For a couple of years now, I have been playing around with the idea of a sports credit rating system. It seems that certain players, managers and coaches have a knack for getting credit. And certain players, managers and coaches do not.
This led the announcers to scream something like -- and I'm paraphrasing: "There's some more of that John Elway magic! He's the greatest! What a player! I'm going to name my kids after him! Why can't everyone in the world be more like John Elway?"
Notre Dame football coach
The ability to effortlessly accumulate credit is a talent -- like charisma, charm and always being lucky. Some just have it. Some don't. Texas football coach
I say this because, be honest now, if asked to name the best college football coach going, would you even think of Mack Brown? Probably not, right? You may think of
But here's the thing: Mack Brown IS the best college football coach in America. I'm not offering this up as an opinion. I don't even see how anyone else has a case. I mean, let's break this down here. What do you want a college football coach to do? I can think of six main things:
Brown has won more games this decade than any coach in the country. He is the only coach in America to win at least nine games every season for the last dozen years.
Brown was the winning coach in the 2006 Rose Bowl -- USC vs. Texas -- perhaps the greatest college football game ever played. His Longhorns have beaten Stoops and Oklahoma three of the last four years. In the Longhorns last 25 games against Top 25 opponents, they are 21-4.
Brown has taken his teams -- Texas and North Carolina -- to 16 consecutive bowl games, and Texas has won four straight bowl games.
Texas has made 21 fourth-quarter comebacks under Brown -- the 21st came this year against Oklahoma.
Nobody questions Brown's recruiting genius -- in fact, he derisively has been called "Mr. February" because some think he should win EVEN MORE with the amazing recruiting classes he signs.
When Mack Brown took over at Texas, there were 39,743 season ticket holders. That was a record. Today, there are 83,000 season ticket holders. The school has added 20,000 seats to the stadium, and they are adding more. Celebrities are showing up more and more too. Just last week, Derek Jeter was on the sidelines of the Texas-Missouri game, perhaps in the hope that some of his credit rating would rub off on Mack Brown.
And so on. You can keep listing off achievements (last year Texas had two academic All-Americans), but the bottom line is this: Mack Brown is really good at his job. And yet, nobody seems to appreciate the guy. Just last week -- LAST WEEK -- there was a column in the local paper, the
There are reasons, of course, that people overlook Mack Brown. Some of his early Texas teams did underachieve. For a while, Oklahoma pounded Texas every year. It took Brown a long time to break through and win a Big 12 title. Also Brown doesn't necessarily fit the coaching image. You want a football coach whose voice registers an 8.2 on the Richter Scale. Brown's voice still squeaks sometimes, and it still drips with a twang that comes straight out of Cookeville, Tenn.
More than that, though, Brown seems to be a prisoner of an overblown history. Many people seem to believe that Brown is just a caretaker, that anyone ANYONE should win at Texas, you know, with all that in-state high school talent, with all that money, with the great facilities and 100,000 fans. Truth is, though, Texas wasn't particularly good when Brown took over. Here was a shocker to me: When the Longhorns beat Oklahoma and moved up to the No. 1 ranking, it was the first time since 1984 that they had been ranked No. 1 during the season.
But it wasn't just about No. 1 rankings. In the 12 years before Brown took over, Texas had six break-even or losing records. That doesn't fit the image, does it? The Longhorns had not finished in the top 10 in 15 years. The year before Brown took over, Texas dropped five of its last six and also lost to UCLA 66-3, leading to clever headlines blaring "Rout 66."
Texas had a great history, but it was just that: History. Ancient history. And this is probably Mack Brown's greatest achievement. He has made Texas so good that people forget the Longhorns were, more or less, a non-factor for a very long time.
This Longhorns team might be so good that people will have no choice but to acknowledge the Mack. The Longhorns have a quarterback,
And the Longhorns are in the middle of a four-game test. They came from behind to beat No. 1 Oklahoma. Last week, when some expected a letdown, they led Missouri 35-0 at halftime -- Brown called it greatest first half of football he'd ever been around. On Saturday, they play sixth-ranked Oklahoma State. Next week, they play eighth-ranked Texas Tech in Lubbock.
If they can get through all that without losing, then maybe everyone will appreciate that Mack Brown is the best in the land.