. WR Wane McGarity, TE Derek Lewis and offensive linemen Ben Adams and Jay Humphrey all earned first-team All-Big 12 honors for an offense that was among the best in UT history. Adams and Humphrey also were tabbed first-team All-American.
Defensively, the youthful Longhorns featured a predominantly underclassmen unit but re-established themselves after ranking 85th in total defense (399.2 ypg) and 104th in scoring defense (33 ppg) in 1997.
Born in Cookeville, Tenn., Brown was a three-sport star at Putnam County High School, where he lettered three times in football. He went on to attend Vanderbilt (1969-70) and graduated from Florida State. He lettered twice as a running back for the Seminoles (1972-73). An injury sidelined him for much of the 1973 season and that led to the start of his coaching career as he became a student coach. He completed his bachelor’s degree in education in 1974.
Brown began his full-time coaching career in 1975 at Southern Mississippi, where he worked with the receivers for three seasons. He earned a master’s degree in administration from Southern Miss in 1976. Brown then coached the wide receivers at Memphis State in 1978 and at Iowa State in `79. He was promoted to offensive coordinator at Iowa State in 1980, and in his time at Ames, the Cyclones broke 17 school and Big Eight Conference offensive records and produced league leaders in rushing and total offense. Brown went on to lead the quarterbacks at LSU in 1982, when the Tigers went 8-2-1 and played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
In just his 10th season of full-time coaching, Brown had become a head coach, taking over the Appalachian State program in 1983. At the age of 32, he directed the Mountaineers to their first winning record in four years with a 6-5 slate. After one season, he left to become offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. In his only year on Barry Switzer’s staff, the Sooners were 9-2-1, won the Big Eight title and earned a berth in the Orange Bowl.
Brown helped Oklahoma develop its best passing attack in years, as he coached quarterbacks Danny Bradley, a first-team All-Big Eight selection, and Troy Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl Champion signal caller with the Dallas Cowboys.
Brown became head coach at Tulane in 1985 and quickly went about rejuvenating the Green Wave’s sagging football fortunes. Tulane had suffered three consecutive losing seasons before Brown’s arrival, but by his third season in 1987, he led the Green Wave to a 6-5 mark and a berth in the Independence Bowl (just the program’s fifth bowl game since 1940). That season, the Green Wave set school records for total offense and points, ranking 11th nationally in scoring (32.5 ppg). That remarkable season earned Brown a spot in the Independence Bowl Hall of Honor in 2002. He also served as athletics director his final two years at Tulane.
In 1988, Brown took over a North Carolina program that had suffered two losing seasons in its previous three years and three non-winning seasons in its previous four years. While rebuilding the foundation, Brown’s Tar Heels squads posted back-to-back 1-10 seasons in 1988 and `89. In 1990, Carolina was 6-4-1 and the Tar Heels were beginning a run of eight consecutive winning seasons and six straight bowl game appearances. UNC’s 54-18 (.750) record during his last six years ranked as the ninth-best nationally during that period. His final two seasons were the most impressive. He compiled a 20-3 (.870) mark and led the Heels to a No. 4 final ranking in the USA Today/ESPN poll and No. 6 ranking by The AP in 1997.
At UNC, Brown recruited and coached several of the finest players in school history. From his 1997 squad, DE Greg Ellis (No. 8, Dallas Cowboys), LB Brian Simmons (No. 17, Cincinnati Bengals) and DT Vonnie Holliday (No. 19, Green Bay Packers) earned All-America recognition and were selected among the first 19 picks in the 1998 NFL Draft.
Along with that trio of first-rounders, Brown also helped develop several other Tar Heels standouts. Marcus Jones, a consensus first-team All-America defensive tackle, earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1995.
Corey Holliday, the leading receiver in Tar Heels history, was a CFA/Hitachi Scholar-Athlete and is a former member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dwight Hollier, who made more than 500 tackles during his Tar Heels career, also played in the NFL. Natrone Means, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his final two seasons at UNC, went on to lead the San Diego Chargers to Super Bowl XXIX and the Jacksonville Jaguars to the 1996 AFC title game.
QBs Jason Stanicek and Mike Thomas combined to rewrite Carolina’s passing and total offense records. CB Thomas Smith came to UNC in 1989 as a walk-on from a small high school in North Carolina and departed as a first-round pick of the AFC Champion Buffalo Bills. RB Leon Johnson, one of the premier all-purpose offensive threats in ACC history, played eight seasons in the NFL. CB Dré Bly, a three-time All-American who recorded an ACC-record 20 interceptions during his career, played 11 seasons in the NFL. Freddie Jones, a second-round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers in 1997, was one of the NFL’s top pass-catching tight ends and played eight seasons in the NFL.
After leading UNC to a 10-1 regular season record and a No. 6 national ranking, Brown accepted the head coaching position at Texas on Dec. 4, 1997.
One of the most respected coaches in the college game, Brown has served on numerous national committees. He has been a member of the NCAA Football Rules Committee and the NCAA Football Issues Committee. He has been chairman of the Football Coaches’ Committee and a member of the Board of Directors of the College Football Association. A past member of the American Football Coaches Association’s (AFCA) Ethics Committee, Brown also has served on the AFCA Public Relations Committee. He has been invited to coach in five postseason all-star games, including the Japan Bowl, Hula Bowl (twice) and East-West Shrine Game (twice).
He and his wife, Sally, have four children — Matt, Katherine, Barbara and Chris. Sally enthusiastically involves herself in football team activities. In 1999, she retired as president of Marin Development in North Carolina. She is past president of the Public, Private Partnership (PPP), an organization that fostered improved relations between the University of North Carolina and the town of Chapel Hill. She also volunteered time to chair the fund-raising efforts for the UNC Black Cultural Center and was a member of a Carolina Alumni Advisory Committee.
Brown’s human touch and dedication to family has also been evident in his life as an involved citizen in the Austin community with hiswife Sally. The Browns serve as honorary co-chairpersons of the Capital Campaign for the Helping Hands of Austin. They have been instrumental in the opening of The Rise School of Austin (an early childhood education program that integrates children who have disabilities with their typically developing peers) and serve on the school’s Board of Directors. Because of the Browns’ dedication and longstanding personal commitment to the Rise School, a plan to build a permanent 20,000 square foot facilitywas announced on August 26, 2011, and it will be called the “Sally and Mack Brown Rise School of Austin.” They lend their name along with legendary UT QB James Street to the annual James Street/Mack Brown Golf Tournament benefiting The Rise School.
The Browns also contribute privately to numerous other causes in Austin, and in April 2011, Brown was named the 2011 Lady Bird Johnson Humanitarian Award Winner by the American Red Cross. In September 2008, he and Sally were named the Citizens of the Year for Caritas of Austin, which provides meals and aid for the homeless. The Browns themselves have spent many hours serving food at Caritas.
Earlier in that year, The University of Texas honored Mack Brown with The Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs. The Chair is part of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, a university-wide global affairs research center named for renowned lawyer and public servant, Ambassador Robert S. Strauss. The center is part of the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
In June 2007, Brown paired with Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott to commend fathers who provide a nurturing home for their children, and asked dads from across the state to join in the fight against domestic abuse.
In May 2009, Brown went on an eight-day trip to visit U.S. troops in Germany, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Djibouti and Spain as part of the Coaches Tour 2009.
The Browns have previously endorsed a new Texas license plate, which was designed to raise public awareness for child abuse and neglect and the need for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers. After the Bonfire tragedy at Texas A&M in 1999, the couple initiated a blood drive on the UT campus that attracted more than 250 blood donors.