Brown happy -- yet unchanged -- in wake of National Championship
Of all the moments following the final gun of the 2006 Rose Bowl that resulted in Texas’ first National Championship since 1970, Mack Brown remembers a conversation with one gentleman.
“Around the state, it was so great to see how excited people were,” said Brown, following practice as the Longhorns prepare for the 2006 season.
“He was going on and on about the National Championship and then he said that it was the very best moment in his life,” Brown continued. “Well, I looked at the man’s wife who was standing with us and said to her, ‘How does that make you feel?’ He said Texas winning the National Championship was the best moment in his life.”
The Texas head coach punctuated that remark with a hearty laugh.
Brown is, of course, genuinely pleased with the elation felt by all Texas patrons. It continued during the first two practices that were open to the public.
“People were cheering the other night as we walked on the field,” he said. “And I was thinking, ‘Thanks, but now we have to go to work.”
To that end, Brown has put away his National Championship ring.
It is a new season, a new team, and a new challenge.
Brown has moved on from that January night in Pasadena, Calif.
For the Cookeville, Tenn., native, the National Championship was not a life-changing event, as many of the pundits wrote after the Horns had nudged USC.
Those were the same pundits who weren’t impressed with Brown’s 83 victories in eight seasons – most in the nation; his four top 10 finishes in five years; and his five straight seasons with at least 10 victories each year.
“I’ve tried to reflect on some of that,” Brown said. “The National Championship did not change my life. It was wonderful. It was a reward for the incredibly hard work done by a group of players and coaches. It was something now that I could check off that I had done in my coaching career.”
Or as Sally Brown, Mack’s best recruit ever, reminded her husband moments after the triumph against the Trojans, “We’re number one, and there aren’t any games left.”
The National Championship had its immediate impact on Brown with an early-morning telephone call from President Bush the day after the game.
Then, there was Brown starting a NASCAR race and throwing out the first pitch of the Texas Rangers season.
Yet, he admits, that in a way the National Championship still hasn’t hit him.
“Being at the White House probably is as close as it has come to hitting me,” Brown began. “Seeing all of our coaches and all of our players walking out of the White House was really something.
“I thought about all of the players and all of their varied backgrounds and here they were at the White House. I thought of going into all of the living rooms of all of those players and talking to their parents. It wasn’t as though I could say, ‘Well, if your son comes to Texas someday we’ll be at the White House.’”
But there they were.