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Mack Brown, Football, & Texas

I have to cop to a possibly criminal offense in Texas: I'm not really interested in football. I also don't hunt, rarely fish, and only own two pairs of boots. I better start typing quick before the sheriff breaks the door down and hauls me away.

Still, it's impossible to live here and not know about UT football and the legendary Mack Brown. On days like last Saturday, the city is filled with people wearing burnt orange and white, the team colors of the university (THE University, as they like to call it). Mack Brown, the head coach whose record of achievement includes a national championship (and a near miss at a second), nine seasons with 10 or more wins, and a higher percentage of overall wins than Darrell Royal (the patron saint of UT football), has never had a losing season....until last year.

TJ Tucker at Texas Monthly asked me to do this portrait of Brown for the September "College Football" issue, in which the coach is interviewed about the challenges he faces in turning the team, and his reputation, around. TJ is someone I can never say no to, and this one was chance to do a moodier portrait of much admired figure at a crossroads in their career--great material for any artist. My approach was pretty straightforward as portraits go, but we agreed there should be some element that reflected the change of course Brown faces, so I chose to place the chalk board in the background, with various plays half-erased and rethought, as a nod to the situation. But it's Brown's steely blue eyes that have me and the rest of Texas convinced that he and the Longhorns will back on top this season.
Of course, I'll have to find out about it all from one of my football fan friends, but at least I feel like I finally have some skin in the game.
I also wanted to give a shout out to the Tyler Jacobson, who did a masterpiece of a portrait of Rick Perry in the same issue. Epic and on the money, this one deserves (and no doubt will receive) some much lauded attention this year. Beautiful work, Tyler!