Dallas _ Texas Longhorns coach Mack Brown has heard the now deafening rumors about his alma mater Florida State contemplating leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference and joining the Big 12.
Brown, who received the inaugural Gene Stallings Awards for his humanitarian endeavors at the Dallas Country Club Monday, declined to address Florida State specifically out of respect to the ACC.
He even admitted that he would personally prefer to stay at 10 teams_ where the league is now after TCU and West Virginia joined to replace the departed Texas A&M and Missouri.
But Brown excitedly acknowledges that the talk of possible future expansion of the big 12 is a good sign that the league is here to stay.
“What I wanted was to get our league stable and that has happened,” Brown said. “There is 13 year commitment with the 10 teams we have. We are going to see the Big 12 as we know it right now for at least 13 years. It’s above my decision making when they start talking about do we had 11 do we add 12 or do we stay at 10. Personally it’s been the thought of Texas that we stay at 10. We just got a new commissioner, that we are all excited about from Stanford. He will obviously be involved with the presidents trying to look and see. I don’t think it’s about this team or that team. I think it’s about a concept or philosophy.”
But two years after thinking that the Big 12 was all but dead with talk of Texas going to Pac 10 conference, Brown said the conference is now strong, wealthy and will be around for the rest of his lifetime. He says it’s a natural landing spot for any school wanting to improve their situation such as Florida State.
“I didn’t know we would have a league at one point,” Brown said. “So I’m really happy that we are going to have a Big 12 and its going to be really good and profitable. The commitment of the TV package is so good its going to make universities across the country look at joining the Big 12 because it once again is representing one of the best leagues in America.”
Brown said the addition of West Virginia, which moved to the league from the Big East with hopes of more money and more exposure, may have started a trend of teams from across the country wanting to move to the Big 12.
“I think the fact that West Virginia joined the league from out of the area opened up the conversation for other people outside of the area that might be interested and then we expand. But the fact that our league teams will make so much money has to be something other teams will look at it.”
It may seem awkward that Brown won the inaugural Stallings Award considering that Stallings is on the board of regents at Texas A&M and helped spearhead the Aggies move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference.
But the two men have been friends and colleagues for years _ well before Brown came to Texas in 1998. Brown also had relationship with Stallings’ son late Johnny, who was born with down syndrome, is the real inspiration behind the award which was presented by Dr. Pepper and the Monday’s dinner which benefitted the Rise School in Dallas.
Stallings started the Rise School in Tuscaloosa, Ala when he was coach of the Crimson Tide to provide a school for children with development delays. There are now Rise Schools in Austin, Houston and Dallas.
Stallings said Brown, who volunteers at the Rise School in Austin, was a natural fit as the inaugural recipient.
“It goes to somebody who makes a difference in the community,” Stallings said. “It’s not about won-loss record. Mack has made a difference in a lot of different way and lot of different programs not only in Austin but throughout the country. We wanted him to be the first recipient of this award.”
Said Brown: “The award means a lot to me because I knew Johnny. I knew him well.I watched Coach Stallings. He is a big tough football coach. He was a mentor to us all. When I was around him with Johnny you saw the special bond he had with his son. It was the driving force for Sally (his wife) and I to get involved with the Rise School in Austin and move forward. So for this award to be not about coaching but about people and about children and about giving and with his name on it in honor of Johnny is special for myself.”