banner
Ken Medlin

First impressions of a coach, many years later

Posted December 14, 2013

Mack Brown was one of the first people I ever interviewed as a "professional" broadcaster. I put "professional" in quotes, because I was a part-timer at WRAL fresh out of college, and I really had no idea what I was doing.

Rick Sullivan sent me over to interview Mack after a pre-season football practice. He told me not to worry, that Mack would treat me like he'd known me for years.

He was right.

Brown learned my name immediately, answered every question starting with "Well, Ken..." and then hung around for a couple of minutes after we were done talking about Eastern North Carolina (where I'm from) - standard stuff like "where's the best barbecue," and "where'd you go to high school." I was impressed he'd heard of Bailey.

All I wanted to do was just not botch the assignment. I drove over with a camera, a tape and a microphone and just hoped everything worked - the same "first starting out jitters" everyone has, I guess. Maybe Brown could sense I was new - that I was a nervous kid just getting started. Regardless, it really stuck with me. As Brown advanced, and eventually won a national championship, I remembered how great he was to deal with that day.

Tom Suiter tells a story about a similar situation when he was starting out - an interview with John Wooden.It was the early '70's and Wooden was at the top of his game, yet he still took time to be gracious with a young reporter. I've often thought Brown was doing the same thing with me, and things like that go a long way with people. To this day, Tom remembers Wooden for how he handled himself, and I guess Brown made the same impression with me.

I learned a lot from that brief assignment. For one, learning and using someone's name really matters. And more importantly, be friendly to people - you never know who you might run into down the road. Have I put those lessons into practice? Well, sometimes yes, and probably sometimes now... But then again, I'm not the head coach at Texas - or North Carolina. Mack Brown could easily have said "Who is this kid" and gone into "let's get this over with in a hurry" with me - but he didn't. I left realizing why this guy was a great recruiter - if he could take time with a kid just starting in the media, imagine how he would win over recruits and their parents. THAT'S how you sell a program, you win over every person you meet or you exhaust yourself trying. If there's anything Mack Brown the coach did better than anyone else, that was it.

People occasionally ask me "Who do you root for?" I tell them I root for people that make good impressions on me. Every school has those people, players and coaches alike. Brown was one of those people - proof first impressions go a long way. 

That's what I thought about when I heard Brown has stepped down at Texas. There were a lot of UNC fans angry about him leaving Chapel Hill for Austin. Was his departure from Chapel Hill handled perfectly? No. But in the end, how could you blame him for taking the head coaching job at Texas? Football in Texas is like basketball here. And like basketball fans in this area, losing - or in this case "not winning enough" - doesn't cut it. I dare say Brown's people skills kept him around a year or two longer than some coaches would have lasted. And that's a lesson indeed.

 

7 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Newest First
View all
  • espear Dec 15, 2013

    Really great article Ken, it is actually inspiring and in a real way, a gentle reminder of what comes first. Thank you!

  • dookiepukie Dec 15, 2013

    Good article. Coaches like Tom Osborne and Dean Smith who step down at the top of their game are rare. It doesn't end well for those who don't (ie. Bowden, Paterno, and now Brown). Let's hope it ends well for our two local legends, K and Roy.

  • Hammerhead Dec 15, 2013

    Gotta love a guy who, in spite of the sh**storm swirling around him, manages to conduct himself with dignity and class. Nice work, Mack.

  • Toddler10-21 Dec 15, 2013

    Always like Mack Brown. Bad seasons at UNC in the beginning, but made UNC a top five team before he left. Mack chose Texas football over UNC football. Wouldnt you? Thats like picking Alabama basketball over UNC basketball. Good luck coach.

  • ttaylor58 Dec 15, 2013

    Mack Brown is an all around class act. I wish he had never left Carolina.

  • StunGunn Dec 16, 2013

    I held a grudge against Brown when he left UNC abruptly in '97. Some folks here reminded me of the football game where a large group of the crowd up and left before the game was over to watch a scrimmage at the Dean Dome. I don't blame Mack for leaving Chapel Hill to coach where football is king, and I hope he finds a school that is good fit for him.

    Great article, as well as life lesson, Ken, thanks.

  • Frizz Dec 16, 2013

    I have a friend who has worked the chains for UNC football for many years. He said Mack would come over during warmups and speak to all of them. Years later when Texas played at Chapel Hill, Mack came over and spoke, even called him by name.

    And how can you fault him for leaving for Texas? Even when he had the Heels in the Top 10 everybody around here still wanted to talk basketball. How long was he willing to play second fiddle? Personally, I was glad to see him go.

  • PGA: AT&T Byron Nelson Championship

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASL: RailHawks at Jacksonville

    Saturday at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • PGA: AT&T Byron Nelson Championship

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Rochester

    Today at 12:50 pm on Buzz Sports Radio

  • NBA: Houston at Golden State

    Tonight at 9:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Syracuse

    Friday at 6:50 pm on Buzz Sports Radio

  • NBA: Golden State at Houston

    Friday at 9:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
ROC
DUR
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
HOU 4
BAL 1
Final
KAN 1
NYY 5
Final
MIA 1
PIT 5
Final
WAS 2
CHC 3
Final
CWS 9
TOR 10
Final
COL 1
CIN 2
Final
PHI 4
NYM 5
Final
SEA 7
TAM 6
Final
TEX 4
CLE 3
Final
BOS 1
MIN 2
Final
SFG 6
MIL 3
Final
ARI 4
STL 6
Final
DET 1
OAK 0
Final
SDP 4
ANA 0
Final
ATL 0
LOS 8
12:10pm Today
TEX
CLE
 
12:35pm Today
COL
CIN
 
12:35pm Today
MIA
PIT
 
12:37pm Today
CWS
TOR
 
1:05pm Today
KAN
NYY
 
1:10pm Today
BOS
MIN
 
1:10pm Today
PHI
NYM
 
1:10pm Today
SEA
TAM
 
1:40pm Today
SFG
MIL
 
3:35pm Today
DET
OAK
 
4:35pm Today
HOU
BAL
 
8:05pm Tonight
WAS
CHC
 
8:15pm Tonight
ARI
STL
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
ANA
 
10:10pm Tonight
ATL
LOS
 
1:05pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Thursday
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Thursday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Thursday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Thursday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Thursday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Thursday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
Final
ATL 88
CLE 118
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
GSW
 
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
Final
NYR 7
TAM 3
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI
 
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
ROC
DUR
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR