Texas Longhorns Head Coach Mack Brown is as successful a college football coach as there is, having transformed Appalachian State, Tulane and North Carolina into winners before taking on the challenge of coaching Texas.
It would have been easy for Brown to have stayed at UNC - he had one of the more successful programs in the country, and his family was financially stable. For Brown, it was less about being comfortable and more about being somewhere that he can compete for a championship. Texas, was that place.
The problem with that decision was that as the potential for success grew, so did the expectations. All of a sudden, a 10-3 season was deemed as failure.
He averaged 9.8 wins per year in his first six seasons at Texas after the school had averaged just 6.4 wins in the previous dozen seasons, yet nobody was satisfied. That's why, as 2004 dawned, self-doubt was routing self-confidence inside Mack Brown.
"I was about at the end," he said. "I was absolutely miserable at 10-3."Pat Forde of ESPN.com tells the story of how Brown was able to put his job, and the game of football, in perspective.
To Mack's credit, he chose that difficult time to start reaching out to others. He can recite advice he received from several sources: Royal, Sally, Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
In different forms and different words, they all could be distilled to the same basic message: You've got to start relaxing, stop worrying about every criticism and stop trying to be the perfect coach to all people.
Robinson told him: "You get mad at fans for being mad about not being 13-0 or 14-0, but you're really mad, too."
Said Mack: "I realized he's right. I had to try to embrace it. One day, I just ended up thinking, 'You know what? If we get to 13-0, it's not me. If we go 10-2, it's not me.'
"I got the ego out of it. I got the me out of it. To sit around and blame myself for everything that goes bad or credit myself for everything that's good, that's stupid. In a weird way, I think that look a lot of pressure off me and gave our kids more confidence."