Texas head coachwill become a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday evening in an induction ceremony in Waco.
As Brown discussed at his opening spring press conference, to receive such an honor despite not being from the state and having only coached in the Lone Star State for 14 seasons is no small accomplishment.
But then, Brown's accomplishments since he's been at Texas are much more suited to a description referencing the size of the sprawling state than to a word choice like "small" -- a winning percentage of close to 80 despite the 13-12 record over the last two seasons, a national championship, a national championship game appearance, two victories in two other BCS bowl games, and two Big 12 titles.
More than a simple list of titles and trophies, to assess what Brown has meant to Texas needs a greater perspective, to understand that he has been one of the major catalysts in the reinvigoration and resurrection of the dormant Texas juggernaut by embracing the tradition and past of the school, despite bringing in an outsider's view and having so few ties to the state.
Taking it a step further, to understand the impact beyond the football-related measurables and to understand what has made Brown successful at Texas, it's imperative to gain a firmer grasp on the type of man that he is. For regular readers or even most relatively aware fans, most of this may come as nothing groundbreaking, but it's still worth reading the responses from former players.
For Quan Cosby, it was about Brown's ability to respect his decision to try to play baseball and the fact that he kept his word about Cosby always having a scholarship available if he wanted to come back to football:
He's meant everything to me. He's a man of his word. It was a real tough decision to call him and tell him that I chose baseball, but he didn't gripe. He didn't say anything but, "I respect that. If you ever want to come back you have a scholarship." And five years later, after basically not even touching the football, without even blinking he welcomed me back. That's the type of man he is. He lived up to every ounce of what I ever heard, and I respected whatever I got back.
Some coaches may have begrudged Cosby's decision, but even if Brown was taking the long-term view of keeping the maintaining the relationship to help his football program down the line, there's no question that he achieved that, as Cosby was a bit piece in the 2005 championship run, but a major piece of the team that nearly played for a national title in 2008, but instead settled for Cosby delivering the game-winning play in the Fiesta Bowl, with the final image of the team's elder statesman him diving to paydirt for the victory.
For, truly caring about his players isn't just an act that he puts on to lure recruits -- it's genuine:
Watching Coach Brown, I learn to appreciate that there are two types of people in the world; those that do what works for them and those that do what works for everyone else. The special thing about Coach Brown is he does what works for others and that allows him to do what works for him. He is a master at finding what is required to achieve success in any situation. And he delivers it with his trademark positive attitude and reassuring handshake. I know he had me ready to run through a wall for him. I think I actually did a few times.
Yes, Ricky, you ran through some walls for Mack. And Aggies, Lots and lots of Aggies.
It's a relationship that Brown maintains with his former players and/or assistants even after they leave, as was the case for Major Applewhite, which may have been no small factor in the former Texas quarterback and forever cult hero returning to Austin by way of a backwards move from a position of greater responsibility at Alabama:
He has helped me as a player and as a coach. But even when I wasn't here - when I was at Syracuse or at Rice or Alabama - when I was trying to make decisions for my family. In the coaching industry, it's really hard when you're a young guy trying to work your way up, when you don't know the answers. And he always had the time for me. He always had time to pick up the phone and answer questions and lead me in the right direction. So that's the mark of somebody - when they help you when you can't help them.
Beyond the relationships, tight end David Thomas was thankful for the perspective the Brown helped provide him about the game of football and its ultimate importance in his life:
He has always worked hard at teaching us to do the right thing. I'll never forget him talking to us after we just won the National Championship about that being a great moment in our lives, but not letting that be the greatest moment in our lives, and that we needed to move on to be better fathers and husbands. I think the clarity he had in that big of a moment to remind us that football is just a game, but there are more important things in life, and the balance that he has between pushing us in football and pushing us in life is something I really respect and appreciate about him.
It's well worth reading all of the quotes from Brown's former players and also worth it to spend a moment to consider everything that Brown has brought to the program, because despite whatever criticisms may be leveled against him, there may not have been another coach better suited to take the Longhorns back to the top than Mack Brown, the kid from Putnam County Tennessee who never wanted anything more growing up than to follow the footsteps of his father and grandfather and coach football, become a principal, and then a superintendent.
Perhaps that's why Brown was probably telling the truth when he called the honor "overwhelming."