Tag Archives: Mack Brown

Coach Strong seeks to be an educator

You could hear just a bit of grumbling coming from Austin when the University of Texas hired Charlie Strong to be the head coach of the school’s football team.

He wasn’t the favorite of some high-powered, well-heeled alumni. They wanted a proven big-time winner to restore the Longhorns to gridiron glory. Strong? Good guy, but can he win?

The jury is still out on the winning part, but he’s embarking on an effort that should get the attention of universities across the nation.

He’s trying to teach the young men of his football program how to become good men.


More power to you, coach!

As the Dallas Morning News blogger Jim Mitchell noted, “I don’t know whether it is possible to teach values to a college athlete if the player didn’t arrive on campus with a pretty clear understanding of right, wrong and personal responsibility. But I’m intrigued that the University of Texas is going to try.”

Strong took over from former coach Mack Brown and began tossing players off his team for what’s cryptically called “violation of team rules.” I was wondering at the outset whether Strong had come to Austin to imbue a certain kind of ethic in the players. One of the dismissed players hails from Amarillo, so it was a bit of a disappointment to see a local athlete caught up in this min-purge.

Strong’s efforts will be comprehensive, according to Mitchell: “Now comes a groundbreaking effort called the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation, which UT-Austin officials say will ‘leverage UT Austin’s expertise in academics and success in athletics to change the culture at a time when national headlines remain focused on high-profile athletes’ behavior and responsibilities.’”

I absolutely support the idea of reminding these young men that they have responsibilities that go far beyond their athletic exploits. Many athletes view their athletic skill as a sign of privilege. They think they have some God-given right to behave as they see fit. “Normal” rules don’t apply to them. Coach Strong says that’s not the case, that their elevated status requires them to behave properly and to exhibit the kind of life skills that will carry them through the rest of their life.

What is so wrong with that? Not a single thing.

Go for it, Coach Strong.

Mack Brown shows class in final defeat

My interest in the 2013 college football season ended when the Oregon-Texas game at the Alamo Bowl concluded on Dec. 30.

The Ducks won big, 30-7, which made me — a native Oregonian — quite happy indeed.

But the moments after the game left me feeling sad that Mack Brown had coached his final game for the University of Texas Longhorns.

I’ve lived in Texas for nearly 30 years now, but never have become a big fan of college football here. Then came Mack Brown to the Lone Star State 16 years ago. He ran up some big numbers while rescuing a football program that had hit the skids. He won a national championship. His teams won about 75 percent of all the games they played during his time in Austin.

It wasn’t good enough, though, to suit many Texas boosters, alumni and the faithful who insist that they win every time they take the field.

The end of the Alamo Bowl showed why Coach Brown is such a classy individual and a gentleman.

He embraced Oregon coach Mark Helfrich in the middle of the field. He then whispered something into Helfrich’s ear and I was struck by the way he held a folder in front of his mouth to shield whatever he was telling the opposing coach from the TV camera’s prying eyes. Whatever it was, it must have been intensely personal.

Then the defeated coach talked to many of the Oregon players, congratulating them, patting them on the back, the shoulders, the head — maybe even a few backsides.

Coach Brown could have skulked off the field. He could have reacted differently. He left the field with his head held high — and his reputation as a gentleman burnished to a fine shine.