Mack Brown mapped out his career plan at a young age: He wanted to be a football coach first and he was, from 1973 through last season before either moving upstairs, as an athletic director, or into television, as a college football analyst.
Seven months after the final game of his coaching career, one highlighted by the 2005 national championship, Brown will join ESPN in August as a college football analyst, providing studio work across the network's football-themed platforms and, on Saturdays, starring as one-third of ABC's College Football Countdown program.
Countdown, which airs as the lead-in to both ABC's afternoon and prime-time kickoffs, will team Brown and former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell with host John Saunders.
I'll be able to share my excitement this year in a little different way than the last 42 years, Brown told USA TODAY Sports.
Brown began casual conversations with ESPN about his post-coaching plans three years ago, after the network began a deep relationship with the University of Texas following the debut of the Longhorn Network.
We've kind of been talking about it over the three years, Brown said. It wasn't a regular conversation, but it's something (ESPN President John Skipper) said: If and when you quit, we'd love to talk to you. He made that call, and I'm really excited about it.
Brown will make his first appearance on Aug. 10, when he joins Kanell and studio host Rece Davis in reporting from Ohio State, ESPN senior coordinating producer Bill Graff said. Come the start of the regular season, a second coach will join Brown in making his television debut: Butch Davis, most recently of North Carolina, will appear on ESPN2's day-long studio coverage.
Brown's 16-year tenure at Texas ended with an eight-win 2013 season, one that saw the Longhorns fall short of preseason expectations in a top-heavy Big 12 Conference. In all, however, Brown went 158-48 at Texas with a pair of conference titles, winning the national championship in 2005 and losing to Alabama in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.
To me, this is a way that I can continue to stay close to the game, Brown said. I can share my passion with the fans about what the coaches think, what he's thinking. What I think what I can do is I can say I wouldn't have done that, but here's the reason I wouldn't have done and here's why I think he did it. You can evaluate or analyze the situation without just killing the guy.