Mack Brown stood on the practice field on Sunday afternoon and heard the roar of the crowd just a few blocks away at Disch-Falk Field. It was the barometer of the success his friend Augie Garrido, the head coach of UT's baseball team, had just achieved. The Longhorns had just wrapped up their second berth in the College World Series in the last three years with a 5-2 victory against Houston in the third and final game of the NCAA Super Regional. In fact, Brown had stolen time from a busy camp schedule to attend the opening game of the series on Friday night. When Garrido's team defeated the Cougars, it continued a phenomenal run of success that Brown's squad had begun just a few months before.
With a No. 5 national finish in football, Sweet 16 runs in men's and women's basketball, a National Championship in men's swimming & diving, second- and third- place national finishes in women's and men's golf, respectively, Big 12 Championships for women's indoor track & field, women's swimming & diving, women's soccer, softball and women's tennis and a trip to the College World Series in baseball, Brown and his troops set the tone for what has been one of the most successful athletics seasons in UT history.
However, on Sunday afternoon, Brown and his staff were busy with the hopes and dreams of a group of kids who wanted to learn more about football. It was time for the last session of the Mack Brown Summer Football Camp.
When Wednesday's final session is concluded, nearly 1,200 boys, spread from the fourth grade to seniors-to-be in high school, will have spent some time during the last 10 days with the Longhorns coaching staff and as tough as the run of day-after-day of camp may be, it is also rejuvenating.
"Watching these kids makes you feel good about what is going on in our country," Brown said. "What we see are a lot of family values and the effect on the older kids of the great high school coaching in Texas. There is a tremendous dedication to football in this state."
Members of the media have written a lot about summer camps and their effect on recruiting of late, but as Brown talked Monday, the camps really didn't have a lot to do with that.
"What has impressed me is how hard our coaches have worked with these kids," he said. "They have taught them with the same attitude and work ethic that they use with our own team."
Brown is quick to point out, however, that his staff is extremely careful not to counteract what players have been taught by their high school coaches.
"These players have been taught by coaches who have a passion for the game, and they understand great techniques," he said. "They are already skilled. Our job is to give them some new things to think about and to try to improve on what they have already learned."
The 10 days of camps for Brown and his staff are broken into several different types, including a one-day camp for players with limited time, a three-and-a-half day session for kids between the fourth and eighth grades, and other multi-day sessions for older players.
The sessions are about the game, the teaching and the learning of it, and not about recruiting or evaluation for scholarship purposes. Of the Longhorns recruits during the last several years, one third attended one of Texas' football camps.
"NCAA rules make it very clear that this is a time for the kids to have fun, and for instruction," Brown said. "What is wonderful to see is the number of young players who love and respect the game and the parents who come and accompany them to watch them. That reinforces the family atmosphere that we try to get in everything we do."
Brown began holding camps for kids when he was at North Carolina, and the concept has grown each year that he and the staff have been in Austin.
"For some of the little kids, it is their first time away from home overnight," he said. "There are some guys who get home sick, but we see that with some of our own freshmen in the fall. That's where it is good to have a friend to look after them."
So for 10 days in June, veteran coaches, including the Longhorns staff and some high school and other college coaches, get to play the role of fathers to kids who share their love of the game of football.
The happiness in the kids' eyes reflects a joy, because as they practice where the Longhorns practice, and see the facilities and smell the fresh grass, they realize that for one, albeit perhaps brief, shining moment, The Eyes of Texas are upon them.