ESPN analyst Mack Brown, the former Texas football coach, addressed a variety of topics Wednesday while taking part in a luncheon hosted by College Football Playoff administrators at AT&T Stadium.
Brown, 63, declined to discuss speculation linking him to the head coaching vacancy at SMU or to discuss the Longhorns’ performance (3-5, 2-3 Big 12) under his successor, first-year coach Charlie Strong. In a conference call with reporters before the luncheon, Brown fielded an SMU-related question and responded: “I haven’t talked to anybody about coaching football at this point.”
During his visit to AT&T Stadium, Brown weighed in on multiple topics, including his coaching future (to be decided in December), his thoughts on the eventual CFP playoff bracket (no two-loss team will make it) and his take on the two biggest surprise teams in this year’s Big 12 race (No. 7 TCU, No. 20 West Virginia).
Below is a look at Brown in his own words:
On his coaching future: “I don’t have an agent for football. I’m not going to call anybody. I’m not going to pursue any jobs. If somebody calls me, I’ll talk to them.”
On needing the right fit to return to the sideline: “That’s exactly right. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. … I talked to 10 coaches this spring and asked them their opinion of what happens when you get out of coaching. Some got back in. Some didn’t. And they all said, ‘Don’t put one minute’s thought into it until December, or late November.’ And, then, if somebody calls you and it excites you, you’ll talk to them.”
On his duties as an ESPN analyst: “I’m having a blast. I’m talking to coaches each week. It’s been fun to talk to them and get their thoughts on the game, then see if it unfolds like they wanted it to. At the same time, ESPN/ABC said they hired me to take fans to places they haven’t been. Take them behind the scenes. And that’s been fun for me to be an advocate for the fan.”
On criticizing peers: “If you’re fair and you tell the truth, the coaches don’t care. Where coaches get upset is if what you’re saying is not accurate or if you’re just taking a cheap shot. ESPN promised that all they would ask is for me to be honest and direct. And I’ve done that. For me, if you’re fair, it’s not being critical. It’s being honest.”
On his reaction to the first CFP rankings: “This poll was more exciting to me than the BCS poll. But there’s only one poll that matters, and that’s going to be [released] on Dec. 7.”
On possibly seeing a two-loss team in the playoff field: “I really don’t. I think we’re going to have a lot of one-loss teams at the end. If we have a two-loss team, it’s going to be because an Alabama or a Mississippi State was head-to-head with the best and, maybe, lost two games. So they get consideration. You lose and you’re out, with most of these teams.”
On the biggest surprises in this year’s Big 12 race: “For [TCU coach] Gary Patterson to be so defensive-minded his whole life and change completely and make it work [with a spread offense]. Gary seems to have said, ‘Hey, I want the whole deal. Go for it.’ It’s really working for him. And [West Virginia coach] Dana Holgorsen. Dana’s bunch can beat anybody.”
On Baylor’s Big 12 title defense: “Art [Briles] has kind of done what I did at Texas. Art’s gotten the expectations so high now, everybody’s crushed that he lost a game. He may win out and they’re going to think, ‘Oh, well, we’re disappointed.’ And that’s very unfair to Art and Baylor because they’ve just done an amazing job.”
On feeling more relaxed on a daily basis: “My job is a little different. Giving opinions is easier than making decisions.”
On knowing what would cause him to return to coaching: “No. I really don’t. I purposefully didn’t do that. The coaches I talked to said, ‘Don’t get into that game’ because what you’ll do is you’ll be distracted from your TV job, and you’ll constantly be up and down about what you’re going to do.”
On Monday’s performance by Washington QB Colt McCoy in beating the Cowboys: “It was really special to see him play against maybe the best team right now in the NFL, at their place, and do what he always did ... when he’s the third-string quarterback, not getting any snaps. I thought it was kind of a capsule of what we all saw Colt do while he was at the University of Texas.”