Jan. 5, 2012
The annual Texas Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012. A meet and greet reception with the inductees will be held at the museum from 5-6:30 p.m. The banquet will be held at the Ferrell Center on the Baylor University campus at 7 p.m. Tickets may be ordered by calling 800-567-9561 or online at www.tshof.org.
Justin Perez, Texas Media Relations
Being inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame is not something that comes easily. While browsing the list of inductees, you begin to realize the true magnitude of such an accomplishment. With a list that includes everyone from Texas legends Darrell Royal to Tommy Nobis, Mack Brown realizes that his induction is something special.
“I’m very, very flattered.” Brown said. “Especially a guy from a small town in middle Tennessee coming to Texas and being honored by the state that has the best football in the country, is really special.”
The most impressive accomplishment for Mack Brown is that he has been inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame after only having been a coach in the state of Texas for 14 years. But after winning a National Championship in 2005 and appearing in another championship game four years later, along with unprecented success during his time at Texas, it is an honor that was inevitable. Having such an extensive and successful coaching career was not something that Coach Brown expected.
“I thought I would be a high school coach,” said Brown. “Then, hopefully, a principal and then a superindendent in Putnam County like my dad and my grandad were because that was our expectation at the time.”
The Cookeville, Tennessee native has compiled a 139-38 (.785) record at Texas during his first 14 seasons. This impressive record mirrors the success Brown had during a long and successful coaching career prior to the University of Texas. It all started for Mack Brown 25 years before he even arrived in Austin.
Brown was a three-sport star at Putnam County High School, where he lettered three times in football. He went on to attend Vanderbilt University in 1969, but then transferred to Florida State. He lettered twice as a running back for the Seminoles before 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 received his first fulltime job at Southern Mississippi, where he was the wide receivers coach from 1975-77. While at Southern Mississippi, Brown found a way to balance coaching and academics, earning a master's degree in administration in 1976.
It was then that Brown’s career rocketed forward. Brown went from wide receivers coach at Memphis State in 1978 to the same postion for Iowa State in 1979, and then was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Cyclones in 1980. Brown was able to lead one of the greatest offensive eras in Iowa State history. During his time as offensive coordinator, the Cyclones broke 17 school and Big Eight Conference offensive records and produced league leaders in rushing and total offense.
After that successful stint in Ames, Mack Brown spent one season in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with LSU in 1982 as their quarterbacks coach. In his season at LSU, the Tigers went 8-2-1 and played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
After just 10 seasons of coaching, Mack Brown landed his first head-coaching job in Boone, North Carolina with Appalachian State in 1983 at the tender age of 32. Brown was moving up the ranks quickly and the country was beginning to take notice of a skillful coaching talent after he led the Mountaineers to their first winning record in four years. So impactful was Mack Brown at Appalachian State that it only took one season to convince Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer to hire Brown as his offensive coordinator in 1985. In just 11 years, Mack Brown went from a student coach at Florida State, to the offensive coordinator at a national power.
In Mack Brown’s only year with the Sooners, he helped them go 9-2-1 record, earn a Big Eight Conference title and a berth in the Orange Bowl. Brown had made another big impression with his success at OU, and another head coaching job came calling.
In 1985 Brown became the head coach at Tulane University with the difficult task of revitalizing a football program that had made it to only four bowl games since 1940. It did not take long for Brown to turn the Green Wave around. In three short seasons Brown had Tulane at 6-5 and invited to the Independence Bowl. That season the Green Wave set school records for offense and points. Brown made all this progress at Tulane as both head coach and athletic director his final two years at the school.
In 1988, after three great years at Tulane, Brown looked to revitalize another struggling football program at the University of North Carolina. In 1990 Carolina went 6-4-1 under Brown and that season started a run of eight straight winning seasons and six straight bowl game appearances. Brown’s final six seasons saw the Tar Heels go 54-18 (.750), which was the ninth-best record nationally during that time period. Even more stunning was the Tar Heels’ record over the last two years where they went 20-3 (.870) and finished the 1997 season with a No. 4 national ranking in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
After 10 first-rate seasons at North Carolina, Mack Brown was hired as the head coach of the University of Texas football team. He was able once again to quickly reverse a team’s recent woes, as the Longhorns finished 9-3 in 1998 after finishing 4-7 the year before without Brown at the helm. Texas defeated Mississippi State 38-11 in the Cotton Bowl and running back Ricky Williams became the school’s second Heisman Trophy winner. That year reeled off a string of 12 straight nine-win seasons and seven Top 10 finishes. Brown has taken the Longhorns to three Cotton Bowls, three Rose Bowls, and he has won six Big 12 South championships, two Big 12 championships and made two appearances in the BCS National Championship game, winning it all in 2005 when Texas defeated USC 41-38 in the 2006 Rose Bowl in one of the most exciting college football games ever played.
The consistency of competing at a high level that has been associated with Mack Brown has led Texas football to a level of play that had not been seen since their back-to-back national championships of 1969-70. Mack Brown has spent a magnificent 14 years here, yet he is humbled by the experience.
“I’m so blessed to be the head coach at Texas,” said Brown. “I’m blessed to have been in this great state for 14 years and thankful for all the great things that have happened to Sally and I since we have been here, including this honor.”
Brown’s human touch and dedication to family has also been evident in his life as an involved citizen in the Austin community with his wife 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 facility was announced on August 26, 2011, and it will be called the “Sally and Mack Brown Rise School of Austin.”
The combination of Mack Brown’s work on and off the field were just some of the facets that contributed to his being selected for induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. And Brown realizes that his selection is an even greater honor considering all that the Hall stands for.
“[Doing] something special with a lot of great people in a way that shows integrity and class and character,” Brown said. “And I think that is what embodies the Hall of Fame.”